there once was a time

There once was a time when I could practice 6 hours a day, go out for coffee with friends, have rehearsals, and enjoy music life. There now is a time where I work 8-5, run home to get my violin, go to rehearsal at 6 and have no time to practice unless I forgo eating on my lunch break. Yes. This is it. The real world and it's freaking exhausting.

In other news, some jerk stole my debit card number. I'm waiting for Chase to finish their claim process and it's super frustrating. I am now waiting (not very patiently) for a new debit card to arrive in the mail. In the meantime, I'm sending all of my worse thoughts to the person(s) who stole my card number in hopes that something bad (but not tragic) happens to them.



christmas in September

A few weeks ago, Matt was complaining about not getting to watch the Packer games because he couldn't get off of work. He was legitimately angry so I decided to help him.

I looked into direct tv packages, called to set it up, went to Best Buy the next day and...

Tah Dah!

Matt was so surprised (obviously since Christmas is 3 months away) and I love having a tv again. I forgot what it was like to watch a show on something bigger than a 13" Mac Book. Now we can watch 3D movies, too! Super fancy.


My staff says that weird people are drawn to me

I was just at the dollar store buying hurricane supplies and the guy at the checkout says,

"do you want this empty cardboard box for your cat?"

"...how do you know that I have a cat?"

"because I can see the future"

"oh, ok. So, what's going to happen with the hurricane this weekend?"

"30,000 people are going to die"

"...that's a lot... ...I guess I'll take the box"


CA getaway with MattE

A few weeks ago, MattE and I went to California for a wedding. California is perfect. The weather is beautiful with no humidity- great hair, every day.

Santa Barbara,

San Simeon,



Matt and I decided that we want to move to Santa Barbara some day. The city is really relaxing and we would have a little house somewhere up in the mountains. The only bad thing about the trip was that I got a terrible sunburn. It was the first sunburn I've ever gotten and let me tell you, it was not pleasant. I am now traumatized and will be wearing sunscreen whenever I am out in the sun from now on. If you haven't been to California, you should really go now. Right now!!! (and bring me with you)


no internet = no blogging

Well, I shouldn't blame it all on the internet. I haven't posted anything in awhile just because I've forgotten about blogging. Of course, now that I do want to post things my internet isn't working at home. To make matters worse, Verizon, the internet company we have, is on strike. The soonest time someone can come out to look at our connection is September 4th. (the internet has been on the fritz since August 4th) rage. Matt, Sean, and I have lots and lots of rage.

Other than the internet situation, I have been thinking a lot lately about my life, where I am, and what I'm doing with myself. It may be due to the fact that in 11 days I will be 27, something that I'm not looking forward to. My friend suggested that I start telling people that I'm 30 for the next few years until I'm actually 30 to start getting used to it, since that is the direction I'm inevitably headed in.

In honor of my turning 30, I've decided to refocus myself and make some tough decisions. If you know me, you know that I'm not one for change, big or small, (I just bought a pair of wide leg jeans that I'm a quite nervous about) but I've decided that change has become necessary. I've started something... I'll call it a "project." I can't share with you yet because it's still not fully formed, but hopefully in about a week I will be ready to unveil.

stay tuned.


spontaneity is one of my better qualities

I stopped into a tattoo place tonight to get a consultation and walked out with my very first tattoo!


Productivity, go!

Yesterday I did so many lovely things:

1. Had breakfast with my sister
2. Had a road rage stand off with a Jewish man - I realize that this is not technically a "good" thing but it was very cathartic
3. Convinced my landlord to not increase our rent for next year
4. Called about getting a hostessing job - Fingers crossed that it works out!
5. Went to a yoga class
6. Signed up for a yoga membership
7. Emailed a couple community orchestras about auditioning
8. Practiced for the first time in a good while

Hopefully my good, productive days will continue on. I slept in today which was lovely and am about to do some practicing.

When I eat breakfast, Sangria always stalks the butter.


John Adams gives thanks

John Adams, American (minimalist) composer, spoke at the recent Juilliard commencement ceremony. His speech is full of inspiring statements, but the best parts lie in his statements of thanks to today's young musicians.

It’s the month of May and people like me who have been asked to speak at college commencements are feverishly thumbing through their copies of Bartlett’s Quotations or searching Wikipedia for some golden little nuggets of wisdom or humorous anecdotes with which to begin their speeches. I see that while we are gathered here Arianna Huffington, only a few miles north of us, is sharing philosophy and savvy career tips with the graduating class at Sarah Lawrence.

When I graduated from college in 1969 the Vietnam War was raging, and a good 20% of my classmates had already burned their draft cards and had adopted the classic John Lennon hairstyle, moustache and granny glasses. At my own commencement ceremony several protesting students tried to take over the podium and had to be removed by class marshals. Times are less violent now, at least within the country, but the world that awaits this year’s graduating classes is no less volatile, no less unpredictable.

I should be doing the ritual thing and blessing you with words of wisdom and encouragement. But the truth is, all I really want to say is thank you. Thank all of you students who, against all odds and against all the pressures to do otherwise, have chosen to have a life in the arts. All the paradigms of success that we routinely encounter in our everyday lives—on television, in movies, in the online world, in the constant din of advertising, even from our friends and families—all these “models” for success and happiness American-style are about what is ultimately a disposable life, about a life centered around material gain and about finding the best possible comfort zone for yourself.

But by choosing a life in the arts you’ve set yourselves apart from all that and from a nation that has become such a hostage to distraction that it can’t absorb a single complex thought without having it reduced to a sound byte. Most people now, and particularly most people your age, live in a fractured virtual environment where staying focused on a single thought for, say, a mere seven seconds presents a grave challenge. (I mention seven seconds because a staff researcher at Google in San Francisco recently told me that 7.3 seconds was the amount of time that an average viewer stays on a YouTube site before jumping to another page.) You have grown up in a world that offers constant, almost irresistible distraction not unlike what the serpent in the Garden of Eden offered to Eve when he whispered to her, “check out them apples.”

The arts, however, are difficult. They are mind-bendingly and refreshingly difficult. You can’t learn the role of Hamlet (no less write it), you can’t play the fugue in the Hammerklavier Sonata (no less compose it) and you can’t hope to move effortlessly through one of Twyla Tharp’s ballets without having submitting yourself to something that’s profoundly difficult, that demands sustained concentration and unyielding devotion. Artists are people who’ve learned how to surrender themselves to a higher purpose, to something better than their miserable little egos. They’ve been willing to put their self-esteem in a Cuisinart and let it be chopped and diced and crushed to a pulp. They are the ones who’ve learned to live with the brutal fact that God didn’t dole out talent in fair and equal portions and that the person sitting next to them may only need to practice only half as hard to win the concerto competition.

And the wonderful, astonishing truth is that the arts are utterly useless. You can’t eat music or poetry or dance. You can’t drive your car on a sonnet it or wear it on your back to shield you from the elements. This “uselessness” is why politicians and other painfully literal-minded people during times of budget crises (which is pretty much all the time now) can’t wait to single the arts out for elimination. For them artistic activity is strictly after-school business. They consider that what we do can’t honestly be compared to the real business of life, that art is entertainment and ultimately non-essential. They don’t realize that what we artists offer is one of the few things that make human life meaningful, that through our skill and our talent and through the way that we share our rich emotional lives we add color and texture and depth and complexity to their lives.

A life in the arts means a life of sacrifice and tens of thousands of hours of devotion and discipline with scant remuneration and sometimes even scant recognition. A life in the arts means loving complexity and ambiguity, of enjoying the fact that there are no single, absolute solutions. And it means that you value communicating about matters of the spirit over the baser forms of human interaction, because you know that life is not just a transaction, not simply a game about winning someone’s confidence purely for purposes of material gain. By coming to Juilliard, by going through the scary audition process and sweating out your first recital or by losing sleep over some offhand cranky comment by your teacher, you showed that you wanted to take a different route. So I am deeply grateful for your decision, and I know, even without asking them, that all of the other honorees here on the stage with me feel the same way.

I often say when a young composer shows me a score that what I’m looking for is to be surprised, because surprise wakes me up to the world, surprise makes me see something or feel something in a way I never before expected. Nowadays, with all the arts so instantly available via technology, we’re finding it ever more difficult to be surprised by something. We can hear or see just about anything online now, but how often are we bowled over, how often have we been forced to stop all other discursive mind wandering and just sit there in astonishment, listening or looking in rapt amazement? What does it take to move us from our customary place? (And by the way, that is what the word “ecstasy” literally means: ek-stasis- to be moved out of one’s place.) And that is what we want when we confront a work of art, whether it’s a completely new creation or an impassioned performance of masterwork from the past.

There are these lines in a Louise Erdrich poem that I’m currently setting that say it right:

I will drive boys
to smash empty bottles on their brows.
I will pull them right out of their skins.

That is the kind of intensity we’re looking for. We need the artistic experience to pull us right out of our skins

In order to achieve that element of surprise you have to set up expectation. The quality of the surprise—what Melville called the “shock of recognition”—depends on how carefully, how knowingly these expectations have been set up. And whether you are a master playwright, or a subtle and probing lieder singer or a speed-of-light jazz improviser, your expertise in setting up expectations depends on two factors that would at first glance seem to be contradictory: one is supreme technical mastery, mastery of a kind that is so secure and so thoroughly internalized that it functions at an almost subliminal level. (Just look my colleagues sitting here with me on the stage—Twyla Tharp, Derek Jacobi and Herbie Hancock—and you can see technique personified.) And the other is having a gift for the outrageous, having the willingness and readiness to make that sudden, spontaneous departure from the norm—the ability to depart from the script and make the unexpected leap out of the box, and to do it precisely when it’s least expected. (Look at my colleagues again!) Such a gift is impossible to teach. It has to come from the core of the artist’s personality. I remember hearing Yo-Yo Ma play the Bach sonatas for cello and keyboard. It was the first time I’d ever heard him live, and I remember thinking to myself, “Well he’s a superstar, so it will be note-perfect, I’ll be dazzled by his technique and he’ll look great, but I won’t expect any revelations.” But just the opposite happened. My reaction to his Bach was “Man, that was weird!” He didn’t play Bach at all like I’d come to think I’d known it. He was not afraid to be coarse and edgy at times, nor was he afraid to go beyond the accepted norms of polite expressiveness we’d been admonished to consider proper. He’d obviously asked questions before he started to consider the piece.

In other words you have to BE that kind of person: restless, searching, ready and willing to take risks. You have to think differently and experience the world differently from those around you.

So if I can leave you with some words of wisdom—I don’t know what Arianna Huffington is saying at this point in her speech, maybe “hold on to your technology stocks”—I would probably urge you to do one thing over all else, and that is never to consider yourself sufficiently educated. Always remember to adopt Zen “beginner’s mind.” If you’re playing or dancing and acting something for the umpteenth time, stop and ask yourself “how can I make it fresh? What have I been missing in this? How can I avoid going on autopilot?” And don’t be afraid to take baby steps. Simon Rattle was already a world-famous conductor nearing the peak of his professional achievement when he went off to study performance practice with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and become a sort of apprentice-groupie to the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. During the last year of his life Schubert sought out a counterpoint teacher and took lessons. And of course we all know how throughout his life Stravinsky painstakingly learned completely new and unfamiliar musical techniques, even at an advanced age, and we know how what he absorbed gave new life and energy to each new phase of his creative life.

Be bold, be humble, don’t mind being difficult, and don’t ever feel that what you’re doing in this attention-deficit disorder country of ours is marginal or unimportant. You are in fact the heart and the soul of its very being.


this past month

While Matt was gone, my mom came to visit me!

So did Jenny and Catherine :)

Matt came home and I went on a hike with Castor & Pollux,

and Sherpa Matt xoxox

got instagram on my phone,

went on an NYC scavenger hunt with Rick,

ate a great meal with one of my favorite summer foods,

and learned how to tie a bowtie! :)


Taiwan Matt

Matt left for Taiwan today. He'll be gone for 17 days and I'll be counting down every second.

In the meantime, I have decided to fill my time with some apartment revamping.

I took Rick and Andrew to help me pick out a new bed today. Trying out beds is always a good time. My current queen size is great, but a wee bit too big for our room so a nice comfy full size will be delivered tomorrow evening.

Other things on my list include:
- painting the kitchen
- painting the bedroom
- touching up the white trim in the family room

Matt has given me full reign to do whatever I want so we'll see what else I can come up with. His one and only stipulation: nothing alive. Damn that Matt for ruining my best puppy purchasing plan!


things I learned/was reminded of at work today:

1. a small compliment goes a long way

2. one can be easily misunderstood when feeling defensive

3. everyone does things differently, but we are all working towards the same goal

4. show support for your team

5. don't overanalyze everything... you will go crazy


apt 35 additions

Lately it's been my mission to make our home more comfortable. I haven't had time to do any of my big projects like painting the other rooms, but I have checked a few things off my list:

I begged Matt and Sean to let me get a new kitchen table and throw away the circular one that jut out into our family room. Matt and I picked this one and it fits perfectly! Sean no longer has a chair blocking his doorway.

This seems like a really small detail, but I bought a new shower curtain. You can see in the picture that our bathroom is very tiny. Tinier than tiny! Matt has to turn sideways if he wants to use the sink. We had a dark plastic shower curtain which I absolutely hated. The white has really brightened up the room, especially in the mornings.

***my next bathroom update is to change the toilet seat. Why is it black???

And... Matt got a waffle maker!!! It came this afternoon and I used it the second I got home from work. Yippee! More kitchen appliances make a happy Michi and well-fed roommates.


running for gifts update

After reading my last post about running, Matt laughed and told me that there is no way that I will get all of my running done by July 23rd. (such the supportive boyfriend) That just gave me one extra reason to complete my 50 runs- SPITE. I've been running 3 times a week and am extremely proud of myself. I'm actually getting better and am able to run a little farther and faster. Going up the Williamsburg bridge was actually easier today, and I felt pretty good when I was done. Last week I even bought a runner's ipod armband so that I can look like a real runner with cool accessories!


retail is not rocket science.

According to Wikipedia, customer service is defined as the provision of service to customers before, during, and after a purchase. Micah Solomon, quoted in Inc. Magazine, states that the perceived success of such interactions are dependent on employees “who can adjust themselves to the personality of the guest.” This is the key point. A good c.s. person listens to the needs of the guest, helps them find what they are looking for or gives them to someone who can better assist them, and makes sure they leave satisfied, wanting to come back.

Young people often enter the retail field thinking that the industry is an easy job where they can do the minimal amount expected because it’s just retail. I’m here to say, “NO! Absolutely not!”

At any job, I understand that everyone has off days- they aren’t feeling well, are tired, or are having a bad day. Everyone has times when things go awry and people/customers get angry; however, there are people who just don’t belong in the c.s. industry. Over the course of my life I’ve run into too many rude, uneducated, lazy people to count and after leaving each experience I’ve thought, “Why did this person apply for this job?” Maybe they were really gung-ho at first and then lost that spark and settled into a cold, hardened shell of a person. But even then, why would you stay in a job that you hate and turns you into an extremely salty human being?

I have my monthly prescription filled at Duane Reade in SoHo. I dread picking up my prescription because I absolutely hate the girl who works at the pharmacy. She doesn’t smile, hasn’t been nice to anyone as far as I’ve seen, and will blatantly ignore you if you’re standing in line in front of her. Her lack of “I’ll be with you in a moment” leads me to the conclusion that she has no soul.

I was raised to work hard, earn my keep, and not expect anything. Entitlement is not a becoming quality and I have met a lot of people who think they deserve the crown jewels just for showing up. Customer service is not hard, but one has to actually want to be helpful. I think the main challenge is keeping a good attitude and adapting to the needs of each person you work with.

Lastly, doesn’t everyone like being helped if needed? Having someone available to answer questions? Not ignore you??? “Treat others how you want to be treated” should be part of everyone’s life motto no matter what job you hold. I mean, have some freakin pride in your work!

end of rant.


(not) running for gifts

I have been extremely delinquent in my running. Thus far I have 8 tally marks on my "Running For Gifts" sheet. The horror!!! It's been 31 days and I've gone a total of 6 times. I'm sure that you're thinking, "If you've only run 6 times, how do you have 8 tallies?" Well. Matt gave me one for doing the dishes and one for doing a P90X video. This averages to 2 times a week which is not terrible, but not accurate since I haven't run in a week and a half.

I have come to two conclusions:
1. I really dislike running with my whole being. When I am done I feel exhausted, extremely sweaty, and my left knee aches for the rest of the day. I did the extremely difficult P90X ab ribber video and realized that the thought of doing that video twice in a row was much more appealing than going outside and running halfway over the Williamsburg bridge and back.

2. I need to set a deadline and make a plan to accomplish my goal. Matt did say that I could use a P90X video in place of a run. I think that I can have my 50 runs by July 23rd. That means I have to run 3 times a week, and I can expedite the process by throwing in some P90X videos every once in awhile. Or, if I really don't want to run I can still make my goal by doing a video.

*Here's the fine print rule I've given myself about the videos: I have to do them in order. There is a whole calendar with P90X because the concept is muscle confusion- i.e. you do different exercises each day to eliminate the plateau effect from a set routine. If I skip a run I have to do the videos in order. The first one is an hour and a half of chest and back exercises. This will make running much more tempting seeing as the run only takes me 25 minutes door to door.

Extra incentive to get this done by July 23rd- I'm leaving for California the last weekend of July. By that time I'll be super fit, swim suit ready, and geared up for my gift from Matt! :)


Lent of Shame 2011 complete

The lent of shame results are in:

Michi: 14 days of shame
Sean: shame from 3.22 on
Matt: did not want to participate in the calendar tracker

So there you have it. I may not have done my lent goal, but I at least followed through. Hence, I am the winner.



The Metropolitan opera house is one of the most beautiful buildings I've been to in NYC. There is so much history and giant, commissioned Chagalls to stare at. Matt, Sean, and I went to see Wozzeck last week and it was INTENSE. If you like 12-tone music, murder, and mayhem, then Berg is for you. The orchestra sounded amazing and the lighting was rather enchanting. Someday one of these firework-like light fixtures will be in my home.



1 year.

It's almost been one full year since I moved to NYC. Yikes. I know that I've done a few things. A lot of things in fact. But wow. Time flies.

1. got a job right away and got promoted twice
2. moved 3 times
3. moved in with Matt and Sean
4. went to 3 museums (2 in 2 days)
5. saw 3 operas
6. started playing in a community orchestra
7. ate a lot of good food. like, a lot.
8. gave my final master's recital

You'll be happy to know that I finally bought a new charger for my camera (since I lost it just after xmas) and will once again be taking photos every second of every day. Stay tuned.



I. am. exhausted.

I have been working every day, practicing for at least 1 hour every day, and trying to do a bit of exercise every day. I know that I have had this sort of schedule in the past, but I think I must be getting too old or something. At the end of the day I just want to sit down and eat dinner, after which I usually fall asleep on the couch, wake up disoriented, and then realize that it's 930pm I still need to practice.

Usually I get sick when I feel this tired but keep pushing myself. Hold on body! Two more days of work and then you can sleep in!


making music in NYC

With the holidays finally over (I realize that the holidays have long been over, but in retail-land, the stress has just subsided), I decided to devote more of my time to music. I got in contact with a few community orchestras and asked if I could audition to be in their ensemble (even though they are almost done with their concert season). One got back to me right away and said that I can play with them for their last concert! Yippee! I'm excited because I haven't gotten to play the full Brahms Requiem before. I went to the first rehearsal tonight and I had a lot of fun. The group was just sight-reading (mind you, an extremely challenging work) so there were some definitely less than shining moments, but I really liked the conductor.

If you'd like to make a trip out to NYC to visit me, come in June and listen to the BCCO play the Brahms Requiem!

and here's some Sangria cuteness!


running is hard

I decided that I should start exercising again. Now that winter is over I need to be more active and get outside. I went for a run today. The last run I went on was when I was living in Oshkosh on Merritt Avenue... so a long time ago.

I decided that I could do 2 miles but I didn't take the uphill part of the bridge into account. Exhausting, but all in all, a fairly successful outing. Hopefully I can keep this up.


look what I made!



2011 Lent (of shame)

Sean and I decided that we should participate in Lent this year. I've never given up anything for Lent and didn't even know any details about this yearly event. According to Wikipedia, "Lent, in the Christian tradition, is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter." Apparently, there are free-pass days: "The six Sundays in this period are not counted because each one represents a 'mini-Easter,' a celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death." Because we'e only human, we added an Apt 35 rule: We can use the non-participatory Sundays on different days if needed. (i.e. I was out of town this past Friday and Saturday and couldn't do my goal so I've used two of my Sundays)

Because Sean and I decided to participate, we thought it only fitting to (nicely) drag Matt along with us. Roommate bonding time! We decided that we should post our results everyday on our fridge to hold each other accountable and shame ourselves into following through.

Michi: Practice every day for at least 1 hour
Sean: Lose at least 12 pounds (go to the gym every day)
Matt: No eating after midnight


NYC adventure time begin!

I've finally decided that I'm actually going to go out and do things in the city! Tiredness has been a big deterrent for me in the past, but no more!

Last week I made a spontaneous decision to go to an "Eight Blackbird" concert at the Armory with some friends. The armory was a military facility and social hall built during the civil war. The 55,000 square foot drill hall is used for all sorts of things like concerts and trade shows. The group sounded phenomenal and I'm so glad that I got to hear some good contemporary music.

Rick and I are making plans to go do things like scavenger hunts in the city:

and run the amazing race!

I can't wait!


snow and coconuts

We had a massive snow storm in NY the other day. It was bad. At times I felt like I was back in Wisconsin with hail-snow hitting me in the face. The snow here isn't usually the bad part, it's the aftermath. From everyone walking and the temperature not actually being that cold, the snow starts to melt and turn into a brown, slushy mess. Disgusting. Rain boots are necessary. Although, the fresh white of the snow always does look lovely. This is the tree outside of my apartment building.

The other day was Rick's 25th bday and we went out for an amazing dinner at Rye in Williamsburg. The best part was that I finally got to experience Rick and Andrew's famous coconut cake. So! Good! I didn't realize how a coconut "works." Very strange. I'm intrigued and am now contemplating getting a drill to make some macaroons.


exploding radiator situation

Yesterday, I was getting ready to leave for work, Matt had just sat down to practice, and we heard this horrific, extremely loud hissing sound outside our door. We opened our door to a room full of steam and Sean yelling that his radiator knob flew off. It was quite the spectacular scene. Radiators contain a lot of steam. I knew this but I didn't realize the extent. If you're curious, radiators contain enough steam to fill an entire household, cause you and your roommates to crawl on the floor to see, drench everything to the point of melting, and create rain inside our family room. Oh yes, it's quite the pleasant experience.

I tried to upload a video of the whole experience, but sadly, blogger does not want me to.

Instead, enjoy this photo of Sangria, being adorable.


adventures in Thai cooking

Me: "What do you want for dinner tonight?"
Matt: "How about Pad Thai?"
Me: "...ok"

I decided that I wanted to make "authentic" pad thai, or at least as authentic as I could make it. I got a recipe online which seemed easy enough: Eggs, peanut oil, garlic, fish sauce, tamarind paste, rice noodles, sugar, salt, tofu, bean sprouts, chives, peanuts, and lime. Totally doable. However, on a Sunday evening, finding all of the ingredients is rather challenging. The ingredients to make pad thai seemed fine, but throughout the process of making it I became extremely confused. It didn't seem like I was making the correct dish- tons of runny egg and dark red colored sugary liquid.

Matt: "It smells... interesting... in here..."
Me: "yeah, I don't know if we're going to be able to eat it"

The sauce calls for this fruit called Tamarind. The recipe I used called for 2 Tbs of tamarind paste- a very small amount. Apparently, this is not an item stocked at one's local grocery store. I did however luck out and found a store that carried fresh tamarind which, according to the internet, is fairly hard to procure. This is what tamarind looks like:

Very very odd. Inside it looks like a bunch of dates connected by roots that shoot out from one end and grow down the sides. They are soooooo good though. Of course I only needed 1 for my recipe so now I have an entire box full to try in other recipes and snack on.

After everything was all mixed together it finally started to look and smell like it was supposed to. And, voila!

Pad thai. It was really yummy and even better the next day for leftovers.


Happy 2011!!!

2011 is finally here. I love new year time because I really do see it as a new, fresh start. Plus, I think that people are in an all around better mood because they are also making resolutions to better themselves in some way, shape, or form.

I went out with my favorite boys, Rick and Andrew, to a German beer garden called Loreley. Such good food! I forget how much I love sauerkraut! We had some champagne at midnight and then went to DBGB to meet up with Matt. The restaurant was decorated so prettily with balloons and new years decorations everywhere!

I've resolved to be overall healthier/take better care of myself this year. Living in NY is hard because it's hard to go grocery shopping, let alone find enough time to prepare meals, and there are so many places to buy food it's easy to be lazy and just buy something. I'm making some changes such as ordering groceries online and planning meals out in advance to help with my new goal. Also, I got some super amazing new kitchen items such as a kitchenaid stand mixer, a new garlic zoom, a cast iron skillet, and a bread maker for Xmas so I'm really excited to use them!