Sun 14 Apr 2013
For the first year after I moved to Ireland, I lived alone in a lovely upper-floor apartment in Drogheda. And for several years prior to my move to Ireland, I lived alone without any live-in beaus or roommates to speak of.
I don’t look back on this with any sadness or regret; in fact, when I finally decided to ditch the roommate situation and branch out on my own, I was beyond ready to go solo. My last roommate (in Los Angeles, where I lived at the time) was an actress who didn’t have a day-job, which meant she was in our apartment all the time. It got to the point where I’d pull into our driveway after a long day at work and groan when I saw her car there – just once I wanted it and her NOT to be there, laying about on the couch and nagging me about everything from whether I’d read her magazines without asking to when I’d planned to move the unwashed fork from the sink into the dishwasher.
Though for the first few weeks I was a bit chicken (one unfamiliar noise in the dark would almost make pine for the company of that lay-about actress) I settled into bachelorette living and embraced having my own space. It was nice to come home from work, fix myself dinner and not have to worry about whether someone else had already tuned the television to some stupid show I had no desire to watch. I could literally kick off my shoes, flip on the telly and eat cereal out of the box if I so pleased.
It was a liberating time where I further developed my already well-cultured independence, though it wasn’t always easy. One time there was a massive flying cockroach in my tiny bathroom, and it took me about an hour of self-motivating inner monologues (he’s just a bug, you are a huge human!) before I finally went in with a can of bug spray in one hand and a plastic spatula in the other. I sprayed so much bug poison in the bathroom I nearly choked to death myself, but when the mist had settled and I peered through the tiny crack of the open door, I saw the intruder was legs-up and off to that roach motel in the sky. Hard-won, but victory nonetheless!
I also developed some single-girl behaviours during this time – things I would never do around a boyfriend or maybe even a best friend. If I was feeling particularly lazy on a Saturday morning, I’d grab the duvet off my bed, curl up on the couch and watch some super cheeseball television show whilst munching on an odd but appealing snack like melted American cheese on crackers with salsa on top. I might even stay in my pajamas all day, chatting with a friend on the telephone whilst lying on the floor with my feet up on the coffee table, followed by Indian takeaway eaten straight from the paper container and a solo screening of The Holiday.
While these weren’t necessarily healthy behaviours, they were good for the soul. There’s something cathartic about having the space to do whatever you want, without company or judgment. These days I’m happily married to and cohabitating with Mountaineering Man, but I still have my me time (and so does he – though his ideal solo time involves climbing a mountain!). If MM is working on a Sunday, as he sometimes does, I may veg out on the sofa with a mindless television program (don’t ask me why but I actually recorded and watched every episode of Chasing the Saturdays on E!) or spend far too much time on Pinterest, looking for home decorating ideas or the perfect holiday destination. Being able to indulge in these single-girl behaviours makes me a better wife, partner and friend and helps ease the stress of work and life in general. I highly recommend it!
Pear & Pine Nut Spelt Bread
One of my favourite ways to spend my alone time is a) looking at cookbooks; b) looking up recipes on Foodgawker; c) taking all the ideas and creating a new dish. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen during my solo hours, which ironically isn’t something I did much when I was single. Perhaps it’s because I have someone else to cook for now, which is a big motivator. I made this bread recently when I was home alone, as we had some leftover pears and a half-bag of pine nuts in the press. I took a few banana bread recipes and adapted them to create this. Enjoy!
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1 cup coconut sugar (or use dark brown sugar; you can find coconut sugar at Nourish or other health food shops)
1/4 cup canola or olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and diced
Handful toasted pine nuts
Preheat oven to 180 C degrees. Grease and flour a loaf tin.
In a bowl, whisk together the first eight ingredients. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine coconut sugar, oil and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in flour mixture. Fold in diced pears and pine nuts.
Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until done. Cool in pans for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.