Life Skills
This Blog Post Is Your Home Ec Teacher Now

It has recently come to my attention that American teens don’t really take home economics classes anymore. (And also that at some point the course was rebranded as family and consumer sciences?) That makes me sad because home ec is one of the electives that I remember best from my middle school years. The barest approximation of cooking, the right way to hold a sewing needle (with the pointy side away from you), how to work with an unwilling partner — these are all competencies that I have retained to some degree, or that at least briefly cross my mind whenever I look up online tutorials for how to execute some basic life skill.

I’m not certain what kind of teachings have replaced the subject in school — speed coding? vertical videography? how to monetize the self? — but I strongly feel that teenagers still deserve some semblance of home economics education. Lucky for all you Zoomers who are reading these words, I am up to the task. Call me Ms. Z. Allow me the honor of imparting practical skills upon your still-developing mind. That’s right, child: This blog post is your home ec teacher now.

Cooking 101: How to Microwave Eggs

“But Ms. Z,” you, a member of the Gen Z cohort might protest, “I don’t need to learn how to cook an egg in the microwave. Modern technology and the impetus to streamline every aspect of human convenience has birthed this thing called a food delivery app, which just requires a few taps to get hot meals delivered right to my door in half an hour.”

Alright, you little shit, but have you ever thought about what would happen if your phone died, and also your computer and every other device in your home? Or what if you don’t wish to support third-party delivery apps that are leeching off of small businesses and workers alike? Also, what if you’re a college student who’s hungry for eggy in a dorm room at 2 a.m. when the dining hall and most restaurants are closed?

The steps are very simple:

  1. Crack an egg or two into a little bowl or a mug, depending on your preference for handles.
  2. Add whichever seasons you like. I would recommend “salt” and “pepper.”
  3. Also add a splash of milk or at least water, surely you have at least that in your mini fridge.
  4. By the way, this recipe is not vegan. Unless you replace all of the animal products with plant-based ones, but I haven’t recipe tested that because nobody at my school even knew what vegan was back in the early aughts. But by all means.
  5. Okay, back to eggy. Whisk it up with a fork or some other utensil and stick that bad boy in the microwave.
  6. Heat that bad boy up for 30 seconds to a minute.
  7. Remove that bad boy from the microwave and use your physical senses to assess the situation. Does it SMELL burnt? That means you probably overshot on time. Does it LOOK overly runny? Good, you can still reform that bad boy into a gentleman.
  8. Give the gentleman a stir and back into the microwave for another 30-second interval. Zap zap! Watch out for the microwave radiation!
  9. Check and repeat as needed.

Congratulations, you have successfully cooked a scrambled egg in the microwave! Grab a spoon and enjoy your cup o’ rubbery grub — you deserve it.

Sewing 101: How to Make a Pillow

Great job on the eggs, guys. Now this next one is a middle school favorite circa the year 2005. What you’re going to need is a thread, a needle, some scissors, and a DIY pillow kit that we’re going to sell to you at a marked-up price because the district budget is a little tight this year and I’ve already had to pay for all the eggs out of pocket. In my day, the pillow options were basically between illustrations of horses or dolphins that looked like they were drawn by Lisa Frank if she were undergoing treatment for depression, but these days there are some real cute options on the market. Have fun with it!

  1. Take your two pieces of fabric and lay them flat on a surface. They should be flipped so that you see the inside-out form of the pillow. One will be the front of the pillow; the other will be the back.
  2. Now lay them on top of each other.
  3. Sew along three and a half sides of the square. I’m not really sure how to explain sewing if you don’t already know how to do it. Basically, you thread a needle, knot it, and start pushing the needle up and down through the cloth — oh, forget it, just look it up on YouTube.
  4. You still have your remaining opening, right? C’mon, guys, I told you to leave half a side. You’re going to have to push the needle back through the holes in reverse. I don’t care if it hurts your fingers, just do it.
  5. Everyone else who listened to my instructions, go ahead and invert the pillowcase through the opening. Thank you.
  6. Now’s the cool part: stuff it! Take this polyester filling and shove it right in there. Be careful, this stuff clumps, so you can never wash this pillow, but that’s okay — a little spritz of Febreze can work wonders. Work it into the corners, yeah, that’s right. We’re aiming for a plump square perfect for lunch-break snoozes in the car.
  7. Pick up the needle and thread again and stitch up that opening, easy peasy!

You all did great, everyone. Don’t forget to get me your parents’ credit card info if you haven’t paid for the pillow kit yet.

Cleaning 101: How to Remove a Stain

We’ve all been there. Slurping up spaghetti, sipping too much wine — you’ll get there, kids — and then whoops! A new stain blooms across that white blouse you’ve patched up for 11 years because you can’t bear to replace it. Don’t panic! You can still save that shirt. Here’s what we’re going to practice today:

  1. Remove the clothing item and place it in the sink.
  2. Depending on what caused the stain, you can try any of the following to get it out: vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, white wine, laundry detergent.
  3. The general rule of thumb is try to lift off as much of the stain as possible without scrubbing it further into the fabric or spreading it.
  4. You might need to dab, you might need to blot, you might need to soak. That’s what’s so interesting about this lesson plan, guys: each stain is like a puzzle you have to figure out. In that way, I guess it’s sort of a video game? But you don’t even need a Nintendo Switch for this kind of free, family-friendly fun.
  5. Yes, back row, do you have a question? A Tide pen? No, I haven’t heard of a Tide pen. What’s that?

Interpersonal Relationships 101: How to Work Through Indifference

Here’s the thing, Sally, life is full of unfair situations. Is it fair that teachers make like $40,000 a year, tops? Is it fair that I went back to school for this when I could’ve just stayed a bartender in Boca Raton and probably made a decent living and married my boyfriend Ric and lived within walking distance from the beach? Is it fair that Ric is now engaged to a golf course heiress and will clean the house for her but never lifted a damn finger all six years we were together? No. But that’s just how the world works. People don’t give a shit how hard each other’s lives are because everyone only thinks about themselves. No one’s going to go out of their way to help you or be nice to you or guarantee you a good grade. The sooner you learn that, the better off you’ll be, and god knows you could use the advice from one of the only goddamn adults in your life who is trying to prepare you for the real world. I’m doing you a favor here. For the last time, NO — I’m not letting you switch partners. Now apologize to Justin and get back to your assignment. Those eggs aren’t going to microwave themselves.