Thoughts & Feels

Being human

Being human is such a weird, wonderful, awful thing. We’re all just kind of renting space on this planet and we desperately, foolishly, try to stake our claim on each other, land, this, that, and the other thing to make us feel like we actually have some semblance of control over our limited time here. That these things give us weight, give us staying power, give us reason, give us meaning. And maybe they do, maybe they don’t.

Deep down I think we all want to feel understood, to feel as if we belong, but life turns into this messy battle of finding how your wants and needs fit in with everyone else’s. If you’re lucky like I am, you’re born into the right tribe that fits you and loves you and grows you, giving you the foundation and confidence to expand that love outside of the tribe, to open up to new people and experiences. Unfortunately not everyone is so lucky.

In this chapter of my life I feel a deep sense of belonging that is maybe somewhat ironically coupled with a sense of isolation. I feel oddly in tune with the universe, like our energy levels match and I can trust in the uncertainty of the path I’m on right now. Oddly enough, I am comforted by the uncertainty, at least as I’m writing this. It’s fluid and flexible and full of possibilities which very much feels like home. Moving weeded out some of the excess in my life and I feel lighter for it. I think it’s made more room for me to grow. I have entered into a bit of a reclusive existence, not in any extreme way, but enough to truly value the people I allow into my life on a regular basis with enough space leftover to probably over contemplate my own existence. What a time to be alive!

I acknowledge and appreciate that my impact, especially at this moment, is fairly limited. And for the first time in my life that doesn’t make me feel sad or small or insignificant. I can create in relative obscurity, try new things without any real fear of failure and choose to learn whatever I want without the weight of anyone’s judgement because I must survive no one’s scrutiny but my own and who am I to judge? I suppose I’m staking a claim in this rented space of mine and carving out the world I want to live in. Mostly I’m just here to play. Join me.

 

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March went postal

Happy Easter, fools. I am late with my March learning summary. So it goes.

Given the riveting nature of the postal service (the government branch, not the band), I will admit to a wishy washy commitment to this past month’s education, but I picked up a few nuggets of semi-interesting information and a refreshed perspective which I consider a win.

When I first conceived of this post, I anticipated my writing to be fairly snide, but I’ve since come to realize that given the era of instant technology in which we live, it’s incredibly easy to take the ability and agility at which we communicate for granted. And while no one would ever confuse me for a history buff, the evolution of the U.S. Postal Service is actually quite remarkable.

As transportation technology evolved, so did too the mail system. Planes, trains, and automobiles (not to mention horses and steamboats) revolutionized the movement of mail and played a vital role in bringing about American independence.

I’m trying to do this while watching Fixer Upper which tells you I’m super invested. I’m about this close to moving to Waco, Texas to remodel a cute Tudor style house that I can live happily ever after in. I was going to bullet some information, but honestly, I don’t believe it’s worth the time or the effort. So I’ll leave you with this: if you want to wet your whistle on the U.S. Postal Service, this is a great resource. 

I think April is going to be the month I try embroidery which I don’t believe was one of my initial ideas for the year, but it’s something I’ve been meaning to try and my parents gave me some kits a couple Christmases ago. Will keep you posted.

February Bake-off

I’m writing this from the floor in my kitchen with music blasting and a glass of wine next to me. I took a break from dancing around my apartment to tell you about my half-assed baking attempts this month. Buckle up, kids. I know you’re on the edge of your seats.

I’ve gotta say, baking just doesn’t excite me the way that cooking does. I’m not a precise person. Nor am I one to follow directions closely. That being said, I do enjoy getting my hands in some dough. I don’t know what it is, but getting messy is therapeutic for me whether it’s playing in the dirt or in the kitchen.

Anywho, let’s get into it! I didn’t bake as much as I would have liked for a month I intended to be devoted to such things, but I learned some shit which is kind of the whole point of this year of the unicorn ordeal. Here’s what I have.

Best thing I made: Lime Sugar Cookies
I followed the recipe linked above, mostly. A quick Google search gave me permission to replace the baking soda and cream of tartar with a teaspoon of baking powder. For as often as cream of tartar is called for in something I want to make (read: basically never) I didn’t want to run to the store for it if I didn’t have to. Fortunately in baking, according to the Google gods, when a recipe calls for baking soda and cream of tartar to be used together baking powder is a viable substitute, and is conveniently a more common substance in my cupboard. I also skipped the coconut and cream cheese in the frosting and added fresh lime juice instead. In hindsight I would have also added some zest to the frosting to really add that POW in-your-face lime factor. These turned out really well. I probably ate 5 or 6 or 8, ya know…to make sure they were good and test out the cookie to frosting ratio, then brought the rest in for coworkers. They seemed to go over well. They’re best chilled in my opinion.

Worst thing I made: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Honestly, I had high hopes for these cookies and was wildly disappointed. I made these the day of the Superbowl to bring to a party and the guys seemed to like them, but I was expecting and hoping for a soft chewy awesome cookie and ended up with an overly thick, somewhat crunchy cookie. Not ideal, especially since the whole reason to bother with an oatmeal cookie is for the chew factor. I will say the flavor was good, but the texture didn’t work for me. I’m assuming I made an error somewhere and the recipe may be worth trying again…but my personal quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie will continue…and the giant container of oatmeal I’ve had on my counter since the fall will have to prove itself useful in some other way.

Cheated with this: Sweet Potato Crusted Quiche
I don’t have a link for this and I feel like including this is kind of cheating because it’s a hybrid cooking/baking meal, but it went in the oven TWICE so I’m including it. Plus, it was delicious. I got a mandolin for Christmas so any excuse to break it out is cause for excitement and this is a bit healthier than always making potato chips :) It starts with a sweet potato crust that par-bakes at 350 for 15 minutes and while that’s going down you saute some onion and garlic and spinach until thoroughly wilted. In hindsight I would have tried to squeeze out some moisture here, but it still turned out fine. This mixture gets dumped into the crust and then you beat 4 eggs together, pour that over the top, then top the whole thing with a mess of any kind of shredded cheese that makes your heart happy and throw it back in the oven for 30 minutes until it gets a bit crusty on top and the egg mixture is set. I liked this a lot. The sweet potato crust holds up surprisingly well and it even reheated nicely a few days later.

Second shoutout to these bomb blueberry muffins. Planning on making these again this week because blueberries were on sale and they’re amazing. I’m a sucker for anything with a crumble topping and the blueberry swirl is just killer.

Lastly, here’s a cake I’d like to make eventually. Maybe for my cinco de mayo birthday momma.

Also, these nutella swirl banana muffins are on my list to try.

With a day to spare, that brings us to March. I think this may be the month I do some research about the history of the US mail system. We’ll find out how riveting of a topic that is together.

 

 

January: Playing with food (and eating it too)

I decided since I conveniently have 12 topics of interest for the year that it makes sense to devote a month to each one, at least on here. I expect many of the topics will continue beyond a month, particularly the food ones, but it’s tough to resist a convenient breakdown. So I’m calling January the month of recipes!

I’m forever playing with food and browsing online for interesting meals, snacks, and baked goods to try. This month was a good one for kitchen experiments. You’ll notice a lack of photos. I don’t have the patience for food photography. I appreciate the chefs and bloggers out there that take the time and have the skill to focus on presentation, but I honestly just want to fucking eat. I’m the one snacking as I go while I make something and then impatiently waiting for it to come out of the oven only to burn my fingers and my mouth in my rush to taste the finished goods. No, you’re impatient.

Here is a sample of what I made this month linked to any recipes I followed along with my thoughts:

Cauliflower Mac n Cheese
This was surprisingly tasty. I never would have thought to combine cauliflower and mac n cheese, but it works. I riced my cauliflower using a food processor and then boiled it with the pasta. I liked not having large chunks of cauliflower, but knowing I was getting an extra serving of vegetables.

Pro tip: If you rice your cauliflower and then put it in a covered bowl in the fridge, it WILL smell like a battalion of babies shit in there. I made this mistake for you. You can thank me later. To avoid that, rice your cauliflower right before you cook it with the pasta or boil it separately right after you rice it THEN store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Boiling it eliminates the pungent cruciferous gas.

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken
This was insanely delicious and so so simple. Highly recommend and will be making it again. I substituted rice vinegar for regular white vinegar because I had it on hand, served it over quinoa and added some steamed broccoli at the very end to round out the meal.

Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Chicken
Does this even need to be discussed? Chicken, bacon, and cheese. If that’s not comfort food I don’t know what is.

Blueberry Swirl Muffins
If I could only recommend one recipe on this list, it would be this one. It’s the only item in this post I actually snapped a picture of. Easily the best blueberry muffins I’ve ever had and the recipe is actually really fun to make. It also gave me an excuse to try out my new silicone muffin “tins” which worked flawlessly. Do yourself a favor and make these muffins.

Crockpot Carnitas
This. Is. Bomb. Ugh. I don’t often make the same thing repeatedly, but this has been an exception. I LOVE crockpot recipes and this one is just so delicious and easy. For the rub, I just use some olive oil, salt, pepper, and mixed italian seasoning mix. I like to take the finished shredded pork and make nachos. It’s also awesome to add to trashed up ramen noodles with some fresh veggies and an egg. Swoon.

Crockpot Pesto Mozzarella Chicken Pasta
I’ve already made this a few times, including once for friends, and it’s a hit. I’ll eat cheesy pesto pasta any day of the week and the chicken just adds some extra substance. Don’t threaten me with a good time. The huge bonus here is that the crockpot does all the heavy lifting and store bought pesto (I used Wegmans) is the magic touch.

Gnocchi with Feta and Mushrooms
Not sure if you’ve caught on yet, but I have a bit of a love affair with pasta. This dish is super simple, delicious, and comforting. I only used basic white mushrooms and dried rosemary because I had it already, but I don’t think it loses any flavor.

Roasted Chickpeas
This is probably my least favorite thing on the list, but they grew on me the more I ate. I really love chickpeas/garbanzo beans rinsed right out of the can or with a little olive oil and some herbs. When they’re roasted the texture completely changes. Some get crunchy, some a little chewy and I feel like they don’t retain a ton of flavor from the seasonings, but maybe I just needed to use more? Who knows. It’s possible I’ll try to make them again, but I think my preference is still unroasted.

Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast
I didn’t follow a recipe for this. Today I happened to bring a crunchy peanut butter sandwich for lunch, but didn’t end up eating it because one of my favorite people gifted me a donut and then I lost interest in said sandwich. I know. Life is tough.
Well my lowly sandwich made the trip back home with me and I didn’t particularly want it, but I didn’t want to throw it out either. That’s when I was inspired to turn it into french toast! An egg, a splash of milk and vanilla, and a dash of cinnamon later and that peanut butter sandwich was feeling pretty sexy grilling in some butter. Dusted with a bit of powdered sugar at the end, I don’t know if I’ll ever want to eat a sandwich the normal way again. I think using crunchy peanut butter was key, too, for adding texture and keeping the peanut butter from turning into a total melted mess. I would not eat my pb sandwich again just to have the excuse to make this.

I think I might continue on the food focused trend and make next month the science of baking…which is really just an excuse to make cake and cookies. Save me from myself while I have my cake and eat it too. Perhaps it will also be the month that I recommit to consistently exercising. Cheers.

The year of the unicorn

If you’re an observer of the blogosphere, you may have noticed a few weeks ago that it was pretty trendy for bloggers to choose their word of the year, something to base their intentions on. While I don’t consider myself a blogger anymore and this space has really turned into a personal catchall where I indulge my whims or neglect it for long periods of time, I appreciate any kind of wordplay, especially if it encourages substance.

So, for me? This is the year of re-schooling which I have fondly nicknamed the year of the unicorn because it’s more fun to say and there is magic in learning, especially learning for fun and mischief.

Why re-schooling?

Because there is so much I want to learn about still! Hopefully always. I never want to lose my curiosity. I want to investigate random shit for no reason other than I’m curious about it and want to know more. I was always a good student when I was in school and I’ve always been a solid employee, but I’m finding in my adult life that I am not great at showing up for myself and committing to personal goals and ambitions because I get tired and lazy and it’s easy to push off things I want to do because I’m not being held accountable by anyone but myself. But, no more wimpy excuses! I’m hoping that by learning new things and experimenting that I will keep growing and my journey will continue to be interesting. Plus, I don’t want to be a damn cog in someone else’s machine my whole life. I’ve got big ideas and an independent heart.

So! I’m sure this will evolve, but here’s a list of things I’d like to start with:

  • the science of baking
  • new recipes (I LOVE to play with food! and I already do this weekly, but I will continue to experiment)
  • clothing deconstruction and pattern making
  • the US mail system
  • how to use more power tools
  • Thoreau’s writings
  • Da Vinci’s inventions
  • existentialism
  • transcendentalism
  • traveling solo
  • poetry/creative writing
  • photography/videography

I may chronicle at least some of my adventures here as this space is sort of my own personal time capsule–open to the public, but not actively shared. If you’re reading, you’re welcome to join the adventure.

 

I never lose. I either win or I learn.

As I close in on another birthday, I guess it’s about that time to get all reflective. It’s been a crazy fucking year. 25 was, in a word, turbulent, but the last two months have been so damn sweet. I feel like I’ve gone through my own personal renaissance.

I’ve lived in three different places this year and where I’ve landed…well, I think I’m going to be here for a while. I feel like a lot of the pieces that I’ve been waiting, hoping, wishing to fall in place finally are.

I changed jobs. I am doing exactly what I wanted to be doing and it is even better than I could have hoped. The cherry on top is the ridiculously amazing people I get to interact with everyday. How so many awesome people all ended up in one place just blows my mind, but I’m damn grateful we found each other.

I lost love, but gained some hard won clarity about who I am and what I want. I want outrageous, raw, unapologetic, real love. A partner. Someone that won’t make me doubt I’m wanted. Someone that will choose me, choose us, even when the going gets rough. Someone that believes in me and the magic of life and all it has to offer. Someone who isn’t afraid of disappointment. If I don’t find it, I’m happy on my own. I’m not in a rush and I won’t settle for less.

My small side business did better than I ever would have expected, especially with pretty extreme periods of neglect on my part. I’m not a salesperson, but I ended up with four clients that all gave me repeat business. It’s no where near a livable income, but it’s nice extra money doing work I enjoy on the side. I’m not sure how actively I’ll pursue the continuation of it, but it’s been rewarding knowing I can make money from something I created.

I didn’t end up traveling anywhere this year; landing a new job took precedence. But I’m heading to Seattle in a few weeks with my brother on a work trip and I’m thinking I might go to Utah or Ireland later this year. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ve been having a blast exploring Central New York.

That quote at the top of this post? I just came across it today and it sums up my enlightenment period from this year. The last two months hit the refresh button on my life and I desperately needed it. I’m grateful for the good, the bad, and the ugly, but right now I feel like all the good things are coming my way and I’m going to soak it up.

I don’t have specific goals this go-round, but these are my intentions for the year:

  • make bold moves
  • embrace vulnerability
  • be open to opportunity
  • live on purpose
  • stay curious
  • find the wild and keep it close
  • let go of things and people who aren’t meant for me
  • enjoy the hell out of whatever brings me joy

Cheers to 26 and whatever craziness this year has in store for me. It’s going to be one for the books.

Tickled by life

This morning I drove to Skaneateles. My primary goal was to check out this bakery I found online. You see, Skaneateles just feels like a place that would have a great bakery. And I was right. In fact I was almost gluttonous enough to go to two! But I’ll save Patisserie for next time. Skaneateles Bakery was a treat. I bought an over sized pink lemonade macaron and a raspberry muffin and ate them near the lake where some seagulls were also enjoying their morning.

I spent some time people watching, soaking up the sunshine, walking down the pier, and even finished reading my book. And, as I sat there, I felt more content than I have in a long time. Moving here was the best decision I could have made. I can feel myself settling more into who I want to be and I think this time alone is exactly what I needed. I love exploring on my own. Who knew?

You don’t realize that every person in your life and experience you have adds weight to your life until you make a big shift like this. Or at least I didn’t. And the weight usually isn’t a bad thing. It adds depth and value and love to living, but I feel less weighed down now and it’s freeing. There are less demands on my time and my mind and it’s helping me to feel more connected with myself. I cook what I want, go where I want, and do what I want without needing to compromise or wonder if someone else is going to be okay with the decision and, man, that feels so, so good right now!

I’m tickled by this season of life. I know it’s not likely that I’ll be on my own or want to be on my own forever, but right now I’m going to soak it up and enjoy it as much as I can. Cheers to being comfortable in your own skin and finding out you’re pretty damn capable all on your own.