I Swear This Isn’t My Journal

Because if this blog was my journal, I’d neglect it for months at a time and write in it when the mood struck me.

Oh.

Wait.

But really, I keep meaning to update this thing (because we’re just calling it a thing now; blogging implies commitment) and just haven’t had time/resources. A few of you have asked when I’m going to post again which made me feel simultaneously amazing and lazy if that is possible. It is possible. You probably have the same feeling while eating Talenti out of the container on your couch. Not that I would know what that’s like.

Anyway, thought I’d provide a quick update and then see what the rest of the year brings. Really, I love doing this. I love sharing my story with you guys and relating to everything in GIFs because a) everything in life can be expressed through a GIF and b) so many of you have told me how much these stories make you laugh. And that makes me happy. Not because I have aspirations to be on Comedy Central but because a good laugh is underrated and we don’t have them enough. A laugh a day keeps diabetes away right? No, that’s not right, but laughing is good for you and I’m happy to contribute to your good health.

Because this is the easiest form of playing catch up, here is my list of things that have been keeping me busy.

Watching: I think the last update was before I moved into my own place, so since then I have not had cable television. I wanted to justify the expense of network television, but I like Whole Foods more than I like TV, so I pay for internet for the purpose of watching Frasier reruns on Netflix. really, that’s what I’ve been watching for the past two weeks. Religiously. I am WAY into this show, just as much as I was in high school, but now I can freely admit that out loud. Frasier throws THE most on point temper tantrums and Martin puts him in his place with half the fuss and twice the wit.

Reading: According to Goodreads I am reading The Book Thief. In real life I am reading the IKEA catalog and not much else. I have fallen off the wagon as far as reading anything of substance goes and right now I am OK with that.

penny, happy endings

Wearing: I finally gave up on Bare Minerals makeup after coming to terms that I no longer have the problem skin of an adolescent and rather the problem skin of an almost-30something.

frasier, daphne

For the first time in almost 10 years I’ve gone back to a drug store makeup, L’Oreal True Match, with pretty optimal results. I was pretty anti-liquid makeup until I saw how easy this was to blend and how great the coverage is. For someone as lazy as I am, it’s worth the extra five minutes in the morning to apply.

Eating: I found a pristine box of Trader Joe’s puff pastry in my freezer about a month ago and used it to make these olive and red onion tarts. This easily could have been a well rounded meal with a nice green salad, shared between two people as the recipe suggests. Seeing as it was just a suggestion, I ate the tart sans green salad and shared it with myself. The next time I went to Trader Joe’s I couldn’t find the puff pastry, and found out that it’s a seasonal item that won’t return until October. How long was that thing in my freezer? This was unfortunate news as there are limited options in the universe for legitimate store bought puff pastry. Trader Joe’s and Dufour are the only two brands that I know of that make all butter puff pastry. I don’t think TJ’s is 100% butter anymore, but it’s still better than Pepperidge Farm which is essentially a combination of things that are also used in industrial grade rat poison. I’ve never had the Dufour brand before but if I hit the lottery, perhaps I will be able to afford the chance to try it.

Listening: So just when I was ready to tell Amazon Prime to eff off, they stockpile HBO shows on their version of Netflix and then add this new Prime Music thing which is a hybrid of Pandora and Spotify (at least from what I understand of Spotify, brb still don’t get it). While there are many reasons to tell Amazon to screw off (i.e. their tendency to shit all over small businesses), they’ve made it easy to introduce new music into my life with Prime Music. Father John Misty is a Prime discovery that I’m listening to and loving on. Bluesy, folky rock that makes you want to clap your hands a little or maybe a lot and lyrics that are razor sharp and sometimes beg the question “who hurt you?”

Bonus-Volunteering: Something that doesn’t fall into any of these categories but is super important to me right now is volunteering. I had been a pretty active volunteer until I graduated college and started working full time. A combination of lack of time and lack of interest kept me out of the loop until I moved and saw volunteering as a non-confrontational way to meet people and do my civic duty. (Confrontational ways of meeting people include networking which I still tend to loathe unless there are free food and drinks involved, even then it’s a stretch). I’ve volunteered here and there doing this and that, but have invested most of my time with Local First Arizona, Free Arts of Arizona and Power Paws Assistance Dogs. If we’re friends on FB or you follow me on Instagram, you might say that I am biased towards Power Paws and I wouldn’t call you a liar. Their most popular volunteer opportunity is puppy petting which is exactly what it sounds like. You go to their facility and play with puppies as young as a few days old and socialize them to become well adjusted and lifesaving service dogs. Yes you get to save a life by PLAYING WITH PUPPIES. When I heard about it through a colleague I thought she was fucking with me.

“What do you mean…you play with puppies? For free?”
“Sure, you just…” 

But I was already gone, at my computer typing up an application.

The organization breeds and raises services dogs that then go to children and adults with diabetes, autism, disabilities that affect balance like Parkinson’s and MS. There are other volunteer opportunities to foster the dogs for two years, train them on 90 commands and then give them back. But I think we know how that would end for me.

bridesmaids, megan, puppies

The other two are obviously very worthy organizations that deserve your attention if you live in the Phoenix metro area (or even if you don’t because you could seek out something similar in your hometown if the any of the concepts interest you) and I love them all the same. But. PUPPIES.

So tell me about your life in the comments! Are you reading? Are you eating? Are you wearing things? Are you volunteering somewhere really cool (but not as cool as puppy petting because nothing is as cool as puppy petting). ARE YOU WATCHING TV? Of course you are. So tell me!

Be In This Moment (Because You’ll Never Get it Back)

Oh hay.

Hay hi there.

So it’s been pretty quiet because I haven’t felt like writing or updating or thinking my thoughts here. Also I’ve been busy working and looking for a place to live and trying to have some semblance of a social life which is, believe it or not, pretty exhausting. All day I talk to people at work and now I’m supposed to…talk to more people after work?

I think you know how this makes me feel.

stephen colbert, kill me, the colbert report

Today I’m just going to update you using my favorite medium (A LIST!) because all the pieces I have in queue are going to stay that way because they’re all basically one giant idea web which is kind of what I imagine the inside of my brain looks like right now.  The extended playlist project might be something I pick back up later this year, but right now maintaining that just isn’t something that interests me right now.

Before the udpate, I want to throw some wisdom on you, not exactly the most original wisdom. And it’s not even mine. I stole it. Sometimes when that unoriginal stuff circles back to you at a different point in your life, you’re like oh yeah, this makes sense, I love this and it’s going to change my life. Ok maybe not that dramatic, but perspective is this amazing thing that helps you look at life and refocus in a really clear and concise way. It’s like getting glasses and turning that multi-colored blob into a stoplight.  I’m not saying that’s happened to me. But maybe it has. Suddenly your direction makes a little more sense. Your progress feels like progress. Your failures aren’t just failures, they’re lessons. You have more confidence about decisions, whether or not to move forward, or maybe just be patient and wait or proceed with caution.

I read this article about Carrie Brownstein, 1/2 of the powerhouse behind Portlandia, a show that I’ve been told I would love by many people. I have access to Netflix and IFC, so really have no reason for not watching it other than the sheer laziness that comes with adding a new show to my circuit. It’s a nice little profile on what drives her, how she got started, and how she maintains her creative edge.

The article was great, but her closing quote was worth the entire read:

“I want to be present in everything I do…That’s the only limitation I set for myself.”

Whoa. Being present is a limitation? When you think about it in the context of our smartphone culture, it absolutely is a limitation. But not in the way that we traditionally think of what limits mean.

Being in the present has been so hard for me lately, primarily because my phone has become an extra appendage that I cannot be without at any time during the day. It’s the last thing I look at before I go to sleep (mostly because of this missing Malaysian plane business) and the first thing I look when I wake up (again, mostly because I need to know what happened to this fucking plane). During the day, I use it to check e-mail, build my schedule with two different calendars, text my friends funny links I found on Buzzfeed, talk to my mom on FaceTime (who are we kidding, talk to my dogs), Google my burning questions (i.e. where to by strike-anywhere matches-if you know, do tell, I need some), house hunt, unsubscribe from newsletters that I did not subscribe to, and a litany of other things that make it seem like it’s impossible to disconnect from this four ounce metal block that dictates so much of my life.

My mind is never off and my task list and notes section in my phone are concrete proof of that. I don’t know how to reign it in. I once read an advice article in which the author suggested that we shouldn’t set tasks to do when we get home from work; that we should just go home and be. I read that and thought, I wish life was just that simple (bitch).

really, r u serious

I wish that I could just remember to mail that thank-you card without an alert. Or that I could fold that pile of laundry that I hid from myself because I was tired of looking at it without having to set a calendar appointment.

The thing is, it can be that simple.

Carrie Brownstein put it in perspective for me: being in the moment is a limitation because it is a choice. It’s a matter of carving out what those true priorities are and letting that other stuff fall away so that I can be in the moment. We’re kind of subscribed to the idea that a limitation is a negative experience when really it can make way for something new or better. Whether it’s giving my full and complete, phone-free attention at dinner with friends or just stopping to look at a sunset without showing everyone on Facebook, I can choose to capitalize on time that I can never get back. I don’t think I think about this enough with the gravity that it deserves: by choosing to be tethered to my phone, I choose to limit myself in another way by letting that time go, letting those moments get away.  So instead of trying to capture a moment on my phone or not just letting that calendar notice go unchecked, why not just be present and let it be what it is: a moment, that deserves my attention.

It seems like a ridiculous goal to set for myself to just be in the moment. It’s like someone telling me to just “live your life!” (PS-I hate when people say that in a non-ironic context.) But when I have to think hard about the last time I just really let myself be, it doesn’t seem like such a ridiculous goal.

Now time for some fun stuff that falls into the category of non-wisdom and things I’m crushing on right now.

Watching: Based on my Twitter account, you’d think I watch nothing more than CNN to see where the hell that Malaysian plane disappeared to. In between refreshing multiple news sites and coming home to yell at Anderson Cooper, I have been keeping up with my regular TV diet, and have been really feeling the broads of Broad City. And not just because Ilana makes my same “hey boy come over here” face.

ilana glazer, broad city, hey boy

Disclaimer: as all shows are, this show isn’t for everyone. The scenarios are ridiculous and the humor is straight up crass and either you get it and love it or you don’t. It’s like a hybrid of Girls and Workaholics, channeling the experiences of millenials in a way that makes millenials feel better about themselves. No one’s going to fuck up like Abbi and Ilana are going to fuck up. What makes the show so great is that these two provide a rarely seen facet of female relationships on TV: a solid friendship based on loyalty. That is the basis of the show.They are the best of friends, loyal to each other in the most intense and obscene ways without undermining each other in ways in the ways that you’re used to seeing women interact on TV. While the scenarios may not mirror real life (really, one episode Ilana breaks her veneer on a jawbreaker in a candy store shortly after smoking a lot of pot-who does that?), the friendship does mirror those good friendships that should be celebrated and I love that.

 

Broad City

Real friends have seen you at your worst.  And for Abbi and Ilana that happens a lot.

PS-The season finale airs on Wednesday and Amy Poehler (also a producer of the show) is making a cameo.

Wearing: Nothing of significance. Really. No new makeup. No new shoes. No new clothes. My physical appearance is pretty D-list right now.

Reading: I’m well on my way to my eleven book goal this year, and had I not driven myself into the literary ditch that is Beautiful Ruins, I would probably be well over halfway to my goal. This isn’t a terrible book. But it’s not a great book either. And it’s a perfect example of why I gave up on fiction a couple of years ago. With the exception of Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, I’ve not read a solid work of fiction in about five or six years. Beautiful Ruins has its moments of clarity and greatness with lines of beautiful prose that make me want to keep reading. And then I keep reading and I’m sorry that I did. Like so many works of fiction, it feels like it’s trying too hard. At what, I’m not sure. It’s just trying too hard with too many characters and too many stories.

Hearing: I stopped by a local record store, Stinkweeds, last weekend and picked up Phantogram’s EP Nightlife on vinyl as well as the CHVRCHES album, The Bones of What You Believe. One half of the duo of Phantogram is a beautiful starfish named Sarah Barthels whose coif is a perfect testament to obsessive hair care. Honestly do you know anyone who pulls off straight-across-the-forehead bangs better? YOU DON’T. (Fun fact: her boyfriend is Shaun White if you need something for useless trivia night.) Both albums are beautiful and amazing and should be listened to immediately. In the meantime, watch Phantogram’s Don’t Move video and try not to be impressed by Sarah’s Pantene Pro-V greatness.

Eating: I made this sauteed cauliflower with bagna cauda the other day and it was kind of amazing. I made it with purple cauliflower because I found it at Whole Foods and it was like “hi take me.”

chi spacca, food and wine, cauliflower, instagram, bagna cauda

The recipe is from Food and Wine via Nancy Silverton’s Chi Spacca which is on my restaurant to-do list along with Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza. Nancy, brings her A game to the restaurant business so obviously I want to know her life.

Ok well drop your life updates in the comments. K thx bye!

You’re Doing it Wrong: Holding up the Line

If you’ve been following along here, I’ve been running a short, Monday-appropriate series titled “You’re Doing it Wrong” which highlights some pet peeves of mine that are also pretty….standard? Like leaving your shopping cart to roam free in the parking lot so it can hit other cars or ruining someone’s enjoyable snack time by food shaming them. This week we wrap it up by hitting the retail market. Sometimes you get stuck behind one of these people at the store and it’s just the worst.

You’re doing it wrong if…

You’re using the self-checkout lane if you have more than 15 items. Also, you don’t know how to use the self-checkout lane.

I have an intense love/hate relationship with the self-checkout lane. It’s a huge convenience when you’re just looking to walk out of the store with a bag of apples and a carton of nonfat milk. Sometimes that machine is a real bitch  just because it can be.

self checkout

But for the most part it makes shopping easier for me and for many people who use it. For others, and by others I mean a large majority of the general public, it’s a very basic IQ test which is failed in a way that should lead to a Hunger Games situation. You failed the self-checkout? Well now you have to go compete in the self-checkout machine games and the one who needs assistance from an employee first gets an arrow to the face. It wouldn’t surprise you to know that 96% of people who use the self-checkout don’t actually know how to use the self-checkout. OK, I made that up, but that’s what it feels like.

One of the unwritten rules of using the self-checkout lane is to not use it when you have an overwhelming amount of purchases. Some stores do actually have item limit self-checkout lanes in additional to the regular self-checkout lanes, but again there is the unspoken agreement between you and the store that you’re only to use the self-checkout lane when your purchase is minimal. Unfortunately, the wrong people believe that they are exempt from this rule. And by wrong people I mean folks who don’t have the basic understanding that the self-checkout is for purchases of 15 items or less and a basic understanding of how to use a scanner. Knowledge of these things is non-negotiable. Period.

There is almost nothing worse than getting in line behind someone with a basket full of produce and that person doesn’t know how to enter in produce. No, that’s not how this works. Take your ass out of line and get in a line where someone will not only assist you in bagging your groceries but knows all of the super secret produce codes off the top of their head like a human SKU dictionary. Even worse are the people who slide into the self-checkout, stupid with coupons, knowing full well that they are going to need assistance/dispute the expiration date of each one of those coupons. No coupon fanatics, the self-checkout isn’t for you.

Bottom line: this is an issue of respect. Respect for your fellow shoppers who just want to get their Marie Callender pot pies and Barefoot wine and go home to watch this week’s Girls. Respect for the attendant assigned to the area whose job it is to quickly undo mistakes not help you checkout your entire order.

Still not sure if you should be using the self-checkout lane? This list should help.

You’re doing it wrong if…

You’re taking the cashier up on their offer to get you something.

As a courtesy, cashiers will typically ask “Did you find everything you needed today?” as you’re checking out of any store. If they don’t it’s because they either forgot to or because they don’t want you to answer no because they’ll have to risk stopping what they’re doing to hunt down whatever it is that you couldn’t find. I’m mostly OK with answering “yes” because unless it’s an item that I’m worried about being discontinued (like that one time I went to Trader Joe’s and they had no cookie butter and it was basically a national emergency) or something that should be available but just isn’t there, I just don’t feel the need to put that kind of pressure on the cashier.

That question is as much of a courtesy as it is a reflex, as much as it is for you to answer yes. So when you say “no,” there should be an immediate mutual agreement between you and the cashier that you will not ask him to go back and find something for you if there are people in line behind you unless it’s a real emergency. Like you’re making dinner for your boyfriend for the first time and you really need that weird spice that you’re only going to use this one time. Or your pregnant wife threatened you with death if you returned without that body pillow she needs to get a good night’s rest.  It’s unfortunate when you don’t find what you need at the store. I hate that and it adds to the frustration when you can’t find anyone while shopping to help you find it. But. The people in line behind you have needs too and one of those needs is for you to be respectful of their time and if you couldn’t find that cookie butter well then it probably just wasn’t in the stars.

Thanks for joining me for You’re Doing it Wrong! Stay tuned for the return of the Extended Playlist Project because yeah, I’m still doing that and we’re just going to pretend I didn’t skip these last two weeks!

You’re Doing it Wrong: Food Shaming

Last week’s “You’re Doing it Wrong,” covered a couple of food pet peeves that were kind of me-specific and ok, a little weird. This week’s topic is a little more universal because it’s happened to everyone and is probably a pet peeve of yours that you couldn’t put a name to. Until now.

You’re doing it wrong if…

You’re food shaming friends, family or anyone for that matter.

You might have read last week’s post and said “hey hey hey you called us all morons for liking button mushrooms!” That’s not the case and I’m sorry if you felt like I was stomping all over your love for button mushrooms. Go ahead and love on those button mushrooms! To each his own, I just don’t feel like they belong in the Thai coconut soup that I referenced.

I love to share meals with friends because to me it is the best medium that you can use to connect with others. I even have a brunch club with two of my best friends and it’s honestly two of the most meaningful friendships in my life right now. A group of women I used to work with have dinner once a month and it’s THE BEST. Sharing a meal and cooking is a way that I show people “hey, I like you!” It’s my version of a hug. If I don’t want to share a meal with you, I either don’t know you, or I work with you and our meals are shared in the break room in which the conversation always leads back to work. Also I HATE the break room. It’s where food goes to die and the smelly grave is the microwave. No thanks.

So when food shaming happens, it ruins the dynamic of a meal, snack, or very simply, a moment that someone was enjoying until you came and dumped your shame sauce all over it. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We’ve all done it whether we’ve meant to or not and what I want to focus on is being aware that we’re doing it. And to stop doing it.

Food shaming isn’t simply calling a cuisine or dish gross or standing on an unwelcome soapbox and giving an opinion about the perils of sugar and saturated fat. Food shaming is  about the way you make others feel when you do it. It’s a judgement of a very basic life necessity and can be offensive on personal and cultural levels. In essence, it’s the judgement of someone’s lifestyle. Whether or not you agree with that lifestyle is irrelevant.

When you make that snarky comment or question someone’s food choices, what you’re saying is “I make better choices than you, and I’m going to make sure you know that.”

quotes, your beliefs don't make you a better person

One of my real life friends (and blogger friends!) LeAnne wrote this fantastic piece about food shaming last year and I found myself shouting “YES!” all throughout the read.

She posed a really great question that gave me some pause:

“Where does sharing end and shaming begin?”

Food can be a sensitive and volatile topic depending on who you talk to and really it doesn’t have to be. People are going to eat what they’re going to eat and we all need to accept that and be respectful of likes and dislikes, diets and non-diets, vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism, and, well you see where I’m going.

Unless you are genuinely concerned for a friend or family member’s health, it’s not your place to tell someone what you think they should or should not be eating and why because nine times out of ten they’re going to resent you for it. If you feel like it is your place to tell them, you really need to sit down and think about two things: a) why you feel like it’s your place to say it and b) how you are going to broach that subject. The topic is such a sensitive beast that needs to be approached with care, so approaching it tactfully and more importantly factually is really crucial to driving home a point. And by factual, I mean research and not pop culture medicine (i.e. that blip you saw on Dr. Oz).

It is especially not anyone’s place to say shit to a complete stranger about what you think they should or shouldn’t be eating and why.

This XO Jane article  also sums up food shaming really well and touches on a really great point about refusing food. Another facet of food shaming is the assumption that others want to know why you’re saying no to food being offered to you.

If you’re on a diet and someone offers you a homemade cookie, for example, a simple “no thanks,” is all you need to say. No one wants to hear about your diet (unless you have an allergy-based diet in which case it’s super important so that others are aware of it in case you know, they’re not invested in killing you), no one wants to know your thoughts on butter, no one wants to hear how much flour is killing us.

food shaming, girl code

Again, I can’t emphasize how much no one actually cares about the reason why you’re refusing the food. As the article suggests, the simple “no thanks” is a mutual understanding that no explanation is needed. Deflect the refusal with a complement-awkwardness neutralized! And if someone does press for a more elaborate answer well then they kind of got what was coming to them.

Bottom line: food shaming boils down to giving your opinion on someone’s lifestyle. And we all know that opinions are like assholes: everyone has one. So simple guidelines:

Offering an opinion about someone’s diet/food choices/preferred cuisine if asked: OK.

Offering an unsolicited opinion about someone’s diet/food choices/preferred cuisine that is charged with judgement and shame whether you intend it to be or not: NOT OK.

So, tell me what you think. Have you been food shamed recently and how did you respond to it?

PS-if it was me who food shamed you, sorry bro. I’m working on it.

The Valentine Alternative

Oh Valentine’s Day, you weird, polarizing holiday. We love to hate you because you make us feel so many things.  If you love Valentine’s Day, you’re corny. If you hate it, you’re bitter. If you have no feelings about it well then what the fuck is wrong with you. You just can’t win. If, like me, you’ve been seeing those red and pink decorations at Target since December, you are just over it.

As a single girl who has always been single on Valentine’s Day, my feelings towards the holiday have ranged from bitter and jaded (“Get those candy hearts out of my face before I choke you with them“) to apathy (“Meh, wine’s on sale, so I guess don’t have to feel so bad about drinking it alone) to moderate not-hate (“Let’s go do the single ladies dance at this holiday-themed party!). Real talk: if you’re single, Valentine’s Day kind of sucks. It’s just not built for single people, and when we have created our own traditions, they’re kind of lame. Like calling it Singles Awareness Day. Did no one realize that the acronym was SAD? Well. Ok.

parks and rec

Personally, singleness aside, the day feels commercial and cheap and is a really generic way to tell the people in your life “Hey, I like you. Didn’t have to say it yesterday, but since it’s today, here’s some candy and a card that someone else wrote that I also wrote in.”

I’d like to think that I make the people in my life feel special and loved all year, but I guess if I didn’t, tomorrow’s a day to seek penance. All is forgotten with a Vosges chocolate bar after all. At least for me.

Life’s too short to hate a holiday that is promoted without shame or sense for a solid three months.  So this year, instead of going off on all of the reasons I don’t enjoy Valentine’s Day,  I’m going to share some alternatives to celebrate yourself, your partner/spouse, family and friends. Because as holidays tend to be, they’re not all about you. They’re about celebrating the people in your life and when you take the focus off of your negative feelings, Valentine’s Day is way less annoying (but it still is annoying).

Hope you enjoy these Valentine’s day alternatives and spend sometime telling yourself and the people in your life that you love them more than Vosges chocolate bars. Or whatever you love as much as I love Vosges.

Galentine’s Day Google+ Hangout- TODAY 2PM EST

I still don’t understand Google+ and its purpose but I have participated in a hangout in which Thomas Keller cooked a roast chicken (his recipe by the way is THE roast chicken recipe, if you’re into that) and it was superfun. It was like he was cooking the chicken in my house and answering my questions right to my face! Nevermind that they were questions that other people had asked, Tom was talking to me.

Anyway, Amy Poehler’s online collaborative, Smart Girls, is hosting a Galentine’s Day Hangout (aka live video/chat) to answer questions, talk about Valentine’s Day experiences and what Galentine’s Day means for us.

 

Galentine's Day

What? You don’t know what Galentine’s Day is? OK Leslie Knope would be honored to explain it to you.

The Valentine’s Day experience seems to be harder on women for so many reasons, but mostly because there is is still this outdated, disturbing expectation: on this day, February 14, if you’re a woman, a man is supposed to do nice things for you. If you don’t have a man, regardless of how successful, happy and stable you are, not having one on Valentine’s Day somehow devalues you as a woman and makes you…not special. That’s so not true, but I think  a lot of women can relate to feeling like that when they find themselves single on Valentine’s Day. No woman should feel like that ever and that’s why Galentine’s Day is so great. It’s not about saying “hey men, you suck!” It’s more like “hey ladies, you’re awesome, let’s celebrate that!”

 Smart Girls Operation Nice February

If you can’t tell, I’m am Amy Poehler’s biggest fan girl right now. She is a beautiful, intelligent peacock of a lady and she does a bang up job of spreading positive vibes and empowering women and young girls to be kind, fearless, powerhouse leaders, simply by being yourself. Operation Nice is one of the Smart Girls web series that’s been turned into a campaign this February as an effort to “Spread the Love” and use the internet for good. If you have kids, it’s a great platform to demonstrate philanthropy. Check it out and then try to tell me that you DON’T love Amy too.

The Love Language Test

I read a blog post a couple of months ago (which I now can’t find!) and loved the way that this mom was able to really clearly identify, respect and appreciate the different ways her family members expressed love. I have never been a hugger-it’s just not the way I show people that I like them. I send mail, I bake, I’ll help with a project, but I don’t hug.

The Love Languages test is a quick test that, if answered truthfully, can tell you a little about yourself and if you and your friends and family take it, it’ll help you learn a little more about each other. You can take it if you’re single, married or on behalf of one of your kids if you’re still trying to figure that out. I think respecting and appreciating your love language and that of others is one of the nicest ways you can honor someone. I stumbled across the test over at We the Rills Say I Do during this week’s SITS Girls Challenge (hi to those of you who are visiting!).

What I Love About You Heart Garland

What’s more generic than heart garland on Valentine’s Day? Almost nothing. But this. THIS garland is different! I found this over at Mabey She Made It, another SITS challenge find and well, I just love it. It’s personal and handmade and can be for any holiday or just because. The blogger, Lisa, even provided an alternative to using a sewing machine because she’s just a smart lady like that. This earns extra points in my book because a) there’s always more than one way to do something and b) I can barely wield a needle/thread to sew buttons back onto my J.Crew cardigans.

Those are only four things that I’ve found, but I’m sure you all have some other really great not-necessarily-Valentine’s-Day ideas/projects/activities/ways to celebrate uniquely. Tell me in the comments and well, go get your Galentine’s Day on!

You’re Still Doing it Wrong

Last week I started a short series called “You’re Doing it Wrong,” going back to my blogging roots as a pet peeve enthusiast. I have so many pet peeves but I stand by their legitimacy because they mostly have to do with people just not using basic common courtesy. These jerks make life hard for others and themselves and I’m just not about that life. Then there are the other pet peeves. The ones that are me-specific and kind of weird, the ones that give me “personality.” We’ll talk about those today. Please take note that they are food related. If there’s anything I’m going to get riled up over, obviously it’s going to be food.

This week, you’re doing it wrong if….

Putting sliced button mushrooms in Thai coconut soup.

One of my favorite Thai restaurants in Las Vegas has some of the best Thai food cooked by a white person, or almost any person, that I’ve ever had. Their pad Thai is on point, they have a pork jerky with waterfall sauce that will knock any hot sauce enthusiast on his ass and their Thai version of a Jameson and ginger goes down a little too easily. One chilly day, I decided to order their version of Tom Kha Gai, a coconut soup with chicken and vegetables. This is one of my favorite comfort foods so my standards are high and there’s the possibility of me burning the building down if it’s done wrong. When the waitress put down my bowl, I almost lost my damn mind because there, floating amongst the chicken and vegetables were button mushrooms aka the Wal-Mart of the mushroom family.  They’re the mushrooms you use when you’ve run out of mushrooms. They’re the mushrooms you use when you’re trying to save a buck. They’re the mushrooms you use when you don’t know any better.

No self-respecting Thai restaurant puts sliced up button mushrooms in anything, especially in Thai coconut soup.

Those button mushrooms are great for certain things like beef stroganoff and as filler shit if you’re making a pseudo-attempt at being a vegetarian, but they just don’t belong in Thai coconut soup. That soup is full of rich flavors and textures and the right mushroom is not only visually appealing but delicious and texturally makes sense in that soup. Thai places that use button mushrooms are either trying to please American palates or they are trying to hide the fact that their soup is subpar and shitty by ADDING MORE SHITTY THINGS TO IT. You probably want to know the name of these mushrooms so that you can ask next time you’re in a Thai restaurant, and to be honest I had to look it up because I wasn’t even sure what the good mushrooms were called.  Based on my three minute Google research, I think they are called enokitake. Actually if someone could confirm that would be great because I’d like to know up front what to ask for instead of being surprised with a soup that offends me so deeply on so many levels because it gets one element so terribly wrong.  Is this crazy? Absolutely. But I stand by my convictions.

Tom Kha Gai

You’re doing it wrong if….

If you’re referring to any Paleo creation as dessert.

Sorry guys, if it’s Paleo, it’s not dessert. Please don’t confuse this statement as a slam on the Paleo lifestyle. I am a huge fan of it and when I did commit to it in a past life, I felt great. It’s not your typical “diet” because you keep eating real food and aren’t adding crappy 100 calorie Special K snacks into the mix. The principles behind this diet are great-it’s a smart and practical way to eat and is built for sustainability.

But.

If I see one more Pinterest dessert that is hailing a Paleo “cheesecake” as tasting better than real life cheesecake then I’m going to find the offender and force feed her (or him, but let’s be real, it’s Pinterest, it’s “her”) a real life cheesecake in protest. Don’t even get me started on how subbing in all of those offbeat ingredients completely damages the integrity of the dessert because things like flour and eggs add texture that simply can’t be replicated.

 

paleo, dessert, grain-free

 

Srsly what is this? Someone plz explain.

Here’s the thing: dessert is a treat. It’s not something you need to eat after every meal or every day. It’s a nice thing you do for yourself when you want to indulge a little. If you’re going to fuck up a dessert by taking all of the elements out of it that make it so good then what is the point? Who likes playing mind games like that?

“Hey this gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free, quinoa-based, cocoa nib ‘brownie’ DOES taste like a real brownie you guys!”

No, that’s not how this works.

(Also, please don’t mistake that as a slam on quinoa. I really like quinoa.)

If you need dessert after every meal then maybe you’re doing it wrong. Convincing yourself that a Frankenstein mix of ingredients is a dessert is just a hard way to live life. If you want dessert, then eat fucking dessert. I guess that’s why I’m fat.

Next week, we’re going to talk about food shaming because that’s real and it’s a problem. In the meantime, do you have a “You’re Doing it Wrong?” topic suggestion? Drop it in the comments!

 

Extended Playlist Project: Secret Shame Edition

Oh boy you guys. I am bad at this. This week’s playlist is short again and instead of embarrassing myself by putting this in day to day form, we’ll just take a look at them as a comprehensive weekly list. Or something.

This week is another pretty diverse mix and as the title implies, one of the selections was kind of hard to fess up to. Anyway, here are this week’s picks-drop your thoughts or suggestions in the comments!

Extended Playlist Project Week 5: January 29-February

“Hell and Back”
Airborne Toxic Event
Dallas Buyers Club OST

Another wingman pick-honestly if she wasn’t giving me some of these songs there’d be no list! I think she described it best when she said “This is the song you listen to when you leave Las Vegas.” It’s a foot stomping anthem that makes you want to kick someone’s teeth in. But you leave town instead. Unfortunately it wasn’t around when I left a few months ago which makes me wonder how many people saw me driving on the 95 sobbing and listening to Vampire Weekend because it was what was in my CD player at the time.

“Tennessee Waltz”
Norah Jones and Bonnie Raitt
(I found this one on YouTube)

These are two women whose voices that sound like a hug feels if that makes sense. This is an old country music song performed by so many other people, but when they sing it, it sounds like it was written for them. Those are the kinds of voices that they have.

 ”Winter Song”
Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles
The Hotel Cafe Presents…Winter Songs

More on Ms. Bareilles later, but this song sounds exactly like you think a song from these two would sound. That’s not a bad thing, and probably a nice addition to your holiday listening (when that rolls back around in you know, August.)

“Con te Partiro”
Vampire Weekend
Starbucks Sampler

People who don’t know Vampire Weekend love to hate on them. I’m not saying I know them, but I know this: these guys are serious music nerds. In their “down time,” they’re out DJing and doing awesome side projects and being hilarious on Twitter. They know their shit and make good music with the shit that they know and this cover is a quintessential example of their creativity and ability to put their classic, offbeat personality into everything they do. You can say a lot of things about them, but you can’t say that they aren’t true to themselves.

Bonus track:

“Brave”
Sara Bareilles
The Blessed Unrest

I know, how many times have you heard this one on the radio? More importantly how many times have you cried to that Bing commercial that this song is featured in? It’s alright, I cry every time I see it too. Sara Bareilles is one of those great artists who I listen to in secret shame because she has a Vanessa Carlton-like quality to her.

“Hey it’s a girl playing the piano and singing about feelings!”

But. Bareilles is more than a piano playing Stevie Nicks enthusiast. Her lyrics are solid, her tunes are catchy and after watching some of her live stuff, I’ve determined she’s legit and I’m going to listen to her with my car windows down and be OK singing “Brave” at a stoplight as loud as I want to.

As someone who doesn’t really listen to the lyrics of music, the lyrics of “Brave” caught my attention because it’s really empowering and just really resonates with me right now. It’s about being brave (uh duh), and speaking your truth. Basically my life right now is a Sara Bareilles song which is basically the closest thing to declaring “I’m a woman and I have lots of feelings about things.” But next week, I’m gonna talk about why this song is important to me right now and you’re gonna be like hell yeah, this song makes me feel lots of things and I’m OK with that. At least that’s how I envision it. You might really hate this song and that’s OK too.

The video is pretty great too. No really, I find no value to music videos anymore but I watched this one. Maybe five times. Maybe more.

As always, share your thoughts and suggestions for future listens (because I obviously need assistance in that area..). If you want to keep up with my during the week, don’t forget to like my Facebook page!

You’re Doing It Wrong

Hey guys it’s Monday. You hate everything. I hate everything. We’ve accepted that Mondays are just universally hated because it’s the day that says “hey, I’m here and now you can’t take any naps and you forgot that report that your boss wanted 20 minutes ago.”  Monday just does it wrong every week so this week I’m calling it out on its bullshit and going back to my roots in a short series called “You’re Doing it Wrong.”

This blog mostly used to be about pet peeves and people I hate because I have a lot of both and a lot of feelings about them. The people aren’t specific, just general pimples on the face of society who lack the basic common courtesy and social skills that make this world an easier place to live. They are, as I like to call them, barn animals. “You’re Doing it Wrong” is a list of grievances against people and behaviors that I find generally offensive and rage-provoking and you probably do too.

This week, you’re doing it wrong if…

…you’re walking in a crosswalk without a sense of urgency.

There is honestly no human I hate more than the one who looks me directly in the eye as they practically crawl across a crosswalk that I would like to turn into. It’s a deliberate snail’s pace shuffle that is intended to piss off drivers because this is the only way a pedestrian has the upper hand. And don’t even get me started on that direct stare, like the pedestrian is DARING ME to step on the gas. It is a silent and bold acknowledgement that in this very moment, the pedestrian not only has the right of way but that they like to abuse that right.

Here’s the thing about being a pedestrian: the law says that as a mobile human being on a public on a street, you have the right of way when you’re in the crosswalk (and even sometimes when you’re not). The laws of gravity are the opposite. The law of gravity says “This car is bigger than you, you will sustain terrible bodily injury and possibly death if you keep eyeballing me like you are doing and do not move the fuck out of the way.”

As far as I (and every other driver) am concerned, your responsibility as a pedestrian is to cross the street quickly, almost as if you are being chased.

malcolm in the middle

And if your priority isn’t to cross the street as fast as possible, eliminating as many variables as you can that will bring you bodily harm, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your life priorities. Mostly the ones that involve sustaining life.

You’re doing it wrong if…

…you’re not putting your basket back in its cart home at the store.

There are two subcategories of this offense which make it a double offense.

1. When you don’t put the cart in a controlled space, it has infinite potential to damage other cars. Those little cart cages are there for a reason so unlike speed limits, they’re not suggestions. They are a direct invitation to store your shopping cart in a place that prevents it from damaging or destroying any other property besides other shopping carts. I don’t care if the parking lot is full of shitty, paint-stripped cars like mine, you are a disrespectful baboon if you think it’s OK to let your cart just wander the parking lot, bumping into cars and making the parking lot a logistical mine field. I hate when I pull into a parking space, drunk on the victory of finding a spot close to the front, only to find that there is a FUCKING CART IN THE SPACE. ASLKJAFOSID NOOOOOOOO. Could I get out and move it? Sure. But why should I get out and move it when it was someone else’s job to not put it there in the first place.  Oh and don’t think that propping your cart on a parking lot island is a legit form of cart storage. Just because the front wheels are propped up in a bed of rocks doesn’t mean that the cart doesn’t have the potential to roll away. Also when you park it that way it will eight times out of ten, it will be in the way of a space that someone may want to park in.

2. You make more work for the cart wranglers who have hands down the worst retail job on planet earth. Do they draw straws for this duty daily? Because I’m sure no one willingly signs up for this particular job which is basically the equivalent of a mom picking up behind her kids. Those carts are heavy, most of them have at minimum one bad wheel that makes the entire cart hard to move and they are dirty, disgusting monuments to human hygiene. And it’s someone’s job to wrangle them from all corners of a store parking lot because customers just didn’t feel like walking it another 15 feet to the cart storage. If you have a few extra seconds and didn’t have to park all the way in the back, run the cart up to the front storage cart area so that it’s one less cart that the poor oaf who drew the short straw has to worry about. Or even better, offer it to someone else who’s going into the store. It’s an unexpected kindness that also works in your favor because less work for you! It doesn’t matter if the store has one cart storage area or six, put that fucking cart back where it belongs.

If you have a suggestion for “You’re Doing It Wrong” that you think should be covered, drop it in the comments!

The Smart Girl Effect

Let’s take a minute to talk about Amy Poehler. Amy is awesome not just because she had a successful run on SNL, is keeping NBC alive with Parks and Rec and is 1/2 of the Amy and Tina comedy hour (just a dream of mine that I hope comes true).

amy poehler, tina fey(Via She Knows/NBC)

She’s awesome because she’s a big ol’ feminist which is not interchangeable or synonymous with the terms manhater or lesbian in case you were confused about that. Now that THAT’S out of the way…

I think the definition depends on who you talk to and how each feminist defines herself (or himself!) but in general feminists believe in equal rights for women. What’s wrong with that right? Well, ask the average woman today if she identifies as a feminist and if no, why not, she’ll probably tell you that she doesn’t hate men. Feminist isn’t a word that women should be afraid to identify with because feminism isn’t about manhating, it’s about equality and empowerment.

powerful ladies

Amy has a really cool collaborative called Smart Girls that is a feminist concept at its core; its purpose is to empower girls (and women!) to “Change the world by being yourself.” I know, it just blew your mind. Smart Girls inspires, uplifts and acknowledges women who support other women and are doing great things in their communities, countries and the world instead of giving unwarranted advice to ladies about what we should be doing with our lives.

girls, jessa hannah horvath, lena dunham(via Girls Tumblr/HBO)

It’s a pro-dialogue platform, encouraging followers to engage in meaningful conversation online and offline with friends and family. It’s a showcase of role models in a time when it feels like there are so few to look to. If you like thought provoking articles, stories about women doing awesome things, pictures of puppies (my favorite!) or just want some advice from Amy, you should follow Smart Girls on Facebook or Pinterest or check out the website.

What sparked this post was an episode of a new show Amy produced called Broad City about these two bumbling millenials, Abbi and Ilana, who may or may not resemble my past and/or current life. It’s like Workaholics, but for ladies.

abbi jacobson, ilana glazer, broad city

After watching these two prioritize their lives in the way that millenials tend to do, I was interested in hearing about how true this show is to their own experiences because honestly it was hard to watch. And it was hard to watch, not because the writing was bad but because six years ago I was Abbi-I had a crappy job, was pretty directionless and my choices in friends were….questionable. I came across a Huffington Post interview that the creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer did in which they talk about getting Amy to back the show. In guiding them, she gave them a really fantastic piece of advice.

She told them that “they are the ‘police of [their] brand,’ and that the successes and failures of ‘Broad City’ would ultimately would be their responsibility.”

This advice applies to anything and it’s the type of advice that not enough women are getting. What I took away from it is this: whatever your brand is, whether it’s your blog, career, your lifestyle, own it and make it yours. You are responsible for your successes and failures, so when you nail something, own it and BE PROUD of it! And when you don’t well, that’s OK, own that too; learn from it. There are too many women doing great things and not celebrating them and instead apologizing for the things they didn’t accomplish.

Amy Poehler is so much more than the best Hillary Clinton impersonator that we’ll probably ever know. She’s a collaborative leader, positive role model for women, and a dreamer who takes action. But above all of these things she’s a feminist. And I hope after reading this, you can agree that it isn’t a bad thing.

Extended Playlist Project: Week 4

Ah hello, week four, otherwise known as drop week. This is usually the week that I fully accept that all of the New Year’s resolutions I made were made under the influence of holiday drinking.

“I’m going to lose 30 pounds by cutting wine out of my diet!”

Bitch. Please. Don’t be silly.

This year I decided to go the more practical path with this Extended Playlist project and if you’re just now joining me, then you can read about its beginnings here.

Before we go any further, I done fucked up this week. I listened to a grand total of four songs because after the second day of missed opportunity, I kind of ignored my calendar alert to do the one thing that I’ve committed myself to doing every day. To my credit I did listen to more than half so I should get credit for something.

Anyway, to your benefit, this short list was another random selection curated by myself with a few suggestions from friends. Honestly this week was a struggle because my mind is occupied with a lot of pre-new job stress. It’s stress that I put on myself and stress that is pretty normal for anyone starting a new job, but mostly self-induced stress.

A new job is a whole new set of rules, challenges to my skill set and people and their corresponding personality disorders. The people. The people.

I’ve really enjoyed funemployment for the simplicity of my interactions with the general public. I did it on my terms and when I didn’t feel like being around any more strangers I could just go home and take a nap. As an introvert, being in public is exhausting because people are exhausting. Now it’s time to ramp it up and really immerse myself in a whole new group of people and I’m getting tired just thinking about it AND I don’t get anymore naps! Why aren’t siestas part of American culture yet? Someone please explain.

Hope you guys enjoy this week’s short list and as always, drop your thoughts and/or suggestions in the comments!

January 22

“Wildfire”
John Mayer
Paradise Valley

January 23

“The Sky is the Limit”
Notorious BIG
Life After Death

I picked this one because last week, I did feel like the sky was the limit! Pseudo-confession: I’ve been mostly getting my listens in via YouTube. Sometimes I watch the videos, sometimes I just turn my phone over and listen. Obviously, when Biggie is involved, you’re gonna want to watch that video. And oh boy is this one OBSCENE. I want to know whose job it was to select the child actors that were cast as video honeys in this 90s masterpiece. 

January 24

“All of Me”
John Legend
Love in the Future

This one was recommended by my wingman who knows that I like John Legend, but that I love his sassy mouth of a wife, Christine Teigen more. He wrote this song about her and if you know anything about her, you’ll love the first few lines of this song. Actually you’ll love the whole thing because the man is an equally great lyricist and piano master.  

January 28

“None of This Will Matter”
The Autumn Defense
Fifth

The opening hook of this song was very Phantom Planet-y to me-remember Phantom Planet? Remember the OC? OF COURSE YOU DO.

theoc

(via The OC All The Way)

This band is a side project of two members of Wilco and you can listen to the album in its entirety courtesy of NPR here. The song has that Southern California-laziness feel to it, like let’s just turn off our phones and drive down Pacific Coast Highway and just enjoy life. I like any song that can make me feel like that.