“Needed to Hear That”

I’m a fan of compliments. I’m not sure how to take them, but I try to make a point to give them often. So many people have great style or insightful input and that should be celebrated. More importantly, you never know when a quick compliment you give someone will actually be a “needed to hear that” moment for the receiver.

You know when you feel self-conscious about your hair, and someone on the elevator tells you it looks great? Or when you feel like you’re really struggling with a project and a coworker tells you how effortless you’re making it seem? “Needed to hear that” compliments have a way of turning the entire day around.

At the heart of it, there’s no way to know a lot of what people struggle with. While some people are comfortable being open, most can be quite closed off to their peers. I’m notorious for not talking about things on my plate, so there’s no way I could expect someone to know what they can say to help. In a way though, that makes it even sweeter when it does happen.

Because of this, I think it’s so important to communicate when someone does something you admire. Whether it’s a new makeup look or insightful feedback, there’s a good chance they had some reservations about it – and your “needed to hear that” compliment could put all the tension at ease. I cannot tell you how many times someone’s kind words have dethroned my anxiety!

I’m trying my best to pay it forward. Starting conversation is difficult for me whether giving a compliment or not, but if I push past that it helps my mood and the mood of the person I’m chatting with. I implore you to tell someone something nice today (even if it makes you nervous) – you never know what they need to hear!

What I’m Loving | 9/24/17

The importance of taking time to recharge is something I’ve learned a lot about in the past year. It’s so hard to find the perfect balance, but this week came fairly close. I had a very big event planned, and though that was hectic I really wasn’t feeling overwhelmed. I made sure to take plenty of time for myself to read and relax, and it really made a load of difference.

I’ve also been breezing through books, which is new for me but very enjoyable. Before I never felt like I had time to read; now that I make time for it, it’s amazing how quickly books go by!

Here’s what I’m loving lately:

Books :: I finished The Goldfinch! It was a hefty book but I did enjoy it. There were enough elements of the story layered together to keep it interesting even with it’s length. I’ve started The Invention of Wings, which is part of Oprah’s book club, and I’m enjoying it. It’s written from the perspective of two characters which can sometimes be confusing, but they each cover different events throughout the story so it’s very well done. It’s set in pre-Civil War era Charleston; I’ve always enjoyed historically accurate Southern literature so I’ve been very into this book.

Listening :: I’ve finally started saving more music on Spotify! I don’t get great service on the subway, so I kept finding myself listening to the same saved songs over and over. So though I haven’t been listening to anything new yet I hope to soon.

Spare Time ::  Work events! We had our large, annual event of the year, and all-consuming is the best way to describe the prep for it. It went down Thursday, and without a hitch, so I really could not be happier.

Style :: I think I mentioned that I got these white Converse for my birthday, and I do wear them all the time. Before the event on Thursday I was running around in my nice dress and my sneakers on before I switched to heels, and I got so many compliments! Apparently nice dresses and Converse are very in right now, which is news to me but I’m not fighting it.

Today is free play day at a Coin Op bar in the city, so I think we might check that out. It’s always good to be reminded how terrible I am at Galaga.

Cozy Recipe Roundup

img_2718-1As I’m sure everyone has noticed, I’ve been cooking an inordinate amount lately. I just keep finding new recipes I want to try – and the cooler weather always puts me in a baking mood.

Pinterest is my best friend when phases like this strike, and it’s a fantastic resources for finding recipes that are both hearty & healthy. I also love that most recipes on there are tailored towards families, because when I make things for just the two of us it means we have leftovers for days (my favorite thing!).

Below you’ll see some recipes I’ve tried very recently, but will definitely be making their way into the regular rotation:

Libby’s Pumpkin Bread // I decided I might as well start with the baked goods! This isn’t so much a recipe as a kit, but I’m telling you – try. this. bread. I cannot tell you how many years I’ve seen this at Target and never gave in, but I am so glad that I finally did. It’s about as simple as making boxed cake or brownies, and in return you get 2 perfectly-sized loaves of the most delicious bread.

Pumpkin Banana Muffins // Like banana bread, but better. I wanted to make another pumpkin good, but I also had a few bananas I desperately needed to use. I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to find a simple recipe that used both of those ingredients, but here it is. I just used an entire can of pumpkin and omitted the egg so I didn’t have a weird bit of pumpkin puree left over; aside from increasing the baking time it turned out lovely! I also didn’t have muffin tins so I used a bread tin…so obviously this recipe is almost fool proof.

Weight Watchers Lasagna Pasta // As soon as I made this for the first time, Harley said “I wouldn’t mind if you made this every week”. Normally I cycle between a LOT of recipes but this one keeps working it’s way back in. It’s fast, it’s pasta, and it’s Weight Watchers so it might be a little healthy. I serve it with roasted broccoli and it is incredible.

Turkey Taco Sweet Potatoes // If we’re being honest, I was very hesitant to try this. I love sweet potatoes and tacos but I had a difficult time imagining them in union. My doubts were certainly quelled with this one though! Cooking the sweet potatoes in the microwave makes it so much easier, and the turkey and cheese are a great savory to balance out the sweet.

Crockpot Creamy Chicken Enchilada Chili // I love my slow cooker, and though it is slowly giving out on me I’m still getting a few last runs out of it before I cave and buy a new one. I love a good chili, and doing it with chicken means there’s no browning before you throw all the ingredients in! The enchilada and cream cheese flavors blend together so well; I was sad when this got all eaten up.

I also made a Olive Garden copycat minnestrone soup (pictured), but I made SO many modifications I’ll have to share that one at some other date! Please feel free to send any simple recipes you have my way, as well!

BONUS // Next time you make a grilled cheese, instead of cooking it with butter or oil, spread mayonnaise on the outside of the bread instead. Trust me.

What I’m Loving | 9/17/2017

September is halfway through, and I really can’t believe it. Time has been flying by as of late. The holidays will be here before we know it!

I’ve always been a big fan of this time of year as the seasons change and everyone prepares for winter. I’m surprised to find that even though there isn’t much of a ‘winter’ here, that feeling still translates. I’m so excited to see how the city looks for Christmas and go to all the pop up ice skating rinks I’ve heard about.

Here’s what I’ve been loving:

Books :: I finished Commonwealth and it was delightful. There are a lot of characters and quite a few story arcs so it was difficult to keep track, but it was a great read. I’ve started The Goldfinch, which is lengthy but very interesting. I’m just a little over halfway through but so far it’s had enough plot twists to keep me very engaged.

Listening :: My cat’s meows…seriously. Harley has a new work schedule so she’s alone for much longer than she used to be, and it has certainly shown. She’s been a very needy baby.

Spare Time ::  Harley finally got me hooked on Scrubs, so we’ve been watching that quite a bit. I wasn’t enthused during the first season, but we’ve made it to season 3 and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a simple, feel-good kind of show that still has some more serious undertones.

Style :: Fall, fall, fall! It’s going to heat up again over the next few weeks in the Bay Area, but for right now it feels like fall and I’ve been thriving. I just got one of those huge blanket scarves (from the Target dollar aisle, no less!) and I’m obsessed with it! The perfect line between cozy & chic.

Harley’s birthday is in a few days, so next weekend I should have some fun recaps to share!

Staying Entertained

Typically “entertaining” is saved for babysitting or the people on House Hunters that need a 20-person dining room, but sometimes staying entertained as an adult can be difficult. My idea of entertainment is checking out a new bar or restaurant, going to see a concert, or exploring a new part of town. Unfortunately, no matter how cheaply you do these things, unless it’s absolutely free it still costs money.

Due to some unforeseen expenses we’ve entered in extreme budgeting mode and it’s not fun. When all of your hobbies involve spending money, it can be hard to cut back and stay disciplined. Thankfully, I’ve come up with at least a few things to keep me from getting cabin fever:

  • Space out errands // This is a really simple trick I devised when I was in college and didn’t have many things to do on the weekends. Typically I like to be as efficient as possible when I have a to do list, but when your errands are the only thing you have to do it makes so much more sense to space them out! For example, if you have to go to Trader Joe’s and Target, space then out to give yourself more exposure in the outside world. 
  • Reading // While I know not everyone is interested in reading, it’s the best thing I’ve found to help me pass the time. I can sit under a blanket with a good book for hours if I’m in the right mood. 
  • Cooking // A great double whammy – not only do you save money by not eating out but you also keep yourself busy so you don’t feel the need to leave as much. On Saturday and Sunday, I meal prep breakfast and lunch for the workweek and cook a crock pot meal or do other prep that will allow us to have leftovers. This means I don’t have to cook as many weeknights and can just be a loaf with Bird.
  • Gardening // As I’m sure anyone who has read my blog name knows, I’m a big fan of my succulents! Unfortunately, our patio doesn’t get the best direct sunlight so I’m not able to propagate as much as I used to. I still really enjoy moving seedlings around and re-homing plants that have outgrown their pots, and it’s a great way to keep your hands busy. 
  • Puzzles // I haven’t been able to do a puzzle lately because I don’t have any cardboard to use as a surface, but I’m a huge fan. Puzzles were the only thing my brother and I could do together without fighting when we were kids, and now my grandmother always keeps one out in her living room. I want to get a puzzle board and  get back in the habit of working them. 

Hopefully, these tricks will bring some variety to sitting in front of the television and keep money in your wallet where it belongs!

What I’m Loving | 9/10/2017

Short weeks are the best weeks, and I’d like to petition to make every Monday a holiday. During the work week it feels like there’s never enough time, so it’s great to have some time to read and cook and not feel rushed. 

It’s also starting to feel (ever so slightly) like fall, and I am ready. I made some delightful pumpkin bread, and I’m going to have to treat myself to a pumpkin spice latte soon. I know it’s only September but it’s such a small part of the year, so I see nothing wrong with extending the celebration!

Here’s what I’m loving lately:

Books :: I finished The Nightingale – maybe in record time. I could not put it down. The irritation with the main characters I mentioned certainly subsided – once more was revealed about them their motives became more clear. I love anything set in WWII era Europe, and I found out this was based on a true story as well! I highly recommend it. Commonwealth is my next adventure – I’ve been putting it off forever but I finally ordered it!

Listening :: I’ve been into Cage the Elephant and OK GO this week. Alt rock but still upbeat enough for my commute! I know it’s probably lame but I love the Spotify “This is…” playlists that come up when you search a band, and the ones for these bands are on point!

Spare Time :: Working out…yuck. Anyone who knows me or has been following the blog for a bit knows that I have the hardest time getting into working out. Harley has been helping me a ton with the 5k training, and has helped me do some weight exercises as well. I’ve been feeling off my fitness game lately, but I’m working on it!

Style :: Old Navy Pixee Pant. Obviously, I hate slacks. I hate that they’re a part of my life and that I have to wear them and the word “slacks” in general. However, the Old Navy Pixee Ankle Pant is a lifesaver! They’re comfortable yet structured, and hold their shape a hundred times better than some cheaper slacks I’ve tried. If you’re in search of a good pair of slacks I’d point you in this direction.

 I’m going to go eat some more pumpkin bread now. This stuff is delish. 

Love and Practicality

There are so many inspirational quotes in the world about chasing your passion, following your heart, and doing what you love. These are the values that inspire people to innovate, to invent, and to keep going when things get tough. Dreaming, persevering, and following your heart are all wonderful things, but I can’t help but be seated at a point of conflict with advice like this. While the thought is pure, this mindset often overlooks life’s stepping stones – of which there are many. As terrible as it sounds, it’s impossible to always be doing things that you love. Life is full of interludes and in between moments and unfortunate circumstances…but the bigger message there is that this is okay.

So many times, myself and other people my age have fallen victim to fear of missing out. While this typically refers to missing out on a cool event, there’s a bigger picture there. Seeing people “chase their passions” and jet set around the world is hard. It feels terrible to know that you’re sitting in an office while Meghan-with-an-H who graduated a year after you is touring Spain. Few fears are more deep and profound than the fear you’re missing out – not on a cool concert, but on your life.

Many take a standpoint of assuming those things are impractical and unobtainable. Instead of listening to their fear, they bury it, silence it, and choose a life that pushes those things away. I don’t want to dilute the point here: the fear sucks, and I would do almost anything to get rid of it too. This isn’t a wrong way of handling it and is a perfectly logical response. My viewpoint is just a little different.

What if the crummy periods of life – the job you hate, the apartment you can’t afford, the side job you had to pick up to afford that apartment, etc. – weren’t the end? What if those things are just the interludes, the intermissions of the world. It’s not fun to be miserable or hate your daily routine, but what if those things could lead to something better? If you don’t silence the voice that says life is passing you by, maybe you could take a moment to hear it out. Maybe you could have a reasonable discussion with the voice, formulate a plan, and determine the best way to achieve the things you’ve always wanted to do.

I don’t know many people my age who could quit their jobs for a booze cruise in Barcelona. That sounds like a dream, but there’s a reason dreams and reality don’t always align. What people my age can do is come up with attainable goals and a plan for reaching them. I can guarantee I’ll still be interested in Barcelona booze cruises when I’m 25, so what can I do at 22 to make that a possibility? I don’t know exactly what the answer is, but I do know that resigning myself to a lifestyle where my dreams are out of reach isn’t what I’d like to do. It’s terrifyingly easy to become complacent in a routine you don’t actually enjoy without even realizing it – I’m not going to let that be my life.

My hope is that we’ll all one day be doing food tours of Italy, Eat, Pray, Love style. In the meantime, maybe you’ll have to spend hours commuting to do something you love because you can’t afford rent closer to the office. Maybe you’ll have to feel stuck for a bit before you’re able to get moving. Maybe things seem dismal now, but don’t give up on what you want to accomplish. Ignore the negativity, but don’t silence your inner fear. It might just turn out to be the best business partner you could have.