April recap

I know you’re all anxiously awaiting an update on my progress toward becoming a morning person. Rest assured you’ll hear all about it next week. For now, let’s talk about last month.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t get nearly as much accomplished last month as I’d hoped. Full time work plus my attempts to inch myself into freelancing haven’t left too much time for other exciting pursuits. But here’s a few things I did last month:

Craft night

My roommates and I decided to host a craft party early last month. We needed a really good excuse to have people over and drink and paint things. This was the perfect opportunity! We bought some little flower pots and paints and I even busted out my centuries-old friendship bracelet making string (which ended up being a major hit – friendship bracelets are coming back y’all!). We had snacks and drinks — I made this Strawberry Basil Margarita which was crazy easy to make and widely agreed to be super tasty. We weren’t sure how the crafting would go over with everyone, especially since at least half of the attendees were guys — but everyone ended up crafting something and apparently had a great time if the above photo I took the following morning of the craftermath is any indication.

Lightning Bolt show

I used to listen to this band a whole bunch back when I was an angsty teenager in high school. I never really kept up with their newer releases and hadn’t ever seen them live until last month. It was a pretty good show — they sound just like I remember them — loud and aggressive. And when I say loud I mean, REALLY loud. Like my hearing was legitimately muffled for the whole day after. The best part is that the drummer/singer wears this crazy looking mask the whole time they play (you can see him putting it on in the photo above) which makes his yelling/singing totally incomprehensible and muffled. Never seen or heard anything else like it.

Protein pancakes

I’ve been fascinated by the concept of protein pancakes for a while, but this was my very first foray into making them. I love pancakes but can’t usually rationalize basically eating dessert for breakfast most days. So when I stumbled across this recipe I was thrilled — pancakes with only 5 healthy ingredients that I pretty much always have stocked in my kitchen? Perfect!

Well these weren’t exactly perfect, but they turned out pretty good. I definitely want to try them again with a couple adjustments. For starters, as you can see they don’t exactly look like pancakes (and they definitely don’t look anything like the photo on the linked recipe, so don’t get your hopes up). They were more the consistency of no-bake cookies. The recipes calls for whole rolled oats, but next time I’m going to try blending the ingredients to get a smoother texture. They also weren’t super sweet (well at least before I doused mine in maple syrup). My bananas were only just ripe, so next time I’m going to try using a super ripe banana to add a little extra sweetness. Pretty good for starters but definitely worth a re-do.

And lastly, here’s a new band I discovered last month (letter M – check!). Check ’em out.

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March in Review

I know, I know, I’ve left you hanging again. I promise to be better going forward. These past few weeks have been full of learning new things, work (the fun kind and the doing-this-to-live kind), making plans, and a nervous breakdown, just for good measure. I’m forging ahead, trying to make some decisions, crossing things off my list, and feeling a little crazy, but in a good way (for the most part). Anyway, here’s a few things I checked off my list last month:

dream-journal-header

Looking back on what I recorded, I ended up dreaming about weddings a few times last month. According to the internet:

To see or attend a wedding in your dream symbolizes a new beginning or transition in your current life. A wedding reflects your issues about commitment and independence. Alternatively, your wedding dream refers to feelings of bitterness, sorrow, or death. Such dreams are often negative and highlight some anxiety or fear. If you dream that the wedding goes wrong or ends in disaster, then it suggests that you need to address some negativity immediately.

Yep, that sounds about right.

movie-header

I almost never go to the movies, even in the company of other people, because they’re just so darn expensive and most of the time I have no idea what’s out anyway. I think the last movie I saw in theaters was Lincoln…which came out in 2012…. So naturally I went to the $2 theater where they show movies that have already left the regular theaters and saw Mockingjay Part 1. I snuck in my own beverage but splurged on a bag of buttery, salty movie theater popcorn that I was delighted to have all to myself. The movie was good, the popcorn was good, and I didn’t even have to spend that much money. I’m putting in my official vote for solo movie theater adventures.

coffee-cake-header

My new recipe for March was a Vegan Super Fruit Coffee Cake which came from the cookbook Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (yes I own several of her cookbooks — she’s amazing). This coffee cake was pretty different from the kind of coffee cake I’m used to. It was a lot less sweet and definitely more cakey, but still really tasty and incredibly easy to make. Success!

Tycho-header

At my boyfriend’s request, we went to see Tycho last month. I’d never really listened to much of his music before, but the show was really great, and I’ve been listening to a lot of his stuff since then. We even ran into a couple of our friends there and ended up getting drinks with them afterward. Super fun night!

February in retrospect

Goodbye, February, you sly minx. You’re here and then you’re gone before we really get a chance to know you. I’m over you anyway — too much snow, ice, and blustery-ness. I’m ready for March and the promise of an imminent thaw.

Due to said blustery-ness, I spent a good deal of this month indoors. Cooking, reading (closing in on the end of Infinite Jest! Damn this book just keeps getting better), moving-watching, making plans for the spring, and spastically checking the weather forecast (will we break 40 degrees this week???).

Here’s a look at what I’ve been up to.

My new recipe to try in February (goal #28) was spicy tempeh nori rolls. This recipe came from one of my favorite cookbooks — Veganomicon by the famed Isa Chandra Moskowitz — the genius behind Post Punk Kitchen. I’ve never made sushi before and we didn’t bother with acquiring a bamboo rolling mat, so these rolls have some character (read: are kind of ugly). Regardless, the whole process was a lot less intimidating than I had imagined and we ended up with a seriously delicious dinner. Definitely going to make these again.

Sushi

For such a short month, I managed to squeeze in a pretty hefty amount of movie watching (goal #49). I guess I was on a strong-female-lead kick this month (or always?) — here’s what I’ve been Netflixing:

The Duchess was beautiful and heartbreaking and made me so thankful that I live where I do, when I do. Kiera Knightly was lovely and Ralph Fiennes was very Voldemorty. Evita was okay, definitely an interesting story but it was hard to stay interested with over two hours straight of fairly cheesy songs and very little dialogue. Frances Ha was great — Frances is a painfully relatable character. I loved that it was set all in black and white, drawing your attention more fully into the story than the scenery and how to the narrative sort of flips the traditional roles that best friend and romantic interest generally play in movies. Frances is way more centrally focused on her best friend, at times obsessing over her like a jealous lover, while the potential romantic interest in the story sort of just comes and goes, providing cute supporting scenes but not being entirely central to the plot. In a World was an interesting view into the world of voice acting and the serious lack of female all-stars in the arena. It featured a cameo by Geena Davis and ended with a total girl power moment. What more could you ask for? Obvious Child was my favorite movie I watched in February. The story is so honest and Jenny Slate is hilarious. It was a really fresh take on the rom com, featuring relationships that actually seem real and relatable. Plus I totally love Gaby Hoffman and I wish she was my best friend.

I started working on goal #8 — fill a sketchbook with drawings. I used to be a lot more into drawing and painting waaaay back in high school, but I haven’t done much arty stuff since then. Very excited to change that. Here’s a sketch I did recently that I like. Also pictured: scotch on the rocks to help get those creative juices flowing.

hand-sketch

Happy March y’all!

Failed.

chess_hires

We need to talk about failure.

After just 3 weeks, I totally blew my goal to eat vegan once a week for a year. My first reaction when I realized my utter failure was to feel bad about myself for doing such a poor job at sticking with this seemingly easy goal.

I think you can all relate.

But then I started thinking — why did I fail?

Do I not want to move ahead with this goal because it’s hard? Or because it’s just not a goal that’s well-suited for me? Do I actually WANT to do this goal?

It’s not that a don’t like vegan food — I definitely do. And I ate some really great food during those first three weeks — that beet soup I told y’all about, this AMAZING vegan mac and cheese at a lovely little vegan friendly restaurant around the corner, I even made some delicious vegan marshmallows to satisfy my unrelenting sweet tooth.

I like vegan food and I think it’s good for me to eat vegan more often. Okay, so I do want to do this goal. Then what’s the problem?

I failed because I thought this goal would be easy and I didn’t plan ahead for how I would accomplish it.

This goal requires a lifestyle change and a lot more thought about what I’m putting into my body. This goal requires planning, a well thought out grocery list, the ability to say no to ordering pizza when cooking doesn’t sound like any fun. This goal requires vegan cookies, because, well, I know myself.

Yes it will require more work than my regular eating habits necessitate, but will it be worth it? I guess that’s what I’m trying to figure out.

Sometimes we make goals for ourselves that don’t actually work for us. Sometimes we make goals for ourselves that we give up on because they’re too hard. But it’s hard to know the difference until we really give them an honest try.

So I’m keeping this goal on the list. I’m going to put in the work it requires, and then if I decide that it isn’t working for me. I’m going to trash it. And I’m not going to think of that as a failure. More like a learning experience. This is a big experiment to figure out who we are, what we’re capable of, what we want out of life. Exploring goals we might fail at takes us one step closer to figuring ourselves out. We just have to make sure we’re putting in the work before we decide what is and what isn’t for us.

See ya January, it’s been real!

I’ve got some catching up to do. I’ve been up to so much and not telling you guys about it. Forgive me! Here goes:

My new recipe to try in January was roasted beet soup with spinach and squash seed pesto. This recipe came from a cookbook I got for Christmas — The French Market Cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier of the mouth-watering site Chocolate and Zucchini. This cookbook is lovely. It’s divided into sections by season, which I think is genius, and it’s entirely focused on using fresh, seasonal produce to its highest potential. Even better: all the recipes are vegetarian and many of them are vegan.

This soups take a little while to prepare almost entirely because of the time it takes to roast the beets. Once that’s out of the way though, it’s a snap, and the end product is equal parts delicious, healthy, and beautiful.

Look how pretty my dinner is! I want to decorate a house with these shades of magenta and green.

beet-soup

This pesto is a miracle. Delicious and amazingly easy to whip together in my trusty Magic Bullet. I want to make vats of it and put it on all the sandwiches and pasta I can find.

spinach-pesto

The only change I’d make next time is adjusting the amount of salt. The recipe called for a half teaspoon in the pesto and then another half teaspoon in the soup, but I think a half teaspoon total worked much better. I added the full half teaspoon to my pesto and then realizing how salty it ended up being, skipped adding any salt to the soup. Once I mixed them together the taste was just right. Next time I’ll just split the half teaspoon between the two dishes.

—–

January was also my month of doing yoga every single day. This “challenge” ended up being surprisingly easy. Now that I work from home full-time, I’ve technically gained an extra hour each day by avoiding the commute. Amazing, free time! So for the month of January I simply replaced my commute time with yoga time. Bonus: at the end of the challenge I was rewarded with (in addition to that whole healthy, zen, feeling-good business) champagne, fun brunch with my fellow yoga challengers (complete with beer-mosas – YUM), and this awesome crown:

yoga-crown

—–

And lastly, January meant I had to get real with myself about one of the most daunting goals on my list. Read every unread book on my shelf in one year’s time. I spent some time cataloging my books to see just how much work this would be (they’re also alphabetized and organized by genre – go ahead, call me a nerd to my face).

Here’s what it comes down to: 182 books in one year (you can check out my full reading list here). That’s about one book every two days. Yes, I do have a minor book buying problem. Nevertheless, I’m plugging away at this goal, seeing how far I can get. I’m hitting this one hard by taking on all 1,079 pages of Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace first thing. Let’s do this!

1 year left

Birds

Today is a big day you guys. I officially have 1 year left to complete my list. Lots of my goals are one time projects or events, but I have a few year-long projects that I’ll need to start tackling posthaste. They are:

9. Take a photo of the same place every month for a year and then turn it into a calendar for the next year

I’m planning to photograph the downtown of the little city I live in. Though I dread Michigan’s fierce winters, I love living in this little city. There’s always a lot going on here — festivals, community events, not to mention all the great local shops and restaurants and the wonderful residents that call this place home. I’m also excited for a good excuse to use my film camera (a Canon AE-1 Program) which I don’t take out to play nearly as often as I should.

28. Try a new recipe every month for a year

I have SO many wonderful cookbooks that I severely underutilize. I like cooking and I think I’m pretty good at it if I do say so myself, but I rarely follow recipes. Instead, driven by the need to use that last bit of broccoli before it goes bad, I stare into the depths of my fridge until inspiration hits me and dinner comes out, made out of whatever I have on hand. Grocery store trips for the sake of one meal are completely out of the question. I’m hoping using recipes more often will spur some ideas about flavor combinations and different ingredients to sample during my regular cooking trials. January’s recipe is going to come from a new cookbook I just got for Christmas — The French Market Cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier. I’ll be making roasted beet soup with baby spinach and squash seed pesto. Yes please!

29. Eat vegan once a week for a year

This one shouldn’t be too hard as long as I remember to do it. I’ve been happily vegetarian for about 14 years (more than half my life) and I regularly eat vegan purely by accident. Just gotta remember not to grate cheese onto everything for one day a week (okay this might be harder than I thought).

36. See live music at least once a month for a year

I think this one is going to fit nicely with goal #34 Listen to 26 bands I’ve never heard of, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. I don’t really know any bands playing shows this month, so I’ll have to discover a new one. To this end I checked out Zola Jesus (letter Z: check!) but I’m not super into them — sounds like boring moody electronic music to me. Then I tried Pity Sex (letter P: check!), they’re local hailing from Ann Arbor and sound like grungey 90s inspired rock. Pretty good, could be a fun show, but I think I’d get bored of the music pretty quickly. Next try is Lia Ices (letter L: check!). This is the winner. She’s sort of folksy almost new agey, kind of electronic Tori Amos with a tambourine. The show is January 16th. Looking forward!

59. Keep a diary for a year

My obsession with paper products — stationary, journals, sketchbooks, oh my! — began at an early age and I’ve been a sporadic diary-er ever since. Right now I’m working in a classic black, hardcover Moleskine, but my entries often fall months, if not years apart. My plan is to write at least once a week for the next year.

67. Volunteer regularly for a year

If I can handle myself and not take every single cat I see home with me, I want to start volunteering at an animal shelter. I used to volunteer a whole bunch with Planned Parenthood so might try getting back into that as well — it was nice hanging out with like-minded, feministy ladies on the regular. To be determined.