Positive Monday

Humans worldwide agree: Mondays are hard.

Let’s make them a little easier by taking a moment to think about all the things that make our lives wonderful. The word gratitude has been bouncing around the internet quite a bit lately. And for good reason, says science — practicing gratitude actually improves your health and well-being.

So on this Monday, I’m giving thanks for some things that help me chug through my week and tackle my (sometimes daunting) list of goals like a boss.

BKR Water Bottle

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I’m the type of person who can’t leave the house without her water bottle. I have a fairly extensive graveyard of old water bottles that just didn’t work out for me. But this one, I adore. It’s made out of glass so you don’t have to worry about any sketchy chemicals, and it comes with a cute silicone sleeve to protect it from breakage — I dropped mine once on a cement step and it didn’t even chip! Plus you can throw the whole thing right into the dish washer so it’s stupid easy to clean.

Fount

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I just discovered this amazing tool and I want to shout about it to all of you. Fount is a simple bookmark you add to your browser which, when clicked, shows you the name and style of any font on any webpage. I’m obsessed.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

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I may have stayed inside all of last week and binge watched the entire 2 seasons of this show on Netflix….it’s too cold to go outside, okay!? Set in 1920’s Australia, it follows the adventures of the wonderfully feministy Miss Phryne Fisher, Lady Detective. Season 3 is set to come out sometime this year — I can’t wait!

This is my new favorite music video:

Happy Monday, y’all!

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Failed.

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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.

The 5,000 Question Survey

Digging

I’m digging up the past here. Remember back when Livejournal was the pinnacle of the internet and everyone was doing those “about me” surveys? Well, I found one and I’m totally doing it. Can we make these popular again?

This is for goal #88 “Complete the 5,000 question survey.” I discovered this goal surfing around Day Zero Project (where my list first began to take shape), and it immediately gave me flashbacks to my angsty Livejournal days. Obviously I had to add this goal to my list.

I suppose at the time I didn’t quite realize how insane 5,000 questions for a survey would be — I’ve only slogged through 200 questions thus far. Some of the questions are decidedly stupid, but I pulled out a handful of gems for your reading pleasure:

  1. What is the truest thing that you know?  The purpose of life is to be happy.
  1. What did you want to be when you grew up?  Archaeologist. 
  1. Which decade do you feel the most special connection to and why?  The 1920s, I’d totally be a flapper. So much going on politically and culturally.
  1. What is your favorite oldie/classic rock song?  More than a feeling – Boston
  1. Is there a movie that you love so much you could watch it everyday?  Stranger than Fiction
  1. What’s the best joke you ever heard?  What do you call a dinosaur with good taste?… A Dinosseur
  1. What is the first animal you would run to see if you went to the zoo?  Red panda
  1. What cartoon would you like to be a character in?  Adventure Time. 
  1. What insects are you afraid of?  Moths. 
  1. If you could print any phrase on a T-shirt, what would it say?  “I ate all the pizza and I drank all the beer.” -Charlie Day
  1. Of all animated movies, which is the best one you’ve ever seen?  James and the giant peach or Fantasia (the original)
  1. What is the happiest way you can start your day?  Sleep in. Wake up to coffee & donuts
  1. If someone wanted to understand you what book could they read that would help?  Pretty much anything written by Stefan Zweig

Oh yeah, and keeping up with the Livejournal theme…

Current mood: Hungry Mely

Current music: Here I Go Again – White Snake

Who else got their start with good old LJ? C’mon be honest.

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.

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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:

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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!

Winning!

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So, no big deal but…I won an award! The lovely Ailene over at Incurable Wanderlust (where she posts beautiful photos of her adventures and tips to be a savvy traveler like herself) nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks Ailene!

Forthwith, my duties as an award winner are as follows:

  1. Thank the person who gave you this award. (Thanks again!)
  2. Include a link to their blog. (see above!)
  3. Nominate 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. (Okay, so I only picked 7 blogs to nominate — 7 blogs and 7 things about me just seems more organized to me)
  4. Link your nominees’ blog and tell them 7 things about yourself. (see below!)

Since I’m new in town, everyone below falls into the “recently discovered” category, but y’all are really starting to grow on me!

  1. Awaken and Explore
  2. BennaKim
  3. Dark Roast
  4. My Perceived Reality
  5. Not With Haste
  6. Souls of Wit
  7. Typing and Thinking

7 things about me: 

  1. I’m afraid of moths and butterflies
  2. My favorite german author is Thomas Mann
  3. One of my most prized possessions is a painting of my cat that my boyfriend had commissioned for my birthday last year.
  4. I think Hall and Oates is the perfect cure for any bad day.
  5. I CANNOT WAIT for the new season of Twin Peaks to come out next year
  6. I’m currently plotting my escape from the 9-5 work life
  7. In my limited travels, the one site that has made the greatest impression on me is Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway.

Cheers!

#36 – January edition: Lia Ices + Seoul

lia-ices

Last week kind of flew by. I was in DC for three days of staff meetings. My birthday happened to fall on one of those days, and I got to spend it in a day-long meeting. Wee! Luckily I have wonderful co-workers who took me out for whiskey, bocce ball, and Ethiopian food after 8 hours of meeting. So, not a total loss.

Suddenly I’m 27. When did that happen?

J. picked me up from the airport when I returned on Friday night and greeted me with a kiss and a Jimmy Johns sandwich. Swoon. We stopped home for a minute where he presented me with my birthday gift — a gift card to Planet Rock, a local rock climbing gym. Goal #44 here I come! Then we went off to the Lia Ices show.

Like I do, I almost backed out of going to the show. Busy week away from home and all I really wanted was put some jammies on and camp out on the couch all night. Welcome to my life. But this was not just a matter of having a fun Friday night, this was a night to check a Goal off my all important To-Do List. I gave myself a kick in the pants and told myself to get off the damn couch. And I’m very pleased that I did. You saw that coming though, right?

We headed into the venue which is a conglomeration of music venue, bowling alley, and pizza place — a true gem in Detroit. We procured some whiskey from the bar and soon enough the first band was playing. They’re called Seoul. I don’t know about you, but whenever I go to a show with an unknown opening band, I always brace myself for, best case scenario, some pretty solid mediocrity. Maybe that’s just my experience talking or because I tend to form pretty strong snap judgement about bands within the first minute of hearing them. But this band was great. Like I’m-totally-going-to-buy-their album-when-it-comes-out great. Here’s a taste for you:

Then Lia Ices went on. She was really wonderful live – great sound and energy. I think she played the entirety of her new album, Ices. There isn’t a bad song on it. Here’s one of my favorites from her:

We capped off the night with some pizza from Sgt. Pepperoni’s, the pizza place inside the venue. Some people claim this pizza only tastes amazing because you normally eat it at the end of a drunken night. But I strongly believe this pizza holds up brilliantly to sobriety. We each had a slice and then went back for seconds. The end to a beautiful night.

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.

Let me introduce myself

Me in an apple tree

Me in an apple tree

My name is Kate and I’ve lived in beautiful, frigid Michigan my whole life. I’m a full-on crazy cat lady and coffee enthusiast. I can’t resist donuts or cheap used books. Yoga keeps me sane. My one desire in life is to see the world. Like, the whole world. All of it. I hate routine, I never want to have kids, and I’m ready to move away from Michigan as soon as possible.

I’ve worked doing communications for a nonprofit organization for the past 2 years, and I’m in the process of figuring out my next career move. The nonprofit I work for just closed its Michigan office — I’m still doing my same job, but today marks my first day of working from home full time. I love it.

I like making goals and lists and I’ve got lots of different interests but I never seem to devote the time I’d like to them. Which is why I started this 101 things project. I’m making plans, holding myself accountable to them (by opening myself up to public internet shame if I don’t complete them — yikes!), and hoping to gain some insight into myself and what I should be doing with my life along the way.

Pleased to meet ya!

Goals, goals, goals!

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Like everyone else in the world, the new year’s got me thinking about all the goals and plans I’ve got brewing in the back of my mind. First and foremost is figuring out what I’m going to be when I grow up. I have a good sense of what I want my life to look like, but trying to figure out what kind of job will get me there has been eating away at my brain for some time now.

I’ve always been a think-before-I-act type of person. I tend to sit and ponder questions like this, thinking in circles until I give myself a headache. I’m still not sure what my next move should be career-wise, but I’m hoping working on the goals in this list will help flex my action muscles and get me out of my own head a bit.

With that in mind, up first on the goals menu is 31 straight days of yoga. The studio I frequent offers up a free month of yoga for anyone who comes in every day for the month of January. Since I have a work trip for three days in the middle of the month I’m not quite eligible for the freebie, but I’m using it as an excuse to get my ass off the couch every single day and move. Today is day 4 – so far so good!

Day 1

Well shit, it’s been more than a year since I made this plan, and I’ve only managed to check 6 things off my list. I’m a great procrastinator and a bad follow-througher like most humans these days. I started this list on the Day Zero Project website, then I decided to take it to Tumblr for some extra accountability, and now I’m here on WordPress since I think I like this platform better.

To get things rolling, here’s a post about one of the first items I crossed off my list, copied from my now defunct Tumblr:

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Last Friday I went to D’Mongo’s for the first time with my roommate A. and my boyfriend J. We had gone to this Redbull sponsored art exhibit in Eastern Market, but after taking the last two beers from the open bar, and checking out the five or six different exhibits, we decided to take off for D’Mongo’s.

We got there around 11pm and the place was full.  Completely full to the point that I’m sure several fire codes were being broken. A polite blonde woman checked our IDs at the door, advised us that we’d (obviously) have to stand since there was no seating open at that time, and let us try to cram our bodies into the crowd.

A. was at the bar before I could properly orient myself or figure out where the delicious barbeque smell was coming from. She’d been there before, but I think she would have tunneled her way through the mass of people just as well if she hadn’t. When we had first arrived at the Redbull Gallery earlier in the night she was clipping through the crowd ahead of me with such agility that even though I was focusing hard on her tan coat, I lost her after just a couple of seconds.

A. had her beers in hand (two because there was no way we were getting back up to that bar for a second round) and was halfway through the first one before J. and I even figured out the best way to squeeze up to the bar. Eventually, clasping five High Lifes between the three of us, we snuck into an unclaimed alcove flanked on one side by an “employee’s only” door and on another by a fortunate group that had gotten there early enough to secure a table.

As we relaxed into our spot for the night, I was finally able to look around me. The place looked like a much better version of TGI Fridays, with all sorts of stuff covering the walls. Except instead of lame sports memorabilia and tacky street signs, there were posters of Billie Holiday and framed quotes from Beethoven along the forest green walls. A band was playing up front, but they were a little too slow and mellow for the bustling bar to notice.

By the time our beers were empty, sweat was dripping down my back and I was ready to savor the chilly night air. We didn’t stay much longer than the time it takes me to drink one beer (which is about the same amount of time it takes most other people to drink two beers), but I’m looking forward to going back a little earlier in the night so we can get a seat and enjoy the scenery a little more before the bodies and their radiating heat become too much to handle.