Tuesday, June 18, 2019

thinking lately

A lot of things have just been rolling around in my head lately.

The best decisions are last minute decisions. Twice in 2019, I have waited until the last minute to buy concert tickets. First was for The Avett Brothers, who I have already seen... twice, at least? And we are seeing them again in Denver next month. But anyway, I started to have FOMO the day of their concert so I got on StubHub and got last minute e-tickets for less than face value. We were in the absolute last row, but it was a small venue, I got a seat, and the poster was an astronaut riding an armadillo so all was good. I mentioned to a friend that we should go to Dave Matthews Band together because Andrew didn't want to go and she and I went a few years ago. I was really loose with the tickets because I wanted a deal. And I have seen Dave quite a few times and didn't need to go again, but it's always a good time. So anyway, this too waited until the day of the show. I said if I didn't get tickets by 5pm, we just wouldn't go. StubHub tickets weren't getting cheaper, so I checked Ticketmaster and for some reason, some seats were marked down to the same cost as lawn seats. I had no idea this was a thing but I guess since the show wasn't sold out, it became one. So at 4:45 I got tickets, we went to the show, and had a great time. I think this is my thing now.

Thrifting. It really is a thing I like to do. For a while, I did it a lot and sold things on Poshmark, but I feel like that site is oversaturated with the brands I find (J. Crew, Banana Republic, Loft) so I guess now I can focus on me. Do I NEED clothes? No. But if it's $1.50 then yes. It also makes me feel better about consumption. I see so many people posting about Amazon and Walmart fashion lately and while I will never fully rid myself of cheap consumer goods, the prices on those things HAVE to mean that they are being made via the suffering of someone else. So, I guess the compromise that will work for me is to fill my closet with thrifted things and only buy new if I fall in love with something, or if it's something more challenging to thrift, like jeans.

TV. So much TV.  Lately I have watched:
- Brene Brown's A Call to Courage (Netflix). Watch it. Go. Change your thinking.
- The Society (Netflix). Modern teenager Lord of the Flies. Passed the time okay and intriguing enough to keep me going, but not a must-see.
- Dead To Me (Netflix). I liked this but I didn't love it. I liked the characters and would like to see them in a different setting.
- Sneaky Pete Season Three (Amazon). Kind of bummed they cancelled this one. Everything was pretty well resolved, but I think a few things would have changed had they known it was the last season.
- Killing Eve (S2). I think I liked it better than the first.

Spiked Seltzer. It is so refreshing. Some of it tastes beery, but some doesn't. I think it will be really easy to go overboard on, so I try to drink it in moderation.

I am now in the Hamilton cult. Saw it and loved it. Totally didn't get it from just hearing the music. If you think you might like it and you have the means to see it, GO. If not, I will respect that. If you are also a cult member, please send me all the most interesting things you have seen about the show or its music. I have about five years of fandom to catch up on.

We're going to Denver in a few weeks. Any recs? We're going to a concert and to see the Astros in town playing the Rockies but things to do downtown during the day would be great...

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

add it to my list: april 2019

Basically I just feel like sharing some things I bought lately and love or otherwise highly recommend.

MAC In Extreme Dimension 3D Lash Mascara - I was gifted a Birchbox for my birthday and a sample of this was in one of my first few boxes. I have short, straight, not very dark lashes and I can never find a mascara I love (Better Than Sex disagrees with my skin and makes me look like a raccoon within a few hours, sadly). I tried this and I love it and used some Ulta rewards to get it for not much more than drugstore mascara would cost. It doesn't work for many reviewers, but I like it a lot.

Fetch Rewards - For whatever reason, I stopped using Ibotta. Then I learned about Fetch Rewards and honestly, it is so easy - you get points just for scanning and it finds offers worth points FOR you - that I have used it ever since. Basically you scan all of your grocery receipts within 14 days of purchase for points which can be redeemed for gift cards at Amazon and other places. I always end up getting something at Target that could be purchased at a grocery store, so I scan those, too. I haven't redeemed anything yet, but honestly it's such a quick process that I don't mind if it adds up slowly. If you want to sign up, use my code WQ3KV for 2,000 points for both of us.

Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Cleaner Concentrate - Like many people, I like the scent of Mrs. Meyers over cleaners that smell more, well, cleaner-y. I was buying small bottles at around $3.50 each and when Andrew would do a pop-up or we would cook a big meal, we would go through them SO fast. I realized that they have concentrate that you can mix with water and do the same thing. A bottle of concentrate is $7 and lasts forever (at least, it seems like it so far). I got some glass spray bottles of Amazon and it is one less thing to recycle regularly or have to remember to buy.

Welch's Island Fruit fruit snacks - I got these on a whim at the grocery store and they are delicious. A nice change from your regular flavors if you like to mix things up, and a pretty low-calorie way to indulge your sweet tooth.

Archer and Olive notebooks - You know by now that I entered the world of bullet journaling. I started with a Leuchtturm 1917 dot grid notebook since that is where nearly everyone starts and it was really easy to impulse buy at the bookstore that hosted bujo class. It was fine - no complaints. But, at another class at Brazos Bookstore, someone brought up Archer and Olive notebooks. Someone bought one and I touched it and loved the floral covers and thick white paper. Then Bre got me one for my birthday but being the consummate saver-of-trees, I vowed to finish my LT before starting it. Well, I have two pages left in my LT and in the same of having all of the same month in one journal, I'm starting it this week. It is far more exciting than it should be. I started working on my future log and the paper's thickness and smoothness makes me want to write. I have the pink flower dot grid and it's so pretty.

I'm sure I want to share more things but stopping at five feels good. Let me know if there is something you have been loving lately...

Thursday, April 25, 2019

mealplanning strategy

I have never actively thought about mealplanning, but from the time Andrew and I started cohabitating (2007...), he was the "adult" and I came from my parents' house, so we did a lot of things his way and grocery shopping was one of them. Whereas my mom and her sisters and my grandma keep fully stocked pantries with canned goods, buy things on sale just because, and have extra freezers for meat, we figure out what we are going to eat for the week and buy that.

Before Pinterest, I was inadvertently mealplanning. Now that I eat three meals a day at home during the week, I try extra hard to mealplan. Few things are more annoying than the "there is nothing to eat in this entire house" feeling. And I was chatting with a friend about this and she liked my approach so I will share because, why not?

We generally eat dinner at home Sunday - Thursday. There are two of us. I don't eat shellfish, we rarely eat beef at home (Andrew gets enough of it with BBQ life and it is never my favorite), I don't cook pork, and we rarely eat fish since we both prefer it fresh and have to eat it the day we buy it and that is too much commitment. I don't like canned veggies and I will spend more on meat if it is easy to cook (ie, premade raw meatballs that I can pop in the oven, already marinated chicken...)

Andrew went to culinary school; I started doing more of the cooking since working from home. I'm afraid of undercooking meat, I have awful knife skills, and faster is better. I try to avoid too many convenience foods, a ton of carbs many nights in a row, and only ask Andrew to cook one weeknight per week since his workday is about 12 hours long, including the commute.

Okay, so onto the strategy - Step 1 - Pick a meal that can last for two nights. Cooking is dumb and I like to maximize my time. If the two night meal is something Andrew will cook, we normally have it on Sunday and then Tuesday. If I cook it, it can be any night, but normally it's Monday. Some two night meals that we go to are enchiladas, black bean soup, chili, harissa chicken (one night with cous cous, the next night over salad), stuffed shells, Chinese chicken, or Mediterranean bowls. If we want to have a "bun" food, like veggie burgers, we'll usually plan a second bun food, too. So there are 2/5 nights.

Step 2 - Pick something easy - There is always a night where we don't want to cook, but our "going out" options are limited (read: we are picky and don't like the suburban chains surrounding us) so having something super simple on hand saves many dinner debates. This can be a big salad with pre-shredded rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, salad and a frozen pizza, omelets, ravioli, Trader Joe's orange chicken with rice or frozen veggies, Trader Joe's frozen Indian meals with naan, or veggie quesadillas. I also grab quick options on Costco runs. I grabbed a gyro kit a few weeks ago that we both really liked, and it was a nice change. We're now at 3/5!

Step 3 - Try something new. Typically, this is a new recipe I want to try. Bonus points if it's enough for leftovers. I try to pin things on Pinterest, but occasionally something at the store will catch my eye. Trader Joe's has raw, pre-seasoned chicken in different flavors so that falls into this category. My grocery store also sells Hello Fresh kits, so if those are on sale, I will grab one. I use Skinnytaste and Iowa Girl Eats for recipes most often.

Step 4 - An old faithful and/or something Andrew will cook. A lot of things fit into both of these categories. I don't cook pork, or chicken on the stove. I can cook ground turkey, but I like it better when he does. In a normal week, I'll plan a meal in this category like tacos, lettuce wraps, a sheet pan meal (chicken sausage + veggies), pork and veggies, spaghetti and meatballs, things like that. And that's all 5 meals for the week!

Since I work from home, I also have to plan my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. Those are way less exciting. For breakfast, I love Siggi's Greek lemon yogurt. I keep those on hand, but some mornings I just want a Kind bar or some fruit. I also get Naked smoothies when I catch them on sale to get some extra fruit in. My lunches are most often an "adult lunchable" in which I take the kids concept of a lunchable - meat, cheese, and crackers - and then add carrots, cherry tomatoes and hummus or dip. By getting different meats, cheeses, or crackers each week and switching up the dips, I somehow don't get too bored of this. I'll also get a salad kit most weeks, so my lunches are two salads and three lunchables. I need to have SOME kind of option or I tend to get annoyed.

We do get into food ruts, and I try to write down things that I try or bookmark or pin recipes that are hits. I also follow Costco and Trader Joe's accounts on Instagram so I can see their new products and grab them if they look good. As far as a grocery budget, I don't really try to keep one since I know that if we don't eat at home, we will go out, and that is way more expensive and more calories so I figure anything from the store is a better choice.

Monday, April 15, 2019

currently consuming

If I ever joined a cult, it would be because Bre told me to. I don't know why but she has this ability to tell you about things, non-forcefully, and then you are like, yes, I must try or do that thing. See: bujo-ing and all the crap I have bought because of it. And watching I'm Sorry again. And Add It To My List. She is doing a "Last Week Tonight" post each week and of course it makes me want to share the things I like, too.

So here are consumables that I have been loving that don't cost extra money, assuming you have library access/streaming services/a way to listen to podcasts.

(I hate that I have to get so technical but surely someone will be like "well electricity to run my TV costs money so really that isn't free." I mean not a real someone, but the bitch eating crackers that I imagine in my head who loves to judge me. Anyway.)

Podcasts:

This American Life - Beware the Jabberwock - I love TAL but some eps are better than others. This one totally fascinated me by telling me more about a name I have heard from twitter - Alex Jones - and how he came to be, and why he is so problematic. Like I could have told you before that he was awful, but now I can pinpoint exactly what he has done that was bad and speculate on how it came to be.

Conan O'Brien Needs A Friend - Pretty sure Bre rec'd this too but we share a love of good ole Coco. Even the ads on this are funny ("Conan O'Brien pays off the mortgage on his beach house..." complete with bird sounds in the background). Conan interviews celebrity guests to see if they could be friends but asks really entertaining questions and lets them shine without taking over. Also, his assistant Sona keeps him grounded in reality and calls him out in perfect ways. This one is great, especially the ep with Michelle Obama.

TV:

Superstore is a show I never expected to like. I don't love sitcoms. However, I was bored and a friend recommended this and I like America Ferrera so why not? This is a sitcom in a workplace with some unrequited love and long-running jokes, but it also brings light to illegal immigration status, maternity leave (or lack thereof), women's rights, and other issues without being too preachy. Plus it often makes me LOL.

Shrill had to make my list because I love Lindy West so much. But really, as someone who has never felt thin but is not plus-sized, I found SO MUCH of this show relatable, and I'm sure women of all sizes do, too. (The first scene where she is stuck in the shirt...). It is what Girls could have been if the characters weren't terrible. Was Annie always likeable? No. Did I like the last episode? No. Is the book better? Of course. But I loved so many parts of this show, including Annie's roommate, who was the BEST.

The new season of Queer Eye is so, so good. The one where they record the guy saying bad things about himself and play it back for him and then the one with the young, black, lesbian women were my favorites and both had things that I wanted to write down and nod my head to.

Books:

My favorite, Nora McInerny, wrote another memoir called No Happy Endings about life after her husband died of cancer. This time, we get to see her grief as she raises their son, falls in love again, and gets pregnant while getting two bonus kids from her now-husband. It's a lot, but if you truly like to see how another person navigates life, it is 1000% worth your time.

Allow me to be the 47th person to tell you to read Michelle Obama's book, Becoming. I really loved it.

I really liked Pachinko, which has been around a while, but if you haven't read it, I really recommend it. It is the story of one family, through generations, and with the backdrop of the Korean/Japanese conflict that I honestly knew nothing about. It really hits on the fact that so many emotions are universal, regardless of when or where they happen.

TL;DR - just consume all these things.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

what's new?

What's new with me is that I miss the connection of internet friends.

Also, recently, the idea of vulnerability keeps creeping up - in my work life, from Brene Brown on instagram, and from my therapist, which is what made me really listen.

(Lauren, you have a therapist? Yup - vulnerability in sharing, y'all).

I feel like those two are tied together - my fear of being vulnerable on the internet can make me, well, somewhat uninteresting. If I am not sharing my whole self, then what is left to read?

Anyway, like many others, I can wax poetic about the good days of blogging circa 2013 - no shade, I like to know I'm not alone - and I can also try to do something about it. So here I am, linking up with Kristen, and hoping some people who are just regular women with no intention of being an #influencer come around and read paragraphs and don't mind a lack of pictures.

So - what's new with me since I actually wrote a blog post with some feelings?

I'm working on being nicer to me. Did you see that episode of Queer Eye in season three where they recorded all the bad things the guy said about himself and then Karamo made him listen to it? That was SO resonant with me. I may not say them aloud, but how many times a day do I judge myself, or think that others will? How much negativity am I spreading internally? Whoa.

So that led me to writing down daily gratitude. Yes, I have scoffed at it before, so if that is you, I totally get it. But, it gives me a reason to visit my bullet journal daily and it can be as simple as how fantastic the perfectly ripe pineapple I just ate was. All it takes is one little thing.

On the life front, I am working to straddle the line between Instagram makes me want to buy everything and not being a mindless consumer. For example, if you listen to my Instagram stories, you know I have recently discovered this store called Dirt Cheap which has Target stuff at HUGE discounts. I will go in there and be like "hmmm, well, this vase is cute and SO CHEAP" and have it in my cart, but then think... why? Why do I need another vase? Is it sparking joy? Usually no - I usually get my joy in "things" from quirky knickknacks found in antique malls - and I am able to put it back. I mean yes, the thing is cheaper than my average Starbucks, but do I need MORE STUFF? Mostly, the answer is no. However, after living in our house four years, I am finally working to make some of our spaces more home-y and adult - a rug under our bed, finally hanging some art in the bathroom, and buying a concert poster with no idea where to hang it mostly because I was in love with it. (It's an Avett Brothers poster with an astronaut riding an armadillo and it was perfectly Houston. I had to.) I guess my personal line is that if it will make me feel a way - comforted, pull up a memory, etc - then I am more than willing to consume.

(But I also saw a tweet of a cartoon with the Marie Kondo landfills where the trash was up to the sky so I really am trying to be mindful of my footprint as a human.)
(The responses not to blame Marie for this are spot-on - WE are the ones to blame for having SO MUCH stuff. It isn't her fault for encouraging people to get rid of it. She didn't buy it for us)

And finally, vulnerability. I mentioned that before. I wrote the aforementioned paragraph and thought about how I would love to connect with some new, regular women who blog or read blogs, and how maybe they love to consume things and it brings them joy, and I wanted to rewrite everything I said. I don't want to hurt feelings. But I have to own what I think, try to articulate it, and accept when I'm wrong, or at least honor a difference of opinion. I have secretly wanted to be perfect in so many ways while trying to tell myself I didn't care what other people think for SO LONG, and it's exhausting. So, to put it all out there, and in the words of John Mayer, "just wanna be liked, just wanna be funny... looks like the joke's on me, so call me Captain Backfire." Not being my full self wasn't me enough, so it's a thing I'm looking to change. Trying to be more moderate and not piss people off worked in a way but was a disservice to me. I like to read real thoughts and feelings and see what everyone else is going through, but all I can control is what I put out there, and I am going to work to make that much more honest and vulnerable. 

SO anyway, if you are new here and made it through that, you might be my kind of people. I am much more likely to post on Instagram than keep blogging going, but if you like blogs, I already have half a post drafted which is more than I blogged all of last month. Cheers to working on you, reading about real people, and killing time on the internet.