Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Single Girl's Guide to Organizing Personal Files

I am what I call a selectively organized person.  My car, closet, bathroom cabinets and work space are always mostly in order.  My clothes drawers? Disaster.  My desk? HA.  And my personal files? Until today, I wouldn't want to talk about it.  Being organized is one of those things I just sort of assumed I would magically get better at as I got older.  Well, I'm now a little ways into adulthood and unfortunately, there are yet to be elves organizing my shoeboxes full of receipts at night.  Turns out you actually have to work at it.  Oops.

As my family is in the process of moving house, getting organized is at the top of my list.  I refuse to move one more time with boxes full of stuff "to be sorted through later".  As I've been going through my things, the mantra in my mind has been, "If it's not useful or beautiful, out it goes." This has surprisingly worked well for helping me to let go of random odds and ends I've held on to for years.

One thing I've always had trouble staying on top of in particular is my personal files.  For awhile, I was using a rather complicated system of manila envelopes and Ziploc bags to hold records, but they got full quickly and I always had to dump out them out to find something.  Also, as the years go by and I acquire more responsibilities, the amount of "stuff" I need to keep track of is growing.

It's not cute to be 25 years old and have no idea when I last got the fuel filter in my car changed.  It's really not funny when an application is due and I'm hunting for a copy of my transcript that USED to be in that one drawer in my old desk.  It's adorable when a four year old accidentally draws on the back of your utility bill but I'm here to say that we twenty-somethings are TOO OLD FOR THAT NONSENSE.

SO. I went to an office supply store, picked up a few things, and spent an entire day playing catch-up to the rest of you stable, mature adults.  It is not the most exciting way to spend a Saturday but boy is it satisfying.  I thought I would share my process with any of you people out there who are working away at this whole "adult" thing, with jobs and responsibilities but no one to share the burden with (except maybe your cat).

Not that I'm against being married and well-grounded, but married people tend to have extra things to worry about than me and the Teen Girl Squad, you know? Like kids, and multiple vehicles.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

5 Ingredient Pasta Dish

Good evening my dears.  A little while ago, a challenge was thrown out there on forums of the blogger network 20sb. Can you make a pasta dish with just five ingredients, including the pasta? 

Challenge accepted. 
I love pasta. It is one of those foods that I would happily eat every day.  
There are SO MANY THINGS you can do with it.  I am fan of spaghetti and meatballs as much as the next gal, but I also love making up sauces, trying out all different kinds of noodles, and seeing just how many ways I can incorporate it into a meal.

One of my absolute favorite recipes is an avocado, basil, bacon, and parmesan pasta.  But that requires more than five ingredients.  With that recipe in mind, I made a pared down version for one that happened to be vegan and gluten free. Bonus! In my house, if you can make something vegan, gluten free, AND delicious, well you should run for office because clearly you are magic.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm a wizard.  Sometimes.

Anyway, here are my five ingredients (not counting water and salt as per the rules, though salt is pictured):
+A couple ounces of brown rice noodles (I used rotini)
+1 ripe medium sized avocado
+A sprinkle (or two) of coarse black pepper and sea salt
+A generous splash of lemon juice
+A spoonful (or two) of basil pesto

I didn't measure anything, which I realize is not very helpful but I sort of eyeballed the ingredients and tasted as I went.  Listen, if you came here for precision and magazine-ready food photos, you came to the wrong blog, pal.  

 Boil the water per package directions, and pour in what you would consider a serving size of noodles.  As brown rice pasta is pretty sturdy, it needs to boil for about 11 minutes to be al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, slice open the avocado, remove the stone, and cut into large chunks.  Scoop out the avocado into a small bowl, add the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and pesto and toss together.

Drain the pasta, pour into your dish and top with the avocado mixture.

Mix it with your fork and ENJOY. 

THAT'S IT. In fifteen minutes you have a super delicious and filling meal. Obviously you could jazz it up with a sprinkle of fresh parmesan or some bacon but it tastes excellent as is. The lemon juice adds a brilliant zing that plays well off the smooth flavor of the pesto.

I feel for judging purposes I should clarify: I never salt the water I boil pasta in so I didn't feel bad for adding it to my topping. Secondly, using pre-made basil pesto is probably cheating a little but it came in one jar and I regret nothing. 

So, what do you think, would you try this recipe? Are there any pasta recipes you're fond of that I should try? Let me know in the comments. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Day in the Life: March 2014

A Day in the Life: A Linkup by Break the Sky

This post is part of the series of a monthly linkup hosted by Manda at Break the Sky, where bloggers record a day in their life.


Monday, March 17, 2014
(aka St. Patrick's Day)

// 7:30 am

In which I began the day in a TERRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD mood.  Just like last month's post, I woke up to a surprise sinus infection.  I seriously hope this doesn't become a theme. "Happy St. Patrick's Day! Don't forget to record your day for the linkup!" read my alarm, unaware of the state of events. "You want to see my day? Here you go, world! Happy nothing to NO ONE!" I said to myself as I took the world's grumpiest selfie:

And then I did nothing. Seriously, NOTHING. 
I even contemplated skipping this post altogether, but Manda reminded me of the importance of sharing "accurate real life but no actually I mean THIS IS MY REAL LIFE, SOMETIMES IT'S BORING" with the world. She's right. I mean, this is it. Sometimes I'm sick and I don't have it in me to get up and soldier on. Sometimes I give into the aches, pains, and melancholia and pull the covers back over my head.

So that's what I did. I took stock of my sore, swollen throat, my pounding head, and the buzzing in my ears. "Fine. Do what you must." And I gave in to the fatigue that seemed heavier by the minute.

// most of the day

I slept. When I woke up occasionally, this was my view.

// 5:00 pm

After what was either the world's longest nap with short breaks, or like 5 mini naps, I rallied enough to readjust my attitude.
"How fortunate am I that I don't have kids to take care of, or responsibilities that can't wait til another day? How lucky am I that I have a warm bed, a view of the sky, and people who love me? HOW UNGRATEFUL AM I BEING RIGHT NOW, ON A SCALE OF ONE TO JUSTIN BIEBER?"

Disgusting, self. Be happy about the big things. And the little things. And the medium things.  Be happy for all the things that were in this day to bring you joy. 

For example, evidence of life in my container garden. There are tiny sprouts in the lavender and rosemary pots, and my little succulent transplants are holding on. The Winter That Will Never End can't hold us down.

And look, perfect time to crack into a new book. It's quite good, one of those odes to Jane Austen (this one loosely based on Sense and Sensibility), but with a biting modern tone.

Also, one of my favorite things: snail mail. It's a save the date postcard. So lovely, I'm displaying it on my desk instead of tucking it into my datebook.  Obviously, I'm more excited about the impending nuptials than the card itself. I've known J & S since high school and it fills me with glee to think of two such awesome people getting ready to spend the rest of their lives together. And that they want me to attend! I always feel so honored when people invite me to their wedding. I know it's a huge deal deciding on the guest list, not wanting to leave people out, but also not wanting a massive circus.  That's not to say I feel slighted when I'm not included, I completely understand, but I always get a thrill when I am.

And finally, a chance to watch a film I've had on my list for awhile now. The Well-Digger's Daughter, directed by Daniel Auteuil, starring himself as the well-digger and Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey as, well, his daughter.  Set in pre-war rural France, it's a sweet, simply told story about a man, Pascal, struggling to come to terms with the complicated choices of his oldest daughter, Patricia.  There are plenty of emotional conversations in living rooms and picturesque wheat fields, hapless but charming supporting characters, and scenes involving the train station. Basically everything I need in a French film.

There are loads of other things that cheered me up yesterday, like a sandwich on pretzel bread (SO DELICIOUS), a hug from my little brother, a glimpse of sunshine, indulging in a lovely bubble bath with part of a Christmas Eve bubble bar from LUSH, and lots of quiet time.  I didn't take any more pictures after that, but I went to bed with a grateful heart.

And even though the war in my sinuses rages on, I woke up today with a much better attitude.

How was your day, friends?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

On the Witchcraft of Craft Stores and Pinterest

Witchcraft you say? Yes, witchcraft.  That can be the only reasonable explanation for the trickery that occurs the minute you walk in the door of a store that sells craft supplies.

Let me elaborate: the other day I went into Hobby Lobby with one goal in mind: white sugar pearls.  "That's it," I firmly told myself, "that's all you need from this store. You have exactly twelve dollars in your pocket today but only two or three of them are to be spent."

The why I needed sugar pearls is unimportant (for a particular batch of cupcakes, if you must know) but you already know the ending.  I walked out with far more than just sugar pearls.

How much more? Let me count the ways:

One jar of sanding sugar, a box of pastry bags, a frosting tip and coupler, Halloween-themed cupcake liners, two spools of ribbon, a bag of candle wicks, and an easel. An easel.


What did I need out of all of those things? Nothing.
I blame it on the atmosphere.

The very second you enter, your senses are assailed by the faint comforting scent of cinnamon and your grandmother's kitchen and all of a sudden you feel like all of your dreams will come true if you just believe.  And if you purchase four bottles of ultrafine glitter.

Now, I'm well aware that craft stores do not have this affect on everybody.  For example, the only way I would get either of my brothers to go to Hobby Lobby with me would be to somehow trick them into it or to actually tie them to the roof of the car.  Once I asked Spencer to go with me and, with a massive eye roll and all the disgust of an unwilling 10-year old, he said, "Why, so someone can carry your stuff for all your art projects?" Like I had just asked him to help me pick up trash on the side of the road.

But for those of us with the urge to create, to make bits and bobs with our own two hands, craft stores and hobby shops are like crack dens.
Except for all of the crack.

While this is something that has always appealed to grandmothers, school teachers, and resident assistants dedicated to providing alcohol-free activities to college students, crafting has only fairly recently become popular among a much larger portion of the female population (she said, with zero factual basis for this statement).  Suddenly it's cool to know how to knit a scarf if you're in your twenties. It's less a sign of "old maid" and more "self-sufficient young thing making her way through the world with a neck that will never be cold".

I blame Pinterest.  Like the fleas on the backs of rats that brought the plague to Europe, so too Pinterest wantonly spreads the disease of craftiness to unwitting Internet users. Beautifully-lit photographs of holiday wreaths, complicated wedding cakes, and intricate sewing projects lure unsuspecting browsers into believing they too can weave a basket that would make Martha Stewart nod in approval.

"If I build this bookshelf out of old pallets, I will bring honor to my family.  Just like my great great aunt Constance, when she used the slats of her family's broken Conestoga wagon to fashion a raft to take them over the Missouri River, I too am doing a great and noble thing."

Except the difference is that I call it "upcycling", and dear old Constance called it "survival".

Because really, who are we fooling? I'm not saying there are no useful skills that come from being crafty, I'm just saying it's something we can't claim to do out of necessity anymore.  Gone are the days when it was cheaper to sew all your own clothes than to buy them from a store.  And if we're being honest, I question the structural integrity of that bed frame you found by a dumpster and refurbished.

There seems to be an unofficial contest of who will be the world's chicest DIY-er but spoiler alert, the prize is nothing. The person beating down my door to applaud my tissue tassel garlands and bottle art is named Nobody and he brought none of his friends. "The moment I saw her make her own chalkboard paint, I had to have her hand in marriage," said no one, ever.

(Not that that's what I'm looking for. In fact, that would be a super weird reason for a proposal.)

Yet onward sails the good ship Handmade, with me at the helm. "Avast ye naysayers! I shall craft on! IT SOOTHES ME."

And so I do. Enabled every step of the way by Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Pinterest, and positive feedback from you, my dear readers.

Just don't let it go to my head, ok? Keep me humble, Internet. And if we happen to be out shopping together, maybe keep me away from the craft stores.

In the meantime, if anyone needs me, I'll be over here bedazzling a sweatshirt by the flickering light of a taper in an old wine bottle.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Day in the Life: February 2014

A Day in the Life: A Linkup by Break the Sky

This post is part of the series of a monthly linkup hosted by Manda at Break the Sky, where bloggers record a day in their life.

Friday, February 7, 2014
(aka Spencer's 11th Birthday)

// 7:30 am 

In which I woke up after a terrible night to day three of a bad cold/the plague, feeling worse instead of better. So grumpy.

This is a new thing I just started called the 20% selfie. 20% is all you get to see of me on a sick day.

// 8:00 am

In which I dragged myself downstairs but stopped in the living room to admire the sun coming up in the backyard.