Currently – The July Edition

The other day I was labeling something with the date and wrote “July 2016”.  So I’m a year behind, but at least I’ve got the month right!

So far July has been a good month — mostly relaxing and routine, with a long weekend thrown in at the beginning.  But lots of fun things are coming up, so it looks like July will finish strong.  My sister’s birthday is next week and we’re going to see Barry Manilow that night!  And after that, I’m heading to Mexico.  I’ve never been, so I’m super-excited.

Lately I’m …

Eating:  Kind of Whole30 things, kind of not.  My Whole30 officially ended yesterday, but I did a terrible job following the rules this time.  I’ve got a post coming up soon that will detail the way I altered my Whole30 so I didn’t lose my mind.  But I did fall in love with this quick, Whole30-compliant, Skillet Chicken Piccata and everyone should make it.

Watching:  I just finished watching the second season of Master of None.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the first season, but I’ve got a soft spot for Aziz Ansari and I’d heard round two was an improvement.  And it was!  The writing was better this time around, and so were the performances overall.  There were a few episodes that felt out of place, but it was cool to see the show utilize different storytelling techniques (there’s part of an episode that follows a deaf woman, and it’s completely sound-less)!

Following:  Danika Brysha.  I discovered her when she took over Whole30Recipes and I developed an instant girl crush.

Reading:  It’s nice when bosses care about their employees as people.  Also, I mentioned that my sister, our friend Anna, and I have started a little book club — our first book is Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirshman, just in case you want to read it too!

What are you loving lately?

Can we talk about Gilmore Girls?

I have watched every episode of Gilmore Girls many times — I’m definitely in the double-digit count of viewings.  Granted, I’m not always paying attention; Gilmore Girls is one of those feel-good shows that I like to have going in the background when I’m home alone or working on something.  But, full attention or not, I’ve watched it a lot.  (Not A Year in the Life, though.  I’ve only watched that twice:  once in a state of complete disappointment and once to try again.  I haven’t collected my revival thoughts yet.)

My sister mentioned that I must really love the show and that got me thinking:  Do I love Gilmore Girls that much?  I don’t think so, but I do think I like it because the show is loaded with things to think about.  Mother-daughter relationships, privilege, pop culture, and more!

The fun thing about having seen a show a bajillion times is that, after the first few viewings, you can watch critically.  You’re not learning about the characters anymore or trying to keep up with the story; you can think about every little thing that made it into the show.  It might seem a little silly to think so hard about a show like Gilmore Girls, but it’s an influential, loved show that has impacted lots and lots of people.  So I will continue to watch and think and if you’re the same way, there are a few not-so-great things I’d love to chat about …

Can we talk about how rude Lorelai is to anyone and everyone when she is in a bad mood?  While it seems like something that’s written into her character to make her “real”, but also as a comical aspect of her personality, it really just makes her seem immature and inconsiderate.  It’s not your mother’s fault that you exploded at Sookie, Lorelai.  And maybe, instead of pouting every time you’re upset, you could work on your communication skills.

Can we talk about how the Gilmores did the same thing to Dean when Rory brought him to dinner that the Huntzbergers did to Rory when she started dating Logan?  Lorelai gives Richard a pretty easy pass when he has his hissy fit, but that courtesy doesn’t extend to the Huntzbergers.  I would argue that, while both incidents were terrible and unnecessary and melodramatic, the Huntzbergers had a better case!  Rory wasn’t likely to end up with her high school boyfriend, but it is significantly more reasonable to think that Logan, a college guy bringing his girlfriend home to meet his family, might end up with her.  The Huntzbergers’ concerns might have been unfair and antiquated, but they were a little bit more realistic.

Can we talk about the way non-circle female characters have to turn into monsters in order for their story lines to move forward?  Gilmore Girls is about a lot of things, but the relationships of women to other women are central.  It’s interesting to me that there is this girl power, tribe mentality that exists in Lorelai’s circle, but it only applies to the women who are already included.  Sure, we see Rory supported unconditionally, we see Sookie initiate her relationship with Jackson, we see Lane pushing boundaries, we see Paris being a boss, and we see Emily put her foot down and demand respect from her powerful husband (in what seems, otherwise, to be like a very “traditional gender roles” kind of relationship).  They’re in the circle.  But outside of the circle, we see Sherry abandon her daughter and relationship because she’s resentful of Christopher, we see Rachel as someone who always leaves and breaks hearts in the process, we see Nicole ask Luke to stick it out in their relationship only to betray his trust, and we even see April as a romantic problem instead of a person.  If you ask me, that’s unnecessary.

Continue reading “Can we talk about Gilmore Girls?”

Personal Mid-Year Review

from Inside Out

There are plenty of things that I could do without that are a part of corporate job life, but I happen to be a fan of the mid-year review.

I like the idea of starting each year with a fresh set of goals, at work and personally.  But the thing is this:  a year is a long time.  Goals that are a good idea at the beginning of the year might not be relevant at the end, or even earlier!  So it’s a good practice to check in and make sure that the things you’re working toward are still the things you should be working toward.

Enter:  my list of 52 things to do in 2017.  While I stand by most of my list and I am making progress, there are a few things that I feel like revising.

14.  Complete the Tone It Up Bikini Series.

My intention with this goal was to encourage myself to settle into a steady workout schedule that allows me to stay sane while prioritizing physical activity.  My sister and I started this year’s Bikini Series, but got bored quickly — that’s often the case with me and workout programs.  (Remember the times I tried BBG over and over again?)  But the reality is that I’ve got a pretty reliable schedule of classes that I attend with ClassPass.  I’m still training myself to work out on my own with more regularity, but I’ve decided that Tone It Up works best for me when I  revisit it every now and then.  That’s the new plan!

19.  Cook my way through a cookbook (Julie and Julia-style).

I love to cook.  Even the tedious things like chopping and stirring non-stop are relaxing to me.  But when my schedule gets busy, I forget that I find it relaxing, I stop cooking, and I make salads for pretty much every meal.  In an effort to minimize my salad habit, I set this goal.  But here’s what I know now:  Committing to an entire cookbook is too much pressure for me.  Instead, I will make a new recipe each month.  Easy and a little adventurous, without my having to worry about making octopus salad or something just because it’s the next recipe in the book!

30.  Read 52 books.

Reading 52 books in a year is hefty goal (at least for me).  When I added it to my previous list of yearly goals, it was a challenge that was super-motivating.  I was coming out of a period of pretty much zero reading; after I got out of school, books were not a relaxing way to spend my time.  But now that I read more regularly, trying to get through so many books is more stressful than motivational.

I will continue to read on my own, aiming for at least one new book a month.  Plus, my sister, our friend (and my loyal blog reader) Anna (hi Anna!), and I have started a little book club to keep us reading and to keep us in touch.  So I might not hit 52 books, but I will be well read by the end of the year!

42.  Make three new friends.

I am not a very social person; I like my circle small, intimate, and low pressure.  It’s hard for me to meet and connect with new people, and it’s no secret that making friends as an adult is tricky!  So for the past few years, I have attempted to intentionally build new friendships.  What I have failed to consider is the fact that I already have relationships that need my attention.  There may not be a ton of them, but I’ve got friendships to cultivate.  So instead of focusing on making new friends, I’m going to focus on the ones I’ve got.

Here we go, second half of 2017!  Let’s do this.

Real Life

Hope you all had a happy Fourth of July!  It totally crept up on me this year.  We celebrated with a weekend at home and a Whole30-compliant cookout (thanks Mom!), which was just perfect.   Now let’s get down to business.

So sometimes real life things happen and we don’t mention them on blogs.  That’s really a shame because, in hindsight, most of them are actually kind of funny.  For example …

The influx of fruits and vegetables in my house, due to my Whole30, has resulted in the very annoying appearance of fruit flies.  They are everywhere and they are the worst.  For the last couple of weeks, I’ve left out a little bowl of apple cider vinegar + a few drops of dish soap — the flies are attracted to the vinegar but trapped by the soap — and you would be amazed at how many flies I’ve caught.  So gross.

In addition to the flies, my apartment has been smelly for over a week.  Like really intense roasted Brussels sprouts, but I haven’t roasted Brussels sprouts.  Every day the smell got worse and worse. I looked everywhere for the cause and couldn’t find it.  Finally, yesterday after a day of pantry deep diving, I found the source.  A chicken breast (bagged and from the freezer) on top of my refrigerator.  Yeahhhhh so that’s good; I’m really succeeding with my housework over here.

My birthday is in March.  Just this past weekend, I finally was able to go birthday shopping with my (very, very patient) grandmother.  It just took three and a half months to make it happen!

A tiny little spider has decided to make its home between my little porch boxwood and my giant basil plant.  The thing is smaller than my thumbnail, but I’m now too afraid to pinch any basil for my cooking.

Cheers to real life, ya’ll!

Whole30 Corned Beef Hash

I have yet to meet another person who loves corned beef hash as much as I do, but I’m sharing this recipe just in case there are more corned beef hash lovers out there!

So the deal with this is that it’s two meals in one:  dinner the first night, breakfast the next day.  I love to re-purpose leftovers, but it’s especially helpful for me when I’m doing a Whole30 (like I am right now) because it seriously decreases the meal planning pressure.

This slow-cooker corned beef recipe is the one my mom has used for as long as I can remember.  It’s one of those great recipes that comes out perfectly every time — good and reliable.  Plus, you can fix it and forget it!  It’s not Whole30-compliant, but with a few tweaks it can be.

Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

4 cups hot water
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 large or 2 medium onions, cut into wedges
1 3-lb. corned beef round or brisket
8 small white or yellow potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters
1 head of green cabbage (about 1 1/2 lbs.), cored and cut into 10 wedges

  1.  In a 6-quart electric slow cooker, combine the water, vinegar, sugar, pepper, and onions, mixing well.
  2. Place the corned beef in the mixture.  Scatter the potatoes over the top and along the sides.
  3. Cover and cook on the High heat setting 4 hours.
  4. Remove the lid and scatter the cabbage wedges over the top.  Cover and continue cooking on High 3 to 4 hours longer, or until the beef is tender.
  5. To serve, carve the beef into slices and serve with the cabbage and potatoes, with some of the cooking liquid spooned on top of the beef to keep it moist.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Notes:  Just leave out the sugar if you’re Whole30-ing!  We don’t usually cook our green cabbage in the slow cooker — we sauté it on the stove while prepping to serve.  Sometimes my mom will add in carrots with the potatoes and onions.

BAM!  Dinner!  There will probably be leftovers and they will be delicious as is.  But if you need a change of pace, here’s where the hash comes in.  It’s super simple and rustic (as my favorite, Ina Garten, would say).

  1. Roughly dice the cold corned beef, potatoes, etc.
  2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the chopped leftovers to the pan, toss, and then let sit.  (I like to get mine a little crispy!)
  4. Let it sit for a little bit longer than you think you should, then stir, and let sit again.  Repeat until the hash is heated through and as crispy as you’d like.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Notes:  You could add a fried egg on top — that would be delicious!  I drizzled my Whole30-compliant Dijon vinaigrette over the top, which was a nice flavor combination.

So there it is.  Let me know if you love corned beef hash too.  Oh, and happy (almost) Fourth of July!