YOLO, or whatever.

I am basically a cartoon.
I am basically a cartoon.

My response to recent stresses was to YOLO my hair.

Yesterday I went down to Salon Sugar, got a pretty wicked awesome undercut and dyed my hair a smokey lavender.  Well.  I didn’t.  Kim Resnick did it.  It took about five and half hours, Molly came to visit, and Kim was a TROOPER, as always.

I’m sitting at work waiting for people to filter in and out of my office and side-eye me, but you know.  YOLO, dudes.  Harsh ye naught my shine.

Other humans might question the wisdom of a rather exceptional haircut and non-natural dye color whilst in the middle of some pretty major career development and change.  I get that, to a certain extent.  However, here’s the thing:

One of the things I’m hoping for in a future employer is a lack of f*cks given about the non-essential.  I have tattoos.  Some of them are visible even while wearing my (really cute) clothes.  I dress the way I dress, which is to say RARELY IF EVER PANTS and a lot of colorful cuffed thigh high knit socks.  I layer like a bawce.  I always look professional, but I don’t ever look conventional.  My work wardrobe is my actual wardrobe.  Everything is black, white, grey, navy, or shades of purple and red.  I wear quirky shoes and accessories.  If I’m going to give someone eight to ten hours of my life five days a week, I’m going to be myself during those hours and not stress out about looking like other people or meeting trivial expectations about what it meeeeeeeeeans to be a career woman in her thirties.

My mum always told me, “Dress for the job you /want/ to have; not the job you do have.”   THANKS MOM GOOD ADVICE!

The job I want is a job wherein people are like, “GIRL HAS SOME BRAINS Y’ALL” period, full stop.  I’d like to land at a smaller company or hip start-up that supports a creative and happy and smart hive of awesome individuals.  I’d like to have the freedom to work from home (or, you know, Portland).  Moreover, I’d like to live in a world in which people’s appearances are not newsworthy.  I am being the change I wanna see in the world, here people.  My work product, my skills, and my talents speak for themselves.  I work hard and smart.  I hope to meet with employers and clients who look at my accomplishments and aptitude and say, “This is the person we want addressing our needs,” and then, you know.  Hire me.  To do the thing.

So yeah, I’m basically a blackberry flavored marshmallow peep now.  I totally love it, and it was exactly what I needed to do to feel like I get to be myself, have power, make decisions and execute change.

 

YOLO, betches.

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YOLO, or whatever.

On a completely different note, I’m insane.

So I’m planning to take up an ultrabulky knitting project that I hope to complete once we move.  It’s impractical to attempt a project of this size in our current apartment which is cozy, but also… mostly hallway.

The finished project will be a queen sized knit blanket, like the one featured here.

There are some excellent patterns and blogs about taking on a project of this size and gauge; and it’s clear, this will require a lot of space that can be catless, dry, and will require easy access to a washing machine.  While I’m seeing a lot of people using superwash merino roving as their fiber, I’m tempted to use a Wensleydale or Targhee.  That’s just a matter of preference.  Merino is lovely, but I find it a bit delicate for items that see regular use.

To complete the project, I’d have to make my own needles out of PVC pipe, have a bunch of throw-away bedsheets, have access to a washing machine with a fill/drain/spin only cycle setting, and a room with some floor space that also has a door on it.  I’d also need a needle felting kit, which, as T pointed out, is a silly name since one does not felt needles.

I like the idea of this being the first project I complete in our forthcoming new home, especially since we’re moving in January — prime knitting season.  That’s also around the time that we’re going to venture to build our bed,  (and probably a standing desk) so running those two projects concurrently is appealing.

I’ve never done a project of this gauge or magnitude before, and I feel like a giant marshmallow blanket is just something we deserve to have in our lives.  Apart from the various stages that involve “waiting for the damn thing to dry” I honestly don’t foresee this project taking too terribly long, either.
I’m excited to give it a go.  (:3

On a completely different note, I’m insane.

It’s been at least five minutes since I’ve posted about food, right?

So, I’m sick.  It started with a sore throat about a week ago, then when that resolved, turned into a wicked case of laryngitis.  My voice is returning slowly, but I’ve had headaches, a lot of fatigue, and an annoying cough.  I also may have hacked up a small alien larva this morning.  Gross.

Thus, I spent my evening making garlic soup.  I should use this post as a reminder to myself to freeze some and put it by, for the next time someone is ill… if I don’t eat it all.

I recommend this soup highly, not because of woo about garlic.  Most of its antimicrobial properties disappear when you cook it.  This soup will, however, help clear out gunk that is living in your upper respiratory system, comfort you like a fluffy blanket and a hug, and is guaranteed to resolve a headache and give you some energy when you’re dragging all the butts and feeling like garbage.  It’s also lovely for helping to break a fever.  I almost always have all the ingredients on hand, which is another big help.  So, make some of this, and put it by for the next time you or someone you love has a case of the yuck.

Ingredients:
4-5 heads — yes, heads — of garlic

3-4 onions, diced (I only quarter mine, so that T can pick them out, but its better if you dice them)

2T of butter

1 Quart of poultry stock — ideally, use bone broth, but sometimes, you gotta make do with the boxed stuff, like I did this evening.

4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme.

A container of shiitake mushrooms

1T lemongrass paste — always have this on hand, it’s brilliant.

A decent sized nugget of ginger, peeled and minced.

Hot hungarian paprika or Cayenne pepper to taste (I’m a bit heavy handed with it, so I use about 3/4 of a tablespoon.

A few tablespoons of olive or coconut oil, whichever you prefer.

Salt of your choosing.  Black pepper (fresh cracked is always best).

A fresh lemon or lime.

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350.

Have yourself some tea, or a nice glass of wine.  You’ve had a long day, probably went to work feeling lousy, and you should do what you can to enjoy the process of doing something nice for yourself.

Cut the tops off of the garlic heads.  Try to make sure each clove is exposed.  Don’t peel them.  Coat the heads in your oil of choice, sprinkle with a little salt, and wrap them in foil.  When the oven is done heating, put them in for about 45-50 minutes.

While those are roasting, do yourself a favor, and prepare your mise en place.  There’s a fancy french way to say everything in the kitchen, and that means cutting up and separating your ingredients in advance, or “putting them in their place”.  Dice your onions, mince that ginger, take the lemongrass paste out of the fridge, and gather your other ingredients.  Once everything is set out nicely, admire your work.  Mise en place can help calm your mind, and imposes order on a chaotic universe.  Enjoy the order.  And your wine or tea.

When the oven timer dings for your garlic, take it out of the oven, and carefully unwrap it, and place it in a dish or bowl to cool.  When the heads are cool enough to handle with your hands, squeeze from the base of the garlic and pinch toward the top.  The cloves should squeeze out either whole, or in a paste.  Either outcome is fine.  Let that all sit in a dish.

Warm up a medium to large saucepan at medium-high.  Brown your butter just a bit.  When it starts to foam, place your onions, ginger, and mushrooms in the pan.  Let that all cook until the onions are translucent and the edges are just starting to brown.  On my gas stove, this takes about 6 minutes.

Add the thyme to the mix.  When it becomes fragrant, add the whole quart of stock,  and all the garlic.  Bring that glorious mess up to a gentle boil, then lower the heat to a very gentle simmer.

Cover, and let that do magical things for around 20 to 30 minutes.  Go finish up that wine or tea.  Pet a cat, or watch something you love on Netflix (I watch Twin Peaks when I don’t feel well).

When the timer goes off, uncover your soup, and add the lemongrass paste, some fresh cracked pepper, a pinch of salt, and a can of coconut milk.  stir, and when it seems happy and integrated, kill the heat.

Ladle yourself a nice generous portion, and finish with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to taste.

I’d note here that you can add other ingredients to this that work very well.  Asparagus and bok choy have both been welcome additions in the past, but don’t force yourself to make a special trip out.

If you’ve got a terrible cough, you can add a touch of honey to this to finish it to soothe that awful mess, or just enjoy it with some rooibos tea.

Make sure you drink a glass of water when you’re done, because that’s important when you don’t feel well.

Go ahead, have a second bowl.  You’ll feel better, I promise.

 

It’s been at least five minutes since I’ve posted about food, right?

An update on Finanxiety

Finance Anxiety!  I have it!

However.  I made a pretty big improvement this month from last month, and I want to share it here.  If you recall, I had the HORRIFYING revelation, thanks to Mint.com and Smartgirlmoney (no seriously, thank you), that I spent $908 last month on food I did not make myself, most typically on evenings when I was out in philly for tabletop games.

Well, September had it’s own share of fun financial surprises, BUT: I cut that number from $908 in August to $226 in September, and honestly: I could have done a little better than even that.  Cutting a major area of spending by 75% in a month is a really big deal!  That’s like, $700 you guys.

There were some craptacular developments with cars and the like that ate a lot of that difference, but hey: I wouldn’t have had that money if I was spending it on thai food.  We also adopted two glorious panther cats this month, and some of the money I saved from not eating out as much went towards things they needed (or we needed to preserve our sanity).  So while bottom line, my overall “what’s left” at the end of the month is really similar to last month (augh), I made a decision to execute a very serious change, and I did!  If I can keep that up in October, things might look much sunnier by Yuletide.

In the next week, I’ll be selling my old car, and using a portion of the proceeds to pay down my credit card, and do some repairs myself on my Subaru.  Replacing my radiator and thermostat myself means that I’ll be spending $150 instead of $400, and I’m down with that, even if it does take phone calls to my buddy Adam, and a bunch of youtube videos.

Mostly, guys, I’m just really proud of myself. Seeing the numbers of what I spent on something seriously non-essential plummet that far in a span of four weeks was a really big deal.  Despite the fact that on paper, I still sort of over-spent this month, I had the money available for serious essentials (car stuff) and a thing I’ve wanted to do for a long time with my partner (furbabies) because I made this one change.

In addition: I also found a therapist with availability starting in December (she’s on maternity leave at the moment) who is within my health insurance network.  That investment in my overall well-being is something I want to prioritize, and now I’m pretty confident I can, if I work at it.

Making this improvement has given me the confidence to be like, “Oh hey, I might be CRAZYPANTS when it comes to money and my thoughts and feelings about it, but at least now I have the knowledge that Things Will Probably Be Okay.”  I’m not sure if that sort of visible improvement (I just like piecharts and graphs, okay?) will fully resolve the level at which my financial brain feels disordered, but it certainly helps.
So yeah: I DID A THING YOU GUYS!

An update on Finanxiety

Gifts and Giving

As someone for whom giving gifts is basically the total best (and who is also chronically broke — WORKING ON IT!) I’m always hunting for ways to give people things that are heavy on the meaning, utility, and enjoyment, but easy on my wallet.  I’m starting to think about the upcoming holiday season, and want to do something lovely for the people in my life that won’t require me to take a second job trafficking cocaine.  Because that is illegal, reprehensible, and dangerous.

This morning, Apartment Therapy came through for me with a round up of really lovely and inexpensive printable household planning materials.

I’m not one to plan my cleaning — I’m a pretty tidy girl and I’m quite fortunate to have a partner who will complete basically any task I ask him to do, and also does some dude stuff I don’t (like taking out the trash, which I detest).  We have similar standards of what counts as “clean” and neither of us sweat the small stuff.  We don’t argue about maintaining our space, and clean up after each other without complaint or resentment.  It’s rad.  I think division of household labor is a pretty personal thing, so I’d probably skip the cleaning planning worksheets AT rounds up.  But the cooking and grocery planning worksheets seem clutch!

Ashley has a few of my pre-gluten allergy, throes of graduate school recipes, including my once-famous apple pie from scratch.  When I gave her that recipe, she urged me to write a cookbook, if for no other reason than entertainment value.  Apparently, I’m hilarious — who knew?  (Ash, if you still have that full text recipe, send it along and I’ll post it for the lolz).

That I am talented (and entertaining) in the kitchen (and am, perhaps more so now that I’ve had to cut out entire plant sources from my food choices — no rye, wheat, or barley for health reasons, and often no corn or other grains and very little cane sugar for aesthetic and practicality reasons) is certainly a gift I can give to at least some of my friends.   So, what I’m considering doing is selecting a cute set of printable sheets and starting friends off with a few of my favorite recipes, and then encouraging them to share and trade their own over the holiday season, and perhaps proposing a potluck after the holidays are over (and we have a dining room that seats more than 2 people) for us to share some of our signature dishes.

For some friends, this won’t work.  But for probably 50% of my pals or more, knowing how I roast a chicken, perfectly, every d*mn time might be a thing they’d like to have in their arsenal.  Perhaps an on-paper collaborative recipe book is a bit… sentimental, but like, so am I.  We all tend to rely on technology and the internet a lot in the kitchen (me, too!) but this seems like a quirky and sort of personal thing I could give my fellow foodies.  Plus, I have the option to be like, “Fun fact: This meal costs $20 and will feed 2 people dinner for 3 days plus give you leftovers for garbage soup and a chicken carcass that will yield X cups of broth, breaking it down to approximately $X per meal,” or a story about how I came to do whatever it is the recipe calls for.  PERSONAL STUFF GUYS!

So.  This is a project I could start pretty soon.  I’m excited to be able to give something to my friends and family that they might keep, use, and appreciate  — without spending $20 a person this year.

Is there some sort of Smart Girl Money merit badge system?  I feel like “Conquer the Holidays” should be a merit badge.

 

Gifts and Giving

Upcoming food post

I’ve recently found a fairly reasonable purveyor of (among other things) veal bones.  This is exciting, because I’ve been meaning to make producing veal stock for my kitchen a priority for about a year, and ingredients (and really horrific pricing) have been a barrier.  I’m going to keep looking at local butcher shops and farmer’s markets because I prefer to source locally when I can, but I can probably order enough veal bones to make French Laundry style veal stock and keep us *ahem* stocked up for this autumn and winter before we move to the city.

Meanwhile, I’m going to be roasting some lovely oxtail I received from Powers Farm last week in the oven to prep it for a batch of bone broth.  There is a lot of woo about bone broth out in the toobs of the internet, but woo aside, its a really nutritionally dense, easy to make, easy to store ingredient.  It is budget-friendly and a whole hell of a lot healthier than the stuff you can buy in cans.  I also find it is a bit more robust flavor and body-wise than commercially available broth.  It should be in every cook’s kitchen, but not everyone has the time or inclination to spend an evening making stock.  It’s cool dudes.  With cooler weather and a hella winter on the way, I’d like to start a bit early getting my pantry and freezer ready for things like Snow Days and Days When My Nose is Running and I Am Too Tired To Make A Thing Because Cold and Dark Forever.  The smell of roasting bones makes me happy because I’m an ancestral template weirdo.

Investing time in making more things from scratch (rather than pay for things like packaging, additives, less food in my food, and expensive branding) makes me hopeful that this holiday season, I’ll be able to invest in a pressure cooker or sous vide supreme.  They’re a big expense (especially the sous vide), but the amount of time they save and food they can yield in one go would be a pretty big benefit for things like generating left overs, feeding a hungry crowd, and putting food by in the freezer for days when the budget is tight, one of us is ill, or days when I forget how to adult.  When we move to the city, I’ve considered proposing a lunch or supper share co-operative effort with local friends for things like stock (and mead) and other staples.  It’s on the back burner *rimshot* for right now though. It would mean I’d need to read up more on preserving and canning, but hey.  A little homesteading never hurt anyone, and I certainly have the support and resources (that’s the blog of a dear friend who is a far more accomplished homesteader than I — read about her rabbits!)

There are also ways to hack your own sous vide, which seems like a fun project, and also makes a more versatile machine with variable capacity.  Pretty cool!

Between all that, and researching other ways to make sure I’m staying on track in terms of both eating regularly and not spending my whole paycheck doing it, I’ve got a lot on my mind.  But!  It’s quite cool out today, and we might get some rain tonight.  I’ll have bones roasting in the oven for a bit, and then stock simmering for a fair portion of the evening.  I’m also going to make some beef heart cut into steak-like slices, and prep the kitchen to make borscht after work tomorrow, including starting a bit of vegetable kvass in a mason jar this evening.  (I have a crush on fermented foods.)

I’m sure I’ve babbled about this before, but honestly very few things make me happier than an evening in the kitchen after work.  I’m psyched that prioritizing that creative work is also going to work out for me financially in addition to being an act of self-care.

More later, maybe with some pictures!  ❤

 

Upcoming food post

Holy Mother of Crap

Rebecca Woolf just addressed me, on Facebook, saying that she is glad I’m writing my piece for xoJane and that she’s looking forward to reading it.

How does one silent scream in like, a subtle way?
I have been reading GirlsGoneChild since Fable was born.  I devoured the archives of Archer’s early days, and have bought and given away like, seven copies of Rockabye (probably ten, let’s be honest).  Rebecca’s voice has always encouraged me to find my own, and she’s like: Kind of the Bravest, you guys?  For rull.  One of the things I love about her is that she doesn’t just share the parts of her life that look perfect with us.  It’s messy.  Sometimes, it is way super mega shitty.  Sometimes it is, dead serious, terrifying.  And also: It is All Okay.  When I freak out about #adulting, there is Becca, being all: Hey dudes, PACKING LUNCH IS THE WORST; or, EVERYONE IS AN ASSH*LE SOMETIMES INCLUDING YOUR PARTNER OR KID AND THAT IS BASICALLY HUMAN AS IS BEING CHEESED AT THEM.  Seriously.

This is extra super weird, because: I’m not a mom, y’all.  I hope to be, within the next decade, but that you know, may or may not work out for me.  But watching and reading and clicking through Rebecca’s journey as a woman, a partner, a mom — it’s hard to explain.  I’ve always been left with this sense that there’s not just one way to do this whole life thing, and maybe the way I’m doing it?  Is pretty okay.

So basically, this person I don’t know but want to have a series of lattes with who is in my brain kind of an artistic, amazing, stellar, superhero was just like: I will read this thing you’re writing.

 

Wut.  Just, Wut.

Holy Mother of Crap