Monday, September 16, 2013

halfway there

Folks, we are halfway through the last month of my twenties! I have some catching up to do, but right now I need to tell you about what I did on Sunday morning.

What did you do on Sunday morning? Sleep in? Go to brunch? Nurse a bloody mary to cure that hangover?

Not me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


First I made a giant mess of the kitchen.

And then I waited.

And waited some more.

And then things got interesting.
And then things got delicious.
Recipe here, if you're feeling jealous.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an entire sink full of dishes to wash (#worthit).

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Je suis la jeune fille.

You guys, my face hurts. I just got home a little while ago from a French Meet Up, and apparently speaking French uses face muscles I'm not used to using (million dollar idea: French Women Don't Get Facelifts). Or maybe it's that feigning understanding uses all those unfamiliar muscles.

rejecting my inner child

I planned to title this post "embracing my inner child" because I thought I'd write about trying to cling to those youthful days with no cares or worries. The thing is, I was kind of a nervous kid. I'm not sure why, but I wasn't the most adventurous, and definitely wasn't big on breaking rules.

Yes, okay, I was the goody-goody over-achiever. And I avoided those things I didn't excel at in order to escape embarrassment. I also made it through childhood and the following years without ever breaking a bone, getting arrested, or any number of other rites of passage from carefree youth to responsible adulthood.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

adventures in viennoiserie

When I was drafting my #30til30 list I asked my dear friend Tatiana for suggestions. She pointed out that my list was lacking culinary pursuits. We chatted about some scary kitchen tasks (deboning a duck a la Julie and Julia? canning jam and hoping I don't give everyone botulism?) and I took to Google for more ideas ("most intimidating recipe"). Although I pondered complicated Asian dishes and expensive ingredients I settled on croissants.

I've dabbled with homemade versions of foodstuffs that are usually purchased or professionally made - pizza dough, crackers, bread, ricotta cheese, toffee at Christmas time. But croissants always represented that dividing line - only professionals or totally crazy DIYers made laminated dough from scratch. The dough is called laminated because the time-consuming process includes incorporating a thick layer of butter into the yeasted dough, then folding it many times, with breaks for the dough to rest and the butter to chill, all to create the many flaky layers the finished pastry is known for.

The recipe calls for two possible overnight rests, and many hours of chilling and folding.  I decided that I could devote a day to the process, and get lots of things done around the house during the resting/chilling intervals.

So yesterday, after a grueling 10-mile run, I looked at the recipe again and broke down the timing to see how much I could get done before bed. The goal was to wake up, shape the croissants, shower and make coffee while they rose one last time, and then enjoy a leisurely breakfast of delectable homemade pastry. I was pretty confident.

smiling at strangers

After six years of city living, I've developed a pretty serious case of "commuter face." You know it, right? It's based on expressing very little, with a distinct lack of eye contact.

I've also developed some pet peeves on public transit. The number one, far and away, is this:
It's a crowded morning rush hour commute, and you snag an outside seat. Inevitably, the person on the inside seat is departing exactly one stop after you sit down. This is usually made known by a verbal cue ("I'm getting off at the next stop") or a physical one (gathering belongings, pulling the cord, placing one's hand on the grab bar or railing and beginning to stand). This is all fine, but things get problematic when the person on the inside seat insists on getting up and exiting the seat before the bus has come to a stop. It's rush hour, the aisle of the bus is full, there's nowhere for anyone to go. But I, as the outside seat dweller, am forced to stand up while the bus is in motion, and attempt to move aside into the already crowded aisle to allow you to exit. The worst part is that practically no one uses the verbal cues. They just fidget to indicate that they are getting off soon, and shoot you a pointed glance to get out of the way. And if you don't move aside quickly you're left with a faceful of backpack.

So, clearly, I've given this some thought. I take the bus every day, and this drives me bonkers. It's not the only thing. I'm annoyed by able-bodied young people occupying the front seats while older passengers stand. I hate when riders are so caught up in their phones that they don't realize there's room to move back and they are blocking the aisle.

What I'm trying to say is that the bus ride isn't a very pleasant time. But does it have to be this way?

A few days ago I challenged myself to smile at strangers. I've always thought the bus ride would be more pleasant if we all used our words, communicated politely, and were a little forgiving towards each other.

Although I found few people met my gaze as I looked around the bus, I did have two (!) remarkable moments of actual friendly communication with fellow passengers! The first was a man seated right near the front of the bus. He apologized for the awkward placement of his feet, which was making it hard for me to keep my balance. Turns out his seatmate had a seeing-eye dug under the seat and this man was just making sure the pup's paws weren't impaled by some commuter's stilettos. I looked him in the eyes and smiled right at him.

The second instance came later in the ride. Having inched slowly toward the back of the bus, I took a seat - an outside seat. Of course I wasn't surprised that as we pulled away from the next stop my inside seatmate put away her book and started making the signs that she'd be exiting at the next stop. Instead of sighing heavily, I turned to her and smiled. "I'm the next stop" she said. I kept on smiling and began to stand. "Oh no, you can wait til the bus stops, there's no hurry!" I was grinning at this point. When the bus came to a stop I stood up, but the aisle was packed with others making the same maneuver. "Don't worry," she assured me, "I'm in no hurry, let them go first." As the aisle cleared out I stepped aside to allow her to pass. She thanked me and I enthusiastically wished her a good day. And I really meant it.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

the dangers of amazon

I'm starting to think I shouldn't be allowed on after a couple of drinks. It's just too easy with all your information already stored to make some regretful purchases. Or just not pay close attention to important details.

The #30til30 list includes a few purchases, one of which I decided to make a few nights ago. After a few beers. Liquid courage, right?

I typed "rabbit" into the Amazon search box, hoping that's all it would take. That search returned rabbit cages, and books about caring for your pet rabbit. Realizing I had to be more specific, I narrowed the results to the "Health and Body" section.

become a food blogger (part 1)

[Sorry I missed a day, there have been some exciting developments in my life which may even turn into a future #30til30 post. I'll make it up to you with not one but TWO posts tonight!]

I have lived alone for 18 months now, and I've learned a lot about myself in that time. For example, my belief that having more space would allow me to keep my space neat and clean. False. It's like I start shedding when I walk in the door, leaving a path of clothes, shoes, bags, and keys in my wake.

Something else I've learned about myself is that I love to show and tell the food I make. I am that obnoxious instagrammer posting a steady stream of market produce, baked goods, and cocktails. I call my mom and tell her about what I made for dinner (sometimes as I'm eating it). So why haven't I ever started a blog to share the love publicly? Laziness, mostly. Fear that no one will read it, or I'll be unoriginal and boring, or I'll run out of things to write about. But I waste a lot of time re-watching tv shows and reading the Internet. So after this while #30til30 thing is over I'm going to keep the blogging thing going, but focus on food.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

day 3, I quit

Sometimes the new thing that is scary isn't new at all. In fact, this time, it's sort of the opposite. Instead of starting something new, I'm ending something.

After nearly five years, I'm breaking up with OkCupid.

It's not me, it's you, OkC. It's not that I don't believe in online dating. I've met some great guys this way, and I certainly find it way less intimidating than striking up a conversation with a guy at a bar/volunteer site/party hosted by a mutual friend. I mean, I can do it in my pajamas. I can take the time to edit and plan what I'm going to say. And in my OkCupid profile picture, I'm always having a good hair day. Plus, it's free and I can use it as little or as much as I want. So why quit?

Monday, September 2, 2013


Check another item off the list. This one was fast, easy, and free. And it will probably have a positive impact on other people's lives.

What the heck took me so long to become an organ donor?

I remember seeing the box on the form when I first got my driver's license in Massachusetts back in 1999. I wasn't 18 yet, so I wasn't able to sign up at that time. By the time I turned 18, I was away at college. I kept that Massachusetts license all through college in Connecticut, and my two years wandering the southeast US in AmeriCorps, and through my two years of grad school here in DC. It wasn't until I had finished school and decided to stay in Washington that I finally needed a new license. I'm quite sure I meant to become an organ donor at that point, but somehow missed the box to check on the form. Perhaps I was too busy correcting DMV staff when they put my information and some other girl's photo on an ID. Whatever the excuse or the reason, it didn't happen then either.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

and away we go

This is me in my safe, happy place.
Here's the deal. Today is September 1. September 30th is my 30th birthday. This seems like sort of a big deal, and the kind of thing that could potentially bum a girl out. Especially a girl who's single and still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. So, in an effort to make the most of this final month of my twenties AND keep a positive spin on things, I made a to-do list (what? making to-do lists is how I tackle all of life's problems).

It's sort of a bucket list for my twenties of things that are new, scary, and a little silly. There are 30 items on this list, so I'll be tackling one new, scary, silly thing per day from now until my birthday, and chronicling my adventures right here. The list has been made (although I will be keeping you, dear reader, in suspense by only revealing items as I check them off the list) but is subject to change. The idea is to keep things scary but safe, (mostly) legal, and not go broke as I enter my 30s. You can expect adventures around DC, culinary challenges, feats of physical fitness, and major wandering outside my comfort zone. It will be fun!