What I’m into Today: Sheet Pan Chicken and Brussel Sprouts

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When I tell you this is the easiest dinner I’ve made this year, I’m telling you: This is the easiest dinner I’ve made this year. (And I’m not being sneaky with the whole “this year has only been this year for 17 days, kind of thing.)

My best friend, Casey, is getting married in July and in the easiest ‘Yes’ I’ve ever given, she asked for me to teach her to cook a little bit as a wedding gift. We’re starting small with easy, healthy, inexpensive meals that can be thrown together after work on a weeknight (she’s a teacher) while also conquering her fear of cooking chicken. This checks all boxes.

We made this last Friday and it was a total win. There are five ingredients and two of them are in the title.

My favorite parts:
– Salty, crispy chicken skin
– Brussel sprouts cooked in flavorful drippings
– One pan for the whole shebang
– LEFTOVERS

If Casey can do this, you can do this.

No offense, Case.

Find the recipe here.

What I’m into Today: Outdoor Voices

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“Honestly, how vastly different could a pair of leggings be from one another?”

Mmm… I remember a time when I was that naive. It was Tuesday. Then I got my OV leggings in the mail. And everything changed.

I’ve been a hypothetical, theoretical fan of Outdoor Voices for a while– never owning a pair, but just talking about them to other people as if I owned a baker’s dozen. But, ever since Lena Dunham first rocked them with body positive bad-assery and then Man Repeller’s Oh Boy Podcast (one of my faves) interviewed their Founder, Tyler Haney, I’ve championed their cause to live a life of “Doing Things.” This mission applies to walking your dog or running a marathon or, and not that I would do this, but watching 14 hours of Netflix straight through only breaking to pee and make platter for one of cheesy pasta, all while in extreme comfortability.

I asked for them for Christmas, but the memo was not received (it’s fine), so I decided to pull the trigger myself and snag a few pairs.

Ok, seriously, I don’t know how to sell you on these besides just to tell you to buy them and find out how magical they are. I feel like I’m wearing Spanx in the best possible way, but without the part of Spanx where you are sweating a little bit after you put them on. Or the part where the Spanx redistribute all of the fat that at one point was in your butt and thighs up to the top of the waistband. No? Just me? Either way, these leggings won’t do that to you.

I can’t say that I have gotten any organic compliments on them yet, but that’s only because I have pointed to them and started to force conversation re: my effortlessly cool, sexy, ample bottom before anyone can say it first. But, I’m sure you know how that is– people (friends, strangers, good-looking, single, Christian men) are never not complimenting my ass, so this is a nice break from that. Letting me start the conversation, you know? Normally, people don’t say it out loud, but I can tell what they’re thinking. Pervs.

(Also, the cool thing is that watching their Instagram videos of other people working out actually counts as a work out for yourself if you’re wearing their leggings while you do it.)

(Also, have you realized that this is three days straight of blogging? Can you believe it!? I’m scared to say this out loud… How do we feel about posting this kind of thing on FB or insta? …No, you’re right, I should wait for two more weeks… and then probably not even then. Right. We’ll talk about it then.)

What I’m into Today: Eggplant Involtini

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I made this recipe earlier this week from my favorite one of my favorite food blogs, Alexandra Cooks, and just Amazon Prim Now’ed all the ingredients to make it again tonight. SO easy. So hearty and delicious. And, some may fight me on this, but I would even call this recipe healthy.

The eggplant seems to be the hold up for most people I’ve explained it to, but I swear, if I made this for you and told you it was like… a new type of pasta, you’d totally believe me. Also, I just used store bought sauce instead of homemade because who needs it, you know?

Recipe found here. 

What I’m into Today: Bad with Money

Hi. It’s me, Julia. I’m alive. Can you believe it? You’re alive too! And it’s 2017. I’m currently sitting at my desk at the same job that I was complaining about the last time we talked and everything is simultaneously exactly the same and completely different.

Here are some facts about right now:

2016 is over.
Donald Trump is becoming the president of the United States in 8 days.
Kim Kardashian is on social media again.

I’m keeping my opinions to myself about each of those things. I have opinions. But I’m just exhausted by all of it. We all are. No matter how much you like or dislike Meryl Streep right now, it’s all just tiring.

So, something I do all the time is group text my friends about something I’m excited about. I bet you do that too. We all do. It’s what texting is for. Sometimes they respond. Usually they do not. And I get it. The recipe I found for Curry Hot Chocolate is exciting to me, but they all have boyfriends and jobs and hobbies and lives that are much more serious than mine so their time is precious. Therefore, I remain the only one excited about the Hot Chocolate.

This cycle of inner excitement, immediate sharing, lack of interest, and then said topic getting slowly blown away like a pile of sand happened not five minutes ago. But because I’m a millennial and thoughts that aren’t shared are thoughts that maybe never happened, I feel the need to tell someone about everything. Is this the definition of a blog? I suppose so. So, I put my phone down, opened a new tab on chrome and took a journey back to this blog where I entered my password incorrectly three times before I was allowed entry. I’m starting a new group text and guess what, you’re in it.

This blog has had many lives. Most of which died a slow, death rattle kind of death around 2013, but I think I’m going to use this space to post everyday about the thing I’m into. Sometimes there will be a description. Probably most of the time there won’t be. But here we are.

Today I’m into:

A podcast called “Bad with Money” by Gaby Dunn. It follows a girl… who I would guess is about 27… and her relationship with money. It’s interesting in a sort of voyeuristic way. There are times when I’m listening to it as a 20 something where I totally identify and then there are times when I can’t believe someone her age has such a different view of finances than I do. Sometimes it get’s political and I fast forward through those parts because, as interesting as they may be, as previously mentioned, I’m tired of all of that. At least for a few more weeks.

Sometimes Gaby’s voice can get a little whiny, which I don’t love, but overall, I’m enjoying this podcast.

*Note that these posts are categorized by things I’m “into.” This is strategically not called “What I’m obsessed with today.” And that’s for two reasons. 1. I firmly believe that the word obsessed is grossly overused. 2. I’m not always freaking out in a 100% certain and/or passionate way. I just want to share.

K. That’s it. Happy Wednesday.

SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT!

Let’s start here.

Frankie Valli said it best.

“This is a life of illusion, a life of control
Mixed with confusion – what’re we doin’ here?”

Oh, my dear Frankie. It seems that you and I are grappling with the same questions, my sweet, tiny, Italian boy! Wait, is Frankie Valli still alive?

Things on my mind:

-My job
-HOW FRANKING CHARACTER BUILDING NOT HAVING AC IS
-Political things. Note the avoidance of the word “politics” bc I’m just so sick of politics, but I’m more interested in talking and thinking about political things. And being a feminist. And liking our country how it is. And wanting to see change. And really hating Donald Trump. But being confused alsooooooooo.
-Hobbies. Creativity. Action items. Goals. All in one steaming pie.
-How badly I don’t want the word “single” to be on this list. But it is. It’s on the list.
-Makeup. Minimalist makeup. No makeup at all. Wearing a ton of makeup and why that’s ok too!
-Upstate New York in the fall
-Long-distance friendships
-Friendships right here right now
-Tattoos! What? Who am I? And how getting a tattoo at a transitional stage of life is like, not the best idea. But is also the exact time to get one, no!?
-Food. Balance. Life being too short to not eat the pasta. And then seeing a photo of an unhealthier you where you’re like “Woah.”

 

It’s Almost May

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I moved a few weeks ago. Out of my parents house and in to my very first adult apartment. It’s been wonderful. And really scary. Other things:
– Groceries cost more money than I thought they would.
– Once, I turned the oven on, left for work, and wouldn’t you know it? When I stopped by the apartment to eat my lunch that day (that’s also a thing I do now) the apartment was very warm and smelled like insurance claims.
– There’s a cool, old, green truck that parks across the alley from my apartment. It belongs to my neighbor who is nice enough.
– I’ve eaten more vegetable and less dessert than my 10 year old self would have imagined for ourself if given the opportunity to eat anything we wanted whenever we wanted. Proud/ashamed.
– I have a wall of bookshelves full of books and memories that makes me happier than I can say.
– The lightbulb in my room has been out for almost two weeks.
– I can’t stop walking around my neighborhood.
– Still up for grabs on my hypothetical not-engaged/not-pregnant but healthy-responsible-single-adult-female-lady-doing-it-for-herself registry are 1. a stand mixer 2. a food processor 3. outdoor table/chairs. Don’t be shy. Help a sista out. I bought you that thing for your wedding, remember?

I’ve been doing online dating. Which is terrible. And hilarious. And mostly terrible. Everyone who is single is doing it in some shape or form and if they say they’re not, they’re lying. Who knew that in the year 2016 and on the planet earth, you would be able to talk, at length, with your friends, about bad dates that were set-up, in large part, by your telephone?

I’d really like to go on more dates but I’d prefer the men (boys? …men.) to be considerably less bizarre. This is as diplomatically stated as I can possibly muster.

In case this hasn’t been clearly stated on this blog in a few years, I’M DEFINITELY SINGLE AND MY CALENDAR IS DEFINITELY OPEN FOR OPPORTUNITIES…

Requirements: 
– A Christian. Preferably a real one. And when I say ‘real,’ I’m not here to judge people’s personal faith’s. I am shooting for someone that doesn’t say they are a Christian and then spends 6-12 minutes of a date making fun of Christians and God and the Bible study that you just mentioned you’re really invested in. That’s just an example of a story I heard from a friend…
– Conversational. I told my friend, Dionna, that I really like to talk about myself. I know it. You know it. I could do it all day. Ask me a question about myself. I’ll happily answer it. And then some. But even if this is something that we all know, the fact that I can say that to Dionna with a straight face, and she wasn’t instantly and totally annoyed with me, means she’s a true friend. Anyway– I’d like to date someone who doesn’t mind that about me either. But also is easy enough to talk to that I can shut up sometimes and just listen. I really hate having to come up with all of the questions.
– Mildly good-looking. Hey. I mean..
And also, I’m not saying “mildly” because I’d like to downplay my vanity. No sir. I’m shooting for a solid 7/10. I don’t have time the upkeep, you know?
– Kind. This is the tip of a way larger conversation including, but not limited to: my childhood, defense mechanisms, sarcasm and a whole mess of therapy, but basically, I think I’m learning that I’m more fragile than I’d originally estimated. In the past few years, I’ve learned that there’s a tender side of me that just wants someone to treat gently.

Preferences:
– Funny. He doesn’t have to be as funny as me. Actually, he won’t be as funny as me.
– Adorable, which is different than “mildly good-looking” because adorable is in the eye of the beholder. And while we’re here, under this same “Looks” umbrella, I’d like to mention that it wouldn’t hurt if he resembled any of the 7 male leads in the cast of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Except for Daniel.
– Prone to eating
– Someone who is attracted to little to no muscle definition, but a great personality
– Not a total stranger suggested to me by an algorithm. Can I get a “what what” for meet cutes?
– NOT THE MOST BORING PERSON IN THE ENTIRE WORLD WHICH WEIRDLY SEEMS TO BE EVERYONE I EVER GO ON DATES WITH.

Hard No’s:
– White sunglasses
– Singer/Songwriters

Enough on that. I won’t mention it again for five years. Hopefully, I won’t have to mention it again in 5 years. How did I just spend the last 45 minutes on that tangent?

In other news:

This article on kitchens made me cry?

Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook is actually as amazing as you never would have guessed it would be. And more.

Watched this webseries in one sitting and now I want to be best friends with Julia Kramer more than ever before.

I’m following through with projects that I’ve been talking about for months. Not putting pressure or deadlines, but I’m working on moving forward.

Without spilling all on here about my job situation (cause Google searches are a thing and I really like my job) (Hi, coworkers who may or may not read this blog), I currently feel stuck between a position that I feel like I’m growing out of and a position that, although perhaps a positive challenge and moving in a generally right direction, lacks very little excitement and/or appeal to me. Hello, pensive Julia with bags packed for a new adventure (read: running from difficult times of growth). Hello, millennial with a complex about only spending her life doing things she’s passionate about. That being said, homegirl’s not going anywhere for a while. Could I be any more elusive?

I knew this year was going to be so freaking good. I knew it.

 

Moving parts

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Feeling a little ready to run today. Nashville. Seattle. An old but cozy barn somewhere where maple syrup can be made directly from a tree in my frozen front yard. Where I can complain about being cold for the first winter, but proud of myself when summer comes and ready to face it again when the next fall rolls around. I want it to be 1992 and I want to be wearing a lot of bulky, lightweight fabric with wire rim glasses drinking wine with a kind, but sort of arrogant boyfriend discussing the future of the internet. That’s where my head is right now. Or even in a sun drenched studio creating things with friends. I’d be real happy with that.

I’d really rather be there. Especially instead of writing code and talking about hosting and trying really hard to learn SQL.

I’m also very curious what’s next and how I get there. An exciting daydream, but a dangerous one to wish for something that does not yet exist when the place you are living in is very real and very good.

Instead of feeling dumpy about my life right now and the less glamorous, but very high in hours, very consuming parts of my job, I’m trying to shift my focus on two things:

  1. The patience that must come with not knowing what’s down the line.
  2. What can I do about it TODAY. Like, when I get home from work in 1 hour and 58 minutes + regular traffic, what are the steps that I can take to feel like I’m make strides towards my future.

Here are a few things that I’ve come up with since typing that last sentence:

  • Start packing up my room. This is exciting, yes? I’m finally moving into my own place with my friend, Kaylee and this should not be minimized. I don’t feel like my life is moving forward? Well, that’s a downright lie! I can afford to move out. And that’s a big deal.
  • Balance my bank account… I mean, I don’t really know if the phrase “balance my bank account” really means what I think it means, but basically, my intent with that is to just take stock of my spending for the last few weeks and make sure we’re all on the same page. And by “we” I mean me, myself and I. The Corporation of Julia Patton Singular and Fabulous. Money has been spent like pre-drought water over here this month (remember when I mentioned moving out?) and that needs to be pulled. back.
  • Clean my room. Never not on the list. Life feels better when I can see my floor.
  • DO NOT look at highly styled and highly idealized photos of other people’s lives. This is unproductive for my own life. And arguably not good for theirs either. Although, small businesses are cool and I don’t want to dog them for just doing what they do, which is styling really sick, mouthwatering pictures of life stuff.

I think those are all good places to start. Maybe, if I’m feel real ambitious, I can throw a little bit of creative productivity on the pile.