Uncategorized

Graphomania, My Obsession

“Graphomania inevitably takes on epidemic proportions when a society develops to the point of creating three basic conditions:

  1. An elevated level of general well-being, which allows people to devote themselves to useless activities;
  2. A high degree of social atomization and, as a consequence, a general isolation of individuals;
  3. The absence of dramatic social changes in the nation’s internal life. (From this point of view, it seems to me symptomatic that in France, where practically nothing happens, the percentage of writers is twenty-one times higher than in Israel).”

I love the idea of NaNoWriMo, and every year I imagine myself stealing away to my office nook in the early hours of each November morning, steaming cup of coffee in hand, and writing my 1667 words. Why? Because I have the impulse to write.

Of course, I have nothing to write about. No plot that calls to me, no character I need to get to know, no mystery to solve. I have never competed in or completed a NaNoWriMo.

What I do instead, to fulfill my need to write, is journal. I have an unhealthy number of journals, including this fine corner of the internet. I felt the urge to write a list today, so here’s my list of journals.

1. This blog: Who knows what this blog is for? I sure don’t. One day I might give it a real purpose, but for now, it’s just a public place to blurt out thoughts for, like, seven people to read and understand me just a little better. And maybe get some tips on a capsule wardrobe or a reading list or something.

2. My journal: I do have an honest-to-God, pen and paper, keep out, for my eyes only, Dear Diary (his name is Jeffrey) Journal. He knows my deepest darkest thoughts.

3. My gratitude journal: That’s right. I have a gratitude journal, and it is my jam. At the end of the day, I write 3 things I’m grateful for, and I go to sleep with a gatdamn smile on my face because my life isn’t all that bad, and I took the time to remember it.

4. My book journal: Back in the day, this blog kind of served as my book journal, but I’m very self-conscious of how I write my book reviews, so I’ve taken them offline. My book journal has a list of books I’ve read or Did Not Finish (DNF), brief snippets of my thoughts on books, my To Be Read (TBR) list.

5. My morning pages: This one’s new, and I’m loving it. In the morning, I literally pour a cup of coffee, go up to my office nook, and hand write three pages of whatever is on my mind. It clears the morning fog and helps set my intention for the day. It also helps me jot down any cool dreams I had that might make a good story.

Why am I sharing this? No reason. I just felt like writing.

Uncategorized

My Psuedo-Happiness Project

Wow. It’s been a while, yet again. Did you miss me? Okay, let’s jump right in, shall we. This post is brought to you by the letter V for Vulnerability.

Last night, as Eric and I tried to enjoy a walk to dinner in the gorgeous spring weather, I stewed over some imagined slights. Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: you get mad at your significant other, you internalize it, you wait for the least opportune moment, then, as you’re walking to meet three other friends for dinner, your floodgates open, and you pour out everything you’ve pent up, and as you’re talking you realize your anger and discontent has nothing to do with your amazingly supportive person, but your own lack of focus and drive and goals.

Just me? Cool.

Some people live to work. They’re passionate about what they do, and they can’t wait to do it every day. Most people work to live. They get that Friday paycheck and they use it out in the world to create a meaningful (to them at least) existence on this planet.

I’ve had a hard time with the living part, lately. Not in a dark way, just in a “I don’t know what I want to do with my non-working hours” way. I’m taking a writing class right now, and I’m pretty certain I’m not that great at it. I want to take more photos, but I don’t know what I want to photograph. I want to cook more, but let’s be honest. I’m just plain lazy during the week.

I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project yesterday, and it got me thinking about the changes I want to make in my life to find my happiest happiness. Rubin started in January. I don’t think that’s necessary. I’m starting today. Here are my goals for the rest of the year. 8 months = 8 goals. I’ll assign them months once I think this through a little more (and maybe finish more than two chapters of the book).

  1. Clean – May
  2. Write
  3. Work out
  4. Diet (better eating, not fad)
  5. Meditate
  6. Yoga
  7. Save money
  8. Wake Up

I feel like mastering these habits will help make room in my life for the creative things I’m missing. These goals won’t give me purpose, but I’m hoping to find it while I work on them. I don’t know. Is that stupid? Maybe. But in the meantime, maybe my house will be a little cleaner, my body will be a little healthier, and I’ll have more time in my day.

Uncategorized

Hello, Friends.

img_3867
Dream Kitchen.
Reality Kitchen.

Did anyone notice that I tend to be really heavy into updating this blog in January and then again in, like, July?

I should probably mention that very quantifiable cycle to my therapist. #mentalhealthsymptoms

ANYHOO. The last substantive post I wrote had to do with our yard and all of my wonderful plans for it. Well, my friends. I’ve scrapped most of that. Eric has taken up brewing as his full time hobby, and honestly, a bunch of burly, bearded, beer-drinking bros don’t need a lot of pretty furniture and plants to set the mood for their hops and barley experimenting.

I want a deck though. Like, real, real bad. We’re getting quotes.

We’ve made a lot of changes to the house over the last few months in other ways, though. I think I’m going to have to pull out the camera and share a few snaps soon. I’m really proud of how it’s coming together.

For fun, here’s a list of some of the things we’re still working on. They might change. Who knows! There’s a lot of art to be hung though – is it sad that we’re 1.5 years in and haven’t really moved in yet?

Living Room

  • Paint the TV cabinet
  • Paint (yes, PAINT) the leather chair and ottomon
  • Restuff the seat cushions on the couch
  • Hang our gallery wall
  • Buy (or make) a new end table
  • Curtain behind the TV?

Dining Room

  • New light fixture
  • Build bench
  • Hang art

Kitchen (mmmmmmaybe)

  • Paint cabinets
  • Replace handles
  • Replace light fixture
  • Put in new backsplash

Bedroom

  • Hang art
  • Hang curtains
  • New rug

Eric’s Office

  • CLEAN
  • Rearrange furniture, put TV on dresser
  • Put down rug
  • Hang art

Back Room

  • Put up shelves for beer
  • Move kegerator
  • CLEAN
  • Fix shower in bathroom

Upstairs

  • Declutter
  • Hang art

Yard

  • Put in deck
  • Run electricty to shed
Link Love

Now Read This

Oh, hello. Sorry for the unexpected hiatus. In a completely related note, I have a post coming up on depression! Also some meal planning stuff, some closet stuff, and some backyard stuff. Until then, here are a few good reads for the week.

Down the Rabbit Hole

The Best Netflix Original Standup Comedy Specials – I’ve seen a few of these, and they were fantastic. I’m also really excited about the The Standups.

Tami Taylor Lines For When You Need A Life Coach – Let’s be real for a second. Life is weird and sad right now. Sometimes I just need Connie Britton to tell me the sun’s going to come up tomorrow.

If You Are Looking for Reasons to Be Happy, You’ll Probably Find Them – Such great advice and perspective. Eric woke up in a sour mood and was less than excited to go into the office the other day. I used the basis of this essay trying to help turn his morning around and it kind of worked! I’m trying to do the same for myself, and intend to start journaling more. I find writing about things I’m grateful for really does change my mood (shocking revelation, I know). I’m hoping to create a habit that might shift my behavior and stave off the little depression-demon that seems to take up residence in my brain and chest every few weeks.

This literally made me laugh for five full minutes.
Home Owners

Yard List

img_1898
More patio inspiration! Photo Credit: Unknown (but if it’s yours, let me know!)

Alright. I’m doing it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE lists, so I’ll be posting a list of our plans for the house “room” by “room”. I think it’ll be interesting to look back and see our progress, but also what we change. Already my ideas for the backyard have shifted and morphed and evolved and devolved like 12 times since we bought our house. Two examples:

  1. When we first moved in, I wanted to plant a garden in the little patch of dirt by the kitchen door. A kitchen garden, if you will. Sounds so quaint, right? But let’s be real – I am not a gardener.
  2. When we first talked about making the driveway area more patio-like, we planned to create a container garden around the edges and update our furniture. But the more we talked, the more we realized we just really want a porch. So this summer we’re building a deck, and next summer, God- and finances-willing, we’ll be building a lean-to! It’s not the full, gorgeous, lazy front porch of my dreams with a haint blue ceiling, fans, and a porch swing. But it’ll do just fine for my bourbon-sipping, southern summer thunderstorm nights, thankyouvermuch!

So, without further ado – a list!

  • Obtain planters and old furniture Done for now, because Eric told me to stop picking up so much stuff from Nextdoor.
  • Re-pot lavender from mom’s garden Done, and it’s still alive 3 days later!
  • Weed the side garden – In Progress
  • Construct floating deck – In Planning Phase
  • Refinish current furniture – Materials purchased
  • Paint planters – Materials purchased
  • Purchase tiki torches
  • Purchase plants for container garden
  • Purchase new outdoor rug
  • Hang lanterns in trees
  • Run lights from house overhead
  • Purchase outdoor pillows for Adirondack chairs
  • Run electricity to shed
  • Build Lean-To
  • Seal deck
  • Put lattice around gap under shed
  • Build stairs to shed
  • Place pavers to shed
  • Build loft in shed for storage
  • Build firepit area
  • Place pavers to firepit

This is a TON of work, obviously. The first 12 items I plan to have done by early August. I’m hoping to find an affordable electrician to help us with the shed by March of next year, and then the deck and the lean-to will hopefully happen next summer. I’m not sure what our plans are for the remaining items, yet. Depending on time and cost they could happen quickly, or they could be a 2019 project.

How am I keeping this all together, you might be asking yourself. Welp, Eric and I both work in project management, and we’ve been talking about doing a KanBan board for our projects for a while. I don’t need another physical thing in my house, so I went searching for an app that’ll help us, and I found one! It’s called Airtable, and I am IN. LOVE.

I spent a good portion of last night building my tasks and organizing them by room and target date to complete. I can view everything as one large list, broken up by room, or by status. It’s so AWESOME. Here are some snapshots.

Main View
With this view, I can see all of my house tasks in one holistic view, and I can sort by room, status, or target date. I may add a priority view here as well.
Grouped by Room
Here I can group my tasks by room specifically. Eric and I are working on specific rooms roughly by season. Summer = backyard, fall = kitchen, etc. This view helps us organize the timeline for each room, without the distraction of 50 other tasks.
KanBan
And of course, the KanBan view! Here I can see the projects that are currently in progress, and what we have coming up. We’ve purchased a lot of the materials we need for specific tasks for the yard, and we are finalizing plans for others. We’re also at the beginning stages of planning for the kitchen. Updating almost every room in the house can be overwhelming, and it’s difficult not to shift focus when I see a cool spread in Apartment Therapy or on Instagram. This view helps me stay on track, both in terms of planning, as well as spending. Since the living room updates won’t happen until at least springtime, there’s no need to get distracted by rug sales just yet!

Right now I have tasks in my Home Plan that go all the way through Spring of 2019. Realistically, I’m sure some of these tasks will get moved out even further, or our vision could change completely. But for now, I feel like we have a good direction. Breaking up the rooms and projects like this makes everything much more manageable.

Link Love

Now Read This

img_2101
Johnny enjoying his new bed, made from recyclable materials. A large, quality dog bed for less than $100?! It exists. It’s real. And I have it.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Smart Organizing Solutions that Make It Easier to Share a Bathroom, 7 Clever Ways to Organize Tupperware and Food Storage Containers, & ​The 20-Minute Daily Clean Routine That’ll Give You Your Weekends Back – I can’t pass up a good list of cleaning tips, and Apartment Therapy always has plenty!

Home DIY: Mini Succulent Planters – On the hunt for inexpensive planter options, I came across this little tutorial, and I LOVE it. I’m thinking I might try it out once we make some headway on building our patio.

Easy & Inexpensive Saggy Couch Solutions – Our main couch is a big green sleep sofa that Eric has had for about 10 years. We can’t afford a new one anytime soon, so I’m hoping this trick will help bring our green monster back to life for a little while.

Things I’m Living For

TheBodyguardSoundtrack
🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼

The Bodyguard soundtrack – Eric has started working at a local growler shop a few times a month, and since he had a shift last night, I was left home alone with 2 lbs of hanger steak, a bottle of wine, and no plans. After a few minutes of browsing HBO’s little corner of the internet, I found that HBO Now is currently streaming The Bodyguard, and you better believe my inner 8 year old was belting along to every Rachel Marron ballad.

Retta’s Instagram Stories – Every weekday morning she posts the same thing. She wakes up, sings “Good Morning to You”, makes Dark Magic coffee in her Kuerig, adds International Delight, takes a sip, and then smiles and says good morning. And for some reason I AM HERE FOR IT. It just brightens my day.

This hairdryer – This hairdryer has changed my life. For years I used brands from Target, and they were…fine. But my hair is so thick that it could take upwards of 45 minutes to really get it dry, and it was impossible to style because it would take too long. This hairdyer dries my hair in six minutes. SIX. 6!!! And I know what you’re thinking – Jenny, you cut you hair. Of course it takes less time. NO! I’m here to tell you that when I was growing my hair out for my wedding, this hairdryer could do the job in TWELVE MINUTES. Guys. LIFE. CHANGING.

Recipes

Tasty Tuesday – Roasted Chicken Thighs and Vegetables

Alright, y’all. Here’s my first honest-to-God recipe adaptation. I had planned to cook this on Monday, and throw the post up on Tuesday (hence the post title), but ended up cooking on Tuesday. So like, it still works, right?

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know I’ve been real in to cooking lately. This is partly to do with our attempt to eat mostly Whole30 compliant during the week (so.much.prep.), but I’ve also been enjoying a lot of food-related entertainment lately:

  • Garden Spells
  • The Soul of a Chef
  • Young & Hungry
  • Chopped
  • Chef’s Table

And ever since I finally learned how to boil water at the age of 14, I have found the kitchen to be very fulfilling – especially if the end result is actually edible, which hasn’t always been the case.

I love cooking so much that last year, all I wanted to do for my birthday was learn how to roast a chicken and throw my friends a dinner party. I searched the internet high and low and found the BEST, and to be quite honest, easiest recipe for roasting a chicken from the queen of impressive home cooking, Ina Garten. The only thing I do differently is I add Brussels Sprouts to the veggies and adjust the amount of carrots to accommodate.

So as I mentioned, Eric and I try to eat Whole30 compliant at home during the week. We’re not doing Whole30 again, but I find that I feel better and have more energy if I cut out excessive pasta bowls, bread, dairy, sugars, etc. I still drink half and half with my coffee every morning (and a glass of wine with dinner more often than not), and we definitely still eat spaghetti or pizza when we have a real craving, but with meal planning we rarely feel like we’re denying ourselves anything, and so our cravings are few, far between, and manageable.

With meal planning, I like to cook one or two big dishes that I can parse out over the week for lunch or a quick dinner when a day’s schedule doesn’t go according to plan. A few weeks ago, I was stumped for something to make that I hadn’t done several times over this year. I was flipping through The Whole30 Cookbook when I came across the recipe for Roasted Roots with Chicken. While Ina’s recipe calls for a whole chicken, plus fennel, carrots and onion, this one calls for chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, rutabagas and parsnips. And it only serves 2. I decided to blend the two recipes together.

img_2035
We left our Wustof knives in Louisville, but this Ginsu knife did an okay job of safely chopping.
img_2036
Missing: About 5 Brussels sprouts, sacrificed for my insatiable snacking habit.
img_2033
Like I said, wine, more often than not.
img_2038
Definitely skimped on the veggies this time. Add more as needed. The drippings from the chicken thighs are like mana from heaven on these vegetables.
img_2041
Action shot! Photo Credit: Eric Hofstetter Agel
img_2046
Pay no attention to the crumbs in the stovetop. Barkeeper’s Friend is en route as I type.
img_2045
Looks impressive, right? It’s not. Really. At all.
img_2048
Finished product!
img_2050
These photos are making me drool. Seriously, best weeknight chicken ever.
img_2052
No comment needed.
img_2055
It looks a little sparse, but this filled me right up.

1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved

2 fennel bulbs, sliced

1 small onion, sliced

1 lb baby carrots

10 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 bunch of thyme

1 tbsp olive oil

10 chicken bone-in, skin on thighs

1 lemon, sliced

2 tbsp Ghee

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare Vegetables:

Place Brussels sprouts, fennel, onion, carrots, and garlic on a large baking/cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, reserving 1 tsp. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange 1/4 bunch of time around vegetables. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 10 minutes.

Prepare Chicken:

Place lemons under skin on top side of chicken thigh. Drizzle thighs with ghee. Rub ghee around to ensure coverage on all sides. Season with salt and pepper. Heat remaining olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Place chicken skin side down and cook for 6-8 minutes, flipping once.

Combine Ingredients:

Once vegetables and chicken are completely prepared, place chicken on top of vegetables on baking sheet. Add remaining thyme to sheet, arranging on and around chicken. Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes, or until chicken reaches 180 degree internal temperature.

Allow to rest, covered with foil, for 5 minutes.