See You in the Lists: 3 Ways to Keep Track of Everything

Hello, friends!

Why, yes, indeed–I used a line from A Knight’s Tale as the title of this post. Fun fact: I got the chicken pox when I was nine, and that meant sitting on the couch watching period films, and yeah–A Knight’s Tale was one of them and at the tender age of nine I decided that it was my destiny to marry Heath Ledger. Also, Mom and I still like to dance to David Bowie’s “Golden Years” when we hear it on the radio.

But that has nothing to do with this post. Except the title.

I have always been very fond of making lists. As a moody tween, I liked to write them in my journals (I was often inspired by The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot–or any Meg Cabot book that had lists in it, for that matter). As a teenager, I had a whole notebook devoted to completely pointless lists, and maybe one where I weighed the pros and cons of the two colleges I applied to (I was accepted at both).

Then I kind of stopped. Yeah, lists are fun, but they weren’t really helping me do anything. They didn’t have a purpose outside of entertaining me.

When I moved into my own apartment I started making lists again, because this time I needed them. I found that if I stuck to my grocery list, I wouldn’t spend as much money when I went shopping. Having a to-do list, however short, helped me stay on top of tasks like vacuuming.

But I ignore the ever-growing and ever-changing lists if I keep them in my phone. I end up wasting paper because I lose my grocery list among all the other crap I keep in my purse. And forget actually writing down a to-do list, as I don’t carry my planner with me most days.

So, it’s taken me until now to say this, but this post is actually about how to keep track of your lists. And if you really want my one tip about keeping track of your  lists, it’s this:

Think about where you’ll be when using this list, and adapt accordingly.

So simple it’s stupid, right? If you think so, then you probably don’t need to read this post–you’ve got this. But if you’re still a little confused, by what I mean, keep reading. I’ve shared my favorite ways to keep track of lists below.

Grocery/shopping lists–I write mine down on a piece of paper rather than keeping a list in my phone and continually editing/deleting (I use this notepad from Quill and Fox). I find that the act of physically writing things down helps me to remember what I need without having to look at the list… sometimes. Instead of wasting paper and starting a new list every time I buy groceries, I cross out the things I’ve already bought and then add to the list. As a result, I have this piece of paper that tells me I need to buy orange juice more often than I buy anything else. Most importantly: I keep this list in my purse and/or in my wallet because then I always have it on hand if I decide to go shopping. Purpose, purpose, purpose.

Planners and journals–I used a Plum Paper Planner in 2016, and I bought a Happy Planner to use in 2017 but then the worst possible thing happened–I started journaling in a separate notebook. I still look at and use my Happy Planner, but I don’t see the point really, and next year I’m just going to stick to journaling because, well–shit–it works for me. I kept daily to-do lists of three tasks in my planners, but found I don’t really  like planners, unless I have stickers to use. I like the bullet journal system because it’s minimal and I’m able to personalize how I use it–so that’s what I use to keep track of my to-do lists. I journal in a hardcover Piccadilly notebook, because it’s small and portable so I can just slip it into my school bag without a lot of excess weight.

My phone–When I watch bullet journaling videos–yes, I watch bullet journaling videos, but it gets worse–I see these people keeping lists in their journals like “Makeup I Wear” and I judge–not hard, but I judge nonetheless, because I’m a jerk. It just seems pointless, because you’re writing this in a journal that you’re going to either shelve or throw out at the end of the year, which means you’ll have to write this list down again next year. And do you mean to tell me that you take your journal everywhere with you? I love mine, but I’m not that dedicated. But do you know what I have at arm’s reach 95% of the time? My phone. I write some lists in my Memo app, particularly lists of things that I’ll want to know when I’m out and about–from what makeup shades I wear to ideas for our Christmas menu to song ideas when I have five more jukebox credits and can’t think of what other songs I like (this is seriously the most important list in my phone).

Thanks for taking the time to read! What’s your trick to keep track of everything? What’s your favorite list to write? Comment below!

Cookbook Review: Modern Jewish Cooking

Hey, everyone!

I’m back, and I have another cookbook review for you! If you haven’t read my last cookbook review and didn’t already know, I really enjoy getting cookbooks from the library and try to make a few things from each. Since I already do that, I decided I’d review the cookbooks on my blog–no big deal, I just have to remember to get a picture of my food before I dig in.

This cookbook is  one I’ve been interested in since before last Christmas, which you might think is kind of ironic, because it’s called Modern Jewish Cooking by Leah Koenig. Yes, I requested a Jewish cookbook for a Christian holiday. I’ve encountered Koenig’s recipes before on Tablet, which is a Jewish online magazine (here’s a recent piece she’s written there), but I’m not 100% sure how I first heard about this cookbook. But I know I love Jewish food, and I know I love cooking, and the reviews for this one are pretty good on Amazon, so.

Before getting this cookbook and trying some recipes, my experience of Jewish cooking was generally limited to the Ashkenazi tradition–or Eastern European Jewish cooking. This is not a bad thing; I love matzo balls in my chicken soup, latkes are a winter staple for me, and knishes–well–those are just the ultimate comfort food. But as Koenig points out, Jews are a wandering tribe and have found themselves in just about every corner of the globe (except Antarctica). I’ve never had any Sephardi or Mizrahi cuisine, and this book has it all.

Some of the ingredients in this cookbook were harder to find; rosewater just isn’t something I see at Kroger, nor have I ever seen labneh there, nor za’atar. An Amazon search and reviews told me that Amazon’s prices on these items were “ridiculous” (not to mention, I’d have to pay for shipping!–no, thank you!). Luckily, Metro Detroit is a very diverse area with a large Middle Eastern population, and my best friend Toni lives less than a mile from a Middle Eastern supermarket and all of these items were much cheaper there than on Amazon.

Speaking of Toni, the first recipe was one I made with her, which was the Sauteed Green Beans with Labneh and Sliced Almonds. The tangy labneh and the crunchy almonds really complemented the green beans. I also took an opportunity to try a new vegetable with the recipe for Pan-Roasted Turnips; it wasn’t bad–is anything ever bad if you cook it with a chunk of butter?–but turnips are not my new favorite vegetable.

The following week, Toni and I made Chicken Schnitzel and Caraway Cabbage Strudel. I was at once wary and curious about both of these recipes, since I generally hate the result when I cook chicken in a pan on the stove–it’s always so dry and no marinade changes that. Second, my experience of strudel is that it’s a sweet  food, so the thought of savory cabbage and caraway seeds (which I’ve only ever seen in rye bread) in phyllo was either going to be amazing or terrible. Luckily, it was amazing, and the schnitzel was good too. I had to dredge the chicken in flour and eggs and panko, then fried it in oil on the stove. It wasn’t dry at all!

I also took the chance to make Koenig’s Classic Challah recipe. My last attempt to make challah didn’t end perfectly–the loaves were too dense due to too much flour in the recipe. This time, I think the loaves turned out much better; definitely not dense! Since two loaves came out of it, and there’s no way I’d be able to eat that much bread (although I’ve tried), I gave the second loaf to Toni for her and her husband to enjoy. They said it went great with soup.

And since I just mentioned soup, Toni and I also took the opportunity to make a soup recipe in the cookbook as well. I’ve never used the word “aromatic” to describe food before, but that’s just what Koenig’s Tomato-Chickpea Soup with Spinach was. We garnished the soup with a scoop of labneh. And it was delicious. The leftovers were even better than the original result, too. I was so happy the three days I had leftover soup in my lunch box.

I made Sweet Hamantaschen, the triangle-shaped cookies eaten at Purim (yes, Passover has ended and Purim is not here yet). They were okay; I think I did something wrong. The dough was wayyy too sticky and kneading was a nightmare. Then I think I added too much flour. They weren’t awful, but I didn’t do it right, I think. The chocolate-peanut butter ganache I made for the filling was tasty!

Since the recipes in this cookbook are kosher, I would have liked to see more discussion of the principles of “kosher” means, and what is considered pareve (neutral, and therefore can be served with dairy or meat). But overall, it was a great cookbook to have for a few weeks, and I was very sad to return it to the library. In the end, I might end up buying this cookbook!

Cookbook Review: Thug Kitchen

Ever since I was a teenager, I have loved getting cookbooks from the library. I used to check out one specific one all the time; I don’t recall the title but it was basically all about bread. At seventeen, I was fascinated by yeast and how a ball of dough could double in size with a damp towel and some warmth.

I finally got a library card for my local library a few weeks back, and after I’d taken care of that, I set out in search of the cookbook section. It took some looking, but I found them, and then I found Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a Fuck.

Thug Kitchen is a blog, if you are unfamiliar (I was, but I remember people talking about the cookbook a while back). They’re “the only site dedicated to verbally abusing you into a healthier diet.”

So, the cookbook. The recipes are all plant-based, which is nice, because I’m making a conscious effort to eat more fruits and vegetables. I’m not going exclusively plant-based; I like venison and hamburgers and chicken too much. Also, I hate most fruits. I was interested in the concept though, because if I can creatively incorporate more plants into my diet, that’s awesome.

The first thing I made were the Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes. I hate bananas, but I did, in fact, add the mashed banana the recipe called for. I think you should follow a recipe exactly the first time you make something (not that I’m the best example of this… ever). I followed the recipe exactly, but there was something that didn’t work. It was too thick when I made it, so when I made the first pancake, it didn’t form bubbles to show the pancake was cooked through. I had to add water to thin it out and get those air bubbles. Then I had about 25 pancakes instead of the 12 the recipe said I’d have. I had the leftovers every morning for breakfast for a week. Good with butter and fake grocery-store-brand syrup, good with almond butter and real maple syrup.

My friend Toni came over for dinner one night and we didn’t just have the Almond Caesar Salad; we also had the Black Bean Tortas. Both turned out quite good, although we agreed the sandwich was better than the salad (because on principle the sandwich is always better than the salad). I’d make both again. It’s funny that Toni and I are both sensitive to specific tastes, so on the dressing for the salad, she really tasted the lemon juice whereas I really tasted the raw garlic.

I also made the Spiced Chickpea Wraps with Tahini Dressing. Very tasty, and I’d never toasted chickpeas before, let alone seasoned them. The chickpeas tasted almost like peanut butter, and the tahini dressing was a nice balance. I might think about adding garlic to the chickpeas next time, though.

Since I had the book for three weeks, and we have a standing engagement every Monday, Toni and I also made the Roasted Carrot and Cumin Dressing (as well as this dressing from the Thug Kitchen blog… we laughed over “Eat a goddamn salad. Your asshole will thank you”) for salads. The carrot dressing was okay, but nothing to write home about. I think an addition of ginger would have benefited it greatly.

I experimented with savory breakfasts (which I prefer over sweet) by making Quinoa Oatmeal. It turned out well, and my oatmeal toppings of nutritional yeast and sauteed mushrooms was not as bad as it probably sounds–I promise. Not as savory, but I hijacked my parents’ waffle iron to make Cornmeal Waffles, which turned out absolutely beautiful and quite dense, too. They were very filling.

In addition, the book has a lot of good information, especially for those who are new to cooking or to plant-based recipes. They outline what their perfect pantry looks like, explain what some of their more “WTF?” ingredients are (like nooch or liquid aminos), and share just how to perfectly cook all sorts of grains and a pot of beans. Their guide to making green smoothies was helpful to me because I was finally making smoothies that didn’t taste… well, horrible.

To sum up my feelings for this cookbook, if you’re vegan or–like me–just trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, I would recommend it. I’m not sure I would buy it, but believe me, I transcribed some of the recipes that really worked and some I haven’t tried yet but want to. Get this book from the library and try some of the recipes before you commit to buying it. With the exception of the pancakes, I really enjoyed it.

My Beloved Vegetarian Reuben

Hey, everyone!

Have I put this out there before on my blog? I love sandwiches. Sandwiches could be a food group for me. They’re just so wonderful. And considering cabbage was in season just a month ago, I thought I’d share a recipe that combines two things I really love: sandwiches and sauerkraut. It’s a vegetarian reuben.

I’m not a nutritionist, and I’m not going to start talking about why such-and-such food is good for you, but  just give sauerkraut a chance. It’s awesome. My sister used to hate it but now that she’s a grown-up, she really likes it. Just a little advice: you can eat it raw or cook it (I do both, but typically eat it raw), but if you cook it, the stuff in the kraut that’s good for you dies.

I had–had–a two-pound container of the stuff. I ate all two pounds of it. Then I bought a one-pound container.

When I worked at a restaurant in Royal Oak, this awesome sandwich was on the menu and seriously, my favorite thing to eat there.

To make it, you need:

  • 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. ketchup
  • two slices of bread (I use wheat, because grilled rye bread tears up my mouth and I’m not about that life, okay)
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut (you can cook it beforehand; I don’t)
  • 1 avocado, sliced

In a small container, combine the mayonnaise and ketchup to make your Russian dressing.

Spread the Russian dressing on your bread, and put one slice in a pan. Add your sauerkraut.

Add your sliced avocado. Top with more sauerkraut if you like (I did).

When the bread on the bottom is grilled to your satisfaction, add the top slice of bread and flip that sandwich over.

When you are happy with how brown it looks on the bottom, plate it, cut it in half diagonally, eat it, and be happy.

Would you make something like this? What’s your favorite sandwich? Tell me in the comments below!

Taking the DiSC Everything Workplace Profile

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I don’t know why, but not for the first time in a college-level class have I had to take a personality test. I mean, it’s had its purpose in either situation, I guess. It’s always been in writing and communications classes, so yeah–I guess there is a purpose for it.

I don’t like personality tests. I find that while they’re a valuable tool for self-awareness, a lot of people instead use them to justify their actions or why they “can’t deal” with certain people or situations. Kind of like with astrology–which I don’t believe in, either (partly because people take forever trying to guess my sign–swear to God, they guess Sagittarius twice and work through all the other signs at least once before they get to Gemini; partly because they treat me different when they find out I’m a crazy, two-faced Gemini; and I’ll tell you the last reason later on.)

I won’t start on why I hate the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This post is going to be wayyy too long if I do that.

Anyway, I don’t like personality tests, and I rolled my eyes a bit when it came up in class that we were going to take one. However, this one has a more professional slant with a focus on how you work and how to work with people who are different from you in the workplace (am I the only person on the planet who thinks you just have to learn how to adapt to other people’s personalities and you don’t need a test to figure it out?).

The DiSC model has been around for a few decades now. D is for Dominant, i is Influence, S is for Steadiness, and C is for Conscientiousness. Some people are a solid D, or i, or S, or C, and other people can be a blend of these. The DiSC model also emphasizes that all styles and priorities are equally valuable in the workplace and no one style is better than any other. It also emphasizes building more effective working relationships through self-awareness and awareness of others.

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Anyway, it took me about 20 minutes and after that, my results were spat out into a nice little report, which I had to print out and bring to class.

I was not particularly surprised by my results–but I never really am. For the DiSC profile, I came up as an SC type–so I’m in the Steadiness group, but with a bent towards Conscientiousness. In summary, I like consistency and I aspire to be someone people can count on. Communication-wise, I am soft-spoken and seem approachable–although to people who are more outgoing, I am sometimes hard to read. The Conscientiousness part comes into play with my attention to detail and my desire to do things right the first time.

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I marked up the report after printing it, not knowing that we would be marking them up in class (the black pen is before class, the green writing is from class).

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However, like some people who take the DiSC profile, I had more than three priorities (everybody who takes it has at least three priorities). I had four. Being an SC type, my first three priorities were Maintaining Stability, Giving Support, and Ensuring Accuracy. The fourth one, which my report says “is somewhat unusual for someone with the SC style,” is Offering Challenge.

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Basically, I like to point out the flaws in other people’s ideas. I sometimes describe myself as a “no” person–I like to say “no” to other people, especially when I feel like they haven’t weighed the pros or cons or thought hard enough about something. I also am critical of things that lack common sense or logic. Yes, this might be explained simply by saying “I’m an asshole,” but I also think it ties into my desire for accuracy.

Back to the last thing I don’t like about other personality tests or astrology–they often don’t allow room for or acknowledge the role that life experiences play in shaping one’s personality. The DiSC actually does acknowledge life experience on the first page of the report. For example, Collaboration is not listed as one of my priorities. And I don’t hate working with others, but I’m generally quite skeptical of it–the result of being “the smart girl” and having to do most of the work on group projects in school (…and now I’m having flashbacks to biology during junior year).

Finally, to wrap this post up, the back of my report has a summary of how I can adapt to interacting with and communicate more effectively with people across all types. The advice I saw across all of them could easily be paraphrased as “don’t be passive; speak up more!!!”

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All in all, I am glad I got to take this test for free; I wouldn’t have taken it otherwise. I also think it’s not as bad as other personality tests out there.

Relay for Life Event at Steiny’s

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On Superbowl Sunday I schlepped back to my hometown for a Relay for Life fundraiser at Steiny’s Restaurant. If you watch my videos on YouTube, you’ll know my friend Toni. Toni’s awesome. Her mother-in-law founded the Shelby Township chapter of Relay for Life and organized the event.

If you’re not familiar with the name, Relay for Life is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society (I say “a fundraiser” but it’s basically THE fundraiser because it’s what they’re known for). It’s staffed and coordinated by volunteers all over the country. It’s a 24-hour (or close to that) cancer walk where team members take turn walking around a track or on a designated path. People come to the event to make a stand against cancer, to remember lost loved ones, honor cancer survivors, and to raise money for ACS, which helps people who have cancer.

Both Toni’s mother- and father-in-law are cancer survivors. This was the first year they’ve had this event at Steiny’s, but it’s the eleventh year overall of having this fundraiser (the last two were at a bar called Muldoon’s in downtown Utica). It gets better and better every year, and they raise more and more money every year.

Toni and her husband were kind enough to pay for my ticket in advance–it cost $35 to buy a ticket before the end of January, and it cost more to buy your ticket at the door (I paid them back at the event). They also had raffle items that you could buy tickets for. There is also a 50/50 raffle, in which you pay for tickets, and half of the proceeds go to ACS, and then you have the chance to win the other half.

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The event had a very good turnout, if I do say so myself.

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I had a great time at the event. I got to catch up with Toni’s dad and her in-laws (I get a lot of validation knowing my friends’ parents like me–because I am a crazy person). I think Toni had a good time too!

Grab-and-Go Mini Quiche

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A few months ago, I shared that I was cutting out my Tim Horton’s habit in an effort to save myself some money. It’s worked out very well–to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I stopped at Timmy’s on my way to work. It’s been literal months.

I largely attribute that success to these mini quiche. On my way out the door in the morning, I can pour orange juice in my travel mug, grab these out of the fridge, and go on my merry way. I microwave them for 30 seconds when I get to work.

I like quiche for two reasons: I prefer a savory breakfast, and I can get creative with them.

I thought I would share my recipe so you can try them yourselves, if you feel so inclined!

To make the crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c cold water

To make the filling:
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 carton mushrooms (any kind)
1/2 roll pork sausage

To make:
1. In a large pan or pot, cook 1/2 roll of pork sausage. Once the sausage is cooking and the fat has started to render, add your onion and mushrooms. Stir until everything is cooked to your liking. Turn off the stove and let everything cool. 

2. To make the crust, first mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add in the cold water and olive oil. Stir well. Once there is no flour left on the sides of the bowl, and the dough is a goopy-looking blob in the bowl, you’re done.

3. Grease a standard-sized muffin pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll pieces of the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls, and drop them into the muffin pan. Then smash them down and around the muffin pockets to make the shape of the crust.

4. Mix eggs and milk together in a bowl. Spoon the sausage-and-mushroom mixture into each pocket of the muffin pan. Carefully pour the egg-and-milk mixture into each pocket, stopping when each pocket is 3/4 full.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. If more time is needed, add on five minutes.