30 Days of Lists Days 1-10. A Sampling

So far I’ve been loving the 30 Days of Lists challenge. It’s forced me to sit down each night to be a little creative and write. I check my email every morning for the day’s prompt, and then spend the day thinking about (and, yes, almost making lists of) what I’m going to put on my list that night. I’ve also branched out in my craftiness, which doesn’t often extend past the kitchen. I’ll just say that after spending significant time in the scrapbooking aisle at Michael’s and Jo-Ann Fabric, I can understand how this whole creative journaling thing can be come an addiction. So much colored paper. So many stamps! All the pens and markers.

day 2

day 5

day 7

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I’ve been posting some of my lists on my Instagram and Flickr if you’d like to sort of follow along. Yesterday’s prompt got me thinking, and I wanted to write more than just my two page list.

Day 9: A Letter to My Younger Self

day 9

Dear all of my younger selves,

At 31, I hardly know it all, but I’ve learned some things that I wish I could have shared with you. Listen up. Thirty-one-year-old, self, remember this advice. Sometimes I think you forget these things. You’re not old enough to blame it on age.

1. Take good care of your hair. Find a hair stylist you like who knows how to handle curls. You go through weird phases with your hair. It only got curly in sixth or seventh grade (perhaps we call that a side effect of puberty), and you had a hard time handling it. Hair product is OK. Tying your bangs into a weird, stubby ponytail in the front of your forehead, maybe not the best hairstyle choice. Don’t let someone cut your hair into a mullet for years and years. Don’t let someone tell you that you don’t have the forehead for bangs. Please, please cut your hair more than once a year. Use nice, chemical-free products on your hair. And chop it off. It feels liberating!

2. Have more confidence in yourself. Love yourself. You are pretty amazing. You’ll go through periods where you don’t want to walk with your head high, where you don’t want to speak up for fear of sounding stupid, where you compare yourself to others. Know that you have an important opinion, that you are a fast learner, and are better at lots of things than you think. Be proud of yourself! Look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about what you see. You’ll also go through times where you wish you looked different, had straight hair, thinner thighs, a different profile, a flatter stomach. Know that your body does and will do the most amazing things for you looking just the way it does. Please, please stop wishing you looked different. Have your moments of doubt and bloatedness, but look in the mirror and be proud.

3. Heartbreak sucks. Bake bread and be patient. It’ll be worth it. All those hours you spend crying on the couch, your face buried in your dog’s fur, they’ll hurt like hell and feel like the end of the world. Know that those moments will help you to paint a clearer picture of what you truly want and deserve. They’ll make the right guy, the one who makes your heart whole, that much more special. Power through and look back and laugh.

4. Avoid the drama. Avoid it at work, in your personal life, in your family life. You still need to work on this, 31-year-old Julia. The drama will bring on panic attacks and depression, will end some relationships, which probably needed to end, and will hurt some relationships so much that you worry they’ll never recover (they will, by the way). The drama will make you say ugly things. You are not an ugly person. Avoid it.

5. Your brother may seem very different from you, but you have more in common than you think. You spend a lot of your life telling people that you and your brother are very different. He’s athletic, you’re not. He was popular in school and in a frat, you were a weird honors class kid. You will disagree with him a lot. You will even spend time not speaking. Be grateful for the chances to repair your relationship and to get to know him all over again. Cherish that. You aren’t that different in the end. There are things only a brother gets.

6. Don’t worry, your best friendships will survive distance and lots of other weird shit. Your friends live far away. They move far away. They won’t always be around to watch Dawson’s Creek, make late night Hot Pockets, and talk about nothing and everything on your couch. It’ll feel really hard, but they’ll always be a phone call or a drive or plane ride away. Talking to them will become more special and seeing them will become the highlight of your month or year. Your regularly scheduled get togethers will be much-needed breaks in crazy weeks.

7. More butter. More running. Both make you happy. You won’t remember exactly how you started cooking and baking, but once you start, don’t stop. Even when you’re tired, bake. Even when you don’t want to, chop. It’ll feel good and right. You may not think you’re a runner now, and you won’t think you’re a runner even when you start running. You are. You have really bad runs, but you have amazing ones, too. You’ll make friends through running and friendships you already have will get stronger. Don’t give up. Not even when you’ve sprained your ankle for the fifth time.

Love,
Julia

Resolutions. 2014.

In 2014 I will …

Turn 30.

Embrace 30.

Run a half marathon in two hours.

Hike on the Art Loeb Trail in North Carolina.

Make at least one recipe each week from one of my actual cookbooks.

Judge less. Look deeper. Understand more.

Glaze Lola.

Rediscover all the best things about Indianapolis with Karl, because he lives here now.

Go outside, even in the cold, because I own a First Ascent coat now.

Buy rain boots.

Camp.

Adventure.

Write.

Photograph.

Visit one place that I love and one place that I’ve never traveled to before.

Not shave my armpits.

Run long, run far on the weekends for fun.

23

Recently one of my favorite ladies of the internet, Joy the Baker, was interviewed on The Every Girl. Among the many quirky and insightful things she said was advice to her 23-year-old self: You’re not the kind of girl who settles. Keep not settling.

That is rad and real advice, and the kind that a 23-year-old, myself included, could probably use.

Joy’s advice made me think … what would I tell my 23-year-old self? The one living recklessly yet so nervously in Raleigh who felt like her biggest life decisions were in front of her.

New Year’s Eve, 2007

1. Get a new perspective when faced with challenges, don’t run away. Don’t feel guilty about getting new perspective, and don’t call it running away when it’s what you need.

2. Do your own thing, be your own person, be confident in your decisions, and don’t let other opinions pressure you into going where you don’t feel you should go.

3. Enjoy that one warm winter you spend in Raleigh. It’s OK to forget what single digit temps feel like for a minute.

4. No regrets. None. Every single thing you do will get you to where you will be, and it will always be good and OK. Don’t wish things had gone differently. Be glad they went just as they did.

5. Get a real hairdresser, a real haircut, and some real, good hair products. Control the frizz.

6. Enjoy every moment you get to sit on a horse. Those moments will lessen.

7. Find a hobby that is less expensive than riding. Baking is good.

8. Break the feet-picking habit. It’s way gross.

9. Be present. Be positive. Learn the benefits of breathing.

10. Listen to the lyrics.

11. Get a good pair of running shoes! Your toenails will still fall off, but your running will improve.

12. Moving back to your hometown is a step forward, not a step backward like it may feel at the time.

13. Your boobs are bigger than you think. Consider that next cup size up. Consider showing off your cleavage sometimes, too. It’s cool.

14. Do not try Velveeta macaroni and cheese in the box. It will only lead down a slippery slope. Wait, on second thought, try that business. Your 28-year-old self can’t imagine life without it.

Corny Pancakes

I know, I know, I’ve been ridiculously absent lately. List of reasons:

  • I haven’t made any inspiring new recipes (until this past Sunday morning). I’ve been recycling delicious old favorites.
  • We’ve been searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. They’re the boyfriend’s favorite thing to spend money on at the grocery. Obviously, I am convinced I can make better than store-bought. We’re very close.
  • I’ve been totally copping out on Songs of the Week by posting just a song, no explanation, on my Tumblr.
  • Nothing noteworthy has happened and I don’t like blogging about random, meaningless things.
  • I’m going to work on sharing more things like awesome internet finds, my running updates, and things I’m making every day in the kitchen. (This’ll involve more photos, so bare with me as I struggle to become better!)

So, weekend breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the week. I love taking my time to make something a little more involved, slowly sipping multiple cups of coffee, and not eating like I’m taking part in a competition. I like pancakes, but so often the just basic, run of the mill, buttermilk variety bores me. Pancakes with a twist, an extra ingredient and more dimension, are worthy of weekend breakfast in my house.

For my birthday, my sweet brother got me The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century. This cookbook is a compilation of over 1,400 recipes gathered from the New York Times food section from as far back as the 1850s. There are sections on everything from drinks to fish to dessert. And a whole section on breakfast and brunch!

When I was craving pancakes Sunday morning, I turned to my new trusty kitchen companion, and I found Kathleen Claiborne’s Hot Cakes. They’ve got cornmeal in them, which gives them a great texture and flavor, and a lovely light yellow color. The whole pouring boiling water over cornmeal and sugar was a bit odd and resulted in a very thick, almost paste-like mixture. But once the milk and oil are added and the egg whites folded in, things even out. I put a bit of syrup on some of mine and apricot jelly on others. Definitely worthy of Sunday breakfast.

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In the Details

Reasons I loved Adam this weekend (don’t worry, I haven’t gone over to the sickly romantic side, this involves farting):

  • He’s reached the point where he laughs about my grandfather’s storytelling and obsessions with certain things (i.e. Some Like It Hot and My Cousin Vinny) and imitates him
  • He eats my pie
  • He introduces me by saying “This is my Julia”
  • He’s weirdly proud of what I do…though I think he likes to tell people I’m the editor of a magazine just so he can tell them he’s been published in my magazine. Twice.
  • He won’t let me eat fast food in the car, but makes me wait until we get home. Wait, I hate him for that…
  • He scoots up next to me, butt on my leg, and says excitedly, “Guess what?!” and then lets out a huge fart. Right on my leg. (I do love him for that, honest to God.)

It’s the little things that make me smile. And the fart-y and laugh-together-about-Papa things that make me realize we may have slipped into a very comfortable place. How I’ve waited to be in that place!

This weekend my mom dropped off a few old photos she’d found at Papa’s house. I think I was probably five or six-ish and must have been at a birthday party.

That’s me in the blue polka-dotted dress. The girl to my left in the pink dress is my friend Alix. We probably met when we were babies. To my right is Eric. I went to school with him through high school.

There we are again.

And that’s my little brother Ian (who’s tall and not chubby anymore!), and me and Alix with Mimi, my grandmother and Papa’s wife. She died when I was in seventh grade. I miss her so much. She was this kind of intimidating, really giving lady that held our family together in a matriarch sort of a way. She kept the kitchen stocked with Milanos and Veronas, and the candy jar in the den was always full of Jelly Bellies. Wasn’t she so beautiful?

Confessions

Today I

* ate two small brownies at lunch

* have something heavy pressing down on my chest

* want to cuddle with my pup

* know that this city is too small and that I know too many people here

* hate my cellulite-y thighs

* can’t stop thinking about brownies

* feel like I haven’t seen Adam in forever (forever = Wednesday)

* am feeling the full weight of being broke and not being able to do fun summer things

* need a vacation so badly that if next Thursday doesn’t come soon I’ll explode

* love the purple ruffly tank top I got from Target on Saturday

* love these pictures of my mantra written in sparkler-writing (from Good Food)

Summer lovin

I love …

The way cool rain smells when it hits the hot pavement.

Naps on the couch after pancake breakfasts.

Fudgy, chocolatey, buttery brownies that remind me of being little at my grandparents’ house.

Summer rain from my porch.

Long weekends and mondays that feel like Sundays.

Homemade iced coffee.

Planning birthday cakes.

Flowers in my new garden.