The Revenge of the Single Girl Dinners

Whenever Joey and I are running low on groceries and lacking the funds or motivation to buy more, we’re forced to get a bit more creative with what we eat for dinner. The result?

For one, we clean out our fridge and pantry, which makes me feel better about using what we have instead of over-buying. Go, responsible consuming!

For another, we eat a lot more of what I have affectionately dubbed “Single Girl Dinners.”

I’ve discussed the gist of Single Girl Dinners before, but I feel like the topic has been coming up a lot lately as more and more of my friends pair off and get married or move in with their dudes.

Basically, it’s anything you would eat as a meal but would never serve to a guest. I’m willing to bet at least three different weird things you have eaten for dinner but never bragged about just popped into your brain.

The point is, I’ve decided to embrace the Single Girl Dinner (and possibly just amend it to the Low On Groceries Dinner). Especially since, for the last week, Joey has been taking a night class, so in general, I’m on my own for how I feed myself.

It’s weirdly…liberating. And I get a little nostalgic for my poor, single girl days. Don’t get me wrong; I love being married and love cooking real, would-serve-to-a-guest meals, but curling up on the couch eating tuna salad and crackers and watching Bravo by myself inspires a feeling I can only describe as decadent.

Plus, it makes a great lunch the next day! See?

I don’t know, you guys. Between Joey taking over the weekday cooking duties and me embracing these super easy “meals,” I’m a little worried my cooking muscles will start to atrophy. So for old time’s sake, let’s make this a quick Kitchen Adventure, shall we?

Single Girl’s Fancy Tuna Salad & Crackers
2 cans of tuna, drained
1/2 cup of non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Whole wheat crackers

Combine all ingredients (except the crackers) in a small bowl. Spread on crackers. Enjoy. (Keeps in an air-tight container for lunch the next day.)

SEE? Eating whilst single is beyond easy. Also, it’s kind of pathetic I blogged this. Having second thoughts…but it’s been too long since I posted so I’m keeping it. But Lord knows I need to stop scraping the bottom of the barrel sometime soon.

Or at the very least, start eating more dinners that don’t call for crackers.

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The happiest.

I’m a little embarrassed to say just how much happier I am now that I have a job I love.

Of course, only I would see being happy as a reason to be concerned.

I shouldn’t be embarrassed. Given the amount of time one spends at their full-time employment (that’s is to say, most of my time), it makes sense that if my job makes me happy I’ll be happy most of the time.

So why am I being hard on myself?

Because I’m a person who believes that it shouldn’t be your job that makes you happy. Your job should not define who or what you are.

At least, in my head I believe that. In my head, I know that’s true.

Ironically, when it comes to other people and their jobs, I believe it whole-heartedly. I see that their job is simply a way to provide for themselves and their families. That it doesn’t make them a better or worse person if they have the coolest job ever or no job at all.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to see that for myself.

Because even though I know my job is far from the most important part of my character (that my job doesn’t really have anything to do with my character at all), sometimes, usually when I’m working a job I don’t like, I forget that.

I’m trying not to let this be too painful of a realization for a couple of reasons:

1. I know that when you get right down to it, I have my priorities in order. I put my job somewhere in fifth or sixth place in terms of the things that are most important, and even then only because we need it to support ourselves.

2. I know I’m not actually a bad person for caring about how much I like my job. I do spend the majority of my day there, and I’m a better person all-around if it makes me happy.

I think the reason why this revelation is at all disturbing is that I don’t feel comfortable having my happiness depend on anything that could be fleeting. And lord knows jobs aren’t exactly rock-solid these days. If I’m forced to go back to a job I don’t enjoy as thoroughly, what does that mean for my mental health?

Fortunately, I’ll always have things outside of work to truly fulfill me. Things that if I didn’t have them, even a dream job couldn’t compensate for. (I’m lookin’ at you, spirituality and relationship with my husband.)

So maybe (probably) I’m looking at this all wrong. My job isn’t making me happy — it’s just contributing to my happiness. And I guess I can settle for being the type of person who lets her job contribute to her happiness.

I’m curious how other people feel about this. How crucial is the date of your career to your personal contentment? And once you’ve assessed that, does it bother you?

Hair help needed.

You guys. I need help with something totally frivolous.

Yup, it’s time for another “let’s talk about Justine’s hair” post. You love those, right?

But for realz. I need advice.

As my more long-standing readers can attest, I go back and forth on what color my hair should be fairly often. It’s kind of a seasonal thing.

In the last year or so, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am happier as a blonde. I think it suits me better.

YOU WOULD THINK THE QUESTIONING WOULD END THERE, RIGHT?

Wrong. I still have questions.

Because lately my hair has gotten pretty darn blonde. And I think for fall, I want to do something a bit deeper. But not so much darker that it’s at all difficult to go back to blonde once the weather gets warmer.

So I have a couple of options.

1. Ombre.
Although I read something online yesterday that mentioned ombre might be over. I always miss things. But I was thinking something soft like:

2. All-over reddish-blonde toner.
I’ve done the red hair thing, and while I liked it, it’s pretty hard to maintain in the long-run. But a subtle honey-colored toner for fall/winter? Seems simple enough. I’m thinking:

So…what do you think? Anyone else make a seasonal color change almost every year, or am I the only crazy one? At least I’ve narrowed it down a little, right?

Let’s trade.

I think life will almost always be all about trade-offs.

You can excel at your super competitive career, but the trade-off is that you have to give up a personal life. You can have more free time, but the trade-off is that you work a boring job. You can have the great job in the city, but the trade-off is that you’re left with less time and less to blog about.

Okay, I may just be referring to myself on that last one.

But seriously, in the last couple of weeks I’ve found myself struggling to come up with topics. Nothing too blog-able happens to me during the day, though I guess that could be considered a good thing. At least I haven’t had any train horror stories…yet.

And it doesn’t help that I’ve been blogging about my life as part of a freelance assignment, so even the things I would share have already been contracted away.

Although I don’t feel too bad about that particular trade-off when the checks come in the mail.

I think a lot about why I maintain this blog. I don’t think anyone out there would be too distraught if I stopped, but at the same time, I think I would miss it.

Don’t fret; I’m not stopping. I just need to be more organized. I need to look a bit more consciously at the potential stories in my life.

But I think I will be cutting back on my post frequency. Obviously I haven’t been maintaining the once-a-day schedule I once was.

Hopefully, though, that will mean the posts you do get are of a higher quality.

And that sounds like a pretty reasonable trade-off, right?

Camping State of Mind

If you had asked me four years ago if I considered myself the “camping type,” I would have answered you with a resounding “no.” (Remember?)

And while I’m not exactly Bear Gryllis over here, I think I can now say with a fair amount of confidence that I’m a decent camper.

I mean, sure, I’ve only camped in cabins and have zero desire to go it in a tent, but the cabins are about as rustic as it gets: wood boxes with no running water or heat outfitted only with basic wooden bunks where you can curl up in a sleeping bag.

In fact, the only thing I would say I out-and-out dislike about camping is the bathroom situation. (They have a public restroom and shower house at our camp site, but they are a 5-minute walk away and it’s not exactly the Ritz.) But, to be perfectly honest, it’s the showers I truly get icked out by, and I can usually go without if we only stay two nights. Over share? Deal with it.

In general, though, I enjoy most things about camping. I like the food and the relaxation.

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I love hiking an sitting around the campfire. I love the peacefulness of the woods and mountains.

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On the last day, I woke up before everyone else, procured a cup of coffee from the camp shop (ok, I told you we weren’t roughing it completely), and sat by the previous night’s fire embers to soak up the last of the morning’s quiet before breakfast got started.

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So, ok, I’m not a camper, per se. But I’m still pretty happy for a city girl stuck in the woods.

Cautiously optimistic.

I finally finished the book. (It was Gone Girl, by the way.)

I can recommend it. I wasn’t crazy about the ending, but it still suited the story and I don’t think I would have been happier with the other ways it could have ended, so…I really liked it.

The point is, I’m back to needing distractions on the train. (Side note: I’m reading Vonnegut right now, but I have the other two-thirds of my bridesmaid gift, an Amazon gift card to fill my Kindle, to spend, so I’m extremely interested in book recommendations right you know. You know, kind of like I always am.)

Speaking of the train, I’ve been a little nervous to say this aloud for fear of drawing the wrath of the commuting gods upon my head, but I haven’t even minded taking it lately. Like, at all.

I mean, sure, it’s kind of a bummer if I stay in the city for the evening because there are only local trains to my stop, complete with about 20 local stops, and sometimes I get to Penn about 12 minutes before my train and have to stand around for a while, but in general, I’ve been trying to really appreciate my train time.

It’s definitely one of those “you don’t know what you have until it’s lost” kind of things because I didn’t realized how much I accomplished on the train until I had to start driving to work again. Now, I get so much reading done, I catch up on news on my phone, and I am very up-to-date one what my friends do on Facebook and Instagram.

If you ask me, that’s a much better use of time than listening to the radio and silently cursing the guy who just cut into my lane without signaling.

Plus, the chance of getting in another car accident is slim to none.

Of course, I think a big part of my new-found zen is that I know the situation is temporary. Joey and I are planning to move closer to the city in the spring, so the LIRR will (once again) not be my problem.

It’s easier to deal with anything when you know it has an expiration date.

But for now, I’m staying positive. I’m appreciating my time to read and blog and surf the Internet.

You know, until the first snowstorm of the year cancels the first train on my line and I’m forced to deal with Everything That Is Wrong With The World.

Fingers crossed for global warming.

My New Life

Guess what! I somehow managed to get ready in record time this morning, leaving me a few minutes to crank out a post. Hooray!

Obviously, I’ve been pretty busy lately. But it’s in a really good way.

The new job is (so far) everything I hoped it would be. I’m having fun, but I’m still challenged and (obviously) not bored. Here’s hoping it lasts.

Of course, a fun, challenging, not boring job means I’m not exactly sitting at my desk writing blog posts for you lovely people. Here’s an idea what my new life is like.

6:00 a.m. – Wake up and go for a run.

6:45 – Home to shower and get ready for the day. Ideally I’d have packed my lunch and anything I need to take with me the night before. I’d also have thought about what I want to wear on the run, so that decision goes quicker.

7:43 – Train, where I’ll either read or (ha!) blog.

9:00-6:00 – WORK.

6:30 – Train, more reading.

7:40 – Home. If I haven’t run that morning, I’ll go to the gym, but I prefer the morning workouts until it gets too cold.

As you can see by the above schedule, anything extra either has to be crammed into the evening hours (also knows as the only time Joey and I can spend together) or on the weekends. And since pretty much every weekend this month has been jam-packed with activities…not that much has gotten done around the apartment.

Although it is still super awesome that Joey takes care of dinner. It’s much more relaxing to walk in the door and be able to relax and eat good food than to have to immediately start doing something.

So I still have curtains and a couple of pillows to sew, and I need to switch a couple of rugs around, and the whole place could probably do with a good scrub.

But I’m happy with my new life. I feel like myself again.

ANYWAY. Enough about me. How have y’all been?