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Recipes: Double chocolate espresso cookies with browned butter

Okay I know that title is a mouthful, but I swear to you it’s worth it. These are the most indulgent, addictive cookies I have ever eaten. They are rich and delightful and I would likely sacrifice a limb if that’s what was required to keep them in my life. I have been baking up a storm the last few months, but these are probably the most enjoyable to eat of anything I’ve made recently.

(Note that I got this recipe from FoodGal, who got it from Sarah Kieffer’s book 100 Cookies, and only made minor tweaks. All credit to them for the original recipe!)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (please try to use fair trade if you can!)
  • 2-3 tsp. ground espresso (I usually use a tablespoon and just don’t fill it all the way)
    • Note: I don’t drink coffee, so I don’t typically keep good beans on hand. If you do drink coffee, I’d recommend fresh grinding a quality roast for the best flavor. If you’re like me, then the best pre-ground, store-bought, actually-tastes-pretty-good one is Cafe Bustelo
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 10 tbsp. plus 4tbsp. butter, at room temp (you will be using these separately, so I recommend separating them while they’re still cold)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tbsp. (plus a small splash) vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 5 oz. (about 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Brown the butter:
    1. Put 10 tbsp. butter in a pan over a low to medium heat.
    2. Cook until there are caramel-colored pieces and it gives off a strong nutty aroma (it will likely have a foam on the top, which you can just stir to see through). (Pro tip: If you’re nervous about burning it, go low and slow. I usually do this and it takes ~10 minutes for the butter to brown. Also sorry the picture isn’t super clear haha.)IMG-3877
  2. While butter is browning, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso, baking powder, and baking soda in a separate bowl (aka not the one that your other 4 tbsp. of butter are in).IMG-3864
  3. Once butter is browned, pour it into the bowl over the remaining 4 tbsp. of room temperature butter, and stir until it’s all melted and combined.
  4. Mix in sugars and vanilla.IMG-3879
  5. Mix in egg and yolk thoroughly. This isn’t one that you need to be afraid of overmixing.
  6. Slowly mix in flour mixture until no dry spots are remaining, then mix in chocolate chips.IMG-3881
  7. Roll dough into balls (about 2 tbsp. each), place in parchment paper-lined container, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (I usually do a minimum of 2-3 hours). The dough will last several days in the fridge.IMG-3882
  8. Preheat oven to 350°F, place cookies on baking sheet, and bake 9-11 minutes. (Pro tip: I only bake the amount I want for that night because these cookies are at their prime when fresh and warm from the oven. Trust me.)
  9. Enjoy!IMG-2946

Costs about $7, makes about 20 cookies (6-7 servings).

This is my favorite dessert recipe right now, and I love how much it feels like a treat without being too much more complicated than normal chocolate chip cookies. It’s a perfect recipe to impress someone when enjoying a night in (that is, if you’re willing to share). Think of it like a sophisticated comfort food.

What have you been baking lately? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

*Cost was again a real rough estimate because basically all of the ingredients are regularly stocked in most houses. Sorry if the cost is off, but the point is it definitely isn’t pricey.

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An honest talk

Let’s just cut to the chase: I have depression and anxiety.

I’ve dealt with both for years, and they’re freaking brutal. (Content warning for general descriptions of each. If you need immediate help, it’s available here.)

I’ve thought about writing this post dozens of times. I’ve tried at least four or five times. I’ve put it off because maybe it was too personal, or I wasn’t sure if I was ready to share that yet. It is personal, and I’m still not sure I’m ready, but I am sure that every person who is open makes it easier for someone else who might be struggling.

I was reluctant to name it as such for a long time, and had a long list of handy excuses. “This is probably just situational, if anything.” “It hasn’t been long enough to count.” “It isn’t bad enough to call it that.” “You’re just having a bad day/week/month/season.” “You’re just tired.” “You don’t have the qualifications to diagnose that.”

Saying it aloud or writing it down is a whole other level. What will people think? What if someone judges me? All of these are, unfortunately, real and valid concerns. But depression is just as real.

The first time I had a panic attack 7 years ago, I had no idea what was happening. It was utterly terrifying. The first season I faced real depression, I used to go outside and kneel in the grass in the middle of the night just hoping somehow that might make it better, might make it all hurt less.

I went to counseling sessions a couple of times at various low points, and it didn’t make it worse but also didn’t help much. I told myself I was surviving, and that if I’d made it through everything else then I could deal with these feelings too. I hesitated to give the names I suspected for what I was dealing with. After all, I’m not a doctor or mental health professional — who am I to self-diagnose?

And then 2020 happened. And a horribly stressful winter turned into a terrible, painful spring turned into a lonely, miserable summer. I spent a lot of time falling asleep early on the couch, or laying on the floor, or having to stop whatever normal thing I was doing because it was suddenly all too much, or there were awful thoughts going through my head. I’d been putting off setting up a new therapy situation first because making the phone call felt too daunting, then because we ended up in a freaking pandemic.

Until I didn’t.

I got set up with virtual therapy sessions in a blessedly simple system*, and for the first time was working with a therapist I actually liked, who actually got me. And dude, it’s been phenomenal. Nothing you do for your mental health — or with self-care in general — is a magic cure-all, and this is no exception. I still have to put in the time and develop the practices to make anything from a session helpful in my day-to-day life.

(Sidebar: I also want to note that I’m incredibly privileged in being able to afford therapy without much trouble, and am aware that’s not everyone’s situation. A lot of mental health professionals and services offer a sliding scale for payment, and your insurance or work may offer some coverage as well. Definitely use those resources.)

After several months of therapy and self-reflection as well as talking to my doctor, I decided to start taking medication to help with some of what I’d been dealing with. I was, like a lot of folks, apprehensive at first. I did a ton of looking into it. I talked with a few people I trusted for their perspective and experience. I questioned whether it was “bad enough” to warrant the step, and then realized that based on multiple years of consistently using the same assessment that doctors use, the results were pretty clear.

None of that made the nervousness go away of course. What did was the fact that within a few days of starting medication, I felt better than I had in months. Levels of difficulty I’d been so used to for years that I didn’t realize they could just ~not be there~ were mostly gone.

Again, nothing is a cure-all. I still have bad nights, bad days, even bad weeks.

Even with everything I’ve been doing to take care of my brain and body, I’ve still had panic attacks and breakdowns. But all of the resources and tools I’ve made use of have turned the difficult moments into hurdles, instead of waves pulling me under. Right now I’m actually doing the best I’ve been in a long time, but I’m not pressuring myself to make that permanent. That’s not how life works, and it’s certainly not how my brain works.

May is mental health awareness month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2019 (2020 data hasn’t been released yet, but is likely to show an increase). Anxiety and depression were the most common, at 19% and 8% of U.S. adults, respectively. 17% of youth (ages 6 to 17) experience a mental disorder.** Mental health challenges — both temporary and chronic — are incredibly common.

If you’re interested in learning more or want to take a closer look at your own mental health, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America both offer great resources. I also did a blog post last year with some additional resources listed. Crisis resources and hotlines are available here.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, but can be much more difficult to discuss and uniquely challenging to navigate. I’m grateful to have had the ability to find better ways to care for mine, and know that each person who talks about it makes it easier for us all to be open, and to get help as well as care for each other.

If you’d like any more resources, let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and remember to take care of yourself.

*Not sponsored, but for those that want to know, I started doing therapy through BetterHelp but no longer do. I actually really enjoyed my experience, but it’s not for everyone. If you want more info feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to let you know what it was like for me.

**I only pulled from one source to make the numbers easy, but the numbers are supported by other studies, including Mental Health America and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

(Photo is a free stock photo because writing this post was all I’ve got.)

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So you want to get a pet

For starters, I did not intend to go radio silent for months, and apologize for the inconsistency of posts! I’d like to get back to a more regular schedule, but am still figuring out what that looks like as my time commitments shift. Thanks for bearing with. Now, on to the good stuff.

Like a lot of people in the last year, I used the time in lockdown to do something I’d been wanting to do for a long time, but hadn’t been ready for: get a pet!

In January, my spouse and I adopted two cats, a brother and sister named Odin and Athena. We’ve had them just over 3 months, and they’re about 6.5 months old. Having them join the family has been the best part of this year so far, and they’ve made the loneliness of the pandemic much more bearable.

They’re the first pets I’ve had as an adult, though I have a fair amount of experience with dogs and some with cats. We had waited until now to get a pet since pre-pandemic we both worked long hour that meant the house was empty for about 10 hours most days. But now that I’m mostly working from home, it was the perfect time.

Honestly, originally I wanted a dog, but once work and travel get a bit more back to normal and given that we only live in an apartment, we felt it wouldn’t be fair for a dog to be alone that much. Knowing we wanted kittens, we opted to adopt a bonded pair so that they had someone to socialize and play with.

Though I am by no means an expert, some things I’ve learned so far:

Make sure you’re ready. Not just emotionally, but make sure you’re in a place in life where you could give the pet the care and energy that they both need and deserve. Sometimes people fall in love with the idea of a pet and don’t properly consider what’s best for the animal. This is both in terms of lifestyle and longevity, as a lot of animals live for years (cats and dogs usually live well over a decade). Adopting, then rehoming an animal is often traumatic for them — if you welcome them into the family, it should be forever.

Consider adopting rather than shopping. This isn’t always possible, but there are so many animals that already need homes, and they can often be adopted at a fraction of the cost compared to a breeder. If you do use a breeder, make sure that they’re ethical and properly caring for the animals. Puppy mills and similar setups put profit over the animals’ wellbeing, and shouldn’t be supported.

Do your research before you commit. What supplies will you need to welcome them home? What kind of routine care will they need? What is their temperament like? Can you provide the amount of attention, care, and stimulation that they’ll need? Who will the vet be, and how far away are they if an emergency comes up? Beyond purely the practical, I think it’s really smart to meet the pet if you can before committing to adopting them. For our kittens, we applied with the shelter, had a few conversations, and got to meet them before deciding to bring them home (though immediately falling in love when we held them made it a very easy decision).

Make sure you can afford it. Pets are expensive, some more than others. In addition to initial costs (adoption fees, buying beds and food/water bowls, toys, etc.), there are a number of ongoing costs. We added a line item to our monthly  budget for the cats that covers food, litter, vet visits, and whatever else might come up.

Compromise schedules. You shouldn’t have to change every detail of your day for a pet (and if so, that probably isn’t the right pet for you), but they’re a living creature and their needs have to be met. This means I feed the kits first thing when I wake up and last thing before I go to bed so they don’t have too long between meals, but it may mean getting up early to walk a dog or one of many other things.

Think about how they’ll occupy themselves. We adopted two kittens in part because it’s better for them — cats are actually very social creatures, and tend to grow up with fewer temperament and behavior issues if they have a buddy. It was also in part because when they run around the apartment at top speed or wrestle multiple times a day, they’re spending all that energy with each other, and not on destroying our stuff. We also give them lots of toys and outlets for their energy, and take time to play with them as well.

On that note, proof your living space. Before we got the kits, we of course made sure we had all the supplies needed for them, but also removed things that could hurt them like toxic houseplants. We’ve since discovered that they’ll work together to get into spaces they shouldn’t be, and have added child locks to a number of our cabinets.

Have a plan for training. Cats are not as straightforward to train as dogs, but all pets respond to training. Positive reinforcement (rewards, not punishments) works best. We’ve been training our cats to better tolerate being picked up and held by giving them food after. However, a direct response to bad behavior can also be effective as long as it isn’t delayed and doesn’t hurt them or significantly scare them. For example, if our cats do something they shouldn’t (get on the kitchen table, paw at my crocheting, etc.) we’ll immediately tell them “no” in a stern voice. If they don’t stop, we’ll sometimes give them a quick spray with a water bottle or clap loudly. The important thing is that they associate the unpleasantness with the behavior and not you. If they get in trouble, I’ll typically give them a moment afterward and then pet them so they know that they’re safe/loved.

Plan for messes. I cannot emphasize this enough: Get. Good. Cleaning. Supplies. Depending on your floor type, a good wood or tile cleaner and a good carpet cleaning spray are crucial. I favor enzyme-based cleaners that break down the scent and prevent staining. We also spend time each day cleaning up pet hair, litterboxes, food and water bowls, etc. You will have to clean up after them because they quite literally can’t do it for themselves. (Be sure to also think about their grooming needs!) Pets deserve clean just as much as people do.

Learn to speak their language. Okay, maybe not literally. But like people, pets have ways they prefer to communicate. A lot of them are consistent for the type of animal (dogs wagging their tail vs. cats purring), but some are specific to the individual. For example, Odin is the whiniest cat I have ever met. Sometimes he whines because he’s hungry, sometimes he’s feeling restless, and sometimes I swear he just wants to talk. But each whine is different, and paying attention to them helps me know what he needs right then.

Show them that you love them as much as they love you. The best part about having pets is the bond developed between person and pet. Most animals are full of love and are eager to express it. As you get to know your pet, you’ll learn what makes them feel most loved. For example, Odin prefers to be petted on the top of his head and to snuggle at my side, while Athena prefers scratches along her jaw and likes to nestle into a blanket pocket on the couch. Pets, like people, just want to feel loved.

What else would you like to see on the blog? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

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Unreachable

A very rare thing happened: I spent most of yesterday with no internet and spotty cell service. My work day started normally, but in the late morning everything crapped out and I could barely get a text message (read: actual SMS, not even iMessage) out to tell people why I was suddenly unable to communicate.

I went into the office for a couple of hours to get essentials taken care of (with a well-fitted N95 mask and lots of social distancing), but eventually got hungry and returned home to the dark ages. I would occasionally get notifications of a message, but they wouldn’t load and I couldn’t send any replies. Thankfully I still had power and water, so it wasn’t full survival mode — just very, very disconnected.

As someone who has had a phone since they were 11 and a smartphone since late high school, it was a drastic change. I was suddenly in an information black hole; if it wasn’t downloaded on my phone or laptop or in a physical book on the shelves, I was out of luck. Social media may as well not have existed, I couldn’t check my email or track package deliveries.

Given that we’re also still in a pandemic and there isn’t much to go do, I was left with few options. I finished what work I could, texted a couple of coworkers that I didn’t know when I’d have internet again, and embraced a world (temporarily) without internet. I read more easily than I have in a long time because there wasn’t anything else hounding for my attention.

I should note that I’m well aware of the myriad ways to limit one’s attachment to tech, and already do a lot of them. I have screen time limits (that even sometimes work!), and turn my phone facedown anytime I want to focus on the thing in front of me. The only notifications I allow besides calls and a couple of messaging apps are personal email. But let’s be honest, all of that only does so much. I’m still on my phone or browsing the internet on my laptop for hours each day. It’s a way to procrastinate, learn, communicate — basically all of my favorite things.

This outage (as annoying as it was) forced me to slow down and to focus more clearly than I had in a long time. After work, I sat on the couch and read for an hour. When my spouse got home we talked for an extra long while, cooked a favorite recipe (this one!), and watched a movie on DVD like some old-fashioned weirdos. It was, well, awesome.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to ditch the internet or toss my smartphone. I both love and need them. But I am thinking about ways I can be more intentional with my time, and minimize distractions more often. I don’t need to know everything that’s happening, immediately, all the time. The world will keep skipping even if I’m not checking on it. It isn’t, in fact, always a bad thing to be unreachable.

How to you take time to focus or unplug? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup! Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

(Photo is a free stock photo because it about sums up the level of communication I had yesterday.)

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25

I love a good playlist. And I love how this tradition has given me a space to reflect on what music can offer, how it sticks with me over time, and how it changes as I age. 

It goes without saying that this was a surreal year above all else, and a slew of emotions came with that. Birthdays are always a good time to process and look back on that, and this year especially so. 

  1. Back In My Body – Maggie Rogers
  2. The Bones – Maren Morris, Hozier
  3. Dance With Me – Snow Patrol & The Saturday Songwriters
  4. Move Along – The All-American Rejects
  5. Woman (feat. The Dap-Kings Horns) [Explicit] – Kesha, The Dap-Kings Horns
  6. My House – PVRIS
  7. Maneater – Grace Mitchell
  8. Motion Sickness – Phoebe Bridgers
  9. Waves – Dean Lewis
  10. this is me trying – Taylor Swift
  11. Achilles Come Down [Explicit] – Gang of Youths
  12. Told You So – Paramore
  13. Level of Concern – Twenty One Pilots
  14. Gimme a Minute – PVRIS
  15. Simmer [Explicit] – Hayley Williams
  16. Paralyzed – Against The Current
  17. Just One Yesterday – Fall Out Boy, Foxes
  18. The Village – Wrabel
  19. Coming Home – Falling In Reverse
  20. Eternally Yours: Motion Picture Collection (feat. Crystal Joilena) – Motionless In White, Crystal Joilena
  21. Deep Water – American Authors
  22. My Mistake – Piano Version – Gabrielle Aplin
  23. Heartbeats – José González
  24. Spinning – Lubalin
  25. Chinese Satellite – Phoebe Bridgers

What music has been getting you through lately? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting!

(Photo is a free stock photo, but it’s got the vibes.)

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Bye, 2020: a reflection

No one will miss you. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Thanks for the memories, even though they absolutely sucked. And every other snide insult that comes to mind.

To address the obvious: This was a hell year. Not a “hell of a year,” but just plain “hell year.” The collective grief and suffering we have endured is truly difficult to comprehend. Most of us didn’t anticipate experiencing this level of compacted, global-scale pain and trauma in our lifetimes. (Not that anyone ever does — the feeling of living through history is, in reality, awful.)

I saw a tweet yesterday that asked, “What is the moment in 2020 broke you?” Each of us has our own list, with some moments exceptionally tragic. Relatively speaking, I got off fairly easy. The days it took to (mostly) recover from the New York Times front page when the U.S. reached 100,000 covid deaths. The horror of continued, unabashed violence executed upon people of color in this country. Waves of grief and fear, of loneliness and helplessness. Empathy so sharp it cut straight to the quick. Nights I cried until I had absolutely no energy left. Days it was all I could do to get up.

Each of those moments was real. But then, so were the moments of joy, and relief, and love. Watching a garden grow from seedlings to harvest. Every quiet breath when a hummingbird paused outside my window. Getting to see my creative work in print and getting paid for it for the first time. The long drives I took for a few deep moments in nature. The full delight in improving someone else’s day. The first hug in the evening after my spouse got home from work. Realizing that certain things are true, even if it took me a while to see them. The work I’ve done for my mental health that I am so proud of, even on the hardest days.

Next year will bring its own hardships, as it always does, but I cling fast to the hope that they may be a little less acute, a little less thunderous, a little less isolating. And I nurture the hope that each moment of good — a hug, a laugh, a warm meal, a deep breath — lasts a little longer and carries us a little further. That we may see beyond our own perspectives and pain, reach far enough toward our neighbor to offer comfort and work toward healing. That we may delight in our differences while striving toward equity and justice. That even in the dead dark of winter, we may remember that none of us is ever truly alone.

Nothing is guaranteed, of course. But we can hope.

So here’s to the new year.

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Survival

Yesterday I woke up with the worst chest pain I have personally experienced. It faded throughout the day, but didn’t fully go away for 24 hours. Thankfully (sort of) it was just due to anxiety, not any more serious health concerns.

But there’s a lesson in there — at least, that’s what I’m hoping.

In the last few years, my body has begun asserting (rather harshly) when I have pushed it beyond its limits. Which, unfortunately, I tend to do once or twice a year. I can no longer do standing room only concerts, I need more sleep than I used to, I have to be extra careful in hot weather. These things feel like limitations, but in reality it’s my body forcing me to get my act together when I have abused its resilience for so long.

I was recently reminded of the importance of asking one’s body what it needs. A nap? A snack? Water? To go for a walk? To curl up under a blanket and ignore the world for a little while? Any given item may not be possible in the moment, but it might be later. And even if not for a while, knowing where your body is at and what it could use provides an opportunity to offer empathy to the cells and sinews keeping you alive.

Because after all, that’s what it’s about, right?

My answer to people who ask how I’m doing lately is “surviving.” Because that really is what it feels like. This year has been positively grueling, and despite there being a number of good things, the difficult ones are a specter the likes of which many of us have never faced before. We grieve. We work long days. We are challenged by emotions. We find a little time for rest. We do it all over again.

I don’t know when things will be better. But I hold onto the hope that they will be, and in the meantime, that together we can keep surviving.

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Anchors

Yesterday I drove 40 minutes each way to sit on the beach alone and read for an hour. I hadn’t seen the ocean in 8 or 9 months, which is the longest I’ve spent away from the water in years, maybe in memory. Just an hour there was like refilling my soul, which the stresses and challenges of everyday life — and this year in particular — had siphoned away bit by bit.

I think everyone has a place like that. A place that is full of enough personal meaning to provide peace the moment you step foot into it, that acts as an anchor when the rest of life feels entirely chaotic.

Other points that provide that anchor for me are looking at a clear night sky, taking a walk through a city with nowhere to be, curling up with a book by a warm fire.

In such times as these, nearing the close of a year unlike any most of us have experienced, these anchors means more than ever. With travel limited*, that anchor may have to be a facsimile for a while. For me, taking a walk in a city has been replaced with taking a walk on the paved path behind my apartment.

If you already know you anchor(s), take some time to (safely) make space for them. If you’re not sure what that point is for you, think about when you feel the most content and at peace. We could all use a bit more of that.

What’s your anchor? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

* Please, please take this virus seriously. Don’t travel unless you absolutely must. Stay home whenever you can. Wear a proper face covering when you do go out. Too many people have gotten sick and lost loved ones, including people I know. In the US, it’s less safe now than it’s been at any point since the pandemic hit. Please do everything you can to keep yourself and other safe.

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Just getting by

Hey y’all. I know I haven’t made a post in a while. Admittedly, it’s not the top priority when it feels like the world is on fire and I’m just trying to feed myself and keep my head on straight.

I don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring. Really, none of us do. But more stress and turmoil is almost guaranteed.

So today I just wanted to offer some things that can help when life feels like a lot, maybe even too much, to handle.

(If you haven’t voted yet, do that first! Resources here.)

Cover the basics

Have you slept enough? Have you eaten recently? Had a glass of water? Lowered your shoulders? Unclenched your jaw? It’s the little things, really.

Movies & TV

I have a list of comfort movies and TV that I watch when I need to just feel better. Some of my favorites are listed below, but of course there are treasure troves of streaming services out there.

  • Favorite movies: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Martian, Pride & Prejudice (2005), The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada, The Princess Bride
  • Favorite TV: Schitt’s Creek, Brooklyn 99, The Good Place, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Friends

Reading, but make it escapism

I love reading, and usually try to challenge myself to mix in some serious and nonfiction reading between more popcorn fiction picks. But I was recently reading a short story collection that was, how shall we say, not helping. So I put it down for now and picked up a cute rom-com one of my best friends recommended instead. Read something that makes you happy 🙂

Do something with your hands

I go absolutely nuts if I don’t have something to do with my hands. Often that’s just fidgeting, but I also crochet and garden, and even cooking and baking help give my body and mind something to do so I don’t just spiral.

Move

If you can, go for a run, take a walk, or do some yoga — anything that gets your whole body moving and some endorphins flowing.

Breathe

I hate how often I forget this one. You can try a number of techniques, and I’ve found a few especially helpful

  • Square breathing. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, out for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, repeat.
  • Belly breathing. Breathe in deeply, filling your whole belly with air, then your chest. Exhale slowly, letting air leave your chest first, and finally your belly. Repeat.
  • Literally just take 10 deep breaths (slowly).

Music

I put together this playlist to help when I’m feeling crappy, especially if I’m anxious. You might have your own playlist or album that you turn to, but there’s a lot of comfort to be found in a familiar melody.

I know all of this isn’t much to offer, but sometimes adulting is just getting by. What helps you out when life gets overwhelming? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and know that you’re not alone in this.

Photo is a free stock photo because, well, this is life right now.

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Recipes: Mediterranean Salad

Yes, I’m back with yet another recipe. Honestly real life has been kicking my butt lately and this is the best I’ve got to offer for the time being.

Before we get started: In between feeding myself, one of the things that’s been most prominent on my mind is the upcoming U.S. election. It’s absolutely crucial that we all exercise our right to vote, and do so responsibly. For all kinds of info and resources, check out this post.

Now on to the food! The inspiration here was simple: I had ingredients I needed to use. Specifically, fresh organic tomatoes and cucumber from my best friend’s garden. I’ve also been trying to eat more lentils since they’re a great source of iron. Disclaimer: I was 100% winging it with this recipe and honestly didn’t even measure much of it. The good news is it’s a really forgiving recipe, so no need to fret about being exact.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup green lentils*
  • 1 cup couscous* (I had envisioned making this with pearl (Israeli) couscous, but the store was out so I used Moroccan couscous. I think both would work great!)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Feta cheese (I think I used 1/4 cup, but it’s really as much as you want)
  • Bay leaf (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Ground allspice
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to tasteIMG-2565

* These measurements are for how much it is before cooking it! Both will enlarge once cooked

Instructions:

  1. Dice your cucumber and tomatoes, and set aside. (Pro tip: If your cucumbers are at all bitter, cut off the ends and rub it in a circle on the portion you just cut it away from. A white foamy liquid will seep out, which has most of the bitterness. Wipe or rinse that off and you’re good to go!)
  2. Rinse the lentils thoroughly in cold water (this helps prevent them from making you feel bloated), then add the 1/2 cup of lentils to a small pot with 1 cup of water.
    1. This is where you can add the optional bay leaf if you want! (I think it helps the flavor, but it’s no big if you don’t have it or forget.)
  3. Bring lentils and water (and if using, bay leaf) to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it reaches a boil, cover and reduce heat to a low simmer for 15-20 minutes. (Pro tip: The best way to know when the lentils are done is to try one. Better to have them be a little firm than to get mushy and mealy.)
  4. In another small pot, boil 1 cup water and add a splash of olive oil (about 1tsp.) and a dash of salt.
  5. Stir in the couscous, remove from the heat, and cover.
  6. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then fluff (aka gently stir with a fork or spoon).
  7. Move couscous into a large bowl, and mix in another tsp. or so of olive oil (to help it from clumping).
  8. Strain lentils and rinse with cold water.
  9. Mix lentils, then diced veggies into couscous.IMG-2566
  10. Stir in lemon juice, then salt, pepper, a dash of garlic powder and about 1/4tsp. of allspice. (Pro tip: Go easy on the garlic powder, be liberal with the allspice. It’s the magic ingredient here.) Top or mix in as much feta as desired.
  11. Serve and enjoy!IMG-2569

Costs about $8, makes about 6 servings (more if you’re only having it as a side dish and not a main course).

As always, the cost estimate is rough, especially depending on how inexpensively you can source the product (in my case, free). Also I’d intended to serve this cold, but the first time because the couscous was warm it was a bit warm and really nice that way as well! I’ve been keeping the leftovers in the fridge and eating it as an easy cold lunch.

What else would you like to see on the blog? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting!

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