Wednesday, October 21, 2015

On Setting Simple Goals

Confession time: I've never been a very big "goal setter". Until recently, that is. In school, the highly motivated teacher's-pet type people always had very clear goals for what they wanted to do in the next 5 minutes, 5 months, 5 years, etc. Not me! I've tended to be a little more loosey-goosey about how I go about my days. (Think "Type B Personality").

So, in an effort to be more "Type A," because I guess that's a good thing, I've decided to do more goal-setting. A wise individual once said "your dreams become goals when you write them down", and I think there's some truth to that. So this year, instead of being well-intended and buying an agenda, I've been well-intended AND even written some things down!

It turns out there's research to support writing down goals. This book, What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School, says in 1979, only three percent of the Harvard business grad students had set clear goals for their future and written them down. Another 13 percent had goals that they hadn't put on paper, and 84 percent didn't have any specific goals. That's mind-blowing to me because I thought Harvard business students were supposed to have stuff together. It's also encouraging that I'm not alone here (and I'm with the majority of Harvard, alriiiiiiight.)

Ten years later, those who had goals were making twice as much as the other group. What's even crazier is the ones who had written down their goals were making TEN TIMES MORE than the rest of the group.

So I guess the takeaway is goals are good. I haven't made any crazy-huge goals yet like invent the first hovercraft √† la Back to the Future Part II. At the moment, I'm mostly writing down things I have to do (like renew the tags on my car) and rewarding myself when I get 'er done. I don't reward myself with anything big — it could be a latt√© that I would have bought anyway, but somehow it tastes sweeter if you feel like you've earned it.

No word on whether "renew the tags on your car" will make me earn ten times more in my mid-thirties, but I'm willing to give it a shot. And research also says that writing things down helps you to remember them, so, y'know, I remember to renew my tags. Or I'll be more likely to remember my long-term goals.

Any goal-setters out there? If so, let's become friends so you can rub off on me.
Photos by Austin Elliott of Locke + Stache Media.

Monday, September 28, 2015

She Plants Things: Fall Flowers 101

Bring out the felt hats 'cause it's fall, folks! A new study just released says the trendiest place to wear a felt hat is at a local greenhouse — it has a 64 percent success rate of obtaining compliments from other plant-enthusiasts. (OK so that might not be true, but it probably is.) So, of course I had to throw on the floppy hat and take a trip to buy some new plants.

For some reason, I never cared about plants in college. Maybe they weren't allowed among the candles-on-candlewarmers that nested our cement-walled rooms. Or maybe my school's clocktower was so great that it consumed any extra space in my mind that could have been filled with flowers. Currently, I find them to be a pleasant addition to my living space. Anyway, who even knows what they like in college? I'm a grown-up now, and grown-ups like plants. (Right, mom?)

Over the course of the time I've lived in an apartment, I've had my fair share of succulents (see proof here, here, and head over to my Instagram to see my favorite birthday present from my sweet roomie). Succulents are great because they're pretty low-maintenance, and basically, once you figure out how to take care of one, you can apply the same method to a billion other types of succulents. Since fall is here (#PSL), I wanted to expand my knowledge to some other types of seasonal plants, so let the learning begin.

In my mind, if any one flower defines early-fall, it's a giant pot of mums. Interestingly enough, I learned from The Old Farmer's Almanac that you're actually supposed to plant them in the spring. Who knew?? For me, that's no big deal because I don't have a yard, so these babies aren't going to be planted anyway. For a small investment, though, they'll make my porch an even more enjoyable location for eating fancy cheeses and watching sunsets.

Other fun facts about mums: I haven't bought a pot for this one yet. Any ideas? I'm veering away from the standard terra-cotta for this one because I'd rather see the orange flowers "pop" more on a contrasting color.

Actual fun facts about mums:
- The correct term for these flowers is "Chrysanthemum," which is a 7th grade spelling word.
- They are originally found in Asia and northeastern Europe
- The first mums in America date back to 1884.

I also bought some kale, mostly because I thought it was pretty and wondered if you can eat it. (Honesty hour.) (It's the purpley-cabbage-looking one if you didn't know.)

So to answer the question I just Googled, ("can you eat ornamental kale"), I present the answer from "Ornamental cabbage and kale are in the same species, Brassica oleracea, as edible cabbages and kale. They are the result of hybridizing and, although they are still edible, they aren’t as tasty and tender as their cousins."

So, someone who writes for thinks kale tastes good. Huh.

For the mums and kale both, I'll water them when the top 1 inch of soil starts to dry, unless I forget and accidentally kill them.

Let me know if you bought fall plants, have kept them alive, didn't buy fall plants because you think they're dumb and/or like eating kale! I'm going to go eat some pizza!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Red, White, and Blueberries

Let me guess, you’re going to a 4th of July party with a bunch of hipsters who can’t eat anything yummy (read: burgers and brats), and you have no idea what to bring. Problem solved!*

*Note: Problem not solved if your hipster friends are doing Whole 30 as this summer treat is full of dairy. Problem only solved if your crew likes yogurt in mason jars. 

The main reason I think this would be a good party treat is because it’s so easy to make and super customizable. I made these parfaits look patriotic for the 4th, but you could use virtually any ingredients to make them fit your preferences. (See this post I did on a less healthy caramel apple parfait.) 

Patriotic Parfait Recipe
- Blueberries
- Strawberries
- Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani Vanilla Blended)
- Almond Slivers, Granola
- Honey to taste

It feels silly to even call this a recipe because it’s so easy-breezy. But in case you couldn’t figure it out on your own, I layered the ingredients in the mason jar, beginning with the greek yogurt. I added the blueberries next, and another layer of yogurt then I put strawberries on the top (obviously I should have put the blueberries on the top considering this post is called “Red, White, and Blueberries — oops). On the very top, I drizzled honey and added a few almond slivers.

So really this #shelearnsthings is about meal-planning because I’m so excited to have these yogurts to take to work this week! It takes me a while to warm up to the idea of breakfast in the morning, so I kinda have to force myself to eat something small first thing. (Does breakfast make anybody else nauseous, or is it just me?) My roommate, Merry, takes parfaits similar to these to work weekly and she really likes making (and eating) them. So, I’m accepting her influence and making room for more mason jars in the fridge! Speaking of the fridge, they should last several days when properly refrigerated.

Let me know if you make parfaits for patriotism! I'm going to eat mine now. America!