Jackfruit, and Cashews, and Guac…Oh My!

If you and I have spent any significant amount of time together, you’ve likely heard of the infamous Bucket List or worked on an item with me.  After being lacto-ovo-vegetarian / then pescatarian over the last few years, I had been entertaining the idea of being vegan for a time, out of curiosity, experience’s sake, and to knock off another bucket list item.

My reasons for being pescatarian mainly stem from health reasons, blood type, but mostly a general meat allergy *see Lone Star Tick*.  However, after the last couple years, the ethical and environmental reasons became actively more attractive.  All that being said, over the last thirty days, I checked off the Be-Vegan-For-Thirty-Days bucket list item.  It was rewarding, hard, easy, wonderful, and ultimately I learned a lot of which I’m thrilled to incorporate into cooking and diet going forward.  Spoiler Alert: at this point, I will likely not stay 100% vegan.  However, going forward, I think home-cooking will mainly be vegan, with the occasional piece of salmon here and there.  The dairy-free / dairy-limited aspects have been amazing for my tummy.

Without further ado, here are my new favorite recipes, ingredients, and a few things I learned. Most of these I modified a little bit to tweaked to taste, swapped ingredients to make it vegan, or simplified to make easier/use the ingredients I had.

RECIPEIES 

PRODUCTS / INGREDIENTS 

  • Haagendas Dairy-Free ice cream 
  • Jackfruit
  • Veggie Crumbles (fav brand is Gardein)
  • Veggie Sausage (fav brand is Lightlife)
  • Veganaise (fav brand is Follow Your Heart)
  • Chocolate Chips (fav brand is Enjoy Life)
  • Almond Milk (Sweetened Vanilla, Unsweetened Original, CHOCOLATE)
  • Nutritional Yeast (can make ‘cheese’ based things with this!)
  • Cashews (can make cream based sauces with these!)
  • Cashew Butter
  • Guac
  • Hummus
  • Eggplant (baked in the oven or grilled with olive oil)
  • Quinoa (so good to mix in any and everything
  • Skippy Peanut Butter
  • Rice Noodles
  • Glass Noodles
  • Couscous
  • Tofu
  • Food Processor (finally bought one and wowza it’s a game changer)

Dining Out

Resources

  • Forks Over Knives
  • Peta (used this when dining out)
  • All the @Twitter pals (@AllisonRanting, @_keithea, @GroverStacyJane, @joanncryderman to name a few)
  • The Ranting Women babes

Top 10 of 2018 – Movies, Music, and Bucket List Items

Hello Friends, here’s a collection of some of my favorite movies, music, and bucket list items I marked off in 2018.  A big thank you to everyone who participated, joined in, and helped make these possible!

Movies 

Of the 22 movies I saw in theaters this year, here’s a list of my top 10.

Honorable Mention:  Venom

220px-Venom_(2018_film_poster)

Gotta love a good action / comedy.

10. Black Panther

Black_Panther_film_poster

A beautiful piece with an all POC cast.  Saw it 3x in theaters.

9. Crazy Rich Asians

MV5BMTYxNDMyOTAxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDg1ODYzNTM@._V1_

Love a good shy-female-takes-charge-and-believes-in-herself flick.  Also a beautiful representation of cross-cultural norms and socio-economic crosses with love transcending it all.

8. A Star Is Born

220px-A_Star_is_Born

Well, #1: Lady Gaga, #2: THE MUSIC, #3: suicide awareness.  A much darker film than anticipated, but a beautiful tribute to love, dreams, and mental health.

7. Oceans 8

81xXDh4frNL._SY445_

Badass women, am I right?

6. Peppermint

Unknown

Tragedy turned punk-rock, femme-hero saves the world and also justice-revenge.  More badass women.

5. Spy Who Dumped Me

The_Spy_Who_Dumped_Me

Kate McKinnon.  Also Mila, the hilarity of the duo, and overcoming the past to brighten their futures.

4. A Simple Favor

Unknown-1

A much anticipated Anna film.  Femme turned badass.

3. Mama Mia Here We Go Again

MV5BMjEwMTM3OTI1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDk5NTY0NTM@._V1_

I’ve been waiting for you

2. Love Simon

__5adf61893dcd4

A beautiful piece about love, authenticity, and overcoming adversity.

1. Bohemian Rhapsody

bohemian-rhapsody-movie-poster

Beautiful piece highlighting music history, cultural-home norms, the advances of culture and medicine in advocating for healthy relationships, and teamwork.  Literally rocked.

Music 

Honorable Mention: The Future is Female – Madame Gandhi

10. Eastside – Benny Balco, Halsey, Khalid

9. Stay the Night – Jukebox The Ghost

8. Somebody Special – Nina Nesbitt

7. Jericho – Marc Scibilia

6. London Loves Paris, 1988 – The Modern Electric

5. No Tears Left To Cry – Ariana Grande

4. Sunset Lover – Petit Biscuit

3. Drive Slow – Chastity Brown

2. Bad Desire – Noah Gundersen

1. I Like Me Better – Lauv

Bucket List Items 

Of the 30 I marked off this year, over countless trips, adventures, and projects…here are my top 10 favorite.  Thanks to those who helped make theses possible.

Honorable Mention: Learned to make Biscuits and Gravy (vegetarian) from scratch

10. Went Blueberry Picking

9. First on the dance floor / Last on the dance floor (2 items at 2 weddings)

8. Stealth Camping

7. Dyed my hair purple

6. Wore a Bikini on a Beach for the first time

5. Built a Bookshelf – to hold all of my books

4. Visited an aquarium while in Chicago, IL.

3. YakPacking Trip – took a few trips, longest of which was 42 miles.

2. Rooftop stuff: Lay on the roof and watch the stars, rooftop dinner, watched a meteor shower on the roof. (3 items)

1. Sunrise on Lake Michigan and Sunset on Lake Huron in the same day.

Here’s to more movies, music, and adventures in 2019. ❤

Body, Soul, and Mind: a sacred trio or the recipe for a perfect storm.

Body, soul, and mind: a sacred trio or the recipe for a perfect storm. Some reflections on self care and mindfulness, also known as my journey to less stress, better health, and some gosh darn peace.

To preface, over the course of ten or so years, I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit wrestling with stress, nightmares, and worry.  Worry led to bad dreams, bad dreams led to lack of sleep, lack of sleep led to more stress, which ultimately had a significant negative impacted on my health.  It’s been a ten year journey working on self care and stress management, however, over the last three years, I’ve come across some beneficial and tangible ways to manage stress, relax, take care of myself, and enjoy life as a busy twenty-something.  Enjoy.

Ultimately, body, soul, and mind are all connected; when one suffers, so do the others.

Body 

When our bodies aren’t functioning well, all other areas of our lives end up suffering too. 

Sleep and Rest – Between working a few jobs, being a full-time student, and attempting to maintain some sort of social life, sleep was always the first thing to go when trying to trim down my schedule.  During my first few years of college, it was not uncommon for me to be running on there hours of sleep and four cups of coffee.  This worked for a time, but after a while, I noticed my grades dropping, my attitude slacking, and an overall uncomfortable feeling with my body and health.  Since making time to sleep and rest, I’ve found more time in my schedule to be productive.  Not only do I have more energy, but I’m also typically in a better mood.  My digestion, skin, and motivation have all drastically improved.  Turns out, if my body was exhausted, I was exhausted in every other category.

16179729_2222645211293473_6241289663512710228_o.jpg

Exercise / yoga – I never would have consider myself athletic.  Growing up, sports were not part of my routine or in my priorities–I was much more interested in band or quizzing.  It wasn’t until this past year that I decided to give “hitting the gym” and yoga a go.  The first month was not pleasant–sore and sweaty, I couldn’t imagine how people actually enjoyed working out or bending into strange positions.  However, after the initial misery of burning muscles and fatigue, I noticed an increase in energy, sound sleep, and a significant decrease in my stress level (which is unheard of, to put it nicely; see years 2011-16 for reference).  I figured I’d give it another few weeks to see if exercising was worth the time and energy investment. Simply put, the gym and my yoga mat have become part of my regular routine, and I dig it, completely.  Taking time to work up a sweat or to focus on my breathing has given more than I expected: energy, sleep, a bit more flexibility, and a spring in my step.  Finally starting to understand the hullabaloo surrounding moving the body and getting the heart rate going.

16810019_2244166222474705_1999616302_n.jpg

Balanced diet – In a previous post, I shared some reflections on being Pescaterian, as well as some of my joys and struggles along the way.  These days, I’m more on the side of plain ol’ vanilla vegetarian.  The goal became finding the right foods to eat (enough protein, iron, fiber, calcium, and vitamins–the things that makes my body move and work properly), and learning the difference between living to eat and eating to live.  Once I got past the initial fatigued phase of having an out of balance meal plan, I started adding types of food which made me feel better.  Finding balance was the key.  There are still days when I can feel my iron tilting toward the low end, or I notice that I need a protein kick, but overall, the switch away from meats and toward more variety and balance has proved to be fantastic. The bottom line is we are what we eat: if we eat balanced, we’ll be balanced.

Soul

An empty soul is like coffee with no caffeine.  Finding ways to recharge my soul (although it sounds hippy-dippy) has become crucial to my attitude and drive for enjoying life.  Living life is inevitable, but enjoying it is a developed skill.  

Hobbies – It wasn’t until a bit over a year ago that I realized most of my hobbies had taken back seat to other life events.  Sometimes sacrifices are worth it, but in this case, I wish I hadn’t sacrificed the time previously reserved for hobbies.  Thankfully, I’ve been able to rediscover some of my old hobbies as well as explore a few new ones.  Hobbies have become positive outlets to blow off steam as well as recharge.  Who knew hobbies could be so critical to self care?  Reading, Zentangle, writing, music, exploring, cooking-shenanigans–all of these have become productive ways to fill my soul, or simply pour energy and enthusiasm back into my body.  Engaging in hobbies have become more about making the time versus trying to find the time.

14124450_2111414265749902_8490801696199477101_o.jpg

Travel – Traveling has become more than an outlet and rather an avenue to soul search: time to take a backseat to my lifestyle and observe how others live and do life elsewhere.  This was very evident while in Europe over the summer; something about being completely outside my typical comfort zone and emerged in someone else’s was very restorative.  The soul refreshing part of travel is really having the opportunity to step away from the normal and every day routine, which in turn, adds value and perspective.  From personal space and reverence, to history and social norms, there is something unique about traveling–the potential to cause paradigm shift is incredible.  Not to mention, there are some pretty gosh darn breath taking and life giving places on this gorgeous planet we call home.  Hills to climb and rivers to jump in, places to explore and shenanigans to be had.

14352613_2125217694369559_5405926456171386146_o.jpgReading – There is one thing in common with all of the people I look up to: they read regularly.  Somewhere down the line I decided these people had qualities I admired, so I figured I best start reading if I ever wanted to be like them.  Although back in the day I very much disliked reading, I’ve grown to quite enjoy it.  Reading has been a positive and tangible way to relax and fill curiosity.  This first summer post graduation, I took a break from most of the academic texts I’d been reading and switched to more artistic and creative literature.  Not only was that season fulfilling and intriguing, it was also the boost of creativity and colors-outside-the-lines that I needed.  After the summer months, I switched back into psychology, history, and sociology texts–these have been beneficial in evaluating my career path and passions.  All in all, reading is a magnificent way to listen for a change.  Taking time to read someone else’s thoughts, perspective, or expression can be both edifying and encouraging.  Ask me what I’m reading, I dare you.

14232015_2118279788396683_1552661279693763135_o.jpg

People – Being a fairly excitable extravert, spending time with people has become crucial to my soul being healthy, or feeling alive at all.  I like people, conversation, interaction–the whole shindig.  However, that being said, spending time with people has both pro’s and con’s.  This is another instance where balance is key.  Spending time with people has become less about quantity and more about quality–not how often, but rather with whom.  Interacting with people is simply part of life, but there are times when it’s more on the draining side.  In the pursuit of energizing my soul, spending time with people has become more about surrounding myself with the right kinds of people: ones who encourage, challenge, and who have a healthy exchange of me investing in them and them investing in me.  I make a point to regularly see people who challenge me and lead balanced lives.  Sometimes this happens on a weekly basis with friends nearby, and sometimes it’s a little bit less often, on a monthly basis seeing my kindred spirits far away.  All in all, people are important, particularly for me (somersaulting ENFP over here), to feel alive, connected, and growing.

Mind

If our body is the vessel, and our soul is the energy, our mind is the…well the mind: the driving force and reason behind it all.  However, if our mind is exhausted, our bodies will quickly follow and our soul will deteriorate.  Mind you that you take care of your mind. 

Quiet – There is something to be said about solitude, silence, and unplugging or detaching for a time.  During my final semester of undergraduate studies, I lived alone in a one bedroom apartment.  There were both frustrations and blessings in this arrangement.  Often times I craved company and movement in my living room, but other times, there was something soothing and serene about the silence.  Silence and quiet can be both audible and in interaction, however, there are more ways to simply practice quietness.  Perhaps my three favorite ways to practice quiet are: listening, unplugging, and not speaking for a time.  Listening is, easily, one of the most underrated practices in American culture; there’s always an opinion to be shared, or statement to make, but so often, we forget to exercise the exact thing we crave–having someone simply listen.  By taking a moment to listen and be quiet, it opens opportunity for us to both rest and recharge.  Unplugging has similar benefits. This was most noticeable while in Europe; with wifi and cell service being sketchy, at best, I found significant peace not having a regular chime in my pocket.  From time to time, I’ll silence my phone or leave my laptop at home.  It has become more about creating quiet space, rather than trying to find it.  Last, simple silence.  My mom would go on these strange ‘silent retreats’ when I was younger.  Initially I thought it was a waste of time, “who in their right mind would go spend a weekend in silence?”  Little did I know, there is something absolutely refreshing about getting in touch with your thoughts from time to time.  When our ears take a break, we can be much more in tune with what’s going on inside our mind.

12087045_1934068163484514_7664370071680923678_o.jpg

Mental Health, Healthy Coping Skills, Positive Outlets – This is a big one, and frankly, I don’t think I’d do it justice in a paragraph or two, so I’ll keep it brief.  As I’ve said before: body, soul, and mind are all connected; when one suffers, the others do as well.  Taking care of our mind, emotions, and thoughts are key to peace, overall health, and happiness.

14500628_2138961172995211_4872106089805690868_o.jpg

Learning – Someone once asked me if I thought we would die because we stopped learning, or we would stop learning because we die.  I struggled to pick an answer, because frankly, it could be both.  Learning is crucial to survival, but also significant to enjoying life.  Roommates over the years have casually said, “You learn something new every day.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Finding ways to learn new things, or explore other ideas seems to be one of the most productive ways to grow as an individual.  On the flip side, learning can also cause distress.  Perhaps learning about the reality of social justice or the state of our environment can cause stress.  However, some stress is good; it springs us toward productivity and pursuing passion.  That pursuit is key to finding peace and purpose.

16809319_2244166279141366_937153450_n.jpgDisclaimer: I’m a work in progress–but it’s been a blast along the way.  I don’t have it perfect, but I suppose the journey can be just as beneficial as the destination.  Peace, stress-management, and health are key to enjoying life.  Here’s to the future and the joys and sorrows we’ve learned from in the past.

 

 

 

Pesca–what? A year’s reflection on Pescaterianism

Year after year, I’ve made new year’s resolution, with usually no success in their actual completion.  However 2016 started off a bit differently.  Since late high school, I had entertained the thought of making a diet switch to vegetarian.  However, my deep love for chicken-tenders and shrimp spaghetti had always held me back.

During my senior year in college, with a significant amount of stress on my shoulders, my health took a turn.  After months of being sick on a regular basis, and a trip to the emergency room for dehydration, I figured that something had to change—I couldn’t maintain an upset stomach and throwing up most days.

With a considerable amount of thought and several conversations with my vegan, vegetarian, and pescaterian friends, I decided that 2016 would be the start of my pescaterian journey.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘pescaterian’, it refers to a vegetarian-type died which also includes fish and other seafood.

10389689_1832634526961212_7408394602478143903_n

Here are five things I’ve learned through becoming pescaterian over the past year:

Take it slow.  Initially before taking the dive into the whole pescaterian shindig, I doubted how people could simply go from a typical diet to vegetarian, or anything like it, cold turkey.  Thankfully, an old co-worker of mine helped explain a reasonable way to transition.  I didn’t make a switch in one day; I started by weaning certain types of meats out one by one.  For example, I started with pork: I went for a few weeks eliminating pork from my diet (you’d be amazed how many things have bacon in them…), followed by a few weeks without beef, followed by chicken, turkey, and the rest of our land-dwelling animals.  Slowly waiting into pescaterianism made all the difference—I avoided shocking my body by going slowly.

Stay in tune with your body. One of the trickier parts of changing my diet was learning how to balance what I was taking out, and compensating for the vitamins and minerals my body still needed.  This wasn’t much of an issue until I had transitioned all meat other than seafood out.  I started noticing my eyes, skin, and lips were more pale than usual, I was winded easily, weaker than usual, and quite fatigued.  Eventually, after an attempt to give blood, I found out my iron was too low and probably the reason for constantly feeling fatigued.  Turns out, if our bodies get most of our iron from meat, and we don’t eat meat, we’ve got to find another way to get iron.  Spinach and lentils have become my go to—and on occasion, an iron or multi-vitamin supplement.  Learning to stay in tune with my body became key to actually enjoying the diet switch.  By simply throwing a handful of lentils into my soup or mixing in frozen spinach with my pasta sauce, I was finally able to stop feeling so yucky (and also was able to donate blood for the first time—sorry to everyone who saw me puke).

Speaking of puke… You might puke.  Come to find out, our bodies are actually pretty sensitive to what we eat.  Sometimes cutting one thing out will bring to light sensitivities we’ve got.  After not having had meat for a few months, I tried what I thought was vegetarian soup, and later, after throwing up, found that the soup was made with chicken stock.  Moral of the story: I had to learn to be patient with my body, stay hydrated, and ask questions.  It takes time to adapt to any change. 

Ask more questions.  This is two-fold.  Initially, I had no idea what to expect from the diet switch or how to compensate for what I was lacking—asking for advice from friends already down this path saved me quite a bit of hassle.  Second, asking what ingredients were in dishes prevented me from tossing my cookies on a number of occasions.  However, on occasion, I’ll forget to ask, and later come to realize that the taco salad bowl was fried in bacon grease…it happens once in a while. 

How I feel. The old saying, “You are what you eat” still rings true.  Sometime in college, a professor told me how long it takes the human body to digest a stake—I was surprised.  She went on to explain how by changing her diet, she had started sleeping better and having more natural energy.  After a few months of being land-animal meat-free, I started noticing a few positive changes: I had more energy, was less sluggish, slept better, and my digestive system was much more content.  It’s still something I’m working to fine tune, but overall, the switch has left me feeling pretty swell.

Overall, I’ve learned the importance of staying in tune with my body, how I’m feeling, and my energy levels.  More things are connected than I first thought.  This process has taught me, truly, anything is possible for a year (and I might just hang on to this one for a while longer).  Becoming mindful can manifest itself in a variety of ways, even if it’s just learning to order something without bacon. 

Here’s to more animals, less sluggishness, and feeling good. 

Disclaimer: the diet switch wasn’t motivated by an overwhelming and excessive love for animals.  I mean they’re cool, I love the critters on God’s green earth, but the change was mostly for selfish reasons. 

College Graduates Don’t Wear Sparkle Eyeshadow

Disclaimer — Sparkle eyeshadow is a glorious thing, and praise be to anyone who can rock it (aka Beyonce).  Recently I was reminded that I am not someone who can do that.

Just a story, enjoy.

I was not prepared for how drastically life would change after graduating, the biggest change being greater distance between friends who previously lived just a building over. After feeling a little desperate for friend-type interaction after not seeing any of my college friends over the summer, I called up Danielle, the friend I have to thank for reminding me to eat and brush my hair over senior year, when I was everything but sane and put together.  Danielle only lived about forty-five minutes away from where I’ve been living–and after not seeing any of the friends I saw on a daily basis only months before, knowing I’d get to see her made the drive a breeze.  After a squealing-middle-school-girl-esq reunion-hug, we headed to a little sushi shop in downtown Howell for our favorite meal.  After non-stop chatter about our summers, travel, boys we had been ‘talking to’-ish, and all the typical, oh gosh, we’re graduated! We have full time jobs and/or year long internships, soon to be, far away!   We decided to grab coffee and browse the isles of Target (because obviously, recent college graduates with ministry type degrees have bins and bins of money for the sole purpose of shopping and sushi dates).  While digging through the clearance buckets, looking for that one things we didn’t know that we needed until just then, I came across ninety-nine cent, previously four dollar, sparkle gold eyeshadow–the exact kind of pizazz which I hoped would reflect my personality!  Glitter!  “Danielle!  Look at what I found: Sparkly gold eyeshadow!”  *now imagine, in your most practical, yet mother-type disgusted voice* “Hannah.  You’re a college graduate.  College graduates don’t wear sparkle eyeshadow!”

And that, my friends, is the story of the time I learned not only are college graduates supposed to dress their part (much to my chagrin), but that gold sparkly eyeshadow would not suit me well.  Still very much trying to figure out what being a college graduate is supposed to look like and be, but I’m getting there.  In the meantime, I’ll stick with the recommended eyeshadow shades for my pasty white skin tone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 Rules, Habits, and Things I’ve Learned from Dates

Over the past several years I’ve gone on plenty of dates, many were just first dates, some were second dates, and some turned into relationships–and right now, I’m just hanging out, enjoying my own company.  Either way, I’ve compiled a list of rules, habits, and things I’ve learned from both good and bad dates.  By no means were all of my dates terrible, but by no means were they all wonderful.  That being said, I am not a dating expert, I’ve accidentally insulted my date so many times while meaning to complement them–not an expert.  If anything, I’ve learned that the more boundaries, rules, and habits I have in place when heading into a date, the better the date goes.  

So without further ado, my somewhat comprehensive list of personal rules for dating (they all pretty much have a story to go along with them) all from trial and lots of errors–take from it as you wish.

  1. Buy your own meal/drinks on the first date.  If things go well, and there’s a second date, sure, they can buy, or you can split–whatever floats your boat.  But on first dates, I always buy my own, because after all, I’m quite capable of financially supporting my dating adventures, don’t necessarily need anything from the other person, and I don’t feel bad for ordering the seafood whatever and a glass of wine that came out to more than twenty bucks.  There’s a long story about how this rule came to be, but dates have gone so much better post establishing the, “No, I’ve got my own food this time.  Thanks though!  Maybe you can buy next time” thing.  
  2. You aren’t ever obligated.  The only obligation you have is to be a decent human being, but that doesn’t mean being a push over or a door mat.  Being decent doesn’t mean you have to laugh at all their jokes, or always say “yes”.  You’re not obligated to kiss them on the first date (I mean, unless you want to).  You’re not obligated to go home with them.  You’re not obligated to have another drink.  You’re not obligated to stay longer than you’d like.  Heck, you’re not obligated to see them again if you don’t want to!  You’re not obligated to call or text them back–you do you, be comfortable!
  3. “No” is a word, use it when you’d like to.  You’re a better date all around if you’ve got boundaries in place (I mean, on the flip side, wouldn’t you want your date to say what they mean, mean what they say, be honest, and totally comfortable and game for whatever you’re doing?).  This doesn’t mean you need to fit some sort of mold to be “the perfect date” but it means you’re comfortable with what you’re comfortable with, and all else can peace out because you said “no”.  You do you, don’t apologize.  If you’re not feeling it, say “no”.  If you don’t want to, say “no”.  There are few things worse than being kissed or kissing someone when you really don’t want to or just aren’t into it.  “No” is rad, use it.
  4. Know your limit when it comes to alcohol.  My personal rule is only two drinks on the first date.  It kind of sucks if you’re trying to be charming and you’re too buzzed to do that.  You laugh too loud, you’re obnoxious, you talk about your ex…you get emotional…things usually just go downhill after two  (or if you’re someone who gets hiccups daily anyway, alcohol just increases the likelihood of getting hiccups on your date–which turns out is actually pretty embarrassing).  Stay alert and attentive, be sharp, because you are.  (Ask me about the worst date I’ve ever had…he had too much to drink and officially holds the record for the worst date of all time–and it’s a comical story)  This is also very applicable to caffeine…another story, another time.
  5. Wear something comfortable and functional.  There isn’t much worse than constantly worrying about whether you’re gong to flash your date.  All this being said, I’ve made it my habit to wear pants, flats (have you ever seen me wear heals–it’s an unfortunate sight anyways, and I’m sure you’d rather not spend your first date in the ER because your date twisted her ankle in those killer heals that she can’t walk in anyways), and some sort of basic top on all my first dates.  Besides, if there’s a second date, I want them to be prepared, because I wear flats, flannels, and a messy bun on the daily–it’s the real me.  Functional can be cute.
  6. Don’t be afraid to order something messy or challenging to eat.  Maybe this is more of a scare tactic.  Thus far, I haven’t met anyone who looks cute when they eat–not convinced that it’s possible.  I figure, if they can tolerate the sight of me eating spaghetti or a burrito, then we’ll get along quite well.  By all means, don’t be a slob, but if you stress about what you look like when you eat, you’re going to miss a lot of the date–you do you, and order something you like, even if it’s a Mexican jumble of goodness inside a tortilla–which will fall all over the place.
  7. Never be afraid to leave if you’re feeling uncomfortable.  There have been a few dates where I got up and didn’t come back (paid my bill at the front before I left of course, because don’t be a jerk) because things were starting to feel uncomfortable.  Trust your gut…you’re the only one looking out for you on these sorts of things.
  8. Ask them questions, but also expect to have questions asked about yourself.  There are few things worse than sitting with someone for an hour plus and only hearing about them (ask me about the second worst date I’ve been on).  On the flip side, aren’t you trying to get to know each other anyway?  Ask questions, and listen.
  9. Tell someone where you’re going, when, and with who.  There have been a couple times I was really glad I did this.  Nothing is more helpful than having your friend call in the middle of a date to rescue you.  “Hey (best friend), how are you?  Oh my goodness, are you okay?!  Okay, okay, stay calm, I’ll be there soon! *hangs up* Hey, sorry, but (friend) is actually dying and needs me like right now, but it was nice to meet you!” *heads to friends house for wine and ice cream*  Sure, maybe that’s the classic date-escape technique, but you’ll never know when it’ll come in handy.
  10. Stay off your phone, unless you’re giving the this-isn’t-going-well vibe to your date.  Frankly, being on your phone constantly is rude, annoying, and gives the impression that Siri is your one true love.  Sure, keep it near by, but focus on your date–isn’t that what you’d want your date to do?
  11. Go on a cheep first date.  Nothing says this-is-the-real-me than a classic Subway, Panera, or Taco Bell date–or pizza in the park (#Ideal).  Olive Garden and *place you can’t pronounce* all in due time, but spending $60 on your date, only to have them talk about how much they are in love with your mutual friend actually sucks.
  12. Be yourself.  This should be a no-brainer, but sometimes we forget.  Wouldn’t you rather your date be authentically themselves?  Should you be too?  I’d rather admit that I’m a big MBTI nerd up front so I don’t freak them out when they eventually see my bookshelf and realize that I’m actually a closeted super-nerd.
  13. Don’t settle.  Maybe this is the reason I’m still single (or maybe I’m just super annoying on dates, I don’t know, time will tell), but it has saved me a lot of trouble in the long run.  Now this doesn’t mean you should create a list of 157 qualities and features your perfect date has to have, but be selective with who you date.  After a few less than stelar dates and people, I started being a bit picky about who I went out with–saved me heartache, time, and money.  That being said, don’t pity date–remember, you’re not obligated.
  14. Do have fun.  Dinner and drinks can be fun, but so can bowling.  If a date doesn’t sound fun or comfortable, you don’t have to.  Either way, enjoy yourself, and laugh if you’re feeling it.  Why be serious the whole time, have fun, be you!  If the real you is quirky and a super nerd, be quirky and a super nerd!
  15. Don’t drag the date on.  A six hour date is kind of long, let’s be honest…you can always hang out again.  Just don’t drag it on and on.  Eventually you’re going to have to pee, need to go home, or get back to responsibilities.  If things are going well, sure, go for a walk, or hang out a bit longer, but don’t be ridiculous.
  16. Don’t pressure and be respectful.  If you would’t want your date to do it, then don’t do it.  Be polite, if your date isn’t comfortable, respect them!  #NoDuh. Remember the bit about you perhaps not wanting to kiss on the first date (unless you want to), remember that they might have feelings like that.  Be classy.
  17. Be confident.  If you’re self conscious the whole time, you’ll probably not enjoy the date quite as much as you could if you just let it go and be you.  My five C’s I try to live and date by are as follows: Confident, comfortable, classy, calm, and competent.
  18. Three date rule.  By all means, you do you.  I’ve got a three date rule for anything more than a quick peck and holding hands.  If they’d like to snuggle up and watch a movie, I usually ask to wait until after date three.  Being comfortable and having boundaries make you a better date anyway.  Besides, I don’t really want to do more than I’m comfortable with.
  19. Use religion and politics cautiously.  This is a personal favorite.  Depending on my mood, I’ll either wait to bring this up, or drop it on the first date to get rid of the awkwardness (after creating it, that is).  Find out about your date’s views, beliefs, and what makes them tick–you’ll want to know eventually, just use good timing.
  20. Be open to try new things.  Perhaps some of the best dates I’ve been on involved trying something new: new food, new music, new activities.  Sure, I needed to be comfortable to actually enjoy it, but it could make for fun memories.
  21. Don’t talk about your past relationships, on the first date.  That’s pretty straight forward, but get to know the person you’re out with before divulging your entire dating history–all in due time.
  22. Go to the bathroom when you need to.  Probably one of the worst dates I’ve had was when I ignored that I had to pee for the entire two hours of our date.  Made for a very quick goodbye and a terrible ride home.  Excuse yourself to the bathroom when you need to.  Everybody has to pee eventually, it’s just a think you might as well embrace.
  23. Vent/treat the date as a therapy session.  There’s a time for talking about what’s got you down, but if the first date is spent spilling your guts, there’s a solid chance there won’t be a second one.  Like I said, all in due time.
  24. Don’t constantly apologize.  Sure, if you break something or are rude, definitely apologize, but don’t apologize for being yourself or be one of those people who apologizes for everything–you’re solid, it’s okay.  You are you, and that’s pretty rad.
  25. Don’t Fall Asleep on the first date.  Yeah, I definitely left.  Just stay away, or reschedule to when you’re rested.  Nothing says, I’m bored and you’re not interesting like falling asleep on a date.

And that’s all for now.  Enjoy, take what you will, leave what you will, and happy dating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Ways to Recover From a Lousy Date

As a follow up to my 25 Rules, Habits, and Things I’ve Learned from Dates post, here are my 15 Ways to Recover From a Lousy Date. Enjoy.

  1. Have yourself a glass of wine.  Alcohol never actually solves problems, but once in a while, it helps you process them.  *disclaimer: does not advocate for drinking problems away, but does advocate for a glass here and there to celebrate Jesus’ first miracle*
  2. Talk to a close friend.  Sometimes all you need is an available ear to vent to, talk you down from the frustration, and kick your rear back out there.  
  3. Have yourself one more glass of wine.  See point one, repeat once.  Sometimes you just need one more.  Helps with the overall venting and eventually sleeping off the frustration.
  4. Pet something cuddly.  Regardless of how awful, miserable, dry, terrible the date went, your dog (or cate…or whatever, maybe you have ducks!  If you have ducks, let’s talk, okay?) will still love you (if you give them treats and belly rubs).  After the most recent lousy date I went on, I snuggled up with a cat, despite being mildly allergic to it, and snuggled it until I felt better–very helpful.
  5. Boost your confidence.  Break out the liquid eyeliner or the fun hair goop stuff.  Buy some new underwear or a new outfit–boost that confidence back up.  Material possessions don’t fix problems, but sometimes they’ll help put a pep back in your step (Target has a great deal on underwear).  No one has to know that you just bought new rockin underpants, but sometimes that’s just enough to bring any recently defeated confidence back up to where it was.  Maybe underwear isn’t your thing, maybe it’s shoes, maybe it’s wallets, find what works for you–and freshen up that confidence.  
  6. Break out the angsty break-up/everything-sucks playlist.  If you’ve known me for more than a week, you’ve probably caught a glimpse of my Spotify playlist titles–one for every mood and every occasion.  After enough poor dates, frustrating days, and a really awful break up, I’ve assembled a playlist that helps get me through those droopy days.  Find yours, scream along to Since U Been Gone (covered by A Day To Remember) in the car, and brood along to your jams (just not for too long).  Get the feelings out, so you can settle down again.
  7. Channel the grump energy into something positive.  This is a bit different for everyone, but a common habit for me is to reorganize my desk and closet when I’m grouchy from a lousy date.  For you it might be working out or power washing your drive way–either way, find what works for you, and utilize that energy–you’ll probably feel productive afterward anyway.
  8. Rest up.  Being a bit on the easily-drained side of life, I’ll often feel emotionally exhausted after a date, be it good or bad.  My typical routine is a bubble bath (and a glass of wine), a book or journal, and a nap (or a Tylenol PM and going to bed early).  Lack of sleep plus any negative emotions can just become a cluster of awful–take care of yourself.  Featured image is my typical go to recharge.
  9. Take time to process.  If I’ve found one thing to be very true, it’s that jumping right back into the dating scene without processing a lousy date is not the best idea.  Find a good way for you to process.  Being an external processor, I usually call up a friend, word vomit at them, then go home and write my thoughts down.  It helps me reflect on what I’m looking for and helps put feelings in perspective.
  10. Don’t loose hope.  You’re a catch–but you’ve got to believe it.  This doesn’t mean be a pompous jerk, but don’t forget that you’ve got a lovely set of skills, interests, and a gloriously unique personality.  Don’t let one date get you down.
  11. Get a massage, pedicure, haircut–take care of yourself. Simple enough. Pamper yourself.  Investing in yourself is healthy–be healthy.
  12. Get creative.  Find another positive outlet.  Try something new, paint, sketch, write, create, cook, build–do something to get those positive brain chemicals moving again.
  13. Hangout with someone you haven’t hung out with in a while–hit up a sibling, parent, old friend, someone.  Be around solid people.  Don’t hide for too long–maybe you don’t hide at all, but get some positive human interaction back into your week.
  14. Netflix it out.  Have one more glass of wine and settle down with Parks and Rec, some Office, or New Girl–whatever floats your boat.  Have some you-time, and laugh a bit (and talk to the characters because that ultimately helps with everything).  Supplemental tip: google dogs underwater, turtles in hats, and cats in coffee mugs–also helpful.
  15. If you need help, Get help.  Unfortunately, sometimes bad dates were indeed very bad, physically, emotionally and psychologically bad.  Statistics change often, but last time I checked, one in three women are raped and one in two are sexually assaulted.  Similarly, for me, one in five are assaulted and one in ten are raped.  If you’ve been hurt, get help, and know you’re not alone.

 

This is not a comprehensive list, but it’s a start, or at least my most recent helpful bits and tips.  Taking care of you is important.  Be the best you by taking care of you the best way you know how.