This weekend, I realized a goal I’ve been working towards for years.

I made Palak Paneer that actually tastes good.

You see, since I first discovered Indian food (early in college), I’ve desired to make it for myself.  I experimented with some spice packets from when my sister took me to Duvon St in Chicago.  I was encouraged enough to go to Indian markets in my own metro area, slowly acquiring packages of cardamom pods, ground coriander, garam masala.  The last year or so has found me caught in a vicious cycle:

  1. Eat Indian food at a great restaurant.
  2. Decide it can’t be that hard.  Choose recipes online.
  3. Go to Indian Market with enthusiasm.  Chat with shopkeepers.  Smile a lot.
  4. Arrive home, sharpen knives, cook for a few hours
  5. Taste disaster of a meal.  Force myself to eat it for 2 meals.  Throw out the rest. Decide that $30 for takeout isn’t that expensive.

It takes about 2 months and a culinary success or two before I decide that It can’t be That hard and the cycle begins all over again.

I’ve tried to make Palak Paneer 4 or 5 times and each time, it’s gross.  But yesterday, sweet yesterday, I made a successful batch.  A few tips:

  • spend more on expensive frozen spinach.  you don’t want bitter stuff.  growwss
  • don’t fry the paneer too long
  • after you’ve fried it to a nice golden brown on all sides, put it in cold water to soak.  this allows the excess oil to float to the top and also for the cheese to get squeaky again
  • follow the recipe.  Cumin, Coriander, Chili Powder, and Cardamom may all start with C’s, but they’re not interchangeable.  Neither are whole seeds/pods for ground stuff.
  • not spicy enough?  add more stuff.  c’mon, it can’t be That hard!  🙂

After 3 awkward dates with R, I decided to call it quits.


me: Hey R, Sorry I didn’t call you back earlier this week.  It was just really busy
R: Oh, no problem, just wanted to chat with you about–umm
friendship, like, I don’t know what protocol is
On the networks
me: I’m definitely up for staying friends
R: oh, well, I already pulled the trigger.  I unfriended you on Facebook
me: Oh, well, okay, whatever you need to do to feel comfortable
R:  yeah, well, I did
—subject change to how our respective weeks went—
R: well, I don’t know about you, but, for me, well
what we had–I guess it was just 3 dates, but–
You are my North Korea
There was just all this expectation, but then, just one explosion and it was done.
me: Ohhh.  Well, thanks for calling!  Good luck with your work!

WTF?  I’m his North Korea?  What does this mean?
Are you calling me a communist nation?
Is it like, if you don’t date me, I’ll put you in a concentration camp?
There’s a demilitarized zone between us now?
If I’m your North Korea, you’re my Vietnam!  I never should’ve been there in the first place and it’s taking forever to get out! 

#GreatDatingStoriesFTW

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That quesions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind us of our, and Adam’s curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood-
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

  • running yesterday before church on the trail near my house and having a light breeze blow pink cherry blossoms on me!
  • my “new” used car that doesn’t need brake fluid, oil or antifreeze top offs every few drives 🙂
  • a lovely visit from my sister
  • a lovely visit from my parents
  • some of my grandmother’s lovely white antique dishes given to me by my mom!
  • lots of pounds of grass-fed sustainably-raised meats from an awesome farm in PA and from my parents’ (whole chickens! ground sausage!  fresh pastured eggs!)
  • my lovely friends who come to impromptu St. Patty’s day parties, write me emails, go with me to see the cherry blossoms, let me freak out
  • my new pink jeans
  • the new season of mad men starting up again
  • having a friend give me an awesome 60’s updo/beehive for a mad men party last night
  • new connections
  • sunshine
  • emails in a few days from my 2 of my favorite mentorfriends
  • being able to get to sleep
  • my new jewelry hanger on my door that was made from cleverly repurposed supplies
  • risotto made with new garlic and lemon zest
  • summer plans to NYC and the beach

it’s turning out to be a lovely spring.  i’ve been really tired the past few weeks (hence the blogging hiatus) but I think i’m back 🙂

This is a conversation between me and my coworker/mentor/boss. During that 3pm lull, we’ll often find each other and share cooking and fashion tips.  She’s got a great sense of style and we both have a pair of snakeskin heels that we compliment each other on. This is your average girl conversation about clothes, but with a little design twist.  I love it!

me: “so, yeah, after the retreat, we went to the outlet mall!”

design coworker: “ooh, what’d you get?”

me: “well, I got these two dresses. They’re both something that Betty Draper would wear to a casual picnic”

dc: “oh!  awesome!  what do they look like!”

me: “well, one has black and yellow designs that are kind of stripey but then there’s space and some little squares… (gesturing)”

dc: “like a Mondrian look?”

me:  “yeah, totally!  and the other one is…you know, that super bright orange that’s hip right now?”

dc: “like 021?”

me: “yeah! like that!”

Last night I found myself at one of the most beautiful churches in the area, sitting with a friend, celebrating the bright sadness that is Ash Wednesday. It was a transcendent experience as liturgical services often are.  I recently wrote a few paragraphs on why I love liturgy to a new friend.  I thought I’d share it here with you four. 🙂

I am a big picture person, so when I think about the church, I think about the Kingdom, as in all people worshipping God across time and space.  I think of the great number of believers who have gone before, (Abraham! the disciples! the early church in Rome! the gospel spreading across the whole world! the monastic, missional and revival movements!), I think of everyone across the world right at this moment worshipping with all their languages and political backgrounds and racial groups, then I think of the snapshot in revelation of us all worshipping together at one moment in the future–the great cloud of witnesses in Heaven around God’s throne. So, that’s reality, and on Sunday, I want to be thinking about that–the big picture of the Kingdom.

but let’s be honest: my little story is what I’m obsessed with.  All week i’m in my own head and thinking of my needs, my anxieties, my concerns, my job, my clothes, my world.  All week, I’m living in my story, trying to find God, asking Him to intervene, to help me process, to come and speak, trying to pull him down (and, graciously, he’s incarnate and he comes and meets me where I’m at.  yay God!).  When I go to worship on Sunday, I want to escape out of my own little myopic world into something bigger, into the Kingdom. I want the relief of knowing that my world is not the world and that God is bigger, on His throne, reigning over everything.

I feel like liturgy and hymns and creeds and tradition are like a net that lifts me out of my own world. It’s a huge relief to come to church and forget about my own story, to be lifted up into a realm where I hear the gospel story (creation, fall, redemption) over and over again in the creeds, the hymns, the readings, the sermon. It’s awesome. It gives me context. Also, there’s a lot of talk in liturgy about the saints and when I hear saints, I don’t think of creepy people with gold plates behind their heads, I think of bible characters and great missionaries and people who have loved God and pushed back the darkness in their own ways.  It’s sweet to remember them.

By contrast, when I go to more modern church services, the worship songs aren’t usually about the character of God, the state of my sinfulness or the promises of the gospel–they’re usually about how I feel towards God.  Which is great if I’m feeling good and connected, but honestly, often I’m not. It’s better to sing about what I know is true about God rather than what I feel about him.  One of my favorite hymns is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” where every stanza starts with feeling disconnected from God and how that doesn’t matter.  The truth of the gospel is what matters.  It’s a relief to sing it because I don’t have to conjure up any feelings–I can just be where I am and let God do the rest.

Also, liturgy unites me with other believers because the basic service has been around for centuries. Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican–they’ve all go the same basic structure to the liturgy and if you study it, it mirrors the 5 Old Testament sacrifices that God set up as His original order of worship in His ideal society.  Plus, my favorite part of the service is where you sing “Holy Holy Holy” and acknowledge that you’re singing along with the angels in heaven.  Pretty cool. My favorite part of the year is going to a high church Easter Vigil to celebrate the resurrection late at night. It’s amazing.

There you go. Liturgy gets me out of my own head and puts me in a bigger story, a larger context where heaven and the past and the future come crowding in close and my little worries fall away. It’s a beautiful relief.

one of my book chapter ideas below was to talk about how my iphone changed my life.  It has, irrevocably.  Nothing could make that more clear than not having my phone for an evening. I left it on my desk last night and didn’t realize it til 8pm when the building was locked.  I was meeting my friends at a bar and then at a parade, so I knew that if I didn’t get the timing just right, I’d have to sit at home by myself (which, you know by now, is basically torture for extrovert me)

anyway, by some miracle, i was able to meet my friends and have a lovely evening at my neighborhood’s yuppiest dive bar, at the small town mardi gras parade and then at the best chili spot for miles.  It was a great evening out, but the whole time, I saw things I needed to google and instagram/tweet.  upon arriving home, i realized that I didn’t know how to set my clock alarm anymore (it’s poorly designed, i promise).  I realized that it takes a lot of energy to get out of my bed to check my email and the weather on my computer.  when I arrived at work this morning, I had multiple texts from 4 people who thought I was ignoring them because seriously, WHO LEAVES HER PHONE AT WORK?  me, apparently.

and now, a list of apps that have changed everything:

Sleep Cycle:  $2, it uses the gyroscope in your phone to see where you are in your sleep cycle, maps it out for you on a line graph, then, within a certain amount of time, wakes you up when you are most likely in the lighter part of your sleep.  amazing, makes me feel more well-rested, also doesn’t have a snooze button which is very helpful

Ease into 5k: This app made me a runner.  add the $1 GPS feature and you can track distance and time.  awesome.

Wunderlist: lists, lots of lists.  on the cloud, so you can modify them on your computer.  it’s great for jotting stuff down on my way to the grocery store or when i’m feeling panicked in a meeting and need to make a to-do list.

Netflix: I watch movies with my headphones when I’m traveling and have to metro, shuttle, wait at the airport, wait on planes.  It’s great.

MapQuest: this app isn’t great, but the maps feature on iphone is terrible and this is free.  it reads to you and adjusts when you get lost.  It’s like having a slow friend who can only sortof read a map, but who will help you get on the highway when you need to.

Pandora: perfect for kids who don’t buy music

The Weather Channel: perfect for faux winters where you can’t tell whether to wear a pencil skirt with bare legs or a turtleneck with tweed pants.

YouVersion Bible: I got on a sweet one year reading plan (OWNit365) that I followed faithfully for about 7 months.  I’m stalling out in the major prophets.  Isaiah 40, where are you so far away??

Instagram: Yup, I’m that obnoxious girl who posts vintage-filtered photos on facebook.  I LOVE this app.  Because it burns in the corners, you’re more likely to get a good composition.  Also, I love squares.  It allows you to post to twitter or whatever social media you want.

Parkmobile: No need for quarters when parking in DC!  win!  Note, this doesn’t work for other cars with other license plates.

Flashlight: Because sometimes it gets dark on your run and the bush where you threw your keys seems to have eaten them…

JotNot Pro: $2 allows you to take pictures of documents and then ups the contrast and allows you to crop them, creating a “scanned” document effect.  Great for receipts and medical bills!

Yelp: perfect for scanning nearby restaurants and quickly assessing quality

Today’s sunshine
Josh Garrel’s FREE album
Arthur Burk talking about the brain and Jesus in a few weeks
All the fun themed 5k’s all spring and summer (like this)
The upcoming women’s retreat this weekend
My new gold zebra/giraffe/leaf print scarf
My PT who can make most of my pain go away and helps me sleep better!
All my awesome friends (including all 6 of you who read my blog!)
The dudes at harvest who planned a secret Valentine’s Day event for all the ladies
The red roses I was given at the aforementioned evening!
Fat Tuesday
My rad coworkers
Spring is coming

This is a transcript of an amazing portion of the conversation from a first coffee date I went on this weekend.  Enjoy!

me: so now that i’ve told you some of my friends’ awkward dating stories, do you have any?

he: yeah, i mean, i had one that was just weird.  i went out with this girl, like, 4 or 5 times and we just kept arguing about the same thing!  we couldn’t agree to disagree. i mean, i don’t know how you feel about the whole organic/local movement?

me: i’m a fan

he: well, maybe i shouldn’t tell you this, then. i just don’t want to have the same thing happen

me: oh?

he: yeah, so, anyway, i’m a burger guy.  and there’s this place that makes amazing burgers.  and there’s a place that makes mediocre burgers.  both of them serve organic, local stuff.  they’re both about the same price (not cheap). i’m willing to pay a little more for the one that’s delicious and not for the other one.  so i’m at this restaurant with this girl and she’s going on and on about how she thinks organic food is so much better. and i tell her, it doesn’t always taste better!  and she says,  yes it does!  and  it’s better for you!  and i say, no, there’s nothing the proves it’s better for you. there’s no research!  and she just keeps going on and on!  meanwhile, my burger was overcooked and not that great, but she tastes it and says it’s delicious.  i just think she’s was delusional about  that.  thinking it is better for you when it’s really not, thinking it tastes good when it really doesn’t.  you know?

me: yeah, mm, i can see how that would be a big conflict in values.  you not wanting to get ripped off, her not wanting to budge on her convictions about health

he: yeah, i just don’t get people who are super into that stuff.  it just doesn’t make sense to me.  there’s just no proof that it’s better for you, it’s expensive and it doesn’t always taste good. what’s the point?  i just think the whole movement is kind of ridiculous.

me: mmm, yeah.

he didn’t realize that even as he was telling me his best bad date story, he was becoming mine!  organic haters, step off.

The Valentine’s day might have been the best on record.  I emailed a few girlfriends:

Does anyone want to get together for Valentine’s Day?  If that holiday gives you a little bit of a stomach ache, no worries, it does for me, too.  I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to “celebrate” or just duck and let it pass over me this year. But, the thought of sitting on my couch alone, letting a made-up holiday make me feel lonely made me mad enough to want to throw a party! Instead of going out for drinks and spending a lot of money, I’d like to propose a very mellow get-together at my place.  Bring a bottle of wine or a dessert to share.  It will be low-key and relaxing and I expect lots of toasts and good stories.  Be thinking about sharing a good bad date story from you or “a friend.”

 The event was a smashing success.  Literally.  Someone brought a pinata.  haha!  We sat around, ate, drank, introduced ourselves, then told amazingly awkward bad date stories.  the guy who asked the girl to pay for dinner because she wasted his time!  the one who wouldn’t get the hint and went in for the kiss anyway!  footsie gone wild!  coercive moms!  awkward grandparents!  confessions of love way too early–or too late!  it was amazing.  you wish you could have been there.

It wasn’t a big man-bashing event.  Most men were highly regarded, unless they did something really stupid (see above).  It was more about bonding over our common embarrassments and stories we share as single ladies in our mid-to-late 20’s.  I loved the group that came, most of us didn’t know each other super well, but by the end of the evening, I think we’re all friends 🙂  It was great!