Blonde Moments, Booze, humor, PSAs

It’s All Fun and Games Until…

Janeen-Jules-all-fun-and-games-title

I know what we should do! We should get a tent, go to that place in upstate New York with the naked dancing, and just CUT. LOOSE.

I have this group of really great girlfriends who love to get together and enjoy a glass or ten of wine. Eventually, one friend or another says some variation of the above.

The alpha female of the group (*cough* my sister) then pulls out her phone and starts pointing around the table, “WHEN ARE YOU FREE. WHEN ARE YOU FREE. WHEN ARE YOU FREE. OKAY….DONE.”

In these moments, I turn into a spastic owl puppet, my head spinning a full 360-degrees. I’m suddenly the only person who can see in the dark, wondering when the light will shine again.

funny-owl
Photo credit

As my little bird noggin spins like a top, everyone around me screams, “OH MY GODDDDD. BARRY CAN WATCH THE DOG AND I’LL TELL MY BOSS TO GO SCRATCH AND I’LL GET THAT SALSA FROM WHOLE FOODS AND YAAAAAAASSSSSS OH MY GOD YAASSSSSSSS!!!!!”

My heart starts racing. Once again, I’m becoming:

Chief Long Memory.

Jules-headdress

Chief Long Memory, ironically, is the member of the tribe with the least amount of responsibility — no kids, no mortgage, no sick ferret. In these moments, she sighs heavily, straightens her understated though decidedly fabulous headdress and gently reminds everyone what happened last time we thought signing up for horseback riding lessons in Tijuana on Cinqo de Mayo was a flawless endeavor.

“Um, hey, guys, yeah, it’s me. I was just thinking, I don’t know, remember that time we all spent 48 hours scraping neon pink vomit off our bangs –bangs which we did not have when this adventure began– and we couldn’t find Claire for, like, six weeks? I mean I don’t want to compare this latest discussion to the decision to film SHARKNADO 6, but, you ladies aren’t giving me a lot to work with here.”

sharknado-6
Oh. You thought I was kidding.

Take, for example, road cycling. For the past year, I’ve been trying to, er, broaden the group’s collective appreciation of what it means to ride very uncomfortable bikes very long distances in very inhospitable weather.

Jules-collapsed-on-floor
Spoiler alert: it usually ends like this.

I figured my case rested on facts included in this post and this post. (The CliffsNotes version: a 60-mile race in frigid rain with two flat tires and one fall, and a 30-mile epic Arizona mountain climb in oppressive heat with no water.)

What I didn’t realize: the untapped potential in pointing out the hazards of simply dressing for these hellish excursions.

Cue: Janeen.

Janeen-Jules-bunny-ears

Janeen is the member of our tribe who’s usually gleefully responding, “ALL THE TIMES!!!” to my sister’s, “WHEN ARE YOU FREE.” Where others go right, Janeen goes left. Where others say “Hell no,” Janeen says, “I’ll bring bean dip.” Despite what you’ve heard me say so far, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Janeen makes my project manager heart go thud. Janeen makes things happen in a way I haven’t seen since Britney and Justin at the 2001 American Music Awards.

britney-justin-denim
Photo credit

Lest you think Janeen’s an irresponsible wild child, she has every single one of her sh*ts together, working one of those smarty-pants jobs my bird brain can’t even understand, raising three children, and running a household in a lighthearted yet no nonsense way that would make Mary Poppins proud.

I mean, she even turns watermelons into sharks, paints like Bob Ross, and curls her hair before meeting us for lunch, for crying out loud.

This is precisely why I should have known that Janeen would serve as my ultimate ally in the Chief Long Memory campaign.

“Oh my god you’ll never guess what happened to me this morning,” she said the other day, tossing her purse down wearily and taking a seat at the dining room table. The tribe stared at her, sipping our wine. She looked…frazzled.

Janeen never looks frazzled.

Janeen-Kid-1-driving
Not even when she’s teaching Kid #1 to drive.

“I was in the car, all ready for the bike ride,” she began, “but then I realized I had to get Kid #3 something to eat. Mom guilt blah blah. I went back inside…to TOTAL BATSH*T CHAOS.”

She drew a long breath and continued.

“Shoes everywhere. EVERYWHERE! I trip, almost break my neck, get to the kitchen and find an ENTIRE BAG of bagels devoured by the dogs. Then I screamed at Kid #2 about the shoes — it was not my finest hour.”

By now we were all nodding sympathetically and filling her glass to the brim.

“Then I decide to go upstairs to grab my arm warmers,” she says ominously.

arm-warmers
Cycling arm warmers: It’s less what they can do for you and more what they can do to you. Photo credit.

“And now I’m late as hell, so I’m trying to hurl myself into them. I can’t get the damn things on, they’re so tight. I’m tugging and tugging and tugging. I finally get one halfway up my arm, and then as I’m giving it one final tug….

“BAM.

“I PUNCHED MYSELF IN THE FACE.

“I CHIPPED MY OWN TOOTH. I chipped. My own. Tooth!”

I managed to stop laughing long enough to ask, “Did you still ride?!”

Janeen answered with this photo:

Janeen-chipped-tooth

On second thought, I may still have my work cut out for me in convincing this group to stay inside and do jigsaw puzzles with me.

~*~*~*~*~*~

What kinds of trouble are your friends stirring up?

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humor, Just For Fun

I’m gonna get WEIRD with it.

Jules-gypsy

“So the ultimate goal, really,” the instructor said, brushing back a curly red lock that had broken loose from her bun, “is to start seeing the whole world this way: a universe filled with divinely placed signs and symbols to help guide you.”

I shuffled a large, colorful deck of cards for the tenth time, glancing around the room at the handful of other students. There was the older woman who introduced herself as a teacher’s assistant, a gray-haired man with turquoise beads around his neck, and someone about my age, in her mid-to-late 30’s.

We sat in the brightly colored yoga studio barefooted, having all been instructed to remove our shoes and wash our hands as soon as we had arrived.

“When you first get your cards,” the instructor continued, “you’ll need to cleanse them. For today, you can wave them over one of these candles, but make sure to pause on each one.”

enchanted-map-oracle-cards
If I burn these I’m going to be really pissed.

She then explained how to develop our own interpretations of the “oracle cards” in our hands – oversized decks depicting vivid images and words.

“They come in all kinds of themed decks,” she went on, adjusting her blue-framed glasses, “and you can mix them however you’re called to.”

We spent the next two hours learning about the importance of color, challenging our initial associations between words and images, and tapping into our “inner knowing.”

Fast forward a week later, and I found myself registering for this:

Oracle-card-class

Yup. That’s right. Part two. I went back for more.

oracle-card-spread
I mean, you can’t be an oracle card expert without learning how to create your own…intuitive…spreads…right?

Before the end of the second class, I was accurately predicting which cards I’d turn over – from a deck I’d never seen before!

So what was I doing there? Did someone drug me? Threaten to steal my dog? Promise free tickets to see Darren Criss and Lea Michele?

LMDC_TOUR_YOUTUBE
Oh wait. That’s already happening. I love you, Jenn! Photo credit.

Last summer, I started tugging on a thread that quickly unraveled, revealing a treasure trove of paths to explore. By “following my allurements,” as a favorite teacher of mine likes to say, my love of learning and reading returned with a bang, hidden in a pile of metaphysical books and podcasts.

Hoopla-screenshot

This led to a daily meditation practice, which led to more reading, which led to the aforementioned class and which will soon lead to a “Find Your Spirit Guide” weekend retreat at Omega Institute and a Quantum Hypnosis Healing Therapy session in August.

Along with sharing all of my embarrassing snafus and guilty pleasures, I’m letting this smelly cat out of the bag.

Phoebe-Friends
My dad always pegged me for a Phoebe. Photo credit.

Astrology? Reiki? Past lives? Numerology? Near death experiences? Crystals? Sound healing? Chakra balancing? Spirit animals? Astral projection? Telepathy?

Jules-abduction

BRING IT ON.

The more I’ve explored, the more I want to know. The humorist in me loves that this is all just another way of following the classic improv mantra, “Yes, and.” The humane educator in me loves that this is just another way to acknowledge we’re all connected. The chipmunk in me loves that this is just another way to guarantee I’ll find some nuts. The project manager in me loves that this isn’t woo-woo at all; as Carl Sagan put it, “science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”

I’m finally finding words to articulate the strange things I’ve always experienced. And, the funny thing is, the more I’ve started opening up about this, the more I’ve found like-minded chipmunks everywhere. I mean seriously. Ya’ll were holding out.

Anyhoo. I’ll make sure to send postcards from down the rabbit hole.

Jules-rabbit-hole

~*~*~*~*~*~

All right, ‘fess up. Who’s with me?!?!

~*~*~*~*~*~

Blogging, humor

Have You Read “The Artist’s Way”? DISCUSS.

Go-Jules-Go-Artists-Way-Coffee-TalkHave you Chipmunks heard of this book, The Artist’s Way? In Hollywood circles they treat it like the holy grail of creativity.

Or so I’m told.

And I’m not saying they shouldn’t. I love this book.

I’ve read The Artist’s Way not once, not twice, but THRICE. In fact, when I made the recent move to tiny living, it’s one of the only books I kept.

IMG_4531
Go Jules Go midlife crisis reloaded! Everything Must Go!

Because…well, we’ll get to that. First let me explain what it is.

Basically, The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program whose goal is to unleash your creative kraken.

Go-Jules-Go-Artists-Way-post-kracken-octopus
Aww. My kracken’s so cute! Photo credit (before annotation).

Each week, you read one of twelve chapters and follow the assignments and prompts, all the while committing to regular daily and weekly exercises. So when I say I’ve “read” it thrice, I mean I’ve DONE it thrice. (…That’s what she said.)

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See that? Yeah, that was the result of one of the trademark assignments in The Artist’s Way, from one of my weekly “artist’s dates.” On these artist’s dates, you must go do something that delights you, and you cannot -I repeat, cannot- bring anyone with you.

That particular week, back in 2000, I thought taking photos of “typical New York City life” in black and white was absolutely essential. I was 18 years old, boldly hopping the train from suburban New Jersey and traveling one whole hour into Manhattan. I wore all black, feeling above on top of the whole world…until someone my age commented, “Where ya going? A funeral?”

I brushed it off (except for the part where I vividly remember that comment nearly two decades later), got the film developed, framed that shit, and thought, Here we go, I. Am. An. Artist.

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love, like these.

During my most recent attempt with The Artist’s Way, in my late 20s, I found out the book had become a trilogy.

Artists-Way-Trilogy

Yeah. So. Thirty-six weeks of waking up at 5:30am every day to squeeze in 30 minutes of stream-of-consciousness journaling before driving an hour to my day job so I could still beat traffic.

Each and every time I read did The Artist’s Way, I found some of that magical “flow.” I experienced the synchronicity that Julia Cameron, the author, loves to talk about.

IMG_20180515_084504612.jpg
I found this in my wallet last year. You had no idea I was so deep, did you?

But I kept sweeping away what seemed like, on some level, a pesky mouse trying to cross the threshold into my just-fine-thank-you-very-much home. (And sorry to anyone with brooms, and to mice everywhere; I honor and respect you and don’t know what I’m allowed to use as metaphors anymore. But since I’m a) a woman, b) a person who has swept things, and c) vegan, I’m going to go ahead and assume I get a pass on that last one.)

Obviously, the book wasn’t the problem.

I’m 36 now. So that’s eighteen years and three attempts with The Artist’s Way, collectively adding up to, what? A little over a year of prioritizing my creativity? And I wonder why things stagnate?

Don’t listen to your [relative/friend/colleague/inner critic/cat], Chipmunks.

Being an artist is hard work.

And it’s every bit as valuable as whatever else is taking up your time.

Even if you still can’t seem to get anyone to buy your black and white photographs…

~*~*~*~*~*~

Have you read The Artist’s Way (or anything similar)? Did it help you?

~*~*~*~*~*~

Food, humor, Veganiness

Save Time & Money with MORE Vegan Food Hacks!

MORE VEGAN FOOD HACKS

I’ll be honest, Chipmunks. I’m shocked that my first vegan food hack post wound up being one of my most popular ones ever. Usually I write something, my mom reads it, and I move on. That post gets new views and likes every day, even two months later. Whether you’re reading this because you love me food, love saving money/animals/the planet, or any combination of the above, I’m so glad you’re here. BECAUSE…

I HAVE SO MANY MORE (VEGAN) FOOD HACKS!

Jules-single-dollars
You can just go ahead and hold onto these.

They’re so cheap. And so easy. And so yummy.

And? We’re on the heels of my 2-year veganniversary (May 17, 2016…not that I’m keeping track of the spiritual awakening that completely turned my world inside-out or anything), so what better time to celebrate a few more?

Let’s do this.

MORE VEGAN FOOD HACKS

Heads-up: My recipes are very informal because I want to encourage you to experiment! Most of these are really hard to mess up, so let your vegan flag FLY. And if you do mess up? You get to blame me! 

1. Orzo is a fun word

Go-Jules-Go_orzo-pasta-salad

  • 16-oz package orzo
  • 1 jar (about 8.5 oz.) oil-packed sun dried tomatoes (chopped or julienned)

That’s right. One 99-cent package of orzo (tiny, scrumptious, basmati rice-shaped pasta) + a jar of julienned sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (about $3.00 from Trader Joe’s) = all you need for several filling meals. Just cook the pasta according to the instructions, strain, and then dump in the jar of sun dried tomatoes, oil and all. DONE.

Don’t live near a Trader Joe’s? Check out the food aisle at TJ Maxx/HomeGoods – you’ll often find great deals on things you can stock your pantry with like sun dried tomatoes, condiments, seasonings, nuts, coffee/tea – even almond butter!

For other cheap additions, stir in a some baby spinach (it’ll wilt just from the heat of the pasta), sautéed onions and garlic, and/or any other vegetables that tickle your fancy (asparagus? Zucchini? Cherry tomatoes?). Speaking of fancy, if you want to splurge, add some pine nuts!

You can serve this hot, cold, or room temperature, and it’s a great make-ahead meal for a picnic or party.  Or, try mixing in some vegan mayo (Hellmann’s is my favorite) and turn it into a traditional cold pasta salad with celery, red onion, mustard and dill!

2. InstaPot: What Can’t She Do? (Refried Beans Recipe)

Go-Jules-Go_InstaPot-refried-beans

By using that magical hummus recipe I mentioned in my first vegan food hack post as inspiration, I created my own InstaPot “refried” bean recipe. This is so, SO, *SO* much better than refried beans from a can, and it yields a ton = mega savings.

Don’t have an InstaPot? You can do this on your stovetop, just plan for a 1-2+ hour bean-cook time. (Less if you soak the beans overnight.)

  • 16-oz. bag dried pinto beans
  • However many cups of water it takes to cover said beans
  • Your favorite seasonings, e.g., 1 bay leaf, 1-2 peeled garlic cloves, 1 onion (peeled and quartered), 1-2 spicy peppers (stems cut off), and a teaspoon each of smoked paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, etc.
  • 1/2 c. reserved cooking liquid (see instructions)
  • 1/4-1/2 c. your favorite oil
  1. Rinse off your beans and dump ’em into your InstaPot (IP).
  2. Cover with water, leaving about two inches of extra water on top of them (those suckers grow faster than my waistline after Thanksgiving).
  3. Add whatever seasonings make you smile from the suggested list above – or come up with your own!
  4. Set the IP on manual for 38 minutes (this is the magic pinto bean number – they will be extra soft), and make sure to turn off the IP when the timer sounds. Feel free to use those 38 minutes to catch up on my blog.
  5. After about 10 minutes post-timer, you can manually release the pressure valve without melting your face off.
  6. Strain the beans and any other veggies you added (garlic, onion, peppers, etc.), reserving the cooking liquid. If you used a bay leaf, discard/compost that.
  7. Put the beans in a food processor, along with any other veggies you used, and blend.
  8. Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water, then slowly add about 1/4 c. of oil while the food processor is on. Do all of this while everything’s still warm, and you’ll be AMAZED by the results. So light! So fluffy!
  9. Give it a taste, and then add more of the cooking water, oil and/or seasoning as needed to light your tastebuds on fire. If it seems thin, it will firm up once it cools.

Like I said, this makes a ton, but it’ll keep all week. You can eat it cold, reheat it and serve with tortilla chips, make a layered bean dip, spread it on tortillas (#foreshadowing), or just eat it on a spoon! Heck, one time I used it as the “sauce” for a Mexican pita pizza (pictured below), adding green chiles, tomatoes, corn, cilantro and vegan cheese!

3. You Get a Tortilla, You Get a Tortilla, Everybody Gets a Tortilla!!!

Tortillas

I buy these tortillas from the refrigerated dairy section of Stop & Shop for $1.49. Eight, succulent, giant, versatile blankets of magic for less than $1.50. The possibilities? Endless.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Quesadillas

 

  • 1 tortilla per quesadilla
  • Your ‘main’ filling of choice: ~1/2 c. refried beans, hummus, mashed potatoes (sweet or regular), or meat substitute
  • 1/4-1/2 c. vegan cheese (optional)
  • 1/4 c. sautéed veggies/greens (optional)

I’m telling you, just about anything will work in quesadillas if you have a pasty-bean-like-filling; you don’t even need cheese, although I’m in love with Trader Joe’s vegan mozzarella and Follow Your Heart.

Once you add your fillings to one half of the tortilla, fold over, and toast on a large nonstick pan (no greasing necessary) on medium-high heat for a couple of minutes on each side.

Last week I microwaved frozen vegan meatballs and mashed them up, added some vegan mozz, put them in a quesadilla, and used marinara sauce for dipping. Italian ‘dilla – BAM!

Enchiladas

Go-Jules-Go-cauliflower-cream
Shhh… this is actually manicotti, but when you make enchiladas like I describe below, it looks pretty much like this!

Enchiladas are more labor intensive (because of prepping the filling), but they’re GREAT for leftovers/work lunches, and I’ve got an awesome hack coming up here.

  • 4 large tortillas
  • Filling:
    • ~2 cups of your grain of choice (rice, couscous, bulgur, quinoa, etc.)
    • ~2 cups of your veggies of choice – cooked (spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc.)
    • ~1 to 1 1/2 cups vegan meat – cooked (optional), e.g., soy chorizo, “beef,” etc.
  • 1 jar marinara sauce (anything from 10 to 24 oz. will work)
  • About 1 teaspoon each (or to taste): oregano, crushed red pepper, chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 8 oz. vegan cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prepare your filling and distribute it evenly among the four tortillas, wrapping each into a burrito.
  3. Place four burritos in a 9 x 13 pan.
  4. Now for the hack! Aside from the dirt-cheap tortillas, you can buy ANY marinara sauce and just add your favorite Mexican seasonings (suggested list above) and VOILA! Enchilada sauce for about a buck.
  5. Pour your genius sauce over your burrito babies and feel free to top with vegan cheese.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until nice and bubbly. (If you’re worried about the cheese burning, you can cover the dish with foil for the first 15 minutes.)

One time I boiled a head of cauliflower and blended the sh*t out of it and used that as a topping, too (swirled like in the photo above). Funky-smelling like cheese, healthy, delicious. Oh, cauliflower, you are the Justin Timberlake of vegetables: limitless potential.

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I knew I’d work this photo in eventually. (JT’s Man of the Woods tour. March 2018, Madison Square Garden.)

Chickpea salad wraps

  • 1 can (about 15 oz.) chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • ~1/4 c. your favorite vegan mayo
  • 1/8 c. finely chopped red onion
  • 1/8 c. finely chopped celery
  • 1 t. dijon mustard
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar (optional)
  • 1 T. relish (optional)
  • 1 T. fresh or 1 t. dried dill (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Think tuna salad, but swap out a can of chickpeas for tuna! The above are really just suggestions meant to play around with – go crazy! I mash the chickpeas a bit with a fork so they’re even more “tuna”-like.

I love to make wraps out of this with those bargain tortillas, topping with lettuce, tomato, and/or sprouts. You could even skip the mayo and just use oil and vinegar though it would cause me to reevaluate our friendship.

Hellmans-vegan-mayo
My lifeblood.

I could go on and on about tortillas, but I’ve still got two more hacks to go! (And hey, aren’t you supposed to be working?)

4. Carrot-Ginger Soup

 

Feel a cold coming on? Want comfort food that won’t require wearing yoga pants for the next week? This is one of my absolute favorite soup recipes, and I just realized how cheap and easy it is. To make it vegan, simply swap out the butter and milk with plant-based options. (Earth Balance and Westsoy unsweetened soy milk are my favorites, respectively.) To make it even easier? Buy baby carrots – no peeling or chopping necessary!

5. You Say Potato, I say Potatohmygod

Ohhh, are we ever ending with a bang here, Chipmunks! I often keep a container of whole, roasted potatoes in my fridge so that Uncle Jesse (the dog) and I can enjoy them in myriad ways throughout the week. Here are just a few:

Pierogi quesadillas

Go-JulesGo_Pierogi-quesadillas-closeup

I have my friend Christine to thank for this miracle. (Remember Christine? The mastermind behind the vegan dinner party?) When she first found out I went vegan and had me over, she made this as an appetizer and blew us all away!

  • Tortillas (1 per quesadilla)
  • Your favorite potatoes, roasted or boiled (1 per quesadilla)
  • Vegan butter spread (e.g., Earth Balance) – about 1 T per quesadilla
  • Plant-based milk (optional) – about 1/8-1/4 c. per quesadilla
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Other optional fillings: vegan cheese, sautéed onions, peppers, spinach, jalapeño, tomato, scallions, cilantro – you can’t go wrong!
  1. Mash up potatoes with a fork and add non-dairy butter, milk (if using), salt and pepper. I use yukon gold potatoes and leave the skins on (mmm yeah that’s right).
  2. Add any other optional fillings, spread that sh*t on one half of a tortilla, fold over, and toast on a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. No greasing the pan necessary. It takes about a minute or two on each side – watch it closely!
  3. Serve it with whatever you’d like: Salsa, vegan sour cream, ketchup, hot sauce, etc.

Roasted sweet potatoes with creamed spinach

Go-Jules-Go-creamed-spinach-sweet-potato

Sound a little weird? Good. I like pushing you outside your comfort zone.

  • 3-4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 onion (any kind), roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ~12-oz. baby spinach (roughly chopped, if desired)
  • 1/4-1/2 c. your favorite vegan “cream” (Cashew cheese? Non-dairy milk, sour cream and/or cream cheese? Tahini? They all work!)
  • Nutmeg, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste
  • 1-2 T. nutritional yeast (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Wash and prick sweet potatoes with a fork and pop ’em in the oven (usually takes about 1 hour).
  3. While the potatoes are roasting, sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet (use whatever you prefer to sauté: plant-based butter spread, oil, water or stock).
  4. Once the onions are translucent (5-10 mins), add the baby spinach a few handfuls at a time, letting them wilt.
  5. Now the fun part. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of your vegan cream of choice. My favorite (and arguably easiest) is half tahini, half unsweetened soy milk. Tahini is ground-up sesame seeds, and it’s delicious. It’s also mild in flavor so you don’t have to worry that it’ll outshine your garlic and spinach. They usually sell it in a jar right by the peanut butter, typically on the top shelf.  It can be a little pricy (don’t pay more than $7.00 if you can help it), but a little bit goes a long way in things like dressing, hummus, and the wacky recipe I’m giving you right now. My favorite is Whole Foods 365 brand. I’ve gone on so long about this that I kind of want to make a “The More You Know” video.
  6. Add your seasonings, tasting as you go (a little nutmeg is usually all you need).
  7. Dump that gloriousness on top of your roasted sweet potatoes and have at it! (Pssst. This keeps well as leftovers for a few days.)

Potato casserole

Do you watch Counting On? It’s one of my favorite guilty pleasure shows where the parents have 867 kids, all the women wear long skirts, don’t dance, and make some really f#@$*& delicious-looking food.

Jules-sister-wife
They look kinda like this.

One of those foods is “tater tot casserole.” That is the inspiration behind this much somewhat healthier, vegan version. Thank you, Duggar family.

Go-Jules-Go-potato-casserole

  • 4-5 your favorite potatoes, cut into 1-inch (ish) cubes – I use Yukon gold and keep the skins on
  • 1 or 2 onions (any kind), peeled and roughly chopped
  • ~1/4 c. oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ~15 oz. can black beans
  • 8 oz. your favorite vegan cheese -OR- 1/4 c. nutritional yeast + 1/4 c. walnuts ground together
  • Optional: 1/2-1 c. corn, chopped tomatoes, wilted greens and/or spicy peppers, etc.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toss potatoes and onions with oil, salt and pepper, and roast on a baking sheet in a single layer for about 35-45 minutes. (Check on them and give a stir about halfway through. You’ll know they’re done when the potatoes are fork-tender.)
  3. You could seriously stop here and just eat all of it while standing in front of the oven, leaning through the doorway to catch the new Tig Notaro stand-up special on Netflix. No? Okay. Carry on.
  4. Rinse and drain the black beans and add those to the cooked potato-onion mixture, combining into a 9 x 13 pan.
  5. Add any other optional fillings from the list above – or your own invention!
  6. Top with vegan cheese or walnut/nutritional yeast combo and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the cheese is your desired bubbly, golden brown-y-ness.
  7. Don’t tell anyone you made this, because you won’t want to share.

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Happy Cooking, Chipmunks! I love you as much as I love carbs.

stuffed-chipmunk-cheek-2

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

humor, tiny living

11 BIG LESSONS from tiny living

11 Big Lessons from tiny living Go Jules Go v2It’s been a little over six months since I downsized from a 1,200 square foot duplex to a 350 square foot apartment. Before that, I lived in a 4-bedroom house on over two acres. I even had a barn, for crying out loud. While I was so excited to walk the talk in living more minimally (shout out to Mother Earth, ya’ll!), not to mention saving a boatload of money, I was also, um, er, what’s the word(s)? Oh, right.

Scared sh*tless.

Third floor walk-up? No yard? No parking? No laundry? No oven?? What was I thinking???

Go-Jules-Go-ketchup-hair
Was this going to be like the time I put ketchup in my hair?

From my summer-long search I learned that studio apartments in this area, close to a major train line bringing well-dressed commuters into New York City, were in high demand. When I stumbled upon this one after two months of scouring the internet, I knew I had to pounce.

Within an hour of seeing the ad on Craigslist, I met with the landlord, beating out over thirty other interested callers in that first day. (It may have helped that I came equipped with my credit report, five references, my three most recent pay stubs, my dog’s vet records, an irresistible photo of said dog, and my current Masters degree transcript. This project manager don’t play.)

When the landlord confessed she was a dog lover, Uncle Jesse and I had no choice but to sign the deposit check right then and there.

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Finding a pet friendly rental in New Jersey is like finding a full bottle of champagne in my fridge.

Make no mistake about it, this decision wasn’t easy. The down-sizing itself was a down-right pain in the chipmunk tail. I got it in my head that the best way to sell my stuff was to turn my entire apartment into an Amazon warehouse and hold an “estate” sale.

I also thought it made sense to spend hours of time, and $14.00 on glass knobs I just had to have, to makeover old furniture that I’d inherited for free before trying to sell it on Craigslist.

We won’t even talk about the box spring that somehow got into my old apartment, but met an untimely demise trying to come out of the very same apartment.

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Here lies Box Spring. 2006-2017. Rest in peace. (Get it? “Lies”? “Rest” in peace?)

To make things even more exciting, the move coincided with the week I was supposed to cycle up a mountain in Arizona with, um, inadequate training.

And it was no small (heh) feat to turn 350 square feet of this:

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Into this:

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So by now you must be thinking:

Was it worth it?”

Let’s find out, shall we?

11 Big Lessons from tiny living Go Jules Go v2

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

1. I Don’t Miss Any of the Stuff I Got Rid Of

To be fair, there’s still a mountain molehill of boxes and pieces of my dining room table in my parents’ basement, but those 87,000 picture frames? GOOD RIDDANCE.

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Don’t worry. I kept the important things.

2. Now I Wish I Had Even Less Stuff

Do I really need two giant Tupperware containers of gift wrapping supplies? I don’t even give gifts. I just show up and take things from people.

Like the good old days when I took all of your photos of your pets wearing slap bracelets.

3. I Feel (Almost) As Free as a Bird Flying Chipmunk

Whenever I move again, I’m excited to see how fast I can pack up. Could I ever live out of a duffle bag?

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This guy does it. Photo credit

4. Climbing Two Flights Only Sucks if You’re Carrying a Case of Wine #worthit

I wound up finding an old laptop backpack as I went through all of my crap before moving, and have devised a nearly hands-free strategy for getting my work supplies, coffee, water bottle, lunch and dog down the stairs and around the corner holding only a leash. I can park in a reserved spot right by my door on nights and weekends, so I plan my grocery trips around that.

Not paying for that parking spot during the day? = $1,200/year extra to spend on wine. (I’m not making this up. Twelve. Hundred. Dollars!)

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YAAAS.

5. It’s Totally Cool to Wear Those Pants Twice in a Row

I fear this strategy has only worked well because it’s been winter.

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I’m sorry if I’m oversharing. Just kidding. That’s what I do here.

6. You Can Cook an Entire (Vegan) Thanksgiving Dinner with Two Electric Burners, an InstaPot and a Toaster Oven

This might be my proudest accomplishment since running that marathon peeing on that cottage in Maine.

7. People Honk…A LOT

I live on a busy street now, near the center of town, and I can’t believe how often people lay on their horns with the determination of a gaggle of hipsters waiting in line for boozy brunch. I have to shut the windows if I want to ensure I hear every word of John Mulaney’s new Netflix special (OMG WATCH IT).

On the flip side, it means the train, great restaurants, coffee, and Trader Joe’s are all just a few steps away.

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Half of my remaining possessions: Trader Joe’s bags.

8. Living Next Door to a Catholic Church Will Not Make You More Godly

Speaking of unexpected noises, my nearby nuns are still messing with me at all hours, despite the anonymous letter I may or may not have sent a month ago.

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9. “Need” and “Want” Are Two Very Different Things

When you don’t have any space to put anything, you’ve gotta decide pretty quickly if it’s a “need” or a “want.” For example, I need to bathe once a month, but I probably just want those pug slippers.

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Photo credit

10. If I Can Do This, I Can Do Anything…Like Cut My Own Hair

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I mean, how hard can it be?

I recently found out that watching six minutes of a YouTube instructional video and then cutting your hair in a mirror using scissors meant for a righty that you found in the back of your dresser was more bold than wise. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from my ‘stache, it’s that hair grows back. Often more quickly than you’d like.

11. If I Can Do This, I Can Do Anything…No, Really

Much like those who are bringing water to impoverished communities and winning Olympic gold medals, I too have learned that anything is possible if you just put your mind to it. Hang on. That came out wrong. I know this move wasn’t a missionary trip or a heroic act of strength, but taking this leap into the unknown has really galvanized my belief that most of our limitations are set only by our thoughts. So what if you don’t know what path will appear when you take that first next step? You’ve just got to have faith that the universe has your back.

Huh. Maybe that church is rubbing off.

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I always knew this photo would get a lot of mileage.

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What lifestyle changes have you made that surprised you (for better or worse)?

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Food, humor, PSAs

Sleeping With the Frenemy

I graduated therapy recently.

What? You didn’t know that was a thing?

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Hang on. Is it NOT a thing?

After about two and a half years on the couch, including a brief affair with hypnotherapy, I was released.

But Go Jules Go, you’re probably thinking. You? Therapy? How can this be? Is it the chipmunk thing? ‘Cause that’s been making me kind of uncomfortable for a long time now.

It’s true, friends. This hilarious, blonde bombshell you see before you has some clumps in her mascara.

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Also the chipmunk thing.

At first I felt uneasy being set free. Who would I talk to? And then I remembered you!

GoJulesGo gets ready for BlogHer'12

The thing that made me realize my therapist was right, that I was indeed ready to stand on my own two, massive, massive, size 11 feet, was the fact that I had made friends with my demons. I’d invited them onto that couch with me, and instead of trying to suffocate them with one of my therapist’s oversized pillows, we started chatting.

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Once we got to know each other, we realized we had so much in common!

The one demon in particular who led me to therapy was an old friend frenemy. FOOD.

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That basic b*tch.

When I’m stressed, angry, sad, wondering why Darren Criss still hasn’t returned my calls, you name it, I’ll let it build and build and then the sun will set and suddenly I’m surrounded by crumbs, salt and shame. Even positive things, like embracing an ethical vegan lifestyle, running a marathon, going back to grad school, and making the move to tiny living, brought monumental anxiety.

Every moment in my personal history, a history rich with love, laughter, beautiful sights and broken hearts, is colored by whatever I happened to weigh at that time. Give me any year back to 1991, when I was 9 years old, and I can probably provide an exact number – and exactly how I felt about that number.

During my first couple of years in therapy, I thought I could fix whatever the hell was wrong with me. I knew food was a merely symptom, but for goddsakes, I was in my mid-30s now, surely time to turn a corner here. Then I realized: My issues were never going away, least of all this one.

And that’s what has made all the difference.

My issues and I can sit side by side in this life, sometimes in companionable silence, other times in a raging battle, and everything is going to be O-KAY. It’s how I relate to them, how I deal with them moment to moment, that really matters. Why not pull my darkest parts into the light where I can admire and understand every ugly lovely inch of them? They are part of me, after all.

Besides, if I’m going to fret over anything, it should be the fact that Darren Criss STILL hasn’t called me back.

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My love has only had time to mature, Darren!

“I remember how panicked I was when I first came here,” I said to my therapist on our second to last visit, gazing between her cluttered desk and oversized necklace. “It’s not that my issues have gone away. It’s just that I feel so much differently about them. So much calmer.”

She nodded. “Does that feel like progress?” 

“If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is,” I replied.

So now that I’ve invited my favorite frenemy over to spend some quality time, I’ve decided (s)he needs a name.

I’m thinking Osama binge Laden. Yes? No?

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Any other frenemies out there you’d like to introduce?

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Giveaway Junkie, humor

Is it…could it be…the BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER?!

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THE DAY HAS COME, Chipmunks!

The day everyone showers me with attention, compliments, and permission to drink at 9 AM I announce the winner of my latest giveaway!

For this contest, I asked you to (pretty please) leave a comment describing your ideal birthday, with bonus points awarded for mentioning chipmunks. This particular commenter nailed it. I love word-y puns almost as much as I love sneaking “water” into the movies.

And thus, the winner of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” is…

SHENRYDAFRANKMAN!

Go-Jules-Go-birthday-giveaway-winner-2018Congratulations, SHENRYDAFRANKMAN! I’ll be in touch to send you your delightful spoils.

Oh. What’s that? You’re wondering what my ideal birthday would look like? That’s so sweet of you! I hadn’t really given it much thoug—

Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-1Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-2Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-3Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-4Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-5Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-6Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-8Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-9Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-10Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-11Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-12Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-13Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-14Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-15Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-17Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-18Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-19

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Photo Credits: Darren CrissChipmunksKetchup dogOreo dogBanana dogPopcorn dogTater tot dog; Justin Timberlake

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