20 Things I Learned In My 20s: Friends Are A Precious Resource. Don’t Waste Them.

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When I think about people I was close to in my 20s, I’m still loosely connected to many of them: Kate. Julie. Anna. Sean. Patrick. Leland. But when I’m thinking about the people I can call when something’s wrong, the list is short: my sister, Crystal, Kailey. I feel so pathetic when I bring this up, but I still don’t have almost any friends in Reno.

It’s easy, in your 20s, to feel like you’ll always be able to make friends. People move through your life so much, especially in the early part of your twenties. Classes, crappy short-term jobs, the people your friends know. My twenties, as well as most other people I know, have been about figuring out who you are. You try on various kinds of friends along with new identities: am I the type of person who’s always down to party and closes down the bar on the weekends? Am I the type of person who studies a lot and has friends that always talk about esoteric stuff, trying to out-smart each other all the time? Am I the type of person who’s outdoorsy and always up for a new adventure?

Most of the extraneous people, the ones from your discarded selves, drift away slowly but surely. You make promises to “grab lunch or coffee or something sometime” and then it doesn’t happen because no one is trying very hard to make it happen. People inevitably move and it gets hard to schedule phone dates and Face Time and then it’s been a year since you talked to them and that’s that.

Once you get to your late twenties and (presumably) your thirties, new friends are hard to make. You try so hard to find points of connection with other people, a basis for possible friendship. You root for the same team? Let’s go watch a game sometime! You like reading? Let’s go to the bookstore together sometime. You like wine? Happy hour at the wine bar! But trying to ask someone you’ve met a few times to do something together, just the two of you, feels like asking for a date. What if she says no? What if she thinks I’m weird for asking?

It’s not always the people you think would stick around from your life that do, either. I don’t know that I would have picked my dear, flaky Patrick as the person from law school I’d still be the closest to 4 years later. I would have sworn Julie would forever be one of my besties. Friends are an investment: of time, energy, even money if travel is involved to see them. It’s easy to think that you’ll always have chances to make new friends, to let opportunities to invest in maintaining those relationships pass you by, to decide that you’re sick of always being the one who calls and wait for them to call you for once. But even if you have the magic secret of finding new friends to replace the old, it’s never the same. The experiences you’ve had with people can’t be recreated. You might be able to blow off the heartbreak you went through a few years ago to a new friend, but your old friends remember the way you cried at anything that reminded you of him for months. You might be able to gloss over the worst aspects of your high school experience with people who didn’t meet you until long after, but your high school friends know that you used to get teased for the way you dressed and how that reflects in your bursting-to-full closet now that you’re all grown up. Friendships are worth the continued effort, because nothing can replace your history together.

I Cooked: Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Cannellini, Garlic and Spinach

Let’s get real, I’m always down for pasta. Especially with the fixins I enjoy, like spinach and cannellini beans like in this recipe here! If you like the looks of this, you should totally go over to Andrea’s blog to check out her stuff…she’s got lots of recipes (many of them vegetarian!) that she cooks with the food she gets out of her garden. Sadly, I live in a dumpy little apartment with no space to grow things, so I had to buy everything at the grocery store.

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2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz spinach
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt
1 15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup roasted tomatoes
8 oz rotini

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Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute. Add the spinach and a touch of salt, then toss continually until the spinach just starts to wilt. Remove from heat. Add the cannellini and tomatoes to the spinach and garlic. Add cooked pasta. Serve and enjoy!

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This was really good! I wish I’d figured out that I’d have to start roasting the tomatoes earlier, because I ended up having to find a “quick roasting” recipe that filled my apartment with smoke from the oven for 45 minutes (thankfully it was a nice day so we had the windows open!). I had originally planned to use Andrea’s recipe for roasted tomatoes, but it takes several hours, so if that’s what you’re planning to do, be better prepared than I was. Once that’s done, though, it’s super simple to throw this together and it’s fresh and garlicky and delicious!

I Ate: Cafe DeLuxe

I’d heard about Cafe DeLuxe a few times (good things!) and then, one day that wasn’t very busy at work, Nicole suggested that we go grab lunch there. Score!

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My finger looks really weird all blown up huge like that. Anyways. Cafe DeLuxe is a little place that does breakfast/lunch and is SUPER alternative diet friendly: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free…basically, any kind of dietary restrictions can be accommodated here. Which for those of us with dietary restrictions, is totally awesome. Yay!

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The place is a kind of modern-retro mishmash, which sounds confusing, but actually feels very cozy. Seating is a little limited when it’s busy (like the lunch rush), so Nicole and I grabbed seats at the counter and that worked out just fine. I had the Flying Squirrel, which I really enjoyed except for the broccoli because I hate broccoli. The peanut sauce was magical. Service was rushed, but never felt neglectful.

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Cafe DeLuxe is located at 1690 South Wells Avenue in Reno, NV, in the Wells neighborhood. Parking is mostly street (there’s a small lot, but it’s not sufficient). Prices are definitely affordable, and food is tasty. Great little lunch spot!

Inheritance

I recently saw a photo of my mother when she was 21, standing on the beach in a one-piece swimsuit. Even though it’s blurry, it’s a great photo; she’s beaming, carefree and happy. What immediately struck me, though, was looking at her legs. She’s young and slim in the photo, but her legs are powerful. Her calves are clearly strong, her thighs muscular and touching at the top. Those legs, short and built, earned her the nickname “Stubs” when she was working as a lifeguard. Those are my legs. If you put me in the same swimsuit, at the same angle, it’s likely that the only way you’d be able to tell which of us was which would be my heavier bust and lighter, longer hair. The broad shoulders, the hourglass figure, the stubby legs…I am my mother’s daughter.

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When I had my professional headshot taken at work when I started being a real employee (a year and a half ago!), I was struck when I got the photos back by how much I look like my dad through the face. I have my mother’s darker coloring…deep brown eyes, brown hair (a golden brown compared to my mother’s chocolate, but obviously darker than my dad’s sandy blond), so a lot of people say I look like my mother. If you actually take a close look, though, my face is shaped just like my father’s: the same deep-set eyes, high cheekbones, strong jawline, stubborn chin. My nose is smaller, but shaped just the same. I even have the same dimples in my cheeks. I am my father’s daughter.

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It’s not just the physical things, even though it’s always interesting seeing how your parents shaped you physically. It’s the personality quirks. It’s easy to write off the ways in which I’m similar to my mother as a product of nurture. Why wouldn’t I have the same laugh, the same anxious tendencies, the same impatience at waiting for baggage claim when you could have just packed a smaller bag? But I’ve got a lot of my dad in me, suggesting that nature has a role to play, too. The same quick temper (even though mine burns out fast while he can be a champion grudge-holder), the same tendency towards the pedantic, the same deep love for routine. It makes me wonder what parts of me will be passed on to my children, if/when I have them. I hope it’s my sharp wit, my love of music, my optimism. I hope it’s not those stubby legs.

I Cooked: Vegetable Au Vin

I love wine. I like vegetables. So when I saw this recipe for a vegetarian take on the famous coq au vin, I knew I had to try it out! Lucy’s Friendly Foods has a ton of great-looking recipes, with sections for both vegetarian and dairy-free, so if you’re looking for something to make for someone on a special diet, definitely check her blog out!

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1/2 bottle red wine
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1/2 carrot, roughly chopped
1/2 stick of celery, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced (separated)
5 shallots
1 summer squash
1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped
1 can pinto beans
2 tbsps herbes de provence
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups cooked brown rice

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Pour the wine into a saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and 2 cloves minced garlic. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half. Strain out the vegetables and set aside.

Chop the shallots, then brown them in 1tbsp olive oil, then add the yellow and butternut squash and cook 5 minutes. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the cornflour.

Pour over the reduced wine and stock (add the marinade vegetables if desired. Add the pinto beans and herbs. Cover the pot and place on a low simmer for 90 minutes.

When finished, remove from heat and stir in brown rice. Serve and enjoy!

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So, you may wonder why rice is listed as an ingredient even though it’s not at all pictured. That’s because I finished making this, started eating it, and while the vegetables were very tasty, I couldn’t help but feel that it was missing something. I have one of those little steam-in-90-seconds rice bags sitting around, so I popped that in and throw it in with the veggies. Success! With the rice, it was a delicious and hearty stew. I tore through the leftovers. Also, I subbed in summer squash for the mushrooms because Drew won’t eat mushrooms and I really liked it that way, so if you or your loved ones aren’t into mushrooms I’d definitely recommend summer squash as a substitute! This is a great wintery dish, very warm and comforting in the belly.

I Ate: Buenos Grill

So, like I’ve mentioned before, Mexican food is not my deal. But when your boyfriend loves Mexican food the way my boyfriend does, sometimes you have to suck it up and go to get Mexican food. Buenos Grill is right by our place, so it’s kind of our go-to for Mexican food.

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They actually have a menu that works for me, it’s very extensive. There are actually several vegetarian options that I’m not used to seeing on Mexican food menus (coconut crunchy tofu isn’t really very authentic), but my favorite is the tofu burrito: they rub down the tofu with spices (depending on who’s cooking, it can either be mildly hot or way way too hot) and use it instead of meat in the burrito. I’m actually consistently annoyed at my inability to get something similar elsewhere: it doesn’t seem like a revolutionary idea to just sub in tofu for meat, how has this not caught on yet?

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We almost always go in the warm weather months, where we can sit outside. They have little picnic tables set up with umbrellas on a porch, and it’s nice to be able to eat outside and feel the breeze (I love eating outside, if you haven’t already guessed). Service is at a counter, so there’s not really service to speak of, but every time we’ve been everyone has been really friendly and the line has moved quickly.

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Buenos Grill is located at 3892 Mayberry Drive (in the little Mayberry Landing shopping center on the corner of Plumb and Mayberry) in northwest Reno, NV. Parking in there is a nightmare because people ignore one-way signs all the time. But it’s a nice little place to grab a reasonably priced Mexican dinner and my person favorite Mexican place in Reno…highly recommended!

20 Things I Learned In My 20s: Love What You Love

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I was a deeply uncool child. My mom didn’t have any comprehension of what normal kids wore and dressed me and my sister in incredibly cringeworthy outfits. She refused to let us have TV in the house, so I couldn’t keep up with shows my friends were watching and read way more books than most people did. She insisted on calling every parent before I went over to someone’s house, even into high school (I was a good kid who had never ever been in trouble for anything more than mouthing off), so on the very rare occasions I did invited anywhere with anyone remotely cool, I didn’t even usually bring it up to my mom for fear of her embarrassing me by calling (if I did manage to convince her to let me go, she ALWAYS picked me up early). I was a tremendous loser.

So once I got to college and stuff, my fear of repeating the past and continuing to be the dorky kid was profound. I did major revamps on my own interests during college, some of which was semi-organic and remained an interest (movies!), some of which was completely put upon (shoes bore me, sorry). I become a lover of romantic comedies (that’s what the other girls liked) and cultivated musical collections of alternative rock (some of which is great, most of which fails to move me at all). I never really cared for most of the bars I went into once I got to law school…there was a cover charge almost always, it was perpetually too noisy to have a conversation, and there usually wasn’t nearly enough seating. But that’s where everyone hung out, I had to go!

One of the blessings of getting out of school is that a lot of that social pressure eases. Your friends want to get you into their favorite music, your mom wants to show you a new movie she really liked, your sibling presses the latest from her favorite author and makes you swear to read it. Everyone wants to drag you to things you’re not interested in. But the constant daily reinforcement of the “right”, “cool” way to be is gone.

You know who won when I was busy pretending I didn’t like Britney Spears more than Bright Eyes? It wasn’t me. Watching What’s Your Number? just wasted that part of my life that I’ll never get back. I don’t even want to think about how much money I wasted having zero fun at those bars in Tuscaloosa. I wasn’t any cooler at the end, but I was a lot less happy. There are a lot of people in your life who are going to encourage you to shift, first a little and then a lot, towards the things that THEY like. And while it’s natural to want to share your favorite things with the people closest to you, make sure to not forget what YOU like. Love anime, or Rihanna, or mystery novels? Awesome! Watch and listen and read to your heart’s content. And anyone who tries to make you feel like it’s not cool enough? They aren’t someone you want in your life anyways.

I Cooked: Cauliflower Sriracha Bites with Peanut Dipping Sauce

One of my favorite tumblrs is Thug Kitchen. Vegan recipes with a liberal dose of profanity? Yes please! When they announced they were coming out with a cookbook, I was stoked. And when I needed to bring snacks to a Super Bowl party, I know what I needed to make for my sriracha and peanut butter obsessed boyfriend…

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1 large head of cauliflower
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 Sriracha sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon molasses

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1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour and water until a batter is formed without lumps. Mix with cauliflower until coated. Spread cauliflower on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, flipping about halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. For the sriracha sauce: add the oil, sriracha, rice vinegar and soy sauce to a saucepan. Heat over low heat until warm. Turn off heat and set aside.

4. For the peanut dipping sauce add the water, peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, ginger, soy or tamari sauce, and maple syrup to a bowl and whisk together until creamy.

5. Add cooked cauliflower to large bowl and toss with sriracha sauce until combined. Place the cauliflower back on the baking sheet and bake for another 3 minutes.

6. Serve warm or room temperature with peanut dipping sauce.

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I am practically allergic to sriracha because I’m so sensitive to spice (I actually got a bad case of the sneezes while I was making this!), so I didn’t eat any. But it was a BIG hit at the party: not only with my boyfriend, but with several of his parents’ friends that were there. I was very pleased with the results and will definitely be making more recipes from this cookbook in the future! I totally recommend it.

I Ate: Brasserie St. James

Right after the Obama campaign ended, Drew (who wasn’t working for OFA, but rather the state party) came back from going out to lunch with his work colleagues and when he came back, told me that we had to go back to where he’d just been sometime together, because it was really good. That place was the Brasserie St. James, and we did go back…several times, in fact. We went there for Father’s Day one year, I’ve been to a fundraiser or two…most recently, we met up with a fellow campaign vet, Riley, and his wife and baby son to sit out on the patio, grab a drink, and catch up.

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The Brasserie is one of many breweries in Reno…coming from Ann Arbor, where the local beer scene has been big for a long time, it’s cool to see the same kind of thing starting to happen in Reno over the past few years. That being said, the beer here isn’t a huge draw for me. I’m a wheat beer and cider type of person, and there’s not much of that for me here. Drew, on the other hand, really likes it and tries something different each time we come and I’ve never heard him say something bad about anything he’s had…in fact, it’s pretty much been positive reviews across the board. The wheat beer is decent, but nothing to write home about, so for me the beer isn’t the big thing. The food is very decent bar fare…my little personal pizza was delicious and I devoured it.

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As is probably obvious (from the pictures and because I said it earlier), we sat out on the patio, which is open during the warm-weather months. While the inside of the restaurant is great (vintage ads and stuff on the walls, dark but not oppressive color scheme, incredibly high ceilings), the patio is an awesome place to enjoy the fresh air on a nice day. The downside is that service wasn’t especially amazing, and as I think back, it’s not really been great any time we’ve been there. It wasn’t egregiously bad or anything like that, just not a selling point. I know there was one point at which Drew had to wait quite a while for a refill. I think the patio may get a little bit of the shorter end of the shrift.

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The Brasserie St. James is located at 901 S Center St in Reno, NV. This is Midtown, and to be honest, parking is a real pain in the ass to find every time I’ve been here. But that’s probably the biggest knock against it, which in my book means it’s doing pretty well indeed. It’s probably a little pricier than it should be considering it’s beer and pub fare, but it’s not outrageous, just hipster-pricing. Definitely recommended, especially for happy hour!

Birchbox: February 2015

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This box was mediocre, and was HALF full of products not designed around my beauty profile (colored hair, body acne). I’ve thought about dropping it, honestly, since I’ve had far more misses than hit recently, but for all of $10/month, I’m probably going to keep it. I do look forward to getting it every month.

Laura Gellar Beauty GlamLASH Dramatic Volumizing Mascara: This was my sample choice for the month, mostly because nothing else moved me and I can always use a mascara. It’s good: didn’t flake, or run, wasn’t clumpy. But it’s nothing special, really. Basic decent mascara, but will make a good addition to just throw in my travel makeup bag.

thebalm cosmetics Read My Lips Lip Gloss: I’ve really started to shy away from lip glosses in the past few years. They’re sticky and tacky (I’m talking texture, not taste level) and shiny in a way that ends up making me feel like a teenager instead of a grown up. This is on the good side for a gloss, the typical issues are pretty minimal, but the color is very bright. Definitely something to save for the weekend.

Harvey Prince Ageless- Pink Grapefruit: I’ve actually really like other Harvey Prince scents, so I was looking forward to this. It’s very fruity, which isn’t a scent profile I gravitate towards. Might make a decent summer scent to rotate in every so often, but definitely won’t crack my regular rotation.

Davines MINU shampoo: I was really annoyed when I got this in my box, because I’ve had terrible results with Davines shampoos and I don’t even have the color-treated hair that this product is made for. But to be fair, it’s a decent shampoo. Actually lathers and my hair feels clean. Still don’t know why I got the color-treatment shampoo, though. WTF Birchbox?

Davine MINU hair serum: You know what? I didn’t try this, and I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t have colored hair, and I don’t feel any need to put this on my head.

Paula’s Choice Clinical KP Treatment Cloths: Another WTF from Birchbox, as I definitely don’t have body acne concerns. I have been breaking out a little under the straps of my sports bra from where I sweat when I run, so I used them there and saw improvement, but that’s a very minor issue. Kind of a wasted item.