20 Things I Learned In My 20s: Take Responsibility For Your Actions

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We all mess up. We’ve all been making mistakes, intentionally or otherwise, since we first got here, and we just keep doing it right on through our lives. We all know this about ourselves and each other. And with mistakes, there are always consequences. Somewhere. Sometimes for us ourselves, sometimes for third parties we don’t know, and worst of all, sometimes for the people we know and love.

Taking responsibility for your actions is hard. It feels bad, to acknowledge that what we did hurt someone else, or meant that someone else was left to clean up a mess we made. It feels even worse when it wasn’t intentional, when we didn’t even get a chance to factor that into our decisions. But it’s so important to step up and take responsibility. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of an “I’m sorry your feelings got hurt” rather than a simple “I’m sorry” knows the difference between the former and the latter. The former deflects the blame, makes it the other person’s feelings that are somehow at fault. The latter accepts responsibility. Even an “I’m sorry, but…” doesn’t cut it. It’s an excuse. The person who’s been hurt doesn’t need your excuses, they need your apology. And most importantly, they need you to try to make it better to whatever extent you can.

It’s a struggle for me, personally. I was always the “good kid”. Getting in trouble, doing something wrong…I’m not used to it. It freaks me out, always has. I have to push back hard against myself to not go for “I’m sorry, but…” or “I’m sorry that hurt you…”. To let myself be the bad guy in a situation where I was wrong. But it’s so important. It tells the other person who exactly they’re dealing with, how you handle messing up. When someone deflects or excuses, you know you’re dealing with someone immature. But when someone admits that they were wrong, and tries to make amends…that’s when you know you’re dealing with someone worthy of your time. Be the person you’d like to deal with. Own up when you mess up.

I Cooked: Sun Dried Tomato, Garlic and Olive Oil Pasta

Since our last apartment was so teeny, we didn’t have a place to sit down and eat for ourselves, much less a place to have company over. When we moved, though, we decided we wanted to start, you know, actually having company like adults. And our first guests were Drew’s parents, Fran and Gordy! I’ve always gotten along with his parents, so I wasn’t nervous like this was going to be a make-or-break moment, but Fran is a fantastic cook, so I was a little nervous to make something she’d be impressed by. I decided I wanted something easy and light for a summer dinner and when I found this recipe, I figured it looked right up my alley.

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Half a box/bag of dried pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-2 ripe heirloom tomatoes (chopped = around 1 cup)
about 6 sun dried tomatoes soaked in oil, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp Italian or Tuscan dry seasoning mix
generous sprinkling of salt and pepper
about 2 oz mozzarella cheese

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In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook your pasta according to directions on package to al dente only (even if you like it a bit chewier…this is important)

Chop your fresh tomatoes…you want them to have a lot of water content because this will create your simple sauce. Then chop your sun dried tomatoes and garlic. Have everything ready to go because your sauce will be done in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

In a large pan on medium heat add good quality extra virgin olive oil and chopped heirloom tomatoes. This seems like a lot of olive oil, but it’s going to work out perfectly. Add a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper (don’t omit salt, you definitely need it). Cook for 2 minutes.

Add your sun dried tomatoes, garlic and seasonings. Stir and cook on medium low for another 4-5 minutes. Taste it and adjust seasonings as you like. It might not seem like a lot of sauce, but it’ll work just right.

Add your pasta to the sauce and keep some pasta water (about 1/4 cup) before you drain. Toss and cook another 2 minutes. This is why the pasta should be al dente, because it will continue to cook in the sauce.

Add your cheese (I used mozzarella, but parmesan would work too, as would whatever you want in whatever quantity seems best) and mix it all together until the cheese gets melty and delicious.

Serve and enjoy!

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This, you guys? This was amazing. I love pasta, and I’ve made a lot of it around here, but this sauce was spectacular. AND it was really easy and quick to make. I didn’t have to buy a million extra things to make it, and tomato chopping was the extent of the prep work. I ate a LOT of it, and so did everyone else, and everyone at least told me they really liked it, so hopefully they actually did! But I know I did! This is easy enough to be a weeknight staple while also being tasty enough to serve to company, so there’s really no occasion that it’s wrong for and you should make it immediately if not sooner.

I Drank: Royce

I’m always down for a new happy hour destination, so when I saw that the space that became Royce was being remodeled, I was really excited. It’s just steps from where I work, so when I found out it was opening, we went within the first week or so to try it out!

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Drew’s mom (and dad for that matter, but he was busy that day) is always down for trying a new bar, so Drew and I met her and one of her friends over there. When we walked in, we found a neat little hipster bar: seating on couches and chairs, little coffee and side tables to set your drink on. It’s a small space, but it’s comfortable. There is also outdoor seating, but this is where it becomes obvious that many of these are written well after the fact: it was awfully cool outside when we went (not a problem anymore!) and sitting outside just didn’t seem very pleasant. But they’ve got a neat little patio area that we’ll have to try soon to get some fresh air with our booze!

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They’ve got a decent but not extensive wine list, and several unique cocktails, all of which are whiskey-based drinks. I can’t honestly remember what I had (a red wine of some sort), but I do remember it was good. They also have some munchies: they are owned by the same people who own Old Granite Street Eatery around the corner, so you can get food from there sent over here! Service wasn’t awesome, honestly. They didn’t help one of our people understand the difference in taste between an oak-aged and not oak-aged chardonnay, so she ended up with wine she didn’t really care for and then weren’t really great when she asked for suggestions for a replacement.

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Royce is located at 115 Ridge Street, Reno, NV. This is the outskirts of the Midtown area, and it definitely has that Midtown quirky vibe to it. It’s a little on the expensive side, but not bad. The parking situation isn’t fantastic, it’s just street parking in a pretty heavily-parked area, but it’s close to a lot of downtown businesses so it’s walkable from there after work if you’re already parked and some of the surrounding lots open to the public at 6. It’s definitely a place I’ll return to for patio trial purposes, but I don’t forsee this becoming a staple for us.

Movin’ On Up

A few months before he met me, Drew moved into a small one-bedroom apartment. It was about 600 square feet and had one of those combo dining/living areas that end up getting taken over entirely by the living room. It was the perfect size apartment for one person living alone. Once I came along, though, things got…a little cozy. Which is to say that the two of us were right on top of each other all the time and there was precious little room to add a third. Having friends over? Forget it. We’d been talking about moving for quite a while, and in June, it finally happened!

Our new place, in addition to being significantly larger and having a second bedroom (for out-of-towners, or just friends who need to crash), is ALSO awesome because it’s in the Midtown area of Reno, where all the cool bars and restaurants are. There’s been a real effort to revitalize what was once a seedy part of Reno (the strip club with a sign that gets some locals hilariously pearl-clutchy is one of the last remnants from that era) and it’s been very successful. It’s the Portland of Reno, where the hipsters are, and actually reminds me, very much to my delight, of my beloved Old West Side neighborhood.

So here’s what the place looked like the first day I was inside it:

 

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And here’s what it looks like now:

 

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Progress made, yes, but not quite there yet. We definitely need to get a futon into the spare room. And there’s still lots of decorating touches that need to be added. Since we’re both looking at this place as a temporary stop (probably our last) before we buy a house, a lot of these pieces are also meant to be temporary. We’ll have more sleek, adult type things when we’re looking to furniture with an eye to invest in pieces we’ll have for a long time, rather than an eye to just get something in there that’ll do for now. So it kind of feels like a college student type deal is what I’m saying, but this time with an actual dining room table. Even with that being said, I’m still super happy with the new place and excited for this to be home base until we buy a house!

I Cooked: Forbidden Baked Butternut Risotto

When I first came across this recipe, I was intrigued by the name…”forbidden” sounds omninous, yet exciting. What was so forbidden about it? The rice, as it so happens. Forbidden rice, or black rice, was apparently once only allowed to be eaten by Chinese Emperors. Regardless of whether or not that’s true, it’s definitely a kind of rice I hadn’t tried before, and I was pleasantly surprised that our local supermarket carried it.

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½ cup ‘forbidden’ black rice
1.5 cups brown rice (or 2 cups brown if you don’t have forbidden rice)
3 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium butternut squash peeled and diced into 2 cm cubes
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ cup parsley, diced
4 cups Veggie stock
1 cup water

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Place all ingredients (except cup of water) in a large oven-safe casserole dish, stir and place in center of oven. Set the oven to 350 degrees and let the dish heat up with the oven cook for about 75 minutes, adding the cup of water at 60 minute mark. Remove from oven, taste and season to taste. Serve and enjoy!

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That’s right: you don’t even need to preheat the oven. Once you get all the dicing done (which, with butternut squash, is easier and quicker said than done), you just stick it all in the oven and let it roast for an hour, add the water, and for my oven, it needed about another 15 minutes from there (your oven, as always, may vary). I really enjoyed this recipe, and it makes a bunch of food, so it was delicious leftovers for the rest of the week. Definitely will make again (but maybe in the fall…it was kind of more a fall food).

I Ate: La Famiglia Ristorante

Drew and I initially came here to celebrate his parents birthdays (like us, they were born just a few weeks apart), and by the end of the dinner, I knew La Famiglia was my favorite restaurant in Reno. It’s a nice space, a great wine list, and GNOCCHI TO DIE FOR!

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Oh my god you guys. These gnocchi. I’ve always liked gnocchi: it’s potato inside of pasta. What’s not to like? But these are by far the best I’ve ever had. So tender, so delicious. I am not usually one to eat a large amount of food at once, I’m the one that eats a little bit every few hours and then eats a little more heavily at “meal” times. But I ate every last bite on this plate. I was painfully overstuffed and didn’t regret it for a second.

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Ok, now on to the non-gnocchi things. I’ve been a few times now and the service is always very good: waitstaff is attentive but not hovering. I’m a big fan of Italian reds, so the wine list makes me happy. It’s definitely a dressy atmosphere, jeans and t-shirts would feel underdressed to me, but not one of those places that’s so formal that you feel like you might be using the wrong fork at any given moment.

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La Famiglia is located at 170 S. Virginia St in Reno, NV. It’s kind of between the Midtown and Downtown districts. There’s street parking around, and the big City lot across the street is open after business hours, so that’s where we usually park. Reservations are recommended, this is a popular place that gets busy.

20 Things I Learned In My 20s: People Change…A Little, Not A Lot

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One of the things I’ve struggled with the most during my twenties is the truth that who people are and who you want them to be are often not the same. When you care about someone, it’s easy to focus almost exclusively on their good qualities, refusing to acknowledge the bad until it becomes overwhelming. Once you’re frustrated, it can be the reverse: all you can see are the things they do that bother you. Black or white. Good or bad. Angel or devil. The reality is, of course, that with very few exceptions, most people are somewhere in the middle. They’re both. Good and bad and everything in between. No matter how much you want them to be just the good parts, the bad parts are almost certainly not going to change.

So wait a minute, you might be thinking, didn’t you just say up there in the title portion that people DO change. Yes, I did, and yes, they do. But superficially. Not fundamentally. Habits change. Not personality. Can you get your boyfriend to stop leaving dirty towels on the bathroom floor? Probably. Can you get him to stop being an introvert so he’ll be more fun at parties? No. Can you get your mom to stop giving you passive-aggressive hints about getting married soon? Sure. Can you get her to stop being anxious all the time and worrying that you’ve been tragically killed in a car accident if you’re home five minutes late? No. Behaviors can change, if the person involved wants to make an effort. Who someone is…that’s pretty well stuck. The older they are, the more stuck it’s likely to be. And it’s not all cutesy stuff. An addict is going to continue being an addict. A cheater is still going to cheat. A flake is still going to cancel on you at the last minute. An angry person is going to yell. They might be able to do better for a short period of time, but it takes a tremendous force of will to fundamentally change. And most of the time, that’s just not there.

What does that mean then? It means you need to try look at the people in your life with an unbiased eye. It’s hard, because feelings complicate things. But you need to make the effort and decide: is this a person that you can accept as they are? Even if you might want to give them a tweak here and there, can you ultimately deal with the complicated, three dimensional person in front of you? It doesn’t make you a bad person to say no, to look at the pros and cons and decide that you can’t continue to invest emotional energy in a relationship that brings you only very little satisfaction. But more often still the answer is yes, because even the things that make you roll your eyes or sigh resignedly aren’t so bad, and once you make your peace with the fact that the way they are is just the way they are, it’s easier to let it go. Promise.

I Cooked: Orzo Pasta Salad

After an Independence Day weekend of stuffing ourselves at cookouts, Drew and I were looking for something light last Sunday, more like a big helping of a side than an actual meal. So this recipe fit the bill perfectly!

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For salad:
1 cup dried orzo pasta
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, torn

For dressing:
1 large clove of garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tsp tomato puree
ground black pepper to taste

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Crush the garlic and salt to a smooth paste in a pestle and mortar (or use a bowl and the back of an ice cream scooper like I did). Stir in the lemon juice and set aside.

Place the orzo pasta and turmeric in a generous amount of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions. Total cooking time will be around 7-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop and de-seed the bell pepper and finely chop the chives and tear the basil leaves.

Add the remaining dressing ingredients to the garlic and lemon juice mixture and stir well.

Drain the pasta and rinse with boiling water. Transfer to a serving bowl and immediately stir in the dressing.

Allow pasta to cool for a couple of minutes before stirring in the bell peppers, tomatoes and herbs. Serve and enjoy!

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This was exactly what we wanted it to be: not heavy in the slightest and but flavorful. Between the two of us, we ate the entire thing (Drew even scraped the bowl to get the last spoonful out). We both agreed that this would make a perfect side dish for having a formal dinner because it was tasty but mild enough to pair well with a lot of different things. I’ve never tried pasta in turmeric water before, but after this I’m wondering how it would taste to do all the time! Definitely recommended for either a very light meal or a great side dish…comes together quickly and tastes great!

I Saw: June 2015

Even though session ended on time on June 1, I managed to have another terrible month of movie-watching: just two! Again!  It was a perfect storm of a big move (to a new apartment we love and that will be showcased for you very soon, but between packing and moving and unpacking and decorating…it’s been a timesuck) and a situation with Drew’s work, which while it’s not worth getting into the details here, suffice it to say that it required about 100% of our time and energy to deal with when we weren’t in the office. He’s in a new position that we’re both very excited about, so things are looking up, but this month flew by with almost nothing in the way of movie-watching. For shame.

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Viva Zapata: 3/10

I guess my first issue here is that we’ve got Marlon Brando in brownface playing Emiliano Zapata, complete with varying levels of makeup and what appears to be some kind of taping around his eyes at points. There’s a lot of brownface here, actually. Second, the screenplay is written by John Steinbeck, which I found out about halfway through the movie and immediately understood why all the dialogue felt so stilted and artificial and not like anything anyone would say, ever and Zapata is played as an almost flawless person with one hamfisted attempt at giving him some shading late in the film. Third, there’s no chemistry between Brando and nearly anyone else. Is he good in an awkwardly-written role? Yes. But the show is stolen by Anthony Quinn (actually of Mexican descent!) in an Oscar-winning turn as his brother and fellow revolutionary. Very skippable.

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The Muppets Take Manhattan: 5/10

Like any right-thinking person, I love the Muppets. I’ve seen and enjoyed most of the Muppet movies, but this was honestly my least favorite of them that I’ve ever seen. It didn’t have as much of the crackling wit that I usually expect, and it split up the gang for a large part of the film, which I thought sucked a lot of air of it: it made Kermit the focus, and Kermit functions best as the straight man to the antics of the others (in my humble opinion). Even at a short 94 minute run time, it dragged a little. Not something I’ll rewatch.

Birchbox: June 2015

This was on the “less great” spectrum of Birchboxes for me. I’m starting to get to the point where the really good Birchboxes I’ve gotten are all long in the past and it’s only a matter of how “just OK” any particular one will be when they come now. Which kind of sucks, because I’ve been a customer for over three years and while I anticipate that I’ll keep it up through the end of the year, I don’t know that I really want to go past that. These next few months are going to be the litmus test. Because if I’d been presented this box and told I could spend $10 to get these samples? I would have passed.

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Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner: Really? Bright blue? If this had been a navy, I would have been okay with it (the product itself is just alright…goes on easily enough, but smudged right off just as easily), but my beauty profile (which they allegedly use when putting together your samples) shows that I’m not a super trendy type, so the color selection was just all wrong.

Temple Spa Good Hair Day Shampoo: This actually really sucked. I usually like shampoo samples because I’ll use them up anyways, but this just did not get my hair clean. I tossed it after the second use when my hair was still greasy after washing.

Temple Spa In Good Condition Conditioner: Better than the shampoo in that it was totally non-distinct. The scent was a bit herbal/medicinal for my tastes, but it wasn’t terrible. Nor was it awesome, though.

Dr. Jart Ceramidin Day Tint: This was fine. Didn’t do much for me, but I didn’t hate it either. Went on easily, coverage was sheer but still helped cover some breakouts. Basically like any tinted foundation. Not quiiiiiite the right shade for me but close enough (my color changes so much in the summer).

CoTZ Sensitive SPF 40: I’m glad I got this, because it’s that time of year when I really should be wearing sunscreen on my face. It’s fine, I guess. Sunscreen is one of those things that’s good to have but not a big deal unless it’s bad.

L. Erickson Grab and Go Pony: This makes me think it’s like a regular slim hair tie that mated with a scrunchie, and this is their mutant baby. With my superfine hair, I don’t like a thick hair tie, so not a great item for me.