Konmari Folding

Taylor Swift, you’re free this year. I have a new object of my affection – Marie Kondo.

Having not read either of her books and only seeing one episode of her Netflix show, Marie Kondo has affected me – that’s how influential she is. Heck, I’m devoting 2019 to my cobbled-together interpretation of her philosophy.

The first time I saw her folding clothes on episode one of her show, I scoffed. That’s the last of her ideas I will adopt. Pfft. I DO NOT fold clothes. They fit in the drawers (or not) and if I can’t shut the drawer I leave them open. I have better things to do with my time. Like watching other people organize their clothes.

Fast forward a few weeks and last night, as I was watching Jane the Virgin (great empty-head show), I got it in my head to try folding my clusterfuck of a jeans drawer. I should have taken a before photo but the urge to Kondo struck fast and hard so just picture in your mind unfolded jeans jammed tightly into a drawer and the drawer shuts – snugly. But look at the results!

Kondo’d the shit out of my jeans!

Not only do I have an organized drawer of jeans, there was extra room in there to shove my winter knit stockings. (Kondo would have rolled them, but I’m not there yet.)

Three things I gathered from this exercise.

  1. Folded indeed makes for more efficient use of space.
  2. I have a ton of jeans I don’t wear.
  3. That’s where my <fill in item of clothing> went!

I don’t know if I’ll keep this up. And I certainly have no intentions of replicating this for socks or underwear. That’s just absurd.

Terrace House – Opening New Doors

This is my favorite reality TV show. I normally browse or play games while watching TV, but for TH, I put the iPad down to read the subtitles. This show is the Sims IRL!! If you put six Sims together like this the results would be not too different. Except my Sims would definitely squeeze out a couple of kids before too long. The characters in the show are attractive, talented, entrepreneurial, and opportunistic. So this show is a publicity generating platform for them as they develop their brands while we viewers watch them socially interact. I almost think of it as panda porn for Japanese youth. Kids, this is how you engage each other socially. Pandas, this is how babies are made. Beautiful.

The food in New Orleans, LA

The one thing I’d heard over and over from multiple sources about New Orleans was the food there is AMAZING. I put it on my list of places to visit for the creole, etouffee, gumbo, fried anything, beans and rice, and on and on. Then after I started eating plant-based, I wrote it off. So when I visited last week, I really had managed expectations despite what I’d heard about it being some kind of food mecca.  I thought I’d for sure have to duck into some greasy junky Chinese restaurant to find a plant-based meal.  I seriously entertained the idea of looking for a Panda Express. But holy moly was I utterly wrong about that.  NOLA has the best (plant-based) food I’ve had in all my travels since I started eating plant-based. They have plenty of restaurants (way more options than I can find in DC) and they’re all knocked-it-out-of-the-park excellent and the ones I had were all within a 5 mile walkable or transit-able distance.

Even if you don’t eat totally plant-based, you’re going to love this food. It’s just good food period. Here’s what they served.

  • A well-thought menu, with well-crafted dishes.  Not a burger patty made with rice or quinoa slapped between a hamburger bun. Not a salad minus the cheese.  Not some afterthought of side dishes slapped together.  It has cooked beans or lentils.  It incorporates fresh vegetables and whole grains.  It’s not overly fried or salted or made with unrecognizable composites and called “chick’n”.  It’s real food made with real ingredients.
  • Hearty and filling food.  The portions are generous enough for me to say “I’m full and satisfied” at the end of the meal.  And let’s just say I’ve had enough people gawk at me as I take seconds or thirds to recognize that I have a very healthy appetite.
  • Tasty and fresh ingredients made with plenty of flavorful spices enough to inspire me or give me new ingredients to experiment with when I cook again.  And it’s also flavors I don’t make at home.  It’s new and interesting to me.

These places I went to in NOLA all fit the bill.  I wanted to take them all home with me and I miss them now even as I reminisce.

These first two on my list I declared as “my favorite” “number 1” “this is the place to go if you only get one meal in NOLA” each time I ate at each place.  So it’s a toss up.  I ate at both places, one after the other, on my last day before catching the flight home.

Sweet Soulfood
Sweet Soulfood

Walking in here, you’re hit with a steam sauna of flavor. They cook everything fresh and it steams up the little diner. Everything is plant-based and it’s all so hearty and delicious, I wanted everything. Their portions are generous enough to fill me up. The dishes are made with fresh ingredients and they have rotating daily specials. This meal’s daily special was the barbecue cauliflower. I love their jambalaya and cornbread. They do use some vegan sausages for some dishes, like the jambalaya, but it’s not heavy-handed and you will find bay leaves in the food because they actually cook with real seasonings. So good! I’m going to be saying that a lot here.

Good Karma
Good Karma
This place is such a hippie-dippie-coffee-tea-organic-plant-based-gluten-free-namaste-yoga-hang-out-and-relax kind of cafe. Seriously, it’s connected to a yoga studio. Their food is phenomenal and I said that every time I dug into their daily soup and veggie special. It’s inspired me to cook with lemongrass, galangal, and lime juice more, though I doubt I could create any of these dishes. I need this restaurant in my life. The food is incredibly warm and delicious. I think we ate here for four meals.

Seed
Seed
This place is a lot more fancypants then the first two places. They have table service. They also serve cocktails. The nice thing about NOLA is I can order a bourbon drink before noon and it’s perfectly whatever. Also, it was so good I noted the mix: Buffalo Trace, lemon juice, and hot sauce. I will definitely make that at home. This is also an all plant-based restaurant, but the options lean a tad more vegan-junk-food. Fried seitan nuggets for example. However, you can get hearty non-junky things too like gumbo and etouffee. Wonderfully warm and flavorful.

Green Goddess
This place is not entirely plant-based but they have multiple vegan entrees and they’re all well done and satisfying. It’s conveniently located in the French Quarter and if it were located here in DC, it would easily be one of my favorite places to eat. In NOLA though, with all those other places competing, this one is just okay. I have to give them credit for well-designed dishes though, beans, rice, vegetables all freshly prepared.

Satsumas
Satsumas
Ok, not a restaurant, but easily our favorite food in New Orleans. They’re a local in-season fruit and they are so juicy, sweet, easy to peel, and thirst quenching. We walked or took the trolley 3 miles each way to get these at a local grocery store three times for a total of maybe seven dozen satsumas. At first glance they don’t look all that great. Green tangerines. I expected them to be sour. But nope, they were awesome little fruits. I think my favorite thing to do whenever I travel is visit grocery stores and local markets.

So in short, New Orleans is a food mecca. It’s dirty, it’s gritty, it rained every dang day we were there. But the food. Man! The food! It can only come from a city with so much love you can taste it.

Cava

Not to be mistaken with their sit down table service restaurant, Cava is like the Chipotle of Mediterranean cuisine. It’s a fast casual place that dishes up bowls of food with mix and match combinations of rice, lentils, salad greens, hummus, vegetables and on and on. It’s about $10 for a bowl and while I still prefer Mom’s Naked Lunch, this came in a close second. I really enjoyed the crunchy salad mix they had (Splendid/Supergreens) and the lentils and hummus made it filling. Would I come back? Do I recommend? Sure and sure!

Grain of salt: I have been having difficulty finding proper meals dining out and I’m probably not the best judge of restaurants anymore. But I really thought it was good and I have a coworker who says she and her boyfriend eat here at least once a week! That must count for something right?

Also I forgot to get a picture before I dug in. It looked like a bowl of greens and vegetables.

Leggins!

I hopped aboard the synthetic activewear bandwagon when my last gym pants gave out. Leggins were (and still are) ubiquitous when I needed new workout pants and my old school cotton capris were not so easy to find anymore. At first, I really liked my new leggings. They were so stylish and pretty. I felt like I was channeling Taylor Swift every time I headed to the gym in my trendy new leggings. But eight pairs of leggings and a year later, I have come to the conclusion that even though leggings are nice, I prefer my cotton workout clothes. I prefer exercising in pants that aren’t skintight. And nothing is more breathable than cotton. Yes sweat, but I would change out of my sweaty exercise clothes regardless of fabric type anyway. The only exercise I would prefer synthetics is probably hot yoga, which I don’t like and rarely do anyway, and spin, which I do maybe once a month, if that. I’m still of course going to keep wearing my leggings, but I won’t be adding more to the workout wardrobe. It was fun to go whole hog on leggins but alas, the fire is gone.

Fountain penning

The recent review about my fleeting artistic endeavors reminds me of my other “hobby” that I picked up several years ago. Fountain penning. How’s that going you might wonder? Well, it’s sort of stalled. That’s the thing about stuff hobbies. It’s just buying another and another. I don’t plan on getting anymore except eventually a TWSBI.
In the height of my penning, I was using the Pilot Kakuno, Petit1, and Metropolitan at work and regularly journaling with the Pelikan. Now, only the Pelikan and Petit 1 are currently inked and used. The Metropolitan was recently cleaned and the Kakuno is a lost cause. The lid cracked, the nib dries out, it spurts ink sometimes. I don’t know what to do with it. Marie Kondo would probably say, throw it away. I can save the nib and feed which also fits the Metropolitan. It does have a nice extra fine nib. Guess it was a get-what-you-pay-for situation.

So the thing about fountain pens, and pens in general is hand writing things just doesn’t happen much these days anymore. My handwriting is crap because of it. I used to try hard with my notebooks at work to jot notes neatly. You’d see at least some parts of my notes with schoolteacher writing and some notes that are rushed. Now almost all my notes look rushed.

Chaia

I met a friend for lunch at Chaia in Georgetown. It’s a little taco shop that sells vegetarian food. The nice thing is, it’s in Georgetown which is kind of fun to go to sometimes. It’s all fancy and whatnot. The not nice thing is, it’s in Georgetown which means it’s expensive and it was. Their tacos are tiny. I’ve said this before, getting full off plants requires bigger food portions. Plants are mostly low calorie density foods. Volume is necessary. I think I probably already eat bigger portions than many anyway. At least by my and many of my friends observations. I eat a lot of food to feel satiated. So $15 for lunch that felt more like a mini snack doesn’t make me want to go back. I hate leaving a meal feeling hungry and unsatisfied, regardless of price point. If you serve it up, call it a meal, it had better fill me up. Plus, I hate vegan food that’s poorly designed. Aside from the too small portions, it was basically mushrooms in a tiny corn tortilla. Zucchini in a corn tortilla. Where are my pulses? Where’s the protein? Where are the greens? And I don’t mean a few sprouts for garnish. No wonder omni’s think vegans are weird and starving. If I had that regularly, I would be! So yeah, I haven’t been eating out much lately and it’s because there’s not much out there. Portions are too small (regardless of price point). Macros are wrong. Some are chock full of processed nonsense (what the hell is chick’n?!). Eating out for me is a way to get meals that I can’t get at home. Lately, every time I eat out, I leave thinking I make better. Maybe I’ve just grown accustomed to my own food. And it’s just as well. The reason why a lot of restaurant food tastes better is because it’s full of salt, oil, and sugar. And while I enjoy the dishes in the moment, they make me feel like shit afterwards. And I’m usually still hungry. Actually, one little side bonus of not eating out as frequently, it’s a moneysaver. $120 per week to feed two people, which is actually probably on the high side, but if I’m not eating out, I splurge on whatever I want at the produce aisle.

So in short, I left hungry and dissatisfied and don’t plan on going back.

Zenni

I just got my first pair of glasses online. I’ve always been reluctant to try online eyeglass retailers because I wasn’t sure how they’d look or fit, and the quality/sturdiness of them. I’m happy to report back that they worked out fine.

The silicone eyeglass holders work like a charm.  Where have they been all my life!?!  Gamechangers.
(See the little silicone hooks on the back of the glasses? They are life-altering for me. Plastic frames never stay on my face well. I usually just take my glasses off on the treadmill because they will fall off my face. Where have you been all my life!?)
Quality: So-so. 6/10. They definitely feel not as sturdy as the ones I’ve been getting from Costco – my usual place. In the past, I’d just pick a pair that wasn’t made in China. But they’re probably just assembled with parts made in China. Anyway, Zenni’s glasses are all from China and they work just fine. Not great, but decent. What they lack in the frames department, they make up for in the lenses. They have blue light blocking lenses and I wanted to try them. I don’t know if I feel any difference (aside from a very mild yellow tint) but I feel better having them since I stare at glowing boxes at almost all waking hours. By the way, there is a way to turn down the blue light on your computer monitors and iPhones (and maybe newer Droids). Aside from affecting sleep, the Internet told me blue light may possibly cause retinal damage so I’ve turned it down on all my devices where possible. Even if it does none of those things I’ve found it’s easier on my eyes to not have the glow boxes glow so piercingly bright. It’s probably not good for my skin either, but that’s another issue to solve another time.

Look: 10/10. Well, this is a personal preference thing, but their website does offer different model’s faces to try on the glasses. This worked out fine for me. I got a pair of fierce cat-eyes that turned out to be fun and not too fierce. Mew.

Fit: 1/10. Normally, a brick and mortar would adjust them before you walk out with your new glasses. And while I could still take these into a store, I’ve decided to try eyewear retainer straps and ear hooks first. I got plastic frames, and for me no matter how adjusted plastic frames are, they constantly slide down my face. Plus it’s just a hassle at the gym with loosey goosey glasses – which are all of my glasses!! Hopefully, this fixes the fit issue and the gym issue too.

Verdict: I’d do it again. Price wise – a pair of Costco glasses with their coupon is pretty comparable. My Zenni’s came out to $77 and a pair of Costco’s comes out to around $130.
As far as I’m aware though, Costco doesn’t offer blue light blocking lenses yet. If they did, I could go either way. For the extra cost, it’s nice to have someone measure you and fit your glasses properly. And the quality of the frames are better. That’s probably the biggest factor. You’ll be able to find better quality frames at Costco. I still wear my old glasses (the prescription hasn’t changed that much) from many years ago. I suppose I haven’t owned Zenni’s long enough to say how well they’ll hold up. This is just my initial impression seeing three pairs (a coworker tried them too).

Falafel Inc

Falafel Inc

In short, Max’s in Wheaton is still my favorite falafel place. But this place – Falafel Inc. is delicious.
It’s very simple and tasty and while the place is very small and the lines long, they are efficient.  Their falafels are flavorful and fresh and I’d easily go back.
Falafel sandwich
Their sandwiches are $4 each and salads are $5. Since they’re small, I’d recommend getting at least two of whatever you choose. I might even get three next time I go.

Modern Love

I have two friends at work who are currently active in the dating scene. We like to swap stories about dates and guys and the frustration, romance, and mysteriousness of it all. They recently shared with me a book they read by Aziz Ansari, Modern Love.

It’s funny, easy to read, and has some interesting social-behavioral information about how we mate. And he gives some tips. For example, use the online medium strictly as just the introduction. Get straight to the meeting ASAP. Too much writing back and forth is a waste of time and effort.

If you’re feeling burned out from all the dating, take a break. Cut back on the number of different dates.

Give people a second or maybe even third date even if there isn’t instant sparks/attraction. Attraction is actually built up over time. (But I’d add, if you have a gut instinct that this isn’t gonna work, trust that.)

From listening to my friends sussing out online communications here are some things they find to be off-putting (granted this is just two people – and I don’t necessarily agree with all of it)

  • When messaging someone, sure talk about yourself, but remember to ask a question or two as well to get a conversation going.  If all you do is introduce yourself and don’t ask questions, it’s hard to respond.
  • On a date, again, be sure to ask questions.  Sure, share about yourself, but let them share too.

Actually, reading this, it sounds rather common-sense.  I’d say this applies to general friend-making.  Anyway, throw all of the above out the window.  Just be yourself.

Regardless of how you feel about Ansari and his dating prowess, or lack of, Aziz is a funny writer.  Modern Love is easy to read and he cites some behavioral statistics and information that can be insightful about human nature.

For example, the reason why people delay texting back is to create a sense of scarcity.  People are more attracted to scarce things. So not texting back right away creates an illusion of scarcity.  Also random text delays work better.  We respond more positively to random rewards.  So this may all be well and dandy but then when he did a poll most folks prefer genuineness.  That kind of manipulation in timing texts can come across as insincere/insecure.