Hey, hey, heyyy. Happy 2017 from your weird blog lady!
Are you suffering from post-holiday depression? On a #NewYearNewYou high? Cleansing? ALL THREE? The internets are insane right now, so I hope you’re keeping it together.
I don’t really make resolutions, but one of my “goals” this year is to drink more water. It’s going well, thank you, but I also have to go to the bathroom like every 20 minutes, which is incredibly inconvenient and distracting. Soooo, let’s see how long I can last as a super hydrated person.
Anyhoo, today is one of my favorite blog days of the year because I get to empty my 2016 nets!! In case you’re new here, “emptying the nets” is the wonderfully cathartic process of writing out the year’s highs and lows in an effort to appreciate the positives and let the negatives float the fuck off into the universe (and stay there). It’s my favorite way to reflect, gain some much needed perspective, get my priorities in order, and start a new year on the best possible note.
So without further ado, let’s commence the oversharing…
- Getting ENGAGED. Needless to say, my roommate asking me to marry him was a year/life highlight. Meeting Logan in Paris almost six years ago is hands down the greatest and most serendipitous thing that has ever happened to yours truly, and my life has been infinitely better/weirder/funnier/more exciting since he showed up. I knew pretty early on that the dude was it for me, but I never thought too much about actually getting mawwied, so I was pretty shocked when he whipped out that engagement blanket in September. (Who would have thought I was the marrying kind?!) I can’t think of a way to express my feelings that doesn’t sound overly touch-feely and gross, so I’ll just let Whoopi sum things up.
1a. Returning to Paris as fee-ahn-says. Being an extreme romantic (thank God one of us is), Logan whisked me off to Paris the weekend after he proposed. I hadn’t been back since repatriating in 2011, and it was all kinds of magical to wander, and makeout in public (c’est normal à Paris), and crush baguettes and champagne with my favorite person in my favorite city. Serious snaps for Logan.
- The Dude Diet photo shoot. I kicked off 2016 on a high with two weeks of shooting in LA, and I still grin like an idiot whenever I think about the experience. Up to that point, I’d been working on The DD in isolation, and it was both awesome and surreal to see the book brought to life by the incomparable Matt Armendariz and Marian Cooper Cairns. The styling, composition, and photography that took place in Matt’s studio were a far cry from the shenanigans that go down at Domesticate ME! HQ (read: me hunched over my coffee table in my underwear), and I’m forever grateful that they understood exactly what I meant by “the opposite of rustic chic.”
- Holding The Dude Diet for the first time. When the messenger dropped off the manila envelope containing an advance copy of my book, I was so overwhelmed I thought I might throw up. (Funnily enough, the first words out of my mouth when I realized Logan was about to propose were, “I’m gonna throw up.” Excitement and nausea are apparently one and the same for me.) I will never forget how it felt to pull a real, solid book from that envelope—a mix of pride, empowerment, relief, and terror—and I’m sort of glad that I was alone in that moment. If only because it’s best to make weird noises/cry/try not to throw up in private…
- The Dude Diet being released into the wild. 2016 was the year I finally made good on my long-standing goal of publishing a cookbook (patience is a virtue!), which is easily my greatest professional accomplishment to date. Sure, holding the book and seeing it in stores and in the press was cool, but what I’ve loved most is the flood of emails, messages, and pictures on social media from people actually cooking from The Dude Diet. It truly warms my dude-loving heart, and I feel so lucky to make a virtual appearance in people’s kitchens. (And you know I live for compliments.)
- Cooking with Mario Batali and Matt Lauer. I’ve always wanted to cook things on cam-ah-rah, and the fact that I got to make DD Buffalo fingies with one of the greatest chefs of all time and grill flank steak with my childhood TV crush this year was batshit crazy in the best possible way.
5a. Clinton Kelly (aka host What Not To Wear) calling me “fabulously dressed.” He commented that on my Instagram post after I made the aforementioned fingies on The Chew and as you can imagine…I almost threw up.
- All of my friends getting married! This is mildly hyperbolic, but so many of my besties tied the knot in 2016, and it was an honor and a privilege to be part of their wedding extravaganzas. Especially since I’m a big fan of the group’s new communal husbands. (Logan shall be an excellent addition to their ranks in 2017.)
- Working with my brother. My little brother works at a media/tech company in LA, and he and one of his buds directed and shot The DD’s book trailers. I couldn’t have had more fun collaborating with him on these, and it was priceless to watch him be all #bossy on set. (In case you’re wondering, he’s the one wearing the open flannel in the vids. Yes, the resemblance is strong.)
- Hamilton/The Hamilton Soundtrack. I was a year late to this party, but c’est la vie. As everyone promised, life changed.
- My Dad’s 70th Birthday. My dad HATES that he’s 70 because it makes him feel old, but he’s arguably killing the game right now, and celebrating his birthday last month was—and I know this sounds trite—really special. All of my siblings and his closest friends made it to Santa Barbara, and there was a rather fabulous dinner in his honor involving a lot of heartwarming speeches and a really boss cake. He said it was his best party ever, and I love that. I can only hope this whole “improving with age” thing runs in the family.
- Not getting my own cooking show or posing for Maxim (in a class way). Again. I’ve been rolling over these grand goals since 2011, and although I’m always sad to see another year pass without crossing them off my to-do list, I’m gonna keep on trucking. After all, I’m nothing if not persistent. Fingies crossed this is my year, people.
- The fucking world exploded. So much bad shit happened in the U.S. and all over the world in 2016. You know this. It sucked.
- Anxiety. I’ve discussed my super fun panic disorder before, and for better or worse, it continued to be an issue in 2016. I got a handle on things early in the year, but as book launch madness ramped up this fall, I lost my grip a little bit. I wasn’t sleeping a lot, generally didn’t feel great, and found myself spiraling into comparison and “worst case scenario” modes more often than I would have liked. Unfortunately, said anxiety kept me from fully appreciating some of the amazing things that happened this year, but it also jump-started some much needed lifestyle changes over the past few months, which was a solid silver lining. (I exercise sometimes! I drink more water! I talk about feelings to people!) I’m committed to keeping things on the up and up in 2017.
- An unprecedented number of awkward hugs/handshakes. You know what I’m talking about—when you greet or say goodbye to someone, and one person goes for the handshake while the other goes for the hug. It’s seemingly no biggie, but these painful interactions haunt me (see “anxiety” above), and I had many in 2016. SO MANY, DAMMIT. ‘Twas a nightmare.
- I was extra messy. I have hoarding tendencies, and my apartment got slightly out of control last year. It actually got so bad that I had to start working in the living room around Thanksgiving. I claimed I wanted to be close to my Christmas tree, but really the office was such a hot mess that it felt too stressful and claustrophobic to go in there.
- The Bieber catastrophe. The dude couldn’t even give me a proper Britney lip sync? WTF.
There you have it, friends. Nets emptied. 2016 was a pretty wild year and, as always, I’m grateful for all of the many highs and lows. I’m a better person for having experienced each and every one of them. Between you and me, I have a truly excellent feeling about 2017. I know I said that last year, and I was sort of right(?), but this year feels different. Bigger. More momentous. That seems scary on some level, but I’m gonna throw up lean into it. I hope you’ll do the same.
Given that most humans are on a clean(ish) eating streak right now, I thought this fresh chopped salad would be an appropriate first recipe of the year. It’s light, fresh, and packed with nutrients, but it also knocks it out of the flavor park, which is crucial. I call it a “clean out the fridge” salad because it’s more of a template for an epic salad than a strict recipe. I’m particularly fond of the cannellini bean and veggie combo here, but you can easily sub whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand. In short, you’ll need 2 cups chopped lettuce, 1 cup beans, 4 cups chopped veggies of your choice, and an optional sprinkling of cheese. Toss everything with a super simple lemon-thyme dressing, and BOOM. Done.
Here’s to a happy, healthy, and undeniably badass 2017!
p.s. Please, PLEASE feel free to empty your nets in the comments. I’d love nothing more than to read some of your 2016 highs and lows. For real.
“Clean Out The Fridge” Chopped Salad: (Serves 2 generously as a main course, 4 as an appetizer/side)
2 cups chopped crunchy lettuce (I used a mix of romaine hearts and baby gem, but you can use anything you like.)
1 cup cooked cannellini beans (If you use canned beans, drain and rinse them first.)
¼ of an English cucumber, diced (about 1 cup diced cucumber)
1 cup thinly sliced Brussels sprouts (about 5-6 medium sprouts)
1 cup thinly sliced lunchbox peppers (3-4 peppers)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced crosswise into rounds
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
For the dressing:
Zest of ½ lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon, finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Preparing your “Clean Out The Fridge” Chopped Salad:
-Start by making the dressing! In a bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the dressing until well combined. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and briefly set aside.
-Add all the ingredients for the salad except the cheese to a mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Add half the dressing to the bowl and toss again.
-Divide the salad between 2 (or 4) bowls/plates. Top with the cheese and serve with the remaining dressing.
(You can obviously toss the salad with all of the dressing in the mixing bowl, but people are weird about how much dressing they like, so I like to let them add more dressing to taste…)
- 2 cups chopped crunchy lettuce (I used a mix of romaine hearts and baby gem, but you can use anything you like.)
- 1 cup cooked cannellini beans (If you use canned beans, drain and rinse them first.)
- ¼ of an English cucumber, diced (about 1 cup diced cucumber)
- 1 cup thinly sliced Brussels sprouts (about 5-6 medium sprouts)
- 1 cup thinly sliced lunchbox peppers (3-4 peppers)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced crosswise into rounds
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
- Zest of ½ lemon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon, finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Start by making the dressing! In a bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the dressing until well combined. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and briefly set aside.
- Add all the ingredients for the salad except the cheese to a mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Add half the dressing to the bowl and toss again.
- Divide the salad between 2 (or 4) bowls/plates. Top with the cheese and serve with the remaining dressing.
If you're sensitive to acidic flavors, feel free to add a drizzle of honey to your dressing to sweeten things up.