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Resolutions 2018: What Kind of Person Do I Want to Be?

This year, it’s not about what I do, but who I am. Am I the kind of person who puts things off and lets them go just because the time isn’t optimal, or due to rigid social/societal structures? Or am I the kind of person who treats life and time as fluid and finds creative solutions in order to meet her goals and stay mentally balanced and healthy? I’m sure you can guess which kind of person I’d rather be…but I’ve been slipping on that a bit lately. Or a lot. I’ve let a lot of good habits go by the wayside just because I can’t do them on the schedule I want to or because I’m tired and not making good use of my alone-time to recharge, and I’ve let some stumbling blocks in my daily life completely derail me from things I really want to do.

I’m a creative thinker. The things that have been derailing me just…shouldn’t, because I’m perfectly capable of figuring out different ways of getting things done. I’m also perfectly capable of finding a compromise point when necessary, and that’s where the flexibility comes in. Often to get things done or change a schedule, the only person I need to compromise with is myself and my own rigid thoughts and routines.

When it comes to resolutions, I’m changing my thought patterns a little this year. I normally have a fairly long list, with several resolutions and then a detailed plan for how I’ll accomplish each one. A “resolution” for me is just a very strong goal…something that I really want to focus on and work at making happen. The thing is, I don’t remember those long lists, so I end up only accomplishing one or two things instead of a good chunk of the list. And I’m not good at remembering to check the lists every so often and remind myself what I’m supposed to be doing, which is something I need to work on.

So, this year I’m doing something different. I still have my longer list with the detailed plans, and I’m going to put monthly reminders on my calendar to look back, take stock and see what kind of progress I can make on that list. That’s the yearly “Goal List”, and those items are important, but they take a back seat to the “Resolutions List”.

The Resolution list is the highest priority, has three items on it, and only a few ideas on how I could possibly implement these “major goals”, rather than a detailed plan that may or may not work. This is to leave my mind room to work on creative solutions so I can find the one that will work best with what I’m trying to do through trial and error, rather than locking myself into something that may prove untenable in the long run.

The resolutions are deceptively simple, but will require a ripple of changes to multiple routines, schedules and mindsets to meet them on a regular, daily basis. They’re seemingly small things that will have profound impacts on my life…hopefully for the better.

So, my resolutions for this year are:

– Get at least 6 continuous hours of sleep 6 nights per week
– Eat at least one egg per day, 6 days per week
– Read through my goals list once per week, and note any progress or lack thereof. Adjust as necessary.

And that’s it. Those are my three hard and fast priorities for the year – the things I want to do no matter what else happens. Why these three in particular?

Sleep is something I hate wasting time on, but it’s incredibly important for a lot of things, not the least of which is overall long-term brain health. I read a study last fall (and mentioned it here, so apologies for the repeat) on how if you get less than 6 continuous hours of sleep per night, your brain can’t properly perform basic “cleaning functions” it needs to keep the pathways clear of amyloid deposits (among other things). These deposits have been linked to causing dementia and Alzheimer, and the more often you go without that minimum amount of sleep, the more your brain actually loses the ability to perform those important “scrubbing” tasks no matter how much sleep you get.

So why make it a resolution? Because for me, sleeping for 6 continuous hours means completely redoing both my night and morning routines, and becoming more efficient at what I need to get done before and after work just so I can have 6 hours free to do…brain maintenance. This resolution affects a very large swath of my life, and while I’ve been working on it for a couple of months now, I tend to “fudge” the schedule here and there, and I’m still working to find a good way to handle my manicure nights on Saturdays (when I’m often up until 4-5am doing my nails).

Focusing on getting 6 hours of sleep will force me to adjust and change (improve?) a plethora of other things in my life, which makes it a good resolution, methinks.

As for the eggs – I’m working on getting healthier (a constant thing). Losing weight, getting strong, eating healthy. Lots of recent studies have de-villified the egg as a cholesterol issue, and they contain a lot of really great vitamins and minerals that support healthy thyroid and metabolic function. Plus, good protein! And very versatile/easy to incorporate into daily meals.

Focusing on eating one specific food every day will force me to think about my meals in advance, and also keep me in the mindset of eating foods that support my overall goals of getting healthier and getting back to a healthier weight.

Lastly, the checking in on my major goal list once a week will help keep those fresh in my mind, and give me a weekly opportunity to think about what I could do to make progress on them, or go over what isn’t working and adjust the goal accordingly. This also will require that I adjust my weekend routines to make time for this weekly check-in. I’ll probably need an hour, at least.

So, that’s the resolution list and plan for this year. I’ve already started moving things around in my routines to get to bed on time, and planning out how to fit a daily egg into my diet (this week, cupcake-sized egg muffins for breakfast…made this morning and cooling for the freezer). Just need to figure out when I’ll do my first goals check-in next weekend, and I’ll be off to a good start.

Here’s to a year of focus, flexibility and forward progress!

Housework, NaNo Update & Other Stuff

*yawn*

It’s Sunday night as I write this, and I am *tired*. I planned to put away Halloween yesterday, and just…didn’t. I mostly sat around and thought about doing stuff, with the exception of going grocery shopping and then out to dinner and a movie with my husband (Thor: Ragnorok – very fun, can’t wait for the next one!).

In any case, that meant today was the day to do “all the things”, including all my housework (which I was already behind on from last weekend) and putting as much Halloween away as I could, given the snow outside. But with the extra hour (I do love fall-back-to-standard-time), I got up earlier and subsequently finished earlier, which is nice because I’ll be able to get to bed on time (which almost never happens on Sunday nights).

Yes, I should have been writing. All weekend. My NaNo word count so far is a measly 1700 words…which is about what I should have for one entire day. But my house was a wreck from all the festivities last week, and there was no way I could focus without doing something about that.

Why is my word count so low, you ask? Well, I got a decent start on Wednesday, but not fast enough. Thursday I thought I was doing well, but I ended up starting my writing session late, and I’m just not willing to give up sleep this time around. So I went to bed. And Friday was a horrible Tuesday-clone all the way around, so I honestly just didn’t feel much like writing. Or anything else, for that matter.

I want to write this story…badly. And when I am working on it, it’s flowing really well – better than any other story I’ve written so far. I think it’s due to the fact that I know so much of the backstory. It really makes everything, including the character motivations, more clear in my head. I think this coming week the word count will go better, or I hope it will, anyways.

But this time, I’m not willing to give up sleep, or health, or my normal priorities just to make a specific daily/monthly word count happen. I’ve done it before, and while I could do that again, it’s just not worth it to me. I do have this coming Friday off work though (in observance of Veteran’s Day), which means I’ll be able to work on the story on and off all day (bliss!). And since I got most of the Halloween stuff put away today, I should be able to grab a few longer writing sessions next Saturday and Sunday as well.

So, way too early to give up on NaNo. Plenty of time and opportunities to raise the word count without compromising my health-related priorites.

Of course, there are some other things I’d like to do this month, like cleaning up that old sewing machine and getting it running, and starting some knit and crocheted Christmas gifts. Maybe this week will be the week I get my schedule together and figure out how to work on those at the same time I’m working on the NaNo novel. Wouldn’t that be cool?!

I live in hope.

Now, since I have everything all wrapped up early for once, and I have an hour until bedtime…maybe I can make that word count a little more respectable before I sleep. To everyone else out there “writing the good write”…many words to you!

 

Halloween Craziness & NaNoWriMo

Yes, I’m running late with blog posts this week. Our Halloween yard haunt takes up a lot of my time, and since the hubby is out of town this year, I’m finishing things up myself. But I have a couple hours to wait while I get the windshield and back window replaced in our truck (finally – they’ve been cracked/broken, respectively for over a year now), which seemed like a good time to catch up on a little posting.

Our theme for the haunt this year is a 13th anniversary celebration, which seemed fitting since our own 13th anniversary was back in September, and we’ve put up at least some sort of graveyard every year since. I’m kind of scatterbrained though, and planning for both the masquerade party we went to and the haunt got my mental wires a bit crossed. Which is to say, I forgot about the “bad luck” part of the theme I was going to include with the yard haunt, and after the truck is done, I need to go pick up some horseshoes to hang upside down (so the luck runs out). I’m not sure where to find three-leaf shamrocks this time of year, or small hand mirrors to break…*sigh* But I should be able to bring a ladder out for someone to walk under. Hubby asked me if I wanted one last Saturday, and I couldn’t think of why – that’s how discombobulated I was (we were getting ready for the party that day).

In any case, lots of work yet to do on the yard, which is why I have today (Monday) and tomorrow off work. So much to do, so little time…

Then on Wednesday, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts. I’m not even close to being ready…I mean, I have the novel I want to write and the basic plot, but getting 1667 words per day (which is what you have to write to “win” with 50k words at the end of the month)? Yeah. I’ve been lucky to get 500 words down a few days a week lately. I don’t think there’s any possible way I can win this year, but I really do want to write this particular story, so I’m still going to give it a good try. The Matter of Misty Mardeaux has been rolling around in my head for over a year now – just shortly after I started my tattoo sleeve, and it’s time to at least start getting it down “on paper”. So, we’ll see.

The party was great fun, as always, though several other couples chose the same costumes we did (Red Riding Hood & the Wolf), so that was a bit of a bummer. Next year we’ll have to pick something more original. Or try, anyways. Still, always fun to go see everyone else’s costumes!

I think next year’s yard haunt will be more fun too, with hubby here so we can work on it together, and we’re finally going to do the creepy carnival theme we’ve been thinking about for years. Plenty of ideas swirling around for that already! We should be a bit more on top of things next year.

Now, break time is about over, and time to get back to work…

Happy Halloween, and for anyone else doing NaNo this year, many words to you!

Ruminations on Priorities & Sewing

I’ve been re-examining my priorities lately…for about the 70-billionth time. I generally do that when I really want to do something I’m not currently doing, and have no time to “work it in”. But I live in hope that some day, I’ll list out all the stuff I want to do and magically have time to do every last bit of it. Preferably with a reasonable amount of proficiency.

Gotta love a good fantasy, eh?

I also tend to reevaluate when I want to make sure that the things I’m making a priority really are important enough to keep the spot they currently hold. Writing is actually one of those things I’m constantly questioning. I haven’t published anything in two years (or more), I’m never quite sure if what I’m writing is something I want to publish, and I often wonder if I really should be spending so much time and money on something that isn’t really doing much for me in return.

Aside from…you know…providing a creative outlet that keeps me from going all nutty and such.

In any case, bringing home another antique typewriter last weekend was just a plain enjoyable event, because I have no real intention of actually using it. I just love to have old typewriters around, and have that little nostalgic piece of history to look and marvel at. I find them inspiring.

But buying the antique sewing machine sent me into another mental frenzy of “how am I going to fit restoring and using this lovely piece of equipment into my already packed schedule?” If it were already in good shape and all I had to do was use it or not, that would be one thing…I can accept it as an antique piece to enjoy and maybe use “sometimes”. But I can’t just leave it in the condition it’s in. It really needs to be shined up and oiled and brought back to something lovely. I *want* to do that.

And of course having a sewing machine in the house that actually works (albeit needs some work, but it does work currently) makes me want to do some craft projects that require a sewing machine. I’ve had a couple of sewing machines in the past, but always cheap, portable, electric models that required me to clean off space to work, near a plug-in, and put up with noise, and try to keep up with the machine as it outpaces my brain by a mile…needless to say, I gave both of them away. This one…this one is virtually silent. The speed is more easily controllable. It has its own table (that looks really nice as a piece of furniture), and needs no electricity. Unlike those other machines…this is a machine I actually *want* to use.

Of course I can’t really even start restoring it (aside from washing the casing) until I order a few inexpensive parts and some oil. I’ll do that tonight (today is payday – yay!). So next weekend, I’ll have what I need to work on it…but it will also be one of the busiest weekends of the year for us, with two Halloween events and then my husband flying out for a work trip and me trying to finish up props for the yard and candy bags for the kids.

Ah, Halloween. Our favorite holiday, and my poor husband will be stuck at a conference and on a plane for much of the actual day/evening. Which is just all sorts of wrong, really. But, we’ll look forward to next year.

Anyways…I will make time for the sewing machine restoration, even if just in bits and pieces. And eventually, I’ll figure out how to make time for the small sewing projects I have in mind. It seems like something important enough to make time for…because of the impact it will have not just on my life, but on the lives of my family when I make things for them.

And I’ll continue to make time for reading and writing, because it’s good for me mentally. And crocheting/knitting, because it’s good for me to get away from the screen and do something with my hands. Weaving will also make its way into the rotation.

My stamp collection is just going to sit for awhile…I just don’t have time to put any kind of meaningful work into it. The jigsaw puzzle on the table is probably going back in the box un-solved. Social media…well, that’s just going to have to be minimalistic too. Because in the evenings after I eat and walk the dogs and before I sit down to write, I need some time to just chill…away from all screens except the TV. That’s my crochet/knitting time, and it’s time when I don’t have to be social, chatting, talking, using my brain and straining my eyes. I’ve been slipping back into that more lately, setting the yarn aside for my laptop, and while I stay more connected to people that way, I lose the time I need to just wind down and be inside my own head for awhile. And that’s an important thing to protect.

Priorities are important. And knowing when to put things aside is important too. I think I’m starting to get better at identifying what I need to make a priority at this point in my life, and what can wait until later. Which is a very good, freeing thing.

Holidays, Book Inventory, Sleep, & Tattoos

Today is a federal holiday, which means I am not at work. Call it Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day as you like (or Thanksgiving in Canada – Happy Turkey Day, Canadian peeps!) – I’m happy enough to stay home either way.

I have some editing I want to get done…on paper, no less. So that will take up part of the day. I need to catch up on the food prep I didn’t get done this past weekend too. Breakfast burrioes, yogurt & dog treats all need to be made.

I also want to start inventorying the books in my office bookcases. I have three tall bookshelves at the moment, but my husband is building me a really nice wall unit that will have four bookcases on top of four sets of drawers below, and in the middle (two on each side) a charging station/small desk area where the new printer and all chargable devices will sit to juice up.

I’d like to put all of the books into an inventory program I bought for that specific purpose, and moving them to new shelves seems like a good time to reorganize and clean out the copies I don’t want any longer. It’ll take me longer than a day, so might as well get started while I have a little extra time. I need to clean off all the little knick-knacks that accumulate in front of the books too (just me? Really?), and find another place for my porcelain doll collection (currently on top of the old bookshelves). Some of that is on the agenda for today as well. I can’t sit all day, but I can’t be in constant motion, either, so having different tasks will satisfy that need for variety.

On sleeping: as it turns out, getting more sleep does leave me clearer-headed. Unfortunately, it does not make me want to move any faster late at night when I should be extricating myself from the couch/cuddling dogs to get the kitchen cleaned up and get to my office to write.

But, new habits and routines take time, so this week, I’ll just plug along trying to stick to the same routine. Hopefully it’ll click eventually if I just keep going. I did okay getting to sleep on time for the first few days, but by the end of the week, I was reading later and sleeping later and not hitting my targets, or feeling rested. It’s been hard to stay asleep too – I’ve been waking up earlier (at my “old normal” time), and then going back to sleep. Though this morning I woke up closer to the “new normal” time, so…progress?

At least I’m getting more sleep than I was, so hopefully it’ll turn into more deep sleep one of these days.

I did get some new words in on my novel drafts last week, and bought a new printer so I can edit on paper. This week’s writing update is over on the writing blog, if you’re interested in more details on that.

And I stopped at the tattoo shop this past Saturday to show my artist how the smoke-filler in my sleeve turned out, and he wants to add some more (I was hoping he would). So I have an appointment for Thursday at 1pm. Can’t wait to see how it looks after this next session! I think the extra filler will really make it look more “complete”.

After that heals, I’ll get a video/pictures of the whole thing. And then we can discuss the different pieces/parts, and how they ended up plotting the backstory of the novel I’ll be working on starting next month, for those who might be interested.

Now it’s time to make another cup of tea, throw open the blinds, wave my husband off to work and get going on the first editing session for today…

Credit Monitoring, Fingerless Gloves & Lottery

Do you monitor your credit? I haven’t for a long time, mostly because I know Experian has my file messed up, and they pretty much refused to fix it last time I contacted them about it. It’s incredibly frustrating because my maiden name is essentially the same as my dad’s name (James/Jamie), which means even when I contact creditors to have them tell Experian that a line of credit isn’t mine, they get confused too due to the name thing. The last two times I applied for a home loan, I had to write and collect a bunch of letters from my dad and to Experian in order to prove that the lines of credit that are his aren’t mine, and vice versa. It’s insanely annoying.

Enter the great Equifax hack of…well, last spring, I guess. No, I didn’t go look to see if I was affected…I mean, I think it’s safe to assume that my data is out there in the ether. I’m still a bit shocked that they cared so little about security as to ignore three warnings and also failed to update their system with prompt patching (mostly because I’m a database admin, and I am completely paranoid/anal about doing whatever’s necessary to keep the data I’m responsible for safe). But then I think about the customer “service” I’ve received from them in the past, and I’m not so shocked anymore.

In any case, the leading suggestion for keeping your data safe is to freeze your credit report accounts and keep them frozen until/unless you need to apply for credit. Which is something I can’t do, because of the mess with my dad’s records being mixed up with mine. Until/unless that gets fixed, freezing my account could freeze his, and vice versa, and getting it unfrozen could be…well, practically impossible. It’s not worth the risk, and that means no using companies like LifeLock, etc either (since that’s basically what they do for their “protection” services.

But, I have signed up for a free credit monitoring account with Credit Sesame (highly recommended, pulls from all three credit reporting companies, doesn’t lock credit accounts), and I’ll probably spring for one of the lowest monthly tiers for a monthly credit report from all three companies. Just to keep a better eye on things than I do now (which is pretty much ignoring it as much as possible).

Heck, maybe it’ll be good motivation to get some credit paid down. If nothing else just to have more money to pay for the credit monitoring. *sigh*

Aside from that, it was back to work last week, and predicatably my writing output took a bit of a header. But it’s all good, because I started using my very low-tech Alphasmart Neo for all of my late-night writing sessions, and I have to say, I wish I’d done that sooner. So much easier to focus – I started a new story, worked on a different short story, and I’m excited about what I might be able to get done using that method going forward. Focus is good. Focus is everything when it comes to writing.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about crochet/knitting lately, and how I’d love to get back to that on a regular basis. Last week the weather turned cold pretty suddenly as a cold front came through, and I took my fingerless gloves to work. They helped a little, but not a lot because they’re thin. And then I thought about the absolutely gorgeous, soft, fuzzy yarn I bought last weekend, and how warm and cozy that would be for fingerless gloves, and now I’m really wanting to make a pair (or several, in different colors) for the office when it’s cold (so, always).

So that’s a project I want to start this week. I should be able to work on those during the hour in the evenings I watch TV with hubby. As long as I use a somewhat simple pattern, anyways. Though I kind of want to try crochet cables, and that would be a nice, small project to learn them on.

I’ve been thinking about my stamp collection lately too, and my comic books, and my to-be-read pile.

Retirement is only…what…25 yrs away?

I should probably start buying lottery tickets again.

New Habits & Vacation Success

So you know that thing where you’re on vacation, and you think that you should get your normal chores done early so you don’t have to rush around all crazy-like doing them on Sunday to be ready for the work week like normal?

Yeah. I did actually *think* that. I just didn’t actually do it. And we played on Saturday (local home improvement show, grand opening for a new local yarn shop), so all I did then was my normal grocery shopping. Well, that, and I realized that when I was setting up my shiny new Note 8 last week, the one thing I forgot to backup for restoration was my Grocery Tracker app. Read: complete brain for the kitchen, pantry and grocery store so I don’t have to even remember what might need to go on the list – it’s all in a master list that I can refer to when making the actual list, which reminds me of what to check as well as what I might need (if that makes any sense).

In any case, my point is, without the grocery part of my digital brain, I made three (yes, three) trips to various stores this weekend. See how disorganized and inefficient I can be when my carefully curated systems fall apart? Scary, I know. I’ve started rebuilding my grocery list, so next weekend shouldn’t be nearly so disorganized. I hope.

In any case, that’s my extremely long-winded explanation for why this post is a day late. I’m actually writing it on my AlphaSmart Neo during what would normally be my late writing time – it’s nearly midnight Mon/Tues. The weekend got away from me, and I had to use this morning’s writing time to get the BSB weekly post up. So here I am, in my cozy armchair in the office, sparing my sore eyes and trying to start a habit of typing over here instead of on my laptop at my desk. Too much shiny distractive-ness over there. Though the glare of the light in here off the Neo’s rather reflective screen isn’t wonderful, but it’s far easier on my eyes than backlighting. I’d get one of those newfangled typewriters with the e-ink screen, but I hear they don’t have a back button/arrow. That isn’t gonna work for me. I need to be able to fix minor spelling mistakes as I go. It’s important.

In any case, this is the plan for the near future. For my late night writing sessions (which tend to be sidetracked rather quickly), I’m going to grab the Neo and park in my armchair for at least half an hour. I should probably set an alarm so I get to bed at a reasonable hour. Or at least reasonable enough that I can function at work the next day. I think that will probably work much better than trying to write amidst the distractions of email, facebook, etc. Heck, it already is! Far, far easier on the eyes, too.

Last week was the best vacation I’ve had yet. I finished a draft that I really wanted to get done, did a lot of writing, and pretty much just didn’t worry about too much else. I had housework-type stuff that I wanted to get done, but I didn’t, and I really don’t even feel bad about it. It’ll all get done eventually, and I spent my vacation doing what I wanted to do, rather than what I felt needed to be done, and it was structured but loose enough that I could have a lot of wiggle-room. I played with the dogs, read comic books, set up the new cell not just for organization, but for writing and editing too, and slept in (but not too long) every day.

I even made it to the archery range, and shot pretty well considering all the times I’ve missed lately.

Most importantly, I got enough writing done that I feel more “in control” of that area of my life again…like I can handle it and make progress again, instead of spinning my wheels like I sort of was. Which takes a lot of the stress I was putting on myself off. It feels good.

It’s late – I just transferred this to the laptop, and now I need to hit “publish” and then hit the hay so I have a chance of making it to work on time tomorrow (early on Tuesdays – staff meeting).

Hooray for vacations! And yay for good paying, stable jobs, too. 😉

Movin’ Along, Vacation Time & Essential Oils

So…how about that eclipse?! After hearing stories about what those in the path of totality saw, I kind of wish I’d made the drive (only a few hours), but we did have around 94% coverage here, and I have to say, it was fun going up on the roof of our building to watch, and seeing everyone else on rooftops and the top floors of parking garages all checking out the sky in the late morning hours. It felt very…unified, and given all the issues and divisiveness (*ahem*) our country has been dealing with lately, it was a welcome break to hear everyone talking about one subject that we could all agree on and enjoy together.

As for the rest of the week, I got both my new microwave and toaster oven Monday and Thursday, respectively, and they’re both in and working great. My kitchen looks better than it has in years, and I just have one more counter to clean/reorganize before I’ll be done with that huge job for awhile. That will have to wait a week – I was pretty lazy this past weekend, and got very little done.

My analog/low digital plans for writing last week never happened, and as a result, I ended the week far behind and really frustrated with myself. I was up too late pretty much every night getting distracted by everything but writing (installing the new appliances/cleaning counters, online shopping/bill-paying, researching things that should have been left for later, etc). It was…ridiculous, really. My brain was jumping all over the place, and instead of reigning it in, I just went right along for the ride. Stupid.

Part of this is work-related, and without going into too much detail, I need to manage my…uh…”introvert needs” better. Too much interaction with people throughout the day without any way to balance it with quiet time leaves my head in a bad state, and until I get that quiet time it stays unbalanced and affects my focus and mood and a whole bunch of other things. I need to figure out how to make sure I get the recovery time I need from having to be social at work (taking my breaks instead of spending them at my desk is probably a good place to start), so I’ll be working on that this week.

And of course part of it is just my own discipline issues. I’ll work on that again this week as well.

I’ve requested this next Friday off, and the whole week after Labor Day. I need a vacation, and that’s one of the few weeks this fall where my being gone shouldn’t affect too much (if anything) at work.

I plan on doing a lot of writing/editing next week, with some minimal housework to break up the sitting times. But mostly, just spending time alone, doing what I want to do for awhile. I think that will be incredibly helpful/restorative.

I’ve also been doing some research on essential oils, and how to use them for both mental focus and relaxation. I use them in my face creams already, and the occasional lotion attempt, so I’m not a complete stranger to them (chamomile and valerian root are great for skin issues & relaxation). Murphy-dog has been using essential oils for his anxiety since he was with his foster family, and it’s pretty amazing how much his mood changes depending on whether he’s had his sprays for the day or not. I wanted to get some for his leg (to hopefully help with healing), and while I was looking up which ones would be safe, useful for that, etc, I also found information on some oils that might help my own focus/alertness at night. I did one experiment last week with surprisingly good results (honestly, I really didn’t expect it to), so I’ll be plugging in one of my many unused diffusers in my home office this week, and diffusing peppermint, lavendar and frankincense at night – that seems to work surprisingly well for keeping my head where it needs to be, and keeping my mind from wandering.

Yes, it could still be a placeabo effect, but really, does it matter? I think not…whatever works. I’m totally willing to psych myself out if it means I get more words in/more progress on my drafts. I’ll post an update after I get the starter bottles I ordered, and have experimented with them a bit for those who might be interested.

No, I didn’t buy into an MLM company or anything like that. Just a small company focused on selling high quality oils at a reasonable price. Sometimes smaller is better/more consciencious.

In any case, busy week, but I have four days of work this week and then…vacation!

Vacation is good. 🙂

The Eclipse, More Kitchen Organization & Writing Discipline

Got your glasses, film, or cardboard viewer ready? Or your favorite internet/TV channel for viewing things like, say, a solar eclipse?

I’m lucky enough to live in the path of this year’s eclipse – we’ll get 93% coverage here, which is pretty darn close to total. I do have a pair of clip-on eclipse viewing glasses that are so dark you can’t see a single thing through them except the sun (seriously – you couldn’t walk around with them on…you’re blind) – they’re in my desk at work so I can catch the view out the window (or take a break) at the darkest point. It will last through my lunch hour, so I’ll be able to sneak peeks here at home as well…should be much more fun than your average Monday.

I was really young when the last eclipse passed over our place here…just three or four. But I actually do remember my mom making a pinhole viewer out of a cardboard box so we could watch it, and it was absolutely fascinating to me.

In other news, I spent a lot of time working on my kitchen this weekend. Cleaning, rearranging, planning how to rearrange a few other things on my countertop to accomodate a toaster oven (which I’ve never had, but really want), and just moving things around to make things more efficient.

I think I have a working plan, but we’ll see. My new microwave should be here today or tomorrow, and I’m apprehensive because it’s so much lower wattage than my current one. But it looks so much nicer (goin’ retro, baby!), it takes up a lot less space, and as long as it will heat up leftovers/lunches and defrost meat, that’s really all I need it for. Fingers crossed!

I get paid tomorrow, and I’m planning to order the new toaster oven then. I found an inexpensive one with really good reviews with a retro look that will be much more fun than the normal boring white or black box, so I’ll order that, and wait anxiously until it gets here (hooray Amazon Prime!).

I also found an app this weekend that I’m pretty excited about – Grocery Tracker. I’ve been wanting to keep better track not just of what I need, but of what I have in the pantry, plus have a way to automatically take things out of the pantry when I use them and put them back on the grocery list. This app will do all of that, from menu planning to inventory (of the fridge, both freezers and the pantry) to automated grocery lists. It’s incredibly robust, so there is a learning curve, but I didn’t find it difficult to get started with at all (and the barcode scanner works very well too – less data entry is good!). I spent a fair amount of time taking inventory of food I have in the house this weekend, but it’ll be worth it in the long run (and once something’s in the database, it doesn’t have to be added again, just scanned, so much easier).

In other news, I’m updating my writing blog again, so if you’re interested in what I’m working on, head over there for this week’s post. The new writing schedule is working out…okay. Not perfect, but that’s mostly because I’m so tired late at night and easily distracted. I think this week I’ll either write by hand late nights, or use my Alphasmart Neo, just to avoid internet-distraction & wasting time.

It’s all about discipline, really, and when I’m tired, I have none (or very little, anyway). Which leads to being more tired because I stay up later, get less sleep, and do the same cycle the next day. So this week, analog/low-digital writing options for late nights, and getting to bed on time. Fingers crossed…

Kitchen Organization & Irony

If I were to sum up this past weekend in one word, it would be: “whew”. I’m tired. I was almost happy to be back at work today, except my muscles had more time to try to stiffen up as I sat at my desk. I used quite a few this weekend that I haven’t used in quite a long time. A couple trips up the stairs and back down plus morning yoga seemed to keep the stiffness down a bit though.

Saturday I had a good time book shopping with a friend met on Facebook, and then the work began. We loaded up our two couches, took ’em out to the dump, and then it was off to the furniture store to pick up our new sectional. Back to the house, I vacuumed while hubby freed the new furniture from its packaging, and then we hauled everything in, put it together, and man…it’s a very nice sectional. Not too big, looks great, plenty of room for me and both dogs, and room enough for the rare guest too.

Hubby took a shower and headed out for a night with his brother, and I set out to clean off/out the refrigerator for our next project: fixing a leak in the water line that popped up and ruined the kitchen floor a week and a half ago. I cleaned off old appliances and such that had been living on top the fridge – just tossed ’em, since I don’t need them or they didn’t work any longer. Dusted, took off the magnets, cleaned all the old food out, and…decided to go ahead and replace the water inlet valve, which we suspected was the leaking culprit. I was on a roll…didn’t feel like waiting for hubby to help on Sunday.

I replaced the valve, turned the water back on, and…turned out there was a pinhole leak in the water line. Dammit. Taped up the leak, pushed the fridge back, and called it good for the night (around 10pm).

A good deal of Sunday was taken up with going out to get the new line, snaking it up with the old line, not having the right connector fittings (so another trip to the store for hubby), and then finally getting it fixed late in the afternoon. After that, I finally got to my normal weekend chores – vacuuming, garbage duty, recycling, laundry, and grocery shopping (which I normally do Saturday afternoons now, but I didn’t want to fill the fridge again until we were done moving it around).

I’ve been thinking a lot about my kitchen lately (I tend to do that when stuff breaks and/or doesn’t work like it should), and wanting to make a few changes with how things are organized. So cleaning out the fridge/freezer this weekend was a good start, and also a good way to really take stock of my counters and how I want to rearrange them to accommodate the appliances I need/use.

Cleaning off the top of the fridge also gave me storage for appliances I use, but only once a week or less – like my yogurt maker. I’ll use it tonight, and then it will sit again for a couple of weeks, so instead of having it in front of my crockpots (in the way), I’ll put it on top the fridge between uses. It’s one of those things I have no problem actually reaching for when I need it. Same with extra pitchers/etc for my Ninja blender (that I mostly use for smoothies). Right now, they tend to “float” on the crockpot trio just because I’m out of cupboard space. Those can live up on the fridge as well.

I’ve ordered a smaller microwave, which may or may not end up being a mistake, but I’m tired of the huge one we have taking up 2/3 of the countertop where it lives. It’s a beast, and we’ve been getting occasional “door not closed” errors on the display, so it’s time to replace it anyway, but the one I ordered is half the size and wattage (only 700watts!), so…we’ll see. The new one is much cuter – a retro look, and it will leave enough room on that counter for my dehydrator, which currently lives by the stove. Then the few cookbooks I refer to on occasion can move to that tiny counter, leaving room on the other side of the stove for the toaster oven I want to get later in the month.

I don’t use the microwave for cooking, only defrosting/reheating. I’m hoping this smaller one will do the job. It does have excellent reviews. And I’m hoping to eventually use the toaster oven more than the microwave or larger oven. At least until I can buy a new convection oven, maybe even one with two separate cooking zones…because I love kitchen gadgets just as much as I love other electronics, and because there are only two of us, so it’s not like I need a whole lot of space to make dinner most nights, and it would be nice not to heat up an entire large oven for just a single pan of veggies (or 3 slices of toast on the weekend).

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.

I need a new oven (one burner on my stovetop doesn’t work, and the oven itself doesn’t heat evenly), and I’d like a new fridge, but those are going to have to wait awhile. Crazy how much appliances cost, isn’t it?

I’m always looking for ways to make my little galley kitchen more efficient…and I freely admit I have too much stuff packed into it already. But, I use it daily, and use most of the appliances I have on a very regular basis, so it’s not like I’m just collecting a lot of stuff I don’t use. Aside from baking dishes. Because I rarely bake (calories!), but when I do need them, at least I have them.

I’d also really like to keep a running inventory of the fridge, freezer, pantry, and deep freeze, in hopes of using things up on a more regular basis (instead of buying too much and wasting food). Alas, that’s a project I’ve been trying to get going for years, and still haven’t managed. But maybe this next weekend I’ll be able to finally get a good inventory entered into an app of some sort. I’m taking this coming Friday off work, and the plan is to give the pantry and deep freeze the same “clean it out” treatment I just gave the fridge. Which would be a good time for inventory…if I were so inclined….

Better efficiency and inventory of course doesn’t just mean better food management. It makes it easier to cook and eat healthier. Which makes it easy to manage weight and stay healthier overall.

Ironic thing number one this past week: We switched to whole grain breads in order to be healthier with our carbs. Neither of us have ever particularly cared for the taste, but I did find some that are at least passably palatable.

The irony is, for years I’ve been struggling with how to keep bread from molding without keeping it in the fridge. Apparently, whole grain bread keeps better than white – not one roll or bun molded last week in the breadbox on the counter. So apparently, healthier is actually heartier, in the case of bread at least. Who knew?

Ironic thing number two is that all weekend, my SHealth app was pestering me because I “wasn’t as active” over the weekend as I normally am on weekdays. The truth is, I was far, far more active, but I tend not to put my cell in my pocket when I’m doing things like…moving couches, cleaning out and moving refrigerators, pulling new water lines, vacuuming, laundry, etc. I mean…why would I have my cell in my pocket for all that, when it could get lost or broken or whatever? Duh.

In any case, new couch – check. Working refrigerator – check. Plan for the kitchen this weekend – check.

Energy/motivation to get all this stuff done…well, let’s wait and see what I’ve got by Friday.