Monday, March 31, 2014

goals: march 2014, part 2

so, after changing up the building-habits posts to discrete goals, the checklist for march was as follows:

  • digitize photos from 2004, 2003, 2002
  • update 2014 photobook through march
  • finish my gallery wall
  • pack up my "winter" clothes for storage
  • finish my retirement account transfer

after many months of viewing goals in the verrryyyy long-term, it was refreshing to have goals that i had a real chance of accomplishing by month's end.  i was a little ambitious, setting so many goals mid-month, but that forced me to get a little creative to accomplish them all, like digitizing photos during video-chats.  i actually managed to accomplish all of the goals above.  i even managed to do my taxes AND flip my mattress and wash all bed linens, despite leaving those two off the list.

most enjoyable accomplishment is definitely the gallery wall.  it's unconventional (i didn't start out planning a gallery wall) but i like it very much all the same!

a better view of the pieces...
letterpress print: elise blaha (frame, ross) // bird image: home-made (frame, goodwill)
clock: tj maxx // collage frame: cost plus world market
barn painting: hand-me-down from grandparents (frame, aaron brothers)
ampersand: elise blaha // wire mail-sorter: gift // key rack: target
quote & photo: handwritten, photo printed at fedex (frame, aaron brothers)

moving on to a new month...

april's goals:
digitize mom's 2004-2008 photos
update 2014 photobook through april
store all items that won't be used this summer
get (proper) blackout shades hung

ready, set, go...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

windows down, music up.

one of my very favorite past-times is being in the car, in warm (even mild is fine) weather, with the windows down and the music cranked up.  the minute i'm settled in and singing along, i can feel the tension melt away and life is just better.

but here's the thing. i look around, and no one else has their windows down. not even cracked. i don't understand this. in snow, in rain, sure! keep those windows up and the water out. but lately the weather has been wonderful and maybe these folk aren't in office buildings all day, so they don't crave fresh air quite the same way, but still. i rarely, if ever, see another window down. is everyone is afraid of the world outside?

i guess that just means more sunshine for me...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

recipe: butterbeer.

i love a good harry potter moment, movie or film.  i would love to spend a day or two at harry potter world, but that's a little far away and a lot more money than i'm inclined to shell out at the moment.  so instead, i headed to google and found myself a recipe for butterbeer!

this was simple and sweet (literally. really sweet.) and you best believe i will be making it again soon.  a few notes:
(1) clarified butter doesn't exactly mix with chilled soda, but once you add the foam on top you really won't notice. i wasn't able to find imitation butter flavor at any regular stores, but ghee is readily available (at least at trader joe's), so i went that route. real food ingredients ftw?
(2) this stuff is best very chilled. as in, i would chill the "foam" for 20-30 minutes before serving next time. possibly even in the freezer.
(3) small portions are best. this stuff is seriously rich, so consider splitting the portions. if you do this, the extra "foam" goes really well with strawberry pie.

butterbeer ingredients:
6 12 oz bottles chilled cream soda
3 tsp imitation butter flavor, or 2 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)

"foam" ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp imitation butter, or 3 tsp clarified butter (ghee)

in a large bowl, whip the heavy cream on medium high speed for 3-4 minutes until it starts to thicken.  add the sugar and continue whipping until soft peaks begin to form, another 3-4 minutes (or as needed).  stir in the vanilla and imitation/clarified butter, then whip for another 30 seconds or so, until soft peaks form.  let set out 6 large glasses. place 1 tsp clarified butter (or 1/2 tsp imitation butter) in each class. pour the sodas into each glass, over the butter.
spoon a generous portion of foam on top of each glass, then mix gently. if you aren't going for the "look", you can spoon the foam into the bottom of the glass before pouring in the cream soda. serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

diy: knit infinity scarf.

nothing super special about how i made this scarf...a regular knit stitch, with a lot of oops moments in the form of accidental extra stitches (while gorgeous and soft, the yarn had a tendency to split) and compensatory condensing stitches. the problem with those oops moments was the wonky shape that to fix it, i turned it into an infinity scarf, with some very unprofessional weaving together of the ends. i'm just really glad it's done (i'm trying this new thing where i finish the projects sitting around my place before i start another, and this one has been hanging over my head ever since i found last summer while it going through my craft supplies). i'm all set for california's next cold snap...ha!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

building habits: march 2014, part 1

i know it's mid-month, but i'm changing up goal/habit tracking.  though i still agree with the idea of growing habits or meeting long-term goals through the use of quotas, i think that, at least for habits, there comes a point where monthly tracking of whole-life goals becomes weirdly de-motivating. possibly because after a while, it makes me feel like i'm not doing enough to meet some "exercise x times per week"  or "eat greens each day" goal, when my real goal is to be more active and eat well overall, for the rest of ever.  in fact, in all the tracking and day-to-day of it, i find myself losing sight of the beginnings of the real goals, which are the mindsets i want to choose for my life: joy, health, love, focus, and peace.

i'm not saying that the whole-life goals are not important, or don't deserve my attention.  they are, and do, and remain priorities in the larger scheme of life.  that is why i set them as "mindsets" to choose, after all. but mindsets and life-habits are larger concepts that should be allowed to fluctuate in their focus - sometimes with more emphasis, sometimes with less, but always a focus - to fit your life at its present stage. all that being said, there are also discrete goals i want to accomplish that i feel deserve a bit of my focus as well, that have been getting lost in the rest of the list.  consider this work toward the overall habit of "getting things done"...which i hear is an important skill for being an adult.  so, the new list to track (not including my lenten goals) is:

digitize 2004, 2003, 2002
update 2014 photobook through march
finish my gallery wall
pack up my "winter" clothes for storage
finish my retirement account transfer

Sunday, March 16, 2014


i am sometimes asked why, as a non-catholic, i take part in lent.  the oxford dictionary defines lent as "the period preceding easter that, in the christian church, is devoted to fasting, abstinence and penitence in commemoration of christ's fasting in the wilderness."  in western christianity, it runs from ash wednesday to holy saturday, inclusive. that's 40 week days, or 46 days total, of sacrifice.  i have found that, for the last few years, that 46 day period of sacrifice is ideal for self-discovery and personal growth.  

two years ago, i was regularly overindulging in foods that were unhealthy, so i gave up candy, potato chips and soda.  that sparked a whole-life change that continues on today - i eat better foods, indulge in appropriate amounts (and portions), am generally more active, pay attention to ingredients in food and bodycare products, and am overall more aware of how i care for my body.  one year ago, i was regularly overindulging in bread, so i gave up gluten. it complicated life for my mother, and for myself a bit as well, but it was worth it for the renewed awareness of my habits and choices.  

this year, i gave up candy on january 1, with the intention to carry that through lent to easter. and yes, with easter being in mid-april, that means i gave up candy for nearly a quarter of 2014.  but i struggle enough with candy - the ability to stop after only one piece especially - that it was the right choice for me.  i have definitely been opting for dessert more often lately, but it works out alright because true desserts don't have quite the same just-one-more quality.  

when lent began, i added a bit more to my plate.  this year, however, i sought to grow through both sacrifice and through the addition of beneficial habits:  
(1) i gave up the snooze button.  i am the furthest thing from a morning person, and while it was workable in college and law school, it is becoming detrimental to my every day now that i not only report to an office m-f but work at a job that tracks billable hours (ohhh billable hours. how i loathe thee).  
(2) i added daily flossing.  you may be the special person who has listened to your dentist since you were small and flossed each and every day, but i was not.  i decided perhaps it was time, and nothing sets a habit in like a 46 day run, so lenten flossing it is.
(3) i added a daily gratitude practice.  each night, i write down three things that i am grateful for that day, whether they be small or large.  it is a small sacrifice in that it lengthens my bedtime routine, but it is worth every second for the constant reminder to choose to find the positive, to choose grateful.

i look forward to reflecting on what i have learned when easter sunday arrives.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

building habits: february 2014

quota: one rosetta stone activity or 15 minutes of duolingo per day // goal: learn spanish
progress: so the first half of the month was zero-for-one on a daily basis. i almost got into it about mid-month, but then tapered off a bit there at the end...
verdict: pretty pitiful. try again.

quota: finish digitizing 2003-2004 // goal: digitize memorabilia
progress: three years later, i finally made a photobook of my trip to tanzania. it's coffee-table style, it's gorgeous, and i love it. also, it was originally $125 with shipping and between sales and discounts i got it for $60, so that was delightful. nowhere on the digitizing 2003-2004 though, so that really needs to be a priority this month.
verdict: productive fail?

quota: turn off electronics by 11:30pm four nights a week // goal: reasonable hours
progress: oh man. when i'm good at this, i'm very good at this. when i am bad, i am straight up awful. like 2 am awful. although in my defense, much of the 2am was for work. because i have an awesomely weird schedule that involves fella/family from about 6-9/10, so any work that didn't get done by 6 but needs to be done before the next day happens after 9/10. oh, how i wish i was a morning person. according to my record-keeping, i was a straight-up fail till feb 13, and then from there it was about 40% win. which means 60% fail. gonna switch this around for next month, and try it from the wake-up-by angle instead of the bed-by angle. lenten sacrifice: don't hit snooze.
verdict: so much work still needed.

quota: one serving of greens per day // goal: eat healthier
progress: every day but two, ladies and gents. and one of those two i was in transit, so...
verdict: win.

quota: exercise three times a week // goal: keep active
progress: not exactly a set routine going on, but i manage to get a round of jillian or a walk in at least 3-4 times a week. i think this goal has become enough of a habit that i can let off tracking it. hooray!
verdict: chuggin' along!

goal: march quotas
learn spanish: 15-30 minutes of rosetta stone or duolingo per day.
digitize memorabilia: digitize 2004, 2003 and 2002. 2002 deserves to be digitized too.
keep reasonable hours: wake up at 7 and don't hit snooze.
eat healthier: greens - one serving daily.