Friday, April 27, 2012

Hi ho

I guess I'll complain about work now, since I haven't stopped doing it for more than 15 minutes at a time for the past four days. I'm mostly dealing with Grumpy's busy season, but I also did an hour for Bashful and have projects for Doc, Happy, and Sneezy waiting for me in the wings. In a moment I'm going to flip a coin and decide which one to tackle first. (I'll do Sneezy's crap if it lands on its edge.)

Also, ha ha, I need to work on an editing test as part of a job application. I know that sounds like the dumbest thing in the history of dumb things, but I really like the potential client, and it would point my career in a direction I'm interested in going. Regardless, it's probably an incredibly stupid idea unless I'm willing to dump one of my other seven clients, which I'm not.

I meant to mention yesterday that, speaking of income and selling things, M.H.'s book is now available in print through Amazon. Godspeed, Rhubarb.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Selling stuff

I got an email this morning that I had sold a shirt in my T-shirt shop. Shocking news! Having a T-shirt shop was, like, four New Life Plans ago, and I forgot it was even there.

I wish I was having this kind of smashing success on eBay. I'm currently attempting to sell a bunch of baseball cards my dad bought from someone, but no one seems to want them. Actually, no one seems to want anything I put on eBay lately. Or they get it for 99 cents, forcing me to make a super-not-productive trip to the post office, where I inevitably realize I calculated the postage wrong and will end up making approximately 22 cents for my forty-five minutes of trouble.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Filling the fridge

Starting tomorrow, I've got a huge work week ahead of me. At times like this, I generally rely on M.H. to bring food and tea to my desk so I can crank out inhuman amounts of editing, and in the past we've stocked up on frozen pizzas, taquitos, and tortellini from Costco to make it easier on him. Now, of course, he spends hours in the kitchen chopping up meat and fresh veggies to make tasty Paleo meals instead.

Just kidding!

No, we got smart and spent a couple of hours last night making several days' worth of meals. We cooked a huge pot of chili, a double batch of Paleo Pad Thai, some turkey breakfast sausage, and a mess of caramelized onions (OMG, guess which one took the longest???). We also washed and chopped some fruit and hard-boiled a bunch of eggs. That ought to get us through Friday without doing any cooking to speak of.

Except for the kids. Someone will still have to feed them something, probably.

P.S. News! The proof copy of Rhubarb finally arrived today. It arrived right as M.H. had to run Mik off to swim practice, so I've only spent about 10 seconds with it, but it sure does look pretty. I'm looking forward to him getting it onto Amazon so our Kindleless friends and relatives can finally read it.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Recipe! Practically Paleo chocolate chip cookies

All right, I have a few more experiments in mind, but here's what I've got on the chocolate chip cookies. I'm finding that they walk a fine line between "too greasy" and "too crumbly," but today's batch seemed just about perfect to me. Here's how to do it:

First, melt one-third cup of coconut oil in a glass measuring cup. Then fill the cup of melted oil to the one-half cup line with agave nectar, and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Those are your wet ingredients.

Grind up 2 cups of walnuts in a food processor until it's nearly walnut butter. Empty that into a bowl, and then grind 1 cup of almonds in the food processor until it's nearly almond flour.

(Side note 1: I have a puny little food processor. No more than 2 cups at a time and "nearly almond flour" is the best it can do. If you have a more powerful one, you might get better results grinding up all the nuts together to the consistency of nut butter, or mixing all the dough in it. Only one way to find out.)

Add the almonds to the walnuts, and then add one-half teaspoon of salt and one-half teaspoon of baking soda. Add the wet ingredients and mix, and then stir in about one-third cup of chocolate chips.

(Side note 2: I'd rather use chopped dark chocolate instead of chocolate chips because it's better for you, but I have to use the dairy-free semisweet chips we have because of my dairy-allergic child. He's also the reason these have no eggs.)

The dough will be quite soft, but you should be able to roll it into small balls; I get about 20 cookies out of this recipe. Oh, and lining your cookie sheet with parchment paper is a requirement for Paleo cookie baking. Flatten each ball ever so slightly (I just give each one a little pat on the head for being awesome). Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. They should be slightly browned (if not, they may not hold together).

Now comes the hard part. WAIT until they're cool before trying one. Or do what we do, and eat them warm with a plate and a fork.

(Side note 3: I feel I should point out that these are not actually good for you. They are just better for you than regular chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, granola bars, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, tortilla chips, cereal, macaroni and cheese, frozen pizza, hot dogs…)

Update: NOT agave. Agave bad. Use honey instead.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mad skills

I've been working hard on two things lately: walking and chocolate-chip cookies.

The walking is because, even though I'm so far behind that the goal is in danger of slipping out of reach, I really do want to hit 1,000 miles this year. The weather has warmed up some, and it's getting easier to get outside with my husband to take our regular stroll. ("Regular" except that now I'm accutely aware that the stroll is 3.1 miles, and that I need to average 3.5 miles a day.) But I've been walking so much that I've noticed that I'm starting to feel stronger as a walker, if that makes any sense—just that it went from easy to easier, and I have some extra leg muscles.

The chocolate-chip cookies (nut-based, of course) are something I've been tinkering with. I honestly feel like they are a force for good in our lives, because (a) they keep me from helping myself to whatever processed treats I find lying around the rest of the world, (b) they are fun to experiment with, and (c) I would honestly rather have the kids snacking on them than on Frosted Mini Wheats. Also…ridiculously delicious. I'll post a recipe when I get them ready for prime time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I love behavioral science

This is a great blog post on the science of self-control, an issue that I think about a lot on those days when I find myself abandoning my diet of fresh vegetables and eating six M&M cookies just because they were there and I made the mistake of leaving my house. (Leaving the house, this article would suggest, causes me no end of ego fatigue, which explains why I don't do it much.)

There's a lot of interesting stuff in the article, but one of the takeaways is "Don't make decisions on an empty stomach," which made me laugh, because it seems the hardest decision our family EVER has to make, just from the apparent degree of anguish involved, is whether and then where to go out to eat. Knowing that the problem is a depletion of glucose is interesting but unhelpful at the crucial moment.

I wonder if there's a way to PRE-make decisions for yourself when you're refreshed and replenished and all your higher-level executive brain functions are at their best. If you could schedule out every meal, every workout, every task, every leisure activity—say, after dinner the night before—would it preserve willpower and decision-making ability for the next day and allow you to carry it all out? Or would your rapidly depleting ego just toss it in the trash, play Scrabble on Facebook, and never make another schedule again? Maybe the better question is how can I turn more productive or healthy habits into things I do without ever needing to have them on a schedule at all (like I've done with breakfast)? I want my whole day to be "mindlessly delicious"!

Monday, April 16, 2012

World Kindness Day

Did you know it's World Kindness Day?

You didn't?

Huh. That's probably because a yoga instructor named Erica in Billings, Montana, made it up. She told us a story a while back about how, when she and her sisters were growing up, her father never wanted anything for his birthday. When they'd press him, he'd just say, "All I want is peace and love, in this house, and in the world." So of course they bought him a lot of useless mugs and junk with "Peace" and "Love" on them, but as she grew older, she realized he was sincere, and all he ever wanted was for his loved ones—if not actually the world—to show kindness to one another.

Erica and her sisters decided that the best they could do would be to declare April 16, his birthday, "World Kindness Day," and they've been passing out green plastic bracelet things that say, "World Kindness Day 4/16 Spread the Peace & Love." I'm wearing one now, but so far that and this blog post are my only personal contribution to World Kindness Day. (And even that is less than it sounds, because I have 23 followers and have yet to leave the house today.)

I think it's a sweet idea, though. Would you like to join me in halfheartedly celebrating the birthday of a kind man whose name you don't know? Spread the peace and love.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A weekend without ambition

On Friday, I finished up ALL the work on my plate (and nothing new came in), so I've been free as a bird. Here's what I did:

  • Went to an art museum and discovered the WONDER that is art quilting.
  • Played four games of Risk with Mik.
  • Helped M.H. get the print version of his book finished and uploaded. (It's so pretty! He's now just waiting for the proof copy to be mailed before making it available on Amazon.)
  • Took Dex out to lunch.
  • Went to yoga.
  • Made two batches of nut-based chocolate-chip cookies.
  • Took a two-hour bath while finishing the Hunger Games trilogy.
  • Etc.

You might think that I think that I should have listed a bunch of stuff on eBay or started outlining my own book or walked eight miles a day. If you think that I think that, then I think you know me well. But this time I actually relished the chance to have a complete break. Just keeping you on your toes with my wild unpredictability.

P.S. An imaginary friend of mine read Rhubarb and praised it on her blog. It's just downright cool to hear kind words from someone who's an accomplished novelist herself. All this makes me want to get to work on writing something of my own. (Kind of like visiting the art museum made me want to buy a sewing machine and start quilting my little heart out.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The last straw

Naturally I spoke too soon about the book formatting being done. Anyone familiar with what's been going on will not be surprised to learn that…(drumroll)…all this time, the book template had actually been a half-inch too tall! And all the random line breaks that were (for some reason I can't fathom) inserted and deleted are now showing up in all the wrong places, and the entire book is going to have to be re-re-re-re-proofed to catch it all.

The good news is that we asked for and got the editable file and are taking control of the process ourselves. This company doesn't (for some reason I can't fathom) normally provide that file to their clients, but anyone could see that this fiasco had to be put to a stop before anyone's capacity for stoic professionalism was exceeded. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Except that if I had time for a side business, book formatting would actually be a pretty fun gig to get into.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I might start making caramelized onions every day

We were making hamburgers for dinner, and I decided caramelized onions sounded really good and decided to throw some on the stove. But, because I've not had much success in the past in actually getting onions to caramelize, I looked up the recipe in my Joy of Cooking first.

Well, who knew! The problem is you can't just "throw on" some onions while the hamburgers are already cooking. They have to saute over very low heat for, like, an hour. So for dinner, I had to settle for just a lovely onion-y smell with my hamburger (bunless, naturally), but about a half-hour after that, I deemed them done and tried some.

Holy tasties*. They were so good. I could have eaten the entire onion's worth in about three bites. But Dex really liked them, too, so I saved him some for later (he wasn't really hungry anymore). Even Mik liked them okay (and was shocked to find out later that they were onions, even though I had used the phrase "caramelized onions" and had gotten up to stir them approximately four hundred times at dinner).

I'm in a good mood because M.H.'s long, painful ordeal with his book formatter seems to be nearly at an end, and his book will be available in paperback really soon. YAY!

* Mik's expression, but I think I'm going to start using it uncredited, since I gave him life.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jelly Bean "race" report

I signed up for another virtual race a couple of weeks ago, all confident and gung-ho about improving my 5K time again. Since then, a few things have happened:

  • My sister and family came to visit, and I started spending all my free time socializing with them.
  • I started eating 80% of my meals away from home. Since my rule is that I can eat pretty much whatever crap I want when I'm not at home, this has not been good for me. Also, Cadbury Eggs came into season.
  • I woke up with an awful crick in my neck the other day and then made it ten times worse by trying to do yoga on it.

Anyway, today was the last day to do the race. My neck still hurts and I didn't really feel up to running, but I didn't want to bail out completely either, so I decided to walk it. Time: 50:22.

Then, since it was a really nice day and since I had about twenty minutes left on my audiobook and since I've calculated that if I'm going to hit 1,000 miles I need to start averaging 3½ miles a day, I went an extra mile. Only 833 to go. :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Eve

I just had the best idea.

I could take a hot bath while drinking tea and listening to my audiobook and digesting the Cadbury Egg I just ate (because honestly I bought the box of them for myself and not the for children).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rhubarb party

My sister and brother-in-law and their three kids have been in town all week, and we have been in constant celebration mode. (Paleo? What Paleo?) The peak had to be yesterday, when we hosted a joint birthday party for the four children whose birthdays were in March (also known as Dexter's party number FOUR). Partway through the party, M.H. checked his Amazon account announced that Rhubarb is now available for sale on the Kindle. Yaaaaaaay! So of course we went out in the evening to celebrate again.

He's freaking out that people are reading it, like, RIGHT NOW, but I was all, "Suck it up, buttercup. This is what you do." :)

Find it here.

I can't wait for everyone to read it. Let me know what you think of it, or if (God forbid) you find typos.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Just taking a break from Working The Entire Day to figure my figures. So through March, the year was 24.9% over, and my results are thus:
  • Memorize 10,000 words: 25.0% complete
  • Walk 1,000 miles: 16.0% complete
  • Sell 100 items on eBay: 9% complete
  • Lose 10 pounds: 50% complete
  • Write 1 children's book: 0% complete
It doesn't seem quite right to have one of these numbers go down, but apparently I gained a pound in March. (I'm thinking that has something to do with cake, maybe?)