Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thinking this morning....

I'm sure I'll be late getting the kids down to the bus. I was drinking my (100% essential) coffee and perusing my Google reader and totally lost track of time (damn, I had a lot to read this morning). So I was left with 15 minutes to make lunches and get the kids dressed and combed and ready for school.

But this article about being disorganized and unproductive really spoke to me. It IS me. I'm completely a perfectionist and I know some things will never live up to my expectations, so I don't try or I don't try my best. I'd have words with one of my kids if they did the same thing, but for me, it's completely acceptable. Actually, not really. I get very irritated with myself that I am flummoxed by my imperfection.

I'm making decluttering and maintaining a less cluttered (not clutter-free, since I think that's setting myself up for failure) home my main goal this year. I've totally slacked off this summer, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I think some shelving and other storage solutions are necessary to this endeavor, so hopefully Tom and I can make one of our pilgrimages to Ikea in the next month or so.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Couch to 5K...

I got the brilliant idea that the way for me to get back into shape and lose the baby weight (she's only 14 months - it still counts, right?) was to do the couch to 5K program. Basically I want results, fast, or I know me well enough to know that I won't keep up with it if it frustrates me. I've been being more careful about my eating habits for the past week - no extra snacks, a very small dessert (cause if I couldn't have dessert, I'd go a little nuts), nice small, healthy meals. And I freaking GAINED five pounds. Screw that - if I'm going to gain weight, I may as well eat good stuff, right?

And this is why I have sort of a bad attitude about this whole weight loss/get into shape stuff. I need to lose at least 20 pounds to feel good about myself, up to a max of 50 (which would be what I weighed before I ever met Tom, got married or had babies - it would be less than what I weighed on my wedding day, so is not at all realistic). After my previous two babies, I was able to lose 30 and keep it off and live the way I wanted to. That's my goal, right there. I want to be able to have a dessert if I want to. I want to be able to splurge on fried chicken every now and then (and really that's all I can stand it anyway).

Day one of Couch to 5K down. It went...okay. Tune in later in the week to see if I kept up with it.

First day!

Yesterday was the first day of school for my oldest two kids. The third one starts pre-K after Labor Day (Mama is not happy about the public schools going back to school two full weeks before Labor Day when the norm here for years has been to start the day after Labor Day). Everyone was in fine spirits yesterday morning, even though I forgot that my clock isn't 45 minutes or more ahead - it's only 10 minutes. So I rolled over and went back to sleep at what I thought was 6:30, but was actually 7, when I wanted to be getting up. But I made it up in time to get everything done, so all's well, right? Especially given the nightly screaming fits Miss V has been having. I'm hoping it's molars or something non-permanent. If this is a new personality quirk, I am not amused.

Miss G came home from her first day of first grade completely wiped out. Her top two front teeth are loose and probably hurting, but she can't talk about anything right now without sounding like she's about to cry. I had to wake her up this morning, so I know she's exhausted. I might suggest a little nap this afternoon (yeah, right).

Mr. T started third grade. Just typing that makes me want to cry. He looks so grown-up in his back to school pictures. Something about him aging makes me sad/nostalgic/introspective in a way that his sisters aging does not. Probably because he's my first. My first child is 8. My first child is two years away from middle school.

Miss S is mad because her sister and brother got to start school and she didn't yet. She had to wear her own first day of school outfit yesterday, since it wasn't fair that T and G got to wear their new outfits and not her. I appreciated her logic and let her wear it (it's easily washed).

So now I'm anxious to hear if the fallout from the first day makes for a less than wonderful second day. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lucky number 20,000

Yep, that's right. This photo represents the 20,000th click on my DSLR. It's SOOC except for rotating the file. I told my sister I was on the countdown to this and she was in shock. Who takes 20,000 pictures in 3.25 years? Obviously, I do. Now, that's only shutter clicks. Not to imply that I have 20,000 keepers. I tend to be pretty exacting about what gets kept (although I still think I could do better - and thanks to my hard drive crash, I have no choice, now, right?) I'm sure I have more like...okay, I have no clue. I can easily take 100 pictures just following the kids around the backyard. Which is sort of what precipitated my thoughts about the crash of my external hard drive. Now I'm left with the ones I cared enough about to do something other than just let sit. Probably what I should have had to start with. Maybe I need to start thinking about quality v. quantity on a regular basis and toss out a lot more of those less than perfect shots. Like this one. My focus fell on the grass in Violet's lap. She's not looking at the camera and furthermore, this was supposed to be part of a series of her standing and walking for the first time (go, V!).

But I'll probably keep it because it's my 20,000th click.

Below, I've edited with my first method of editing my photos (curves, brighten/contrast, saturation and unsharp mask).

Below is more in line with my current method of editing photos (duplicate layer, soft light - which I think sharpens photos enough for my taste)

I still switch back and forth between the two methods, depending on my original exposure and the photo itself.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 17, 2009

My next book...

I'm debating starting the books by Lauren Willig. The first one is the Secret History of the Pink Carnation. I think there are four or five others. I saw one at my long leisurely (kidless) trip to the library last week, but since I knew there were others, I thought I'd do some research and see if I needed to read them in order. I have yet to do that research, so I don't know if that will go on my list.

I finally came up on some of my paperbackswap wish lists, so once those books come in (Four Dukes and a Devil, Sleepless in Scotland and How To Tempt A Duke), I'll have a lot of reading to do. The kids go back to school next week, so maybe I'll have time. Not likely, actually. For the first couple of weeks, it will be as rough on me getting back into the routine as it is on them.

This is our last gasp of summer vacation. We're trying to make the most of it. We went to the Smithsonian last week, something we'd been planning to do all summer but never got around to. We still have to go to Hersheypark, but I think that might have to be a September weekend. This week is dentist for the kids, visiting my family and school shopping with Grandmom (my mom).

Then we have back to school events and end of summer parties. It's going to be a busy couple of weeks, so maybe my reading list will need to be put on hold.

UPDATE: I decided to order the Secret History of the Pink Carnation with my paperbackswap credits. If I like it, I'll either order more (several were available, unlike most books I want which are wishlisted so long I'll get them in the next decade) or through my library (which for some reason only carries the later ones).

Bad digital news...

Here I go again making a drama out of a relatively minor thing (in the grand scheme of life, that is. See, I'm still sane - I know that there are more important things than a total catastrophic hard drive failure). I've lost a lot of pictures, all my digiscrap pages from June to now (and I was busy for me), a logo I was working on for a friend, etc...I don't know the full extent of it all. I hadn't gotten around to a full backup since May - and apparently even those I chose to skip about half my photos, so I lost a good bit of the last few months.

But what did I lose? My best pictures are safe. Sure, my digital kits are gone, but they were mostly free downloads that I never used anyway. I kind of like the idea of starting from scratch on that level. I'm trying to redefine my goals and how I look at this stuff. I lost a lot of pictures from my baby's first year. But nothing I had already defined as "good". So what did I lose? A lot of digital files that I was never going to print or scrap. Did I really lose that much? They were just going to languish on my external hard drive for what?

Actually, in some ways, it's been nice. I've been looking back at old photos and getting re-inspired to scrap them. I'm buying digital kits that really mean something to me and my style and the colors I use rather than just what's free and available.

So it's been about a week since the big demise. I'm still trying to revive the thing, but I've sort of come to grips with the fact that I might not. I'm trying to be okay with that and taking measures to not have this happen in the future. I don't know what the best method is, but I'm exploring my options.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Deceiving my children...

I don't know how I feel about this. I'm finally getting around to trying the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook Deceptively Delicious. I have a couple of picky eaters (my 6 year old and the 14 month old). But the book is for picky eaters who don't eat veggies. That's not my problem. At least, not with the 6 year old. She loves a nice tray of chopped veggies and Ranch dressing. She just won't eat anything else. There are a couple of recipes that address how to get more protein in a diet, so we're going to try those for her. For Baby, anything that gets her to eat something other than pancakes and macaroni and cheese is a plus.

Right now I'm steaming cauliflower for twice-baked potatoes. But while I was chopping the cauliflower to steam and "hide" from my kids, they were all over it trying to get some. Although, they won't eat it it once it's steamed, so maybe this isn't such a bad thing.

I'll update and let you know. I could always use more veggies in my own diet, so I'm not opposed to the process. I just don't know if it's worth it.

So I made cauliflower purée for the twice-baked potatoes. My oldest doesn't eat potatoes, so I decided to give the deceptive mac and cheese a try since it also called for cauliflower purée. Both dishes received major thumbs up from everyone who tried them. Making the purée was a little bit of a pain, but it gave me an excuse to use my new immersion blender I got for my birthday.

End result? Both of these are keepers.

My recent book list...

The books I've been reading lately:

This Duchess of Mine: Meh. Not my favorite Eloisa James book. In fact, my least favorite (unless a rereading reveals something new in the future, I can't see that changing). The story of Elijah and Jemma had been so much revealed in the other stories in this series that little was left for their own book. I normally love Ms. James' style of interweaving these stories together, but this story could probably have remained in the subplots.

We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals I started reading this at swimming lessons last week. It immediately got my interest, which is unusual for a non-fiction book. I don't know if I'll read the whole thing (I'm easily distracted and it's due at the library soon), but I thoroughly enjoyed what I've gotten to at this point.

Marrying Mozart: Started out strong and interesting, but quickly became repetitive and annoying. I'm not Mozart expert, but it also felt rather dry - much more non-fiction with imagined conversations than really rich historical fiction. I guess that's sort of the nature of novels about real people, but I've read better examples.

A Duke of Her Own: Much better installment in the Desperate Duchesses series from Eloisa James. Villiers, the main male character, has appeared in the other books in the series, but we've seen his growth throughout them, but not his story. Loved meeting Eleanor. I really enjoyed this one.

The Gatecrasher: Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham. I wasn't sure what to expect from this alter ego of one of my favorite funny chick-lit authors. But it was just what I would have expected - an enjoyable, quick read with likable, flawed characters.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My secret reading guilty pleasure...

Well, it's not really that big a secret. I read romance novels. I'm a well-educated, intellectual type who reads romance novels. I also read biographies, historical fiction and cereal boxes. But I love a well-written historical romance novel.

I like to argue that real life is depressing enough - I try to avoid the "book club" books unless I know the basic story. I don't mind a non happily ever after ending, but I don't like true downers. I'm a worrier by nature. I don't need to read books about anything that will add to my list of worries (which is already pretty long). I fight my tendency to worry - sometimes I can keep myself up all night thinking about every awful thing I can think of. So I don't generally read books that will make that worse.

Probably I need some help (in the professional capacity) about this worry issue of mine. But I've mainly got it under control now.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Happy birthday to me!

A few days late. My birthday was last Thursday. I've always loved my birthday. Except for the complete tragedy of not being able to take cupcakes in to school on my birthday like my siblings and pretty much everyone else in the world without a summer birthday could (and to a seven year old me that was everyone). I'm over that now. Helps that kids can't really take treats in to school anymore.

This was my birthday cake. Um, may I oh-so-modestly say that this cake was DIVINE. I mean seriously fab. I eat a little sliver for breakfast for the next four days and it was just so, so good every time. It started life as the cake in Pollyanna, which is one of those movies I subject my kids to on rainy Sunday afternoons. Last time we saw it, I was reminded how wonderful the cake she eats in the bazaar scene looks. As a child, I always wanted it. And as an adult, I wanted it even more. The difference is as an adult in the digital age, I can Google. I can also bake (see husband's birthday post from a few days prior). So I set about making the Pollyanna cake. I Googled and found a site where someone loved the cake the way I did and had recreated it. I made the cake. All went well. But then I tasted the crumbs. They were pretty almondy (there's almond extract in the recipe on that site). Which tasted good, but not like it would work with chocolate. So I began to brainstorm. Strawberry, I suggested. No, lemon, Tom thought. We both stared at each other and around the room to see what we had for inspiration. Finally, on the back of my cake flour box was IT. I'd been admiring the pretty cake on there since I'd bought the cake flour. It was a raspberry vanilla layer cake. Yep, that's it.

I ran to the store for seedless raspberry jam (since all I had was grape jelly) and went to town. I sliced all my layers in half and filled and stacked and ended with a very tall cake. I stuck it in the freezer to set up before the final frosting. Oh, and in between all of this I was running the kids back and forth to swimmng lessons. Fun.

But the cake was perfect. Not quite the Pollyanna cake I started out wanting, but absolutely delicious nonetheless.
Posted by Picasa