Monday, November 23, 2009

Music matters...

I could easily be spiralling into depression right now. Honestly, I'm not sure that I'm not. I'm sort of avoiding dealing with certain topics that would lead me there. My grandfather has cancer, a type of cancer that is pretty much fatal. He's doing chemo, which I think is just meant to buy him some time.

I can't imagine not having him in my life. My grandparents ahve always been a major part of my life. I was their first (of many) grandchild. They took me on trips with them when I was little. My sister and brother and I spent a lot of time at their house. I've always tried to visit as often as possible, especially now that I have kids. I want them to know their great-grandparents, something I didn't have an opportunity to do.

This could pretty easily send me into a catatonic type depression. Sometimes it does. I lose myself in stupid video games when I should be cleaning or reading books to my kids. But it's getting better. Because I noticed that I'm much, much happier and engaged with life when I'm listening to music. So I spruced up my iPod playlists and have it on me almost all the time now. It makes me run faster (though I have shin splints right now and am taking some running time off again), clean more, and get moving easier when I'm listening to it.

But that's not all. When I'm not listening to music, but have been recently, I'm in a better mood. Listening to music while doing all those activities is boosting my spirits later when I'm no longer listening to it.

I suppose there have been studies about this for years, but it never really occurred to me that it could have such a concrete impact on me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More digital simplifying...

That I think will lead to actual simplifying. I tend to get caught up in certain crazes. Sometimes I eschew crazes all together because I generally dislike being on any bandwagon blindly. I don't mind being on bandwagons, just not blindly. I hopped on Twilight, Sookie Stackhouse, knitting, Big Bang Theory...all done with intent and only after I decided it was really for me.

But I think the internet creates a whole new sort of keeping up with the Joneses. I have to keep off of knitting sites because I'll order (or wish I could order) loads of yarn and patterns and books that I'll never use. I don't read scrapping websites because I'll buy more stuff for that hobby that I'll never use. I see people doing all these cool crafts that my left side of my brain realizes are not for me, but my creative right side says "Ooh, pretty! Let's make that!"

My latest craze was quilting. I gave it a try and didn't really love it, but I still want to get a new quilting sewing machine and buy all these quilting kits. I think a better machine really would make the process more enjoyable, but honestly, it's just not something I can see myself doing every day. Or even more than when someone I know is having a baby or as holiday gifts.

So now I'm going through my Google reader and unsubscribing from all the beautiful quilting blogs I was following. I think I'm going to do the same with a lot of the digital scrapbooking blogs I follow. I click "mark as read" on those two categories more often than not.

I think new new craze should be organizing. And doing more than just following the blogs. Actual organizing. (Left side of brain laughs and wishes the right side of my brain luck)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Digital simplifying?

Yes, I'm going to whine about my own stupidity again. Over the summer I had a catastrophic external hard drive failure. I had gotten lax about backing up to CD, so I was only able to recover the photos I had uploaded to Shutterfly. Which is to say, only the ones I initially deemed good enough to order a print of. I'm in the process of going through all my years of digital photos (since 2003) and putting them on my new external hard drive (while putting my recent photos on disc). And I realized something. I don't really need or want ALL of those photos on my hard drive. Probably not even on disc.

I've been known to take 100 photos just of the kids playing in the yard. Forget Disney World or actual events (which surprisingly aren't all that much more - probably because I have better things to do than keep the camera glued to my face). The only photos I delete are the truly awful ones - blurry, horrible expressions, etc. That means I have A LOT of not so great pictures that I have no intention of printing, digital scrapping, using in projects or otherwise ever opening again except to confirm that it's an awful picture.

So why can't I let go of them? My hard drive failure forced me to accept that I still have the best of late 08-mid 09, but why can't I just delete the dregs from 2003-2008? I'm not deluding myself that I'll scrap every single picture. For one thing, I don't like to reuse photos and I'd have to get out my old scrapbooks to see which pictures I've done with paper (haven't totally given up paper scrapping officially, but haven't touched it in over two years. Loving digital lately, though).

I'm getting ready to get a new computer and I'd like to make the switch with some organization. I use folders for everything, but I still keep too much junk. This is not exclusive to my digital life, by the way. My magic desk that was supposed to help me get organized since now I would have all this space to put everything really is just a holder for even more junk.

I'm trying to get the house sparkling and organized in advance of Christmas. I don't want to decorate for the holidays until I've got the current clutter under control. Which means maybe never. I will eventually lower my expectations of myself and just decorate. But in the meantime I'm making the effort to organize. Maybe I need a class.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Let the baking begin...

I don't host any major holiday events. I'd kind of like to, but since I'm the junior (or lower) ranking mama in both my and Tom's families, that honor goes to other people (I've lately been realizing that I'm a control freak, and apparently it runs in my family). I've heard of families whose older generations hand over the entertaining duties, but it doesn't seem to work that way in mine.

I still get the urge to cook and bake, but since I don't have to make turkey and stuffing, I get to be as creative as I want. I like to try new things all the time, but I also have consistent requests. This means that I have a set list of things to make for Thanksgiving. I'm on tap for pumpkin rolls (times two - one for the in-laws and one for my grandparents' house), pumpkin pies (times two, both for the in-laws), and fresh cranberry sauce/relish/whatever it is. I thought about canning some ahead of time, but really it's so easy, there's no need.

I think for this year's round of parties, I'm going to try a spinach and artichoke dip like this one from Alton Brown. I've never made it before and Tom asked for it, so it sounds like a fun one.

In addition to what I take to confirmed parties, I love, love, love to bake cookies, make candy and otherwise fatten up myself and those around me. I baked my first batch of chocolate chip cookies today (got back on the treadmill today too). I tend to stick to classics. After many years of searching for the right sugar cookie recipe that didn't need frosting (sorry to the majority of America, but I think frosted cookies are gross) and were nice with just colored sugars. Mrs. Field's Sugar Cookie is my go-to recipe after many flops.

I might branch out and try some caramels again this year. The last time I made them, they didnt' harden as much as I wanted them too. I'm definitely making peppermint bark, per Tom's request. His diet is pretty much out the window with mine for the next two months, I guess.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tales of a disorganized nothing...

You know, when I was in second and third grade, that series was my absolute favorite. I tore through every single one of them as soon as I found them. My son, who loves to read, hates them. I don't get it. They're about a boy. Why doesn't he like my favorite thing? WHY?

Now I must force myself to accept that my children are half my DNA, but not me. I think I'll blame his poor taste in books on his dad.

I'm a disorganized mess. I'm always trying to stay on top of things, throw out the junk mail the day it comes in, not hang on to magazines and books and *stuff*. But somehow papers pile up. Nothing's where it belongs because I can't figure out where it DOES belong. I'm not a naturally organized person. Add to this my four kids' junk, my husband's junk (which I don't generally touch so as to avoid the "Where did you put my junk?" quiz) and I just have lost any small semblance of control I once had.

Who am I kidding? I've never been organized a day in my life.

BUT....BUT!!!!! I bought a desk this weekend. This big huge desk with tons of storage space and a file drawer and a big old hutch. Now I have places to go with the "everything in its place" theory. Tons of space to organize and put things. Now I can be organized.

I'll report back to see if my theory had any validity whatsoever. I have a hypothesis, but since it's a little pessimistic, I'm going to pretend that I don't.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Trying to get my groove back....

I'm still not feeling the fall inspiration I usually do. I'm not even up to faking it this year. I'm trying to be okay with doing what I can do and not berating myself for not doing more. It isn't easy. It's sort of a lifestyle for me - lying in bed each night cataloging every thing I think I did wrong during the day. Or at least, when I'm in this sort of funk, that's what I do. Most of the time I can let it roll off and not take it to heart too much.

I'm trying to make a few changes to get me jump started. I finally dyed my gray hair - I wanted my natural color, just not gray. I started with a semi-permanent dye because I was terrified to dye it. I'm a natural kind of girl when it comes to beauty - I hate hair that looks dyed and I think mine does, although my husband didn't even notice I'd done it until I pointed it out to him.

I've lost about 20 of the 40-50-60 pounds I'm working on (depending on how optimistic/realistic I'm being - apparently my ideal weight would have me losing 60 pounds from where I started, but 50 is the more realistic for my body, but not likely, so I'm shooting for 40 by the end of the school year/Miss V's second birthday). I feel better about myself, but I'm having some muscle/tendon problems that make running difficult and I probably shouldn't run today, but I'm going to give it a try. I hate not running now (and if you knew me, you would know that those are the strangest words I've ever typed).

I think I'm going to sign up for my first 5k. My brother has also started running so we might do a 5K together (although not together - he runs faster than me).