Friday, December 15

New Shower Set Up

Our house has two bathrooms. We took the tub out of the master bathroom a couple years ago while we had a giant dumster here for another project since we knew it was going to have to eventually get replaced anyway.

Between that, the stupidly damp/cold/awful weather we've had pretty consistently the last two years, and the fact that we're both working full time and don't want to spend every spare minute we're home cleaning (to keep up with the effects of said gross weather), we decided a while ago to just turn off the water to the shower in the master bath and use the tub/shower combo in the hall bath instead. It worked out really well... until the fixtures in the tub/shower combo started leaking.

It wasn't an emergency situation, but it did force us to start looking at replacement options. My Prince is wonderful and did lots of research, and then we examined our options on both the design side of things and the "how much of a pain is this going to be to install" side of things... because this house was very definitively NOT designed with ease of replacement/upgrades in mind. We ended up going with a Peerless dual-shower-head fixture. (In no small part because I feel like every house should have at least one movable shower head for the washing of pets, small children, and the like. Simply as a practical matter.)

Then, recently, on a day that My Prince was home and I was at work, he got the entire thing installed! I came home and it was all done and beautiful! (Much nicer than my sad photography skills can convey.) It felt like an extra victory, sneaking in one more house project under the deadline before we roll into 2018, and blessedly one less thing to worry about over the winter when everything seems harder. I'm very grateful for talented people like My Prince who can handle projects like that, and quite pleased with the results!

Wednesday, December 13

Early Christmas Present

Image Credit
We've invested a lot of time, money and energy this year in refining how we live. Not refining as in "gentrification" - the "streamlining" kind. In and around everything else going on, we made a serious effort to replace tools that needed it (e.g. extension cords, the stereo) and consciously invested in things that make daily life smoother and more efficient. We continued (and maybe escalated) our process of divesting ourselves and our property of anything and everything that didn't work out or is no longer serving us well. The work isn't done yet, of course, but already the results have been gratifying.

Unexpectedly, however, it left us scratching our heads a bit when we asked each other "so what do you want for Christmas?"

Finally, though, I decided that the only thing I wanted was this beautiful ring! I've been looking for/at something like it for a while, and since I'm actively working toward the goal of getting back into writing full time, I expect to actually get to wear it regularly. (Instead of sticking it on a chain like I do with all my rings while at work right now.) The stone is laboradite, which I love, but which is also really hard to find most of the time. Color-wise, the silver is a good match for the white gold of my wedding rings. It's designed as a "spinner" ring, which I thought was appropriate since I tend to figet with my jewelry anyway.

My Prince generously obliged, and even more generously didn't make me wait until Christmas to have it! It's beautiful and I'm delighted and spoiled. Just thought I'd share!

Monday, December 4

Biting the Bullet

Terrible picture of actually very nice
every day boots.
Generally speaking, I am not a fan of shopping. I am particularly not fond of shopping for clothing or shoes. (Seriously, do you have any idea how many positively hideous pairs of shoes there are in the world?! And somehow you have to scroll through all of them to find the one or two simple, attractive things that you want. Every. Time. Ugh.)

Most of time, I get off easy. Not only is my closet well stocked enough that I rarely need to shop for anything, but My Prince is much more patient about these things and very gracious about helping me search if I need to purchase something. Recently, though, I found myself in the unwelcome position of needing to buy shoes. Not just one pair, but two. It was my own fault - I'd been putting it off and putting it off, and finally reached the point where my black heels were too shot to keep wearing and cold weather was solidly here, meaning I could no longer avoid getting a new pair of every day boots.

(For the record, I tried a couple times in the last couple years to buy a decent pair of boots, but with no success.)

Finally, last month, I bit the bullet and just carved out time (and patience) to go through the whole online shopping process. Not surprisingly, both pairs of shoes ultimately had to be exchanged for a different size (why are these things so inconsistent?!). Even on sale, the boots were a lot more than I'd have liked to spend. That said, there's huge relief in finally having the ordeal done with and knowing that I won't have to do it again any time soon! 

New all purpose black heels. Super comfy!

Sunday, December 3

Random, Horrifying Fact

Because it's still stuck my head several days after I first read it (and I've told everyone I regularly see in daily life), have a fun, random and positively horrifying fact :

"Bromated flour is considered a class 2B carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and has been shown to cause malignant tumors and to damage human DNA." source

It's been banned all over the world, but you can still buy it on the shelves of your average American grocery store. 

Meanwhile, we spend zillions of dollars annually on pink everything, proudly advertising our 'commitment' to finding a cure for cancer. Let's just file this one with all the rest under "reasons it's positively amazing humans haven't driven themselves to extinction already" shall we?

Saturday, December 2

Scalloped Potatoes

Have you ever had a recipe you were sure that:
(a) you'd made before;
(b) everybody has a recipe for (so you must, too); and
(c) you probably shouldn't need a recipe for in the first place?

Yeah... that was me this past week with scalloped potatoes. No idea how I somehow didn't have a recipe for that in my sprawling personal cookbook.

Seeing as it is a potato recipe (and therefore should almost certainly include unreasonable amounts of butter and probably some bacon), I looked up Ree Drummond's version first. (If you're not used to the Pioneer Woman's cooking, she's all about using butter, bacon fat, and the like in Julia Child-worthy quantities.)

I threw in a handful of diced bell peppers with my onions for color, and subbed a handful of diced bacon for the ham (sauteed up right with the peppers & onions). As always, I went with cornstarch instead of flour as my thickener, but otherwise I made this pretty much to spec and it was great! Definitely needed to cook a little longer than listed, but I was very happy with how quick and easy the prep was and with the rich, hearty end result. It more than qualifies to be a main course all by itself and should give you plenty of leftovers besides. Just wanted to share in case anyone else needs a (healthy) comfort food recipe now that December is upon us.

You can find Ree's recipe here: Scalloped Potatoes.

Tuesday, November 21

100 Days of Productivity

I recently ran across a challenge online called "100 Days of Productivity".

The original idea is pretty simple and geared toward Instagram/Tumblr in that you do something (anything) productive every day, and post a picture representative of it online. Obviously, my personality type is too geared toward productivity in general for that to be anything new or helpful for me as is. Moreover, I not a fan of taking/posting photos, so that whole tracking process would derail me completely.

But as we near the end of the year, I can't help but be attracted to the potential of a slightly modified version. There's a lot to like about the idea of starting something in the next couple weeks that rolls over into the new year - it feels like a headstart on a New Years resolution, with the added awesomeness that it's only for a set period of time instead of the whole year. By the time you hit March, for example, you could be celebrating already having banged out something great and feel like you'd set a positive tone for the year. It also feels like it might provide some welcome focus through the usual mess of the holidays and the generally cold, dreary weeks that follow when everything slows down and drags. 

The question, then, becomes what target to set or what subject to pick to specifically work on. I want it to be different from what I'm already doing (like reading a chapter of something a day) and separate from long-term health habits I'm trying to establish (working out, drinking enough water). And, of course, if it's going to be worth doing and set next year up well, it needs to be a goal that matters.

I've been picking at a couple ideas, and I think I've almost got it narrowed down, but I'd be curious to hear what everyone else thinks. If you were going to do 100 Days of (Focused) Productivity, what would you choose? Anyone want to do it as a shared challenge with me?

Sunday, November 12

More Random (And Awful) Historical Facts

Apparently, for the better part of a century, the British Navy thought it would be a good plan to flog people for getting scurvy. Even after they knew it was an illness, and still later when they figured out it was a deficiency disease of some kind, the practice carried on. I have not yet figured out the logic behind taking someone who is already not functional and flogging them... it's clearly not going to improve their ability to work, no matter what you think the root cause is.

Lack of logic remained rampant, however. They later decided that a great solution to beriberi (another deficiency disease) would be giving people arsenic. Or strychnine... just for variety. (*Cringe.*)

Again, some days I wonder how the human race has lasted as long as we have. On the bright side, our bizarre insistence on self-delusion and penchant for making matters worse as often and drastically as possible makes for great reading!! : p