Sunday, March 18


My Prince has long had his eye on a proper fedora. He even knew where he wanted it to come from - The Custom Hatter, who does everything by hand on antique forms using vintage tools to create one-of-a-kind masterpieces fitted to the owner's head. But he didn't want to buy one for himself, because it seemed indulgent. So, for his birthday last year, I got him one. (Sort of. He had to do some of the ordering part himself because of sizing and preferences and such, but you get the idea.)

We had hoped it would arrive before his trip this past winter, but no such luck. The Hatter had a huge long list of orders and it wasn't done until January! That said, it finally arrived and it was worth every penny and every minute of waiting. It's modeled on the one Indiana Jones wore in Raiders of the Lost Arc. (Fun fact - Harrison Ford wore a different fedora in every Indy movie and they were all slightly different!)

Not only does my Prince look good in it, but Arthas rocks it pretty well, too.  : )

Saturday, March 17

March (So Far) in Pictures

Syruping - Bad photo, I know. Also, we've doubled this set up, running two burners... except that after our first week of flow it hard froze and there has been endless snow. So all our buckets, pots, burners and other infrastructure remain on hold, waiting for above freezing temperatures to return and allow us to finish out this year's syruping season.  

Freaking snow!! We have had three nor'easters in just over as many weeks, and there's another on the books for next week. The snow just keeps coming and piling up and it's beyond ridiculous already. Frisbee is lost and gone until probably July at this rate, buried under all the mess somewhere. I'm officially tired of plowing/shoveling more than once per day and still having it look like I never did anything. Eternally grateful that my husband bought us both take-no-prisoners snow tires!!

While I've been pouring every ounce of energy I've got (after dealing with snow) into mastering my writing job and keeping up with the workload, my Prince has been cranking out absolutely amazing projects! Within days of getting home in January he was grinding away at the basement insulation project. I was (and remain) flabbergasted at how fast he got studs up, insulation and sheeting in, drywall installed, mudding done, and then the whole wall (the entire length of the house!) primed and painted. The photo above is the primed version. Because I'm in a hurry and not interested in scrouging up a photo of the finished product, imagine it a bright, spotless white! It makes the entire space look huge and gorgeous. I'm glad one of us is getting things done these days!!

Thursday, March 8

Happy International Women's Day!

For all that I love geek holidays, I tend to stay away from a lot of other 'unofficial' holidays because they so often get hijacked by groups, causes and politically correct nonsense that they end up being entirely unappealing. But today is International Women's Day and I cannot help but take it as a reminder to say THANK YOU.

Thank you to all the women in my life who have been a blessing to me. Who modeled how to be the kind of women who, as the saying goes, make the devil wince and say "oh, crap, she's up!" when their feet hit the floor in the morning. Who worked - and still work - their tails off for the goals that are meaningful to them and then don't apologize when the world doesn't get it. Thank you to the friends who have taught me the beauty of female friendships, even in the midst of an age and culture in which women are so often brutally awful to one another.

There are a lot of days when being a woman is a tough, tall order. So many days where it is so easy to doubt and feel inadequate. But if you're a woman and reading this, you've blessed me and I am SO thankful for you. Every day. Even - maybe especially - when I don't have time or the extra brain power to remember to tell you how much.


Tuesday, February 27

Pet Food PSA: Blue Buffalo

Please be aware (and make your friends with dogs aware!) that Blue Buffalo brand pet food is being bought out by General Mills. Obviously, given what General Mills considers appropriate to put in people 'food', the future of the Blue Buffalo brand is highly suspect. 

If you're using this brand or know someone who is, it's important that you watch both the ingredient list on the packaging and your pet's tolerance of the food in the months to come. Sick furries aren't fun... and neither is paying clean, brand-name prices for product that's creeping quietly downhill and below your standards! Pass it on. Thanks!

Monday, February 26

Writing Job Update

I have officially been doing my new writing job for just over a month now, and it's finally starting to come under control. (For blogging purposes, I've created the tag "WFHW" to stand for Work From Home Writing and to use when referencing this job in the future.)

The first couple weeks were really rough. The style of writing is extremely different than what I did when grant writing, and I honestly didn't find the on-boarding materials I was given all that helpful. They were professionally done, but obviously by people who didn't realize just how much information they had in their heads that they were taking for granted that wouldn't be obvious to other people who were trained/experienced in different standard practices. As such, in addition to needing to work out a new schedule to balance both my jobs and everything else that has to get done as just part of daily life, I also found myself redoing pieces I'd written when they sent them back with new information about formatting or other requirements. (Which was crazy annoying, given that I really wanted to do things well and efficiently, and would have the first time around if I'd had all the info I needed! I may or may not have spit out half my lexicon of sci-fi swear words in consistent torrents for a couple weeks straight.) As a result, it took me three weeks to get to the point where everything was both done and done right by the deadline provided. (Just a little bit of stress, there....)

I have finally (*fingers crossed*) reached the point where I'm hitting my stride. I'm down to four days a week at my other job (off on Mondays), which gives me enough time to get all of my writing done and sleep more than three hours a night, which is amazing. (And healthy.) I've made checklists for myself that incorporate all the initial instructions and additional feedback I've gotten, which is going a vastly long way toward making sure everything is right the first time, now. I've also dialed in my back-of-house systems in terms of tracking where I am on assignments during the week, keeping my digital files organized, and logging my work turned in for accounting purposes. Now that I'm not eternally frustrated with my writing supervisor for sending things back to me to be redone over things I never had reason to know were outside their specs, I find him a pleasant human being and am happy to see his emails in my inbox. It's a little discouraging to have to dump so much of my monthly writing paychecks in a "taxes" account (because we're going to get raked over the coals again next year, too), but all things considered I'm delighted and relieved to be where I am on this front right now.

I love putting fewer miles on my truck every week. I love being home with my babies (and sometimes My Prince) one extra day a week. I love the peace of mind that comes with knowing I'm no longer losing my writing credentials by not using them. I love the relief of knowing that I can afford to take days off later in the year to travel because I'll still have enough income, and the confidence that if opportunities knock it won't be my job situation keeping us from jumping on them.

Serendipitously, I received a fantastic standing desk as part one of the review programs I participate in, so I've got my own little writing command-and-control center happening where everything is organized. As a bonus, it's near a window, so I get sunlight (when there's any to be had, of course) and when it's nice out I'll get fresh air! My Prince has been amazing - adaptive, supportive, and forgiving when the learning curve ate me alive and I wasn't much company. There are still details to be worked through and I'm sure more bumps in the road as seasons change and other aspects of our schedules with them, but for now I'm pleased to report that I've found a good place with the WFHW and the whole thing is finally doing really good things for my mental, emotional and physical health!

Sunday, February 25

100 Days of Productivity Update & Reboot

One of my 100 DoP bullet journal pages.
One of my priorities for this weekend was to get a handle on my 100 Days of Productivity Project and make some decisions. Until the middle of January or so, I'd been doing a really good job of being consistent with it and not too badly with tracking it (as you can see from one of the admittedly sloppy pages out of my bullet journal at right).

But here's the thing: it worked

As in, way-surpassed-my-expectations kind of worked. I got my new nutrition blog live and landed the writing job I so desperately wanted, both before I'd reached the halfway mark of the project!

Then said writing job took over my life.

Progress tracking got muddy and haphazard at that point. Did I give myself credit for writing for my writing job because, technically, making it through the learning curve was part of keeping the job and therefore fell under the auspices of the project? Did I give myself permission to give up on tracking for a while because surviving the learning curve was an all-consuming goal? Should I end the project, because technically the original goals had been met? Should I replace it with a different one (because I've totally got some other areas of life I'd like to see the same progress in!!!)?

After due consideration, I've decided the best way to go is a "reboot". I effectively stopped tracking my progress at Day 44 because I'd reached the point where the only thing I was accomplishing was writing more for work. The Palimpsest blog essentially hasn't been touched since I launched it, and I've been stressing over it because there have been a bunch of times lately people have asked me for things and all I could think about was that (happy as I am to share knowledge and resources) it was a huge waste of time, energy and effort to be getting things pulled together and handed out individually instead of taking extra time to just do it right and get it up on the blog so that every time people ask me in the future for that same information I can just point them to the post and not be redoing the same work. I've also been very aware that, in theory, now that I've finally reached a bit of a stabilizing point with the writing (more on that in another post), if I can get caught up on the blog then I should be able to pretty feasbibly keep up going forward.

Ergo, a reboot. Starting today, I'm finishing out the remaining 56 days in my original 100 DoP project with the focus solely on the Palimpsest blog. New goals:
  • Write, format and post back-dated blogs (one per week) from the starter post that's up there until I'm up to date.
  • Copy out any content I want from the Nutritional Mischief blog and formally shut it down. 
  • Refine all of the behind-the-scenes spreadsheets I'm using to organize the blog to set myself up for success going forward. 
  • Figure out which kind of blogging calendar set up works best for me, and get it implemented.
  • Get a handful of posts rough drafted to front-load myself to stay on track as I continue to refine my new schedule/time management.
If I follow through, I should start April in a really good place!

I've also decided that I really love this project format, which is something I definitely didn't expect. (I'm already planning my next 100 DoP project!) I strongly recommend giving it a try if you have any giant, overwhelming or lingering projects hanging over your head.

Finally, in light of my new goals, I am extra interested in suggestions of things that people want to see show up on the blog, what food-related frustrations you're grappling with, etc. It might take me a while to feature them, but I've got a nice, organized master list going and I'd love to have them for reference!

Saturday, February 24

March Holidays

It's a weekend!

This past week was long around here. There was lots going on, but the days somehow seemed to drag anyway. (The evenings went by fast, though, once we were home and trying to get things done!) So we're making a concerted effort to get caught up and ready - not only for next week, but for March which is shockingly just a handful of days away.

March always feels like one of those months that is endless as the weather wavers between snow storms and mud, and you're ready for Spring and still have forever to wait. So I forget that there actually several holidays in there. In case you forget, too, here's a reminder:
  • International Women's Day - March 8th
  • Daylight Savings - March 11th
  • St. Patrick's Day - March 17th 
  • Spring Begins (officially, actual weather not withstanding) - March 20th
  • Tolkien Day (eat like a Hobbit!) - March 25th
  • Good Friday - March 30th
  • Easter - April 1st (not technically in March, but worth being aware of b/c it's so early in April this year!) 

(Note: I don't generally celebrate 'political' holidays like Women's Day, but I do think sometimes they're good reminders to send a hug and a thank you to people in our lives it's otherwise too easy to forget to show appreciation for, so I've included it here in case it benefits you the same.)

May you have a productive and restful weekend, and head into next week and next month recharged!!