Monthly Archives: January 2013

Tired Girl

Last night i was drained.  I was able to do my routine, put away the laundry and that was about it.  Like in bed by 8PM.

The good news is, whatever has been in my system seems to have worked itself out.  Today i feel revived and back to my usual trouble making self.

I’m taking two classes online during my lunch breaks, thanks to Universal Class and our town library having a free subscription.  The first is Housekeeping 101 and the second is Clutter Control 101.  Neither have been amazing so far, but i always enjoy new perspectives.  There are a lot of classes there, so even if they are all very introductory, i’m bound to pick up some new information.

I feel confident about my daily routines, and know they are simplifying my life.  My new challenge is how to incorporate the chores i need to do on a less-than-daily basis.  I am considering taking Leo Babauta’s advice for how to wake up earlier, beginning next week.  I love the feeling of having a productive morning, it sets the right tone for my whole day.  If i use that extra time in the morning for housework, i may have more focus about what should be done.  It will also mean my evenings will not need to change from their current, less structured, state.

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Foodie Pen Pals!

Today i get to tell you all about my first month as a Foodie Pen Pal!

Since it was my first go, let me explain a little.  Each person is assigned a pen pal, and you send them up to $15 worth of goodies.  In exchange, someone else is assigned to you, and they send you a box of goodies.  I was assigned Accidently Delish (sounds like she was happy!), and got  a box from Divatastic Gladiatior.

Well, Month 1 was a definite success!

I managed to send out my box on time (excellent start) and got my box from Erin when i arrived home from Arisia on Monday.  She included an awesome bread from a local to her bakery in Colorado called Great Harvest Bread.  It was an artichoke & parmesean loaf, with these big chunks of cheese in the bread, like it was injected or something.   I’ve totally had to eat a few slices a day it so it doesn’t get stale 🙂

She also included a red pepper spread, that was awesome.  I can’t wait to try it on a sandwich!   It’s one of those products i’d never of bought for myself, but am so glad i got to try.

Erin also included a sugar scrub.  I’m a huge fan of Lush’s sugar scrub, especially after i shave my legs, but it’s a luxury item.  This was a simple combo (for which i must get the recipe) of sugar, brown sugar and coconut oil.  After using it, my skin felt incredibly soft and i smelled yummy, total win!  It’s going to live next to the shower.

So thank you SO MUCH!  I really enjoyed my first Foodie Pen Pal package and can’t wait for March’s adventure!

The Lean Green Bean
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Decluttering – Setting the Intention

You’ve decided to  look into decluttering your space.  The first question is Why declutter now?

Are you moving and have too much stuff for your new place?  Is the shape of your household changing with a birth, partner, roommate or even a pet?  Have you suffered a loss and must process the belongings of someone dear?  Are you seeking to simplify your home-life?  Have you just had enough of your current habits?

Reasons matter.  If you’re making space so your SO can move in, you may be full of excitement.  Getting rid of some clothes or books might feel like a small sacrifice to be with someone you love.  If you’re moving to a smaller place because of a job loss, however, it might feel like surrendering parts of yourself

We attach emotions to items, and our emotional state reflects our relationships with our physical space and belongings.  It’s important to be aware of how we feel when undertaking this process so we can be honest with ourselves.  If you’re struggling to separate the feelings from the items you’re trying to process, ask a friend or family member you trust to join you.  They may be able to spot trends before you do, or just help keep your spirits up.

The next question is What is your end goal?  It’s important to have a clearly defined  vision of what you want to achieve.

Check with yourself, and if needed someone close to you, to make sure your goals are realistic.  While we sometimes buy things to fulfill our fantasy selves, we also may set goals which are not in keeping with our actual lifestyles.  Your end goal should be something that can be maintained easily, and should make your life better.  

For some people, an open ended goal such as “have less stuff” can be too broad and feel overwhelming.  It can also encourage jumping from one area to another, without ever fully processing any single area.  If this is an issue for you, select several smaller goals and work on them one at a time.

Don’t be afraid to start small either.  Your first goal can be clear a quarter of a table, or process one shelf of books.  While small goals can sometimes feel silly, remember they are part of a larger vision for your life.  Particularly if you are a busy person, small goals may be more achievable, because you don’t need to devote large blocks of time all at once.  

I’ll keep writing on this subject as I continue my journey.  It’s always a work in progress!


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A not-so-manic Monday

Yesterday had the potential to feel awful.

I didn’t let it.

It wasn’t a great day, sure, but it was still a good day.  My chores were done, i spent time with my husband, we had a good (though not healthy!) meal, i took a bath and read a little. Nothing wild, really, but sometimes that is life, right?

And there were some nice moments, like coming home to a driveway that had already been cleared of snow, and an open garage, so i could pull right in (our garage doors are manually operated).

I cant control so many things, but i can choose how, or even if, they control me. Rather than dwell on what didn’t happen, i was able to find new opportunities, how cool is that?

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Another busy weekend!

This weekend was another busy one!

Friday night, Ian and i had a date, since we didn’t have a Monday night, and Mich had some other plans. I was feeling sick and tired, but the evening was actually very good! We had some good talk about future plans and touched on some Big Life Stuff coming up. I’m very lucky to have him in my life.

Saturday was a friend’s birthday party. I had planned to make an apple crisp, then changed my mind, and after much searching for a recipe that i had all the ingredients already on hand, decided to try out Fannie Farmer’s Lace Cookie recipe.  I did 2 very slight tweaks to the recipe, using Gluten Free flour and Dark, rather than light brown sugar.  Neither seemed to impact the cookies.

Lace Cookie Ingredients

Lace Cookie Ingredients

Dry ingredients in the bowl

Dry ingredients in the bowl

The trick with these cookies is realizing they’re not typical cookies. The point of them is to spread out and create a crispy brown sugar cookie with just enough oatmeal to give some texture and structure.

I’ve included a picture of the raw and baked cookies for comparison.  The recipe suggests using a 1/2 teaspoon of dough per cookie.  At first i thought this was not going to work, but actually, they were just the right size portion-wise that way.  The recipe says place them two inches apart, but i found sometimes even that wasn’t enough.  These WILL spread!  You want them to, afterall, but definitely don’t crowd the cookie sheet!  The recipe makes around 60 cookies, but i found i made closer to 75 perhaps?

Because of the size, however, and the oatmeal, it’s tricky to get the right balance of oatmeal and everything else in each cookie.  I didn’t get them all perfect, but a few were a little light on oats when i was scraping the sides of the bowl.

I used parchment paper on the cookie sheets because i was worried about sticking.  I think this helped with the cooling process, but because of the size of the cookies, some came out lopsided.  They were too light to hold down the paper!  That was a definite surprise!

Lace Cookies - raw and baked

Lace Cookies – raw and baked

Another reason these are tricky cookies is because the timing is tricky.  To get them perfect it takes longer than the recommended 5 minutes at 350F.  This is a lie.  They take way longer than that to get to the perfect level of done.  You don’t want lightly browned, you want them bubbling and a consistent brown.  I did manage to burn one batch, i’ll admit, but the edges should be a nice dark brown, otherwise they don’t set.  You need to get them to a bubbling hot stage and then quickly pull them out of the oven and let them cool (part of why the parchment paper was nice, i moved the paper to the cooling rack, rather than wait for the whole cookie sheet to cool) .

You can’t really get them pulled off the sheet until they are no longer sticky, but unless they are cooked enough, they will still be soft and you’ll have to eat the ones that end up all gooey and fall apart.

It’s totally an unwritten part of the recipe.

Saturday was also clean out the fridge day.  There were a few oranges hanging out that needed to be used before they went bad, and i had recently read how to make some natural throat soothers on The Yummy Life.

Homemade Honey Citrus Syrup - Orange & Clove

Homemade Honey Citrus Syrup – Orange & Clove

Well, i’ve been suffering from a cold, so this sounded like a great opportunity to try something new!  It was easy to cut up the oranges, add in some cloves and pour in the honey.  I didn’t have any buckwheat honey, but considering how much i am enjoying a little bit of this mixture in some hot water, i may invest in a bottle.  It definitely felt wonderful on my throat Saturday evening and Sunday morning, and tasted wonderful!  I was worried that the flavor would be weird, just mixed with hot water, but it was like a fruity tea almost.  This was definitely a keeper.

Orange, clove, allspice & cinnamon room scent

Orange, clove, allspice & cinnamon room scent

I still had some orange left over, so i used another trick from The Yummy Life to make up a natural room scent mixture.  I’ve done these before, one with lemon and rosemary and another with oranges and spices, but decided to freeze this one, and use it later on.  This has oranges, cloves, allspice and cinnamon.   Both times i’ve done these previously they were usable for almost a week and smelled wonderful.  

And more space was made in the fridge!

Sunday there was game, or not-game in my case.  Michelle and i took the nephew to the mall to let him run around and let folks work on plumbing and then play some Dresden Files.  But before we did any of that, i decided to use up the apples in the fridge and make the apple crisp i’d thought about the day before.

Apple Crisp Ingredients (sans nutmeg)

Apple Crisp Ingredients (sans nutmeg)

I used a recipe from Dahl House Recipes for Honey Ginger Apple Crumble.  I LOVED the crumble part of this, but the apple part needed a little re-working.  I’m on a ginger kick lately, and i think i did too much ginger.  Still, the honey in the crumble/crisp part was delicious.  I think it may become a regular recipe.

Fruit crumble/crisps like this are a great way to do a gluten free dessert and use up fruit.  Writing about these now i can’t wait to do peach and blueberry crumble again in the summer!  Maybe that’s just the snowy outside teasing me though.

Finished Apple Crisp

Finished Apple Crisp

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More musings on the evening routine

Lunch Made

Lunch Made

Yesterday was yoga day.  Except during work my eyes were really bothering me.  The very cold weather has meant all kinds of heaters are on full blast, and the air is incredibly dry.  I found my throat getting scratchy and my nose starting to run as well, and wasn’t sure if it was a cold or a symptom of the uncomfortable conditions.

So i skipped yoga and did the needed grocery shopping.  I was out of yogurt, cheese and wanted to pick up something for Duncan after his aikido class as well.  Once i was home i was able to quickly go about things.  Getting the mail, putting groceries away, straightening up here & there.  Because i keep up with these tasks they are quick and easily manageable.  I think this is the number one thing for keeping a clean, organized home – constant, but small steps.

I made today’s breakfast and lunch after putting some brownies in the oven.  Duncan had a bad day, and i was hopeful they might cheer him up.  This week i’ve been using the PlanetBox Rover a lot, which i do enjoy, but sometimes struggle with the portioning.  When we have a little more money, i’m considering getting a Launch model.  The Rover is great, but i can’t put a whole cut up apple into any section except the largest, and if i use the largest section for  a salad it is not enough food.  If you’re curious, that’s the Modern Art magnet set on there.  Although i’ve not been officially writing down my lunches, i have been following some patterns which are definitely helping me ensure i have healthy foods each day.

Clothes laid out

Clothes laid out

I’m considering making a little template for myself and tracking what i’ve done as an idea for future lunches, and maybe sharing them here.  It might be a fun exercise, and as i mix up different containers I could use a few different templates.

The other big evening routine element is choosing my clothes for the next day.  I really can’t express how much this is helping me in the mornings.  First off, i don’t need to search for anything, bleary eyed and in the dark.  I do keep my wardrobe limited in some ways –  basic colors, simple pieces. Still, when looking for a black tank top in my drawer it can be a real challenge!  I own so much black!

And yes, that is sparkly pink batman underwear.  This is the Geeky House Girl blog afterall.

I’m considering laying out all of my clothes for the day as part of my evening routine.  Currently I just put out my first outfit.  While i can, of course, change my mind, i usually know what is happening later in the day, and if an outfit change will be needed.  Why not take the time while i’m already in the drawers looking for one thing to get the others out as well?

Again, when there is more money, i might also consider purchasing a valet stand of some sort.  I know they are traditionally for men’s clothing, but why not?  Most days things are not so neatly folded, i’ll admit!

So even though i felt ucky and my eyes hurt, i was able to lay a great foundation for today.  I think how easily a bad night could of led to a tough morning, but with these simple actions, things were smooth, even with a bit of a cold!

I think i will officially add wipe down kitchen counters to my evening routine now.  Although i sometimes do, it’s not every day, and it should be.  I’ve been keeping my sink relatively shiny by the time i go to bed, so why not expand the clean around it?

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Back to work

Yesterday was back to work.  It was an office day, fortunately!  It’s very, very, very cold here in New England right now! Once again, routines made my life so much easier.  Coming back to work with clothes laid out, lunch prepared, just able to focus on the day really made me feel good.

After work, i spent some time with my friend Jason, discussing an event we’re considering running together.  He’s a great guy, and we have a lot of similar feelings on issues, plus we’ve worked together before.

I came home to finish my Arisia laundry, make today’s breakfast & lunch and lay out the clothes. It’s really becoming a comfortable routine, and i’m wondering what to add to improve it.  I also came home to a real treat – the latest trade of Fables had arrived.  I only read a little before falling asleep.

It was a productive day, even if most of it wasn’t home related. I’m hoping to take care of some tasks this weekend to get things back in order.  I’m learning what i can and can’t rely on while my spouse is out of work, a real challenge, but we’ll figure it out.


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Back to real life – sort of

I took yesterday off to do chores and rest.  After a weekend away like Arisia, a little extra rest is necessary.

I had a great time at the con.  The panels i was on went well, including Housekeeping for Geeks, which was very full, despite being the last panel on the last day of the con!  The Alternative Activism panel was sadly very quiet, maybe it needs a different time slot or to have a year off.

I attended the Sandman‘s 25th Anniversary panel, which was interesting, but that was the only panel i made it to that didn’t have friends on it.  I did see some of Power Point Karaoke (hilarious!) and the Piscis Volans Circus (a steampunk theme circus troupe).  I was also able to make it to the shadowcasts for both Nightmare Before Christmas and Repo! The Genetic Opera.

Some lessons learned: We ate about half the food we brought, drank almost all the soda and very little of the wine.  Having 2 rooms was the right thing to do.  I need to be more aggressive in ensuring Duncan packs anti-snoring aids (and long term help him see  a sleep specialist).  Fruit snacks were a hit, so were the egg salad and tuna salad sandwiches.  We used more paper plates and less real ones.  Things that needed preparation, like cereal and milk were not.  In fact, the more steps needed to eat something, the less attractive it was.  The bag of Reese’s went quickly, so did the Rice Crispy bars.

I would like to purchase a duffle bag that isn’t my work bag.  My backpack, awesome as it is, isn’t meant for such trips, and doesn’t pack enough clothes well.  Packing food in the milk crates worked very well.  I also should learn to just pack a laundry bag, to make life easier.

Time with the nephew was wonderful.  We went swimming with one set of his parents one day, and he had a blast.  Another day i took him for a few hours while his parents were on panels or sleeping.  Mostly we ran in the hallways.  Once he figured out he was stuck with Auntie laurel, things were fine, but we were nervous at first!  It was funny to have conversations with other adults with kids and accidentally out myself as the not-parent, getting strange looks.

A very funny Auntie moment was when Aimee & Micah were on the Poly Parenting panel, and the rest of us were in the room, with the nephew napping.  When he woke up, he realized his Thomas the Tank Engine toy was missing.  The train has become his security item, and he was crying and crying, no other toy would do.  So i went down to the panel, and tried to get Aimee’s attention, suspecting it was in her bag, but the moderator saw me first, so lots of folks turned around.  I signed train, Aimee caught it and the day was saved, after a good laugh from the audience.

Yesterday, as i recovered, i turned all the left over eggs into egg salad and packed my lunch.  I also did all my laundry, which was a few loads, although i need to put it away tonight.  In the afternoon i saw Les Miserables with Mich & Ian, then caught up on Downton Abbey.  Really, a wonderful, chill way to come back to reality.

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So glad to be home!

Arisia was a wonderful time, but i really am so glad to be home!  The laundry is running, The left over food has been put away and tomorrow’s lunch has already been made.  it’s so nice to relax.

I’ll have more to say, but right now i need to turn over the laundry and continue dealing with some phone storage issues.


Eve of Adventure!

Sunrise from the landing

Sunrise from the landing

I can’t say this morning was particularly special.  It did start with a beautiful sunrise, however, with oranges and yellows reflecting onto the white snow.  It’s mornings like this that make me so glad to do my sun breaths on our landing, where i can look at our yard and see the sun come up these days.

Work was, well, like a job.  I daydreamed too much with our trip on the horizon.

This evening i came home after going to the bank, and got right into chores – putting away laundry, finishing some packing, emptying the dishwasher and generally making sure things were completed.   Then it was time for Bhakti yoga.  Normally there is a break every few weeks in the yoga class i take through Park & Rec, however, our wonderful teacher offered to do a special class this week during our normal break to support the town food bank.  It ended up being a particularly wonderful class, with 4 students.  We were able to ask more questions and work on specific poses while also focusing on our spiritual selves and connections with others.  I felt feeling taller and lighter.

Afterwards, there was more prep for the trip.  I had to make hard boiled eggs, rice crispy treats and a loaf of bread (in the bread machine, thankfully!).  It was hard to return to the manic do-do-do after such a peaceful class, so i didn’t, but was very efficient, moving with focus and determination.  I was productive enough i was able to go out with Duncan for dinner even!  How great!

There is laundry in the dryer now, and things to pack in the morning – apples, eggs, cream cheese, rice crispy bars – but things are generally done!  Maybe it was the beer with dinner, but i feel relaxed and ready.

I likely won’t be posting the next few days because i won’t be at a computer (and hopefully will be busy having fun!).  Look for more adventures next week!