Tag Archives: lists

Things I Have Done Today, and Things I Would Still Like To Do

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I am finally feeling better today, and can get a few things done. I have a lot of things backed up though, from all the time that I was just not feeling up to it all. I want to make sure I don’t forget it all, and also see if I am trying to pack too much into this one day, so it is list time again.First, things I have already done (for the sense of accomplishment):

Now, what I would like to do still:

  • #FeministSF chat moderation
  • Finish GA post
  • Clean up the menu, type it up, schedule it to post tomorrow
  • Empty all trash and recycling and take the bins to the curb
  • Go to Trader Joe’s
  • Wash dishes
  • Clear off dining room table and buffet
  • Repot mums on front porch into a more sturdy pot
  • Cook dinner
  • Make some cole slaw for weekly lunches
  • Put together shelves I bought for my closet

That doesn’t look too ambitious, does it? I also want to read some more blogs from my fellow NaBloPoMo-ers, and I am thinking about taking on a new organizing challenge, so I am doing some thinking about that.

Am I the only one who finds weekends more exhausting that the workweek?

Decorating Projects: Living Room

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I have decided to start my decorating project list in my living room for two reasons:

  1. It is the first room people see when they come into the house, and the room where we spend a lot of our time.
  2. It needs the smallest amount of work (because, see reason number 1).
I already got a head start on this one. I have a couch set up in the room in such a way that there is in empty space behind it. When you put things back there, you can’t see them when you are sitting and relaxing in the room, but it is practically the first thing you see when you walk into the house. This is a spot that tends to collect stuff. The reusable grocery bags waiting to go back to the car and the kids shoes, while not strictly great looking, are not a huge problem, but the stuff I am decluttering out of the rest of the house does contribute to a mess back there. I go through other rooms in the house, bagging up extra clothes, books, old toys, whatever, and it all goes behind the couch. In theory, I am supposed to take this stuff out to the car the next time I go, but in practice, it piles up until it drives me crazy. Then, it seems to collect granola bar wrappers and dirty socks, which make me crazy every time I make any attempt at cleaning it up. So, a couple of weeks ago, I cleared it all out one more time. It is beautiful back there!
Now, for the rest of the room.
  1. Wash the couch. The dog likes to sit on the couch, and it doesn’t really look very nice anymore. I need to figure out what to do–I think I can take the slip covers off and throw them in the washer, but I am not sure.
  2. Declutter–end table, storage cube, bookshelves. There is not a huge amount of clutter in these areas, but they aren’t clear and peaceful, either.
  3. Hang picture. I have a picture that hung on my wall using 3M’s velcro picture hangers for two and a half years with no problem. Then suddenly, it fell down, scaring the heck out of me. I figured the velcro was just old, so I got new hangers, but apparently the picture has gotten heavier over the years, because it fell again within a week. Time for some serious picture hanging, I think. Also, maybe I should dust more. Ahem.
  4. Get some sort of shelving unit for behind the couch to hold our stuff. Or table. Something. One idea is this set of shelves I saw at Office Depot. I could get some canvas baskets to hide the clutter, and the kids could put their shoes and school stuff on the shelves, so it would look like an organizational system rather than a big pile of junk.
  5. Get new cords for the wall sconces so that they actually work.
  6. Consider a coffee table. On the one hand, I like the openness in the middle of the room. On the other hand, we have no place to set drinks down.
  7. Fix handle on the outside door. The kids have let this door bang shut behind them so many times that it doesn’t work correctly anymore. Pushing on the handle from the inside or turning it from the outside doesn’t pull in the stopper so that the door opens. The only way to open it is to carefully push the little lever in and gently push it past the door jamb, so we have to prop it open using the lock when we leave the house so that we can get back in.
  8. Re-cover the chair cushion in which the dog has torn a hole.
  9. Think about painting. I like the wall color in there, actually. When I first looked at the house, I thought it was a strange color, but once I moved my furniture in, I liked the color a lot better. I am okay with leaving the wall color alone for awhile, but I would like to do something about the ceiling. It is painted white now, which is nice because the ceiling in the living room, which was a late addition to the house, is a bit lower than the other ceilings on the first floor. However, there are nice beams that I think would benefit from some kind of contrasting color to make them stand out. I actually have a few different ideas for what to do with the ceiling:
    1. Paint the beams a dark brown, possibly with some kind of wood grain effect.
    2. Leave the beams white, and paint the insets navy blue, with some kind of star effect. GloNation has glow-in-the-dark paints and powders, plus a tutorial on how to create various effects on their site. I think this could be very fun, but I don’t want it to look too cheesy. The zodiac stenciling kits lmight be a cool way to do this, but I wonder about using a stencil on a textured ceiling. How hard is it to keep the paint from bleeding out when the stencil cannot get flush to the entire surface?
    3. Leave the beams white, paint the insets silver.
  10. Replace the ugly ceiling fan. I like having a fan in the room, but I really hate the way that this one looks, plus, I couldn’t fit the globe over the light once I replaced the incandescent bulb with a CFL bulb. So, I need a nicer looking fan with a light, but it still needs to not hang down too far, because of the low ceiling in there.
  11. Get some plants. Plants make a room healthy, by creating more oxygen, but also by removing toxins from the air.
  12. Organize coat closet.

As I went through the room deciding on every little thing I could do to make the room nicer, I found a lot more to do than I thought I would! This is one of the nicer rooms in my house, one that I have spent more time decorating than most others, and there are still a lot of things to do. Honestly, I could have come up with even more tasks, but I want to create a list that I might finish in some reasonable period of time. It makes the room sound like a disaster, but I actually think it is a pretty nice room. I like the furniture, I kind of love the copper colored insulated curtains, and I found the perfect metal sculpture for above the TV right after we moved in.

My plan for now is to start with the cheap and easy items: declutter, hang the picture, wash the couch somehow, organize the coat closet. It will be nice to knock a few items off the list, and it will give me some time to make some decisions on things like what to do with the ceiling and whether or not to buy a coffee table.

Also, I think I need to change this project name–it started out looking at decorating, but as I started making lists, I realized that this is also a maintenance list. Things like replacing a door handle or getting new cords for my wall sconces will make the room look nicer, true, but they are not strictly speaking decorating. This is a great place to keep track of them, though.

Home Decorating Projects

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When I bought my house three years ago, there were many things I was excited about. It is bigger than the apartments we had been living in, it has storage in the basement, I have my own washer and drier, it has a yard (a bit of a mixed blessing actually–yard work is not really my thing), and we don’t share any walls with another apartment. The biggest thing I was excited about, though, the thing that came up in nearly every conversation about the new house, was that once I took possession, I could paint the walls any color I wanted. No landlord could require stark white or boring beige; it would all be up to me.

I did start painting almost as soon as I had possession. The night before the movers brought the furniture, I painted the one room that had a color I could not stand, June Day, to a prettier yellow that I loved, Lemon Butter. The walls in the family room are plaster, and the texture was incredibly hard to paint. I painted for 4 hours. Some friends stopped by and even helped for a while, but I was still exhausted when I finished. So, when I saw that I would need a second coat, I decided it would have to wait. I had the big move the next day, so I needed to rest. I had big painting plans, anyway, I would get back to it.

You can guess how much painting I have done since then, I am sure. I did paint a nice abstract canvas for the big wall in my living room, but none of the walls have seen a brushstroke of paint. I have plans, though! Well, sort of. I have ideas that occur to me every once in a while. I have vague color ideas, and somewhat ambitious decorating schemes to go with my new painting. But, I am not making much progress.

Who am I kidding? I am not making any progress.

Enter this blog, which I use almost exclusively to shame myself into actually doing the things I set out to do, and a new feature, where I will start making plans and holding myself accountable for them. The plan is to take a room at a time, make a list of what I want to do t0 redecorate, and then come back and report on my progress. I am not promising that I will work on one room to completion before starting another room, because that is a little too straightforward for me. But, having a master plan for each room should help me to keep making progress. I am going to try to pick projects that I can do myself pretty cheaply, because my kids insist on eating every day and then growing out of their clothes, which gets very expensive, but I know there a few things I will need to hire someone for, mostly electrical work.

I’ll be coming back soon with a plan for the master bedroom, or maybe the kitchen, but does anyone have any general tips for me?

Menu, 9/17 – 9/22

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I am entering the school year with at least one child in school for the ninth time this year. This is the fifth time that I have had both kids starting a new school year. You’d think I’d have this down, wouldn’t you?This year was actually better than some. I planned ahead a bit this year. I figured out that part of the problem is that there really are a lot of back to school events at the beginning of the year, which take up much of my normal cooking time.So, I haven’t done a lot of menu planning, but I have had a lot of ingredients for easy meals on hand, so we have actually cooked more evenings than not since school started. I don’t do well without any planning, but with some thought to easy meals at the grocery store combined with at least a quick glance through the freezer and pantry each morning, I have been okay.

It’s wearing on me, though. I do better with a plan. When I know just what I am making for dinner, and I know I have all the ingredients, because I made a menu, made a grocery list from the menu, and shopped from the list, cooking doesn’t seem like such a chore.So, this weekend I am getting back to the planning. Sure, it takes up some of my weekend, but then I don’t have to think about it all week, which is so worth it to me.

On Hand:

  • chicken thighs
  • ground beef
  • Italian sausage
  • 2 pieces of cod
  • canned tuna
  • red, purple, gold baby potatoes
  • pasta
  • black beans
  • baked beans
  • spiced garbanzo beans
  • shredded cabbage
  • frozen watermelon
  • frozen fruit
  • frozen broccoli

Available in the garden

  • carrots
  • green tomatoes
  • yellow bell peppers
  • kale
  • various herbs
  • japanese eggplants
  • butternut squash

Tonight: Pizza, watermelon frosties, carrots, ice cream

Sunday: roasted butternut squash risotto, steamed broccoli

Monday: Beef Bourgignon, mashed potatoes

Tuesday: cod panang curry

Wendesday: Pasta, Sausage and Bean Ragout

Thursday: Salmon noodle casserole

Next weekend my kids are going to be with their dad, and I am not making plans for Friday. I suspect I will have leftovers to use up, anyway.

Lunches:

  • Tuna Salad sandwiches
  • leftovers
  • salami sandwiches

Grocery list:

  • bread
  • beef broth
  • canned salmon
  • Daiya mozzarella
  • shredded cheese blend (soy)
  • eggs
  • bacon
  • salami
  • 2 lbs. beef stew meat
  • chocolate ice cream
  • vanilla ice cream
  • frozen peas
  • bananas
  • mushrooms
  • Yukon gold potatoes
  • pearl onions
  • egg noodles
  • arborio rice
  • bay leaves
  • nutritional yeast

I feel better already–now to just get to the store and back!

Professional vs. Amateur writer

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I have wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. I have vague memories of scribbling curlicue lines across a page, in ordered rows, when I was too young to think of an actual story with actual words. If you held it at arm’s length and squinted, it looked like prose. As I got older, I wrote real stories and went through a few years of angsty teen poetry writing, which mostly just made my friends roll their eyes. I took a creative writing course in college, but most of writing shifted to research papers and essays. As I moved into motherhood and professional work, my personal writing subsided even more. I did a lot of online writing, but it was emails and bulletin board posts, nothing formal. I blogged, but only sporadically.

I missed writing, but I had two major problems: lack of focus and lack of confidence. There was a time when I would have said lack of time, but that is just an excuse. If you are motivated and focused, time can be found in all but the busiest schedules–I mean, I am sure heads of state don’t have time to devote to writing, but I could have easily cut out tv watching, for instance. (Or drinking. My god, in my 20’s, I could have gained a lot of time by not going to bars–not that I spent all my time there drinking, I did a lot of dancing and socializing, too, but still. How much socializing do you need to do in bars? Less than I did, I assure you.)

For a long time, I thought lack of confidence was my problem. I could not sit down and write because I didn’t have anything interesting to say. I would write three sentences, become convinced they were the worst examples of uninspired dreck ever written and give it up for the day, or the week, or the month or the year. Why sit down to write at all when it would just be awful? Reading good literature made it even worse. I would be so inspired to write something of my own, but convinced that everyone had already used up all the good ideas. When there is already an Ursula K. Le Guin or a Chris Moriarty or a Rachel Swirsky or a Charles Stross in the world writing, why should I bother?

(Imagine a break here where I write down the name of many, many writers that I admire, then erase them all in a fit of depression, plus the realization the list isn’t actually that interesting to read….)

But then, I went to the doctor and got some magic pills effective medication to treat my lifelong issues with attention, and I discovered that focus was really the biggest problem. When I sit down at the computer and write anything at all, it gets easier. The blank page is the hardest part. I also let go of the thought that anything I write will be any good at first, and realized that is not a problem. That is what revision is for!

I began to get more serious about writing. I followed authors that I like on twitter and started reading blogs directed at writers, to get in the right frame of mind. I realized that writers write, and I just needed to write something down, anything at all. I started writing more on my blog, just to get myself going. I began writing at http://www.gamingangels.com, just to have a weekly goal. When I would have random ideas of things I would like to write about during the day, I made a note for later, and I went back and read those notes. I picked a character and wrote two random sentences to start my fiction writing going.

I discovered something powerful through all of this. Once I started writing, it got easier. Not that writing itself is easy, but my mindset changed, and it became easier to actually sit down and write. Now, when I read interesting news articles, I think about how the story might affect my fictional world, or how to express my reaction coherently in a blog post, rather than just passively taking in the information. I discovered that having a writing habit feeds itself. I miss writing when I am doing other things, and I do *something* writing related every day, even if it is just making a list of questions I want to answer.

In the traditional sense, I am by no means a professional writer. No one pays me for my writing (unless you count emails at work, which I don’t really). I did find this article interesting, though. By the definition that Kirkland sets out, I am getting close to being a professional, even though there is no pay on the horizon. I write every day, and I am getting closer to a real writing schedule. I am not yet at the point where I have a regular routine to my writing, or a word count goal, but I am getting closer.

To that end, I am coming up with some goals for myself:

  • 3 posts on my personal blog per week
  • 1 Pulp Angels post every week
  • 1000 words of fiction per week

I know, that last goal is a bit wimpy. That one is the hardest for me, though, and I don’t want to intimidate myself too much. I anticpate that it will go up soon.

What I got done this weekend

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  • Blog redesign (technically, I started this Thursday, but it was something I have been meaning to do for a while now, and I did more work on it this weekend, so I want it on my accomplishment list)
  • Wrote a blog post on cultural attitudes toward fathering
  • Massive refrigerator purge—I could not believe how old some of those condiments were! Or, how much room I had to put my groceries away
  • Wiped down fridge shelves
  • Made a menu ( I only went through Thursday, because the weekend will be a daddy weekend, and I expect I will have leftovers to get me through Friday)
    • Saturday: Cheese pizza, Italian sausage pizza, sloppy joes pizza, baby carrots, sliced red bell peppers, mini cucumbers, sugar snap peas (S had two friends over for a sleepover, hence the three pizzas)
    • Sunday: Stir-fried quinoa, pan seared cod (cooked with some of the Island teriyaki sauce I used in the quinoa), steamed sweet potatoes
    • Monday: The girl is making Chickpea Noodle Soup from Veganomicon, I will probably make a salad for my mother and me
    • Tuesday: Lima Bean and Brussels sprouts curry, with either brown rice or quinoa, depending on my mood
    • Wednesday: Chickpea Cutlets, a frozen potato/green bean/mushroom mix I got from Trader Joe’s, steamed broccoli
    • Thursday: Scallop Risotto, salad
    • Lunch stuff: Muffalletta sandwich (from Veganomicon again), light and sassy slaw with maple sesame tempeh
  • Bought all the groceries, except the scallops, which I will get closer to the actual day I use them, and eggplant, which was inexplicably absent from both grocery stores where I went to shop
  • Put away all the groceries—easy in my cleared out fridge, a bit of a jigsaw puzzle in my freezer, which needs its own clearing session
  • Cleared out the area behind my couch in the living room; in theory, this is a launching pad for things that need to go to the car, or that will be donated when someone calls up and offers to take stuff off my hands, and even come to my house to do it, in practice, it is that plus whatever the kids dump there, and stuff rarely makes it out to the car
  • Attacked the bathtub, got a lot of caulk stripped, thought I was done, but I will be doing a bit more stripping today before recaulking
  • 4 loads of laundry
  • The girl trimmed the ornamental grasses, and we all helped bag up the resulting straw, or take it to the compost pile out back—about half went into bags, and half on the compost pile—I am not convinced this straw actually breaks down in a timely manner, but I didn’t have enough bags to put it all at the curb 
  • Both the girl and I did dishes, but there are somehow still lots of dirty dishes; stupid entropy
  • Made cappuccino chip muffins from Vegan Brunch; they were very popular, and are almost all gone now
  • The boy cleared sections of the family room floor underneath the couch and the chaise; his normal cleaning style is to shove things under furniture in the hopes that I won’t see them, so there was some corrective action needed
  • The girl spent a lot of time re-cleaning the family room after the sleepover; the girls stayed in there because of the fold out couch, the tv, and the ability to stay up far too late by not being in the room right next to mine
  • Cleaned the downstairs half bath
  • Finished a book (Unnatural Causes, by P.D. James)

Looking over this list, it looks like a lot, but not as much as I thought it would be. I feel compelled to add that last weekend, I finally got new batteries for my cordless phones, a task I had been needing to do for literally months, just to convey the sort of catching up on responsibilities I have been doing lately. But really, I was busy all weekend, and so was the girl. The boy is only 8, he can only tolerate so much busy-ness, but he did work, too. The girl owed me extra chores, thanks to her habit of putting away only some food when she is sent into the kitchen to clean up (as I tell her, when we eat it, it is food, when I throw it away, it is money), and I feel like she delivered. It just kills me how much time it takes just to stay standing still in house cleaning, much less get ahead.

It is almost garden time!

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After a winter of planning and searching the web for more and more things I could grow and make, and making a long list of plans and recipes, we are finally nearly at the time when I will have a garden in my yard again. Well, the garden is still there from last year, and there are even a couple of things growing (some spinach that apparently re-set itself, turnips that froze all winter and then started growing once the weather warmed up, thyme, garlic and onions), but the full garden installation is happening one week from tomorrow. We were going to try to do it tomorrow, but the gardeners tell me that the ground is too wet for the big installation we have planned.

We are doubling the size of the garden this year, which means that we will have to pull up some of the lawn. Currently, I have a flat yard behind my house, with a low wall on the side where there are 4 boxes, about 4′ x 4′, with sections in between that are maybe 2′ or 3′, and we plant all in there. There is another box at the end that has raspberries bushes that were planted before I moved in. Our new plan is to build new boxes out from the old ones, with a path in between. We are going to mulch some of the tree limbs I have out there for the path. We are also going to move all the herbs up to a section of ground next to my patio. I have a fig tree that I am going to plant in another section of the yard, and I am either going to get a couple of apple trees or a peach tree as well. This weekend I am going to go out and start chopping down one of the Bradford pear trees I have in my yard. I have two, and I want them both gone, but one of them is enormous, and I will definitely need some professional help with that one. The other one is relatively small, though, so I should be able to cut down several of the limbs myself, and then finish it off with Marsha and Melissa’s help when they come for garden installation.

I am saving the expense to get the big tree professionally cut down until next year. I am also seriously considering doing a sturdy grape arbor next year. Even if I get someone to help me and build it myself, that will cost some money, what with setting posts into concrete and making it nice and sturdy, but I love the idea of putting some chairs under the grape arbor and relaxing in the shade under my grapes in the summer. I may even start researching wine making. How cool would that be? I am not sure how realistic that plan is, but I plan to look into it.

We are doing a lot of household chores this weekend, inside and out. Here is my tentative plan for the weekend:

  • Finish stripping the caulk from my bathtub and recaulk the tub, so that we can use the shower without worrying about destroying the walls from leaking water
  • Remove the part of my bathroom sink drainage pipe with the hole in it, so that I am sure to get the right replacement part
  • Go to Home Depot and get:
    • A new drainage pipe
    • Plumbers tape
    • Some safety goggles (for the tree trimming)
  • Go to Target for some more shelves for the basement
  • Grocery shopping (I will do my menu and shopping list tonight)
  • Have the girl cut down the ornamental grasses so that the new growth can come up
  • Have both kids bag up the resulting straw for pickup on Monday
  • Start cutting down tree limbs
  • Work on organizing the basement, getting rid of as much stuff as possible
  • Clean out the pantry
  • Go through the pile of papers on my desk
  • Make some lunch salads for the week, maybe do some baking (scones, muffins)
  • Laundry, laundry, laundry…

Doesn’t that make you jealous? 😉 If I have time, I may buy a freezer for my basement, too. The garden is coming! I need to be able to preserve everything. Plus, I have been thinking about doing some cooking ahead again. Breakfast burritos are sounding particularly good lately. I cannot seem to get my morning routine arranged to accommodate a hot breakfast during the week, but I am tired of energy bars and toast.

It is supposed to be nice on Saturday, then rain on Sunday, so I hope to get the outside tasks completed Saturday, and do some of the organizing on Sunday. Maybe it is a Spring thing but I am very driven these days to organize and clean my house. Not that I was a total slob before, but I have a lot more drive and motivation and even excitement than I have the past few months. It is nice to check things off the list, and the house is so much more peaceful when it is in order. I am not planning on everything on this list being completely finished, but I would like to make some progress.