Cooking (sort of) and Cleaning (sorting, really)

I made a dressing this morning that I had found online a year ago for a simple tahini dressing. The first time I tried it, I used hummus accidentally, but it was delicious. So I thought I would try it today actually with tahini.

I know what tahini is, I’ve had a jar for about a year (oops), and still I had a completely different taste in mind when I opened the jar. It actually is much closer to peanut butter than hummus in its flavor, and I have since learned that I was expecting garlic, not nuts.

I’m not going to overthink that. Neither should you. On with the story!

So I made the dressing – it’s just tahini, water, salt, and garlic powder. Turns out I didn’t have garlic powder, but I did have minced garlic in a jar that was still good, so I put that in.

I kind of measured everything, but not really. Not really because I have a drawer for all my large utensils, and it’s a damn mess. It barely closes. Things start out at the front and make their way to the back. Some things are broken and don’t work well. Other things are just…I don’t know. Weird.

So the dressing came out a bit…strong. Strong would be the nicest word. At work I cut a lemon and added a bit of juice and that just made it Lemon Strong.

I’m blaming this on the drawer, and winding the post back around to cleaning. I wanted to clean off my desk this week, but I think instead I’m going to clean out the damn large utensil drawer. My cleaning and decluttering plan is completely all over the damn place, but that’s because I am, too. I don’t have time to dump everything in the center of a room and spent an entire weekend getting everything sorted and put away. I have an hour here, or three hours there. I can clean off an entire shelf, or maybe just a drawer, and clean that one thing.

It’s going to mean that I’ll have to go back and redo the drawer at some point. Possibly more than once. I’ll find more large utensils in other hidey places and put them in the drawer, find it’s stuffed again, and have to fix things again. That’s what’s going on with the shelves right now, actually. Sometime in the past year, I already cleaned those suckers off. But then this weekend, I did it again. And then I saw other areas with more books. I’m going to end up doing that a third time, too.

Oh, for a week where I could just concentrate on cleaning, so I could make a dressing that doesn’t feel like I’m trying to turn myself into a garlic-breathing dragon.

If you missed the link before, here’s the recipe I tried: 3-Ingredient Tahini Sauce

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What I got rid of today (books)

I packed up about 2/3 of my remaining books. They filled five small boxes, and I have them out in my car so I can take them to 2nd & Charles to see if they’ll buy them from me. I figure about half of them will get picked up, and the other half I’ll need to put in their outdoor bins (or perhaps take to Goodwill, because I think all of the books have value).

I put one book completely out of commission because I couldn’t in good conscience rehome it or ask someone else to sell it. I feel good about that decision, and am grateful to have it off my shelves, and not on anyone else’s.

I kept books I want to read (fiction and nonfiction), books I love (same categories), books I’m keeping for a while because I think I should (and I’ll work on getting permission to get rid of a few of those, because I tend to keep things out of guilt), resource books that I don’t reference often but feel strongly about keeping, all my filled bullet journals and the gratitude/affirmation logs I kept before those, four card games, some stationery, and a full half-shelf of blank notebooks.

In this minimalism journey I’m going on, there will be lots of stationery, notebooks, and office supplies that I keep because I will use them and I am determined to not acquire extra in the next five years. I have so much it’s silly, but to be honest, it’s a good thing, too. I have always loved notebooks and journals, and I have always loved writing by hand. I will use and enjoy these items, and I hope to value them in new ways while I limit myself from buying more.

Lots of other things will be easy to give away. I’m not a clothes horse, so that’s easy. I have two good coats that I wear, and the remainder don’t fit. I have worn the same pair of earrings for at least the last ten years, and I have two necklaces that I love. The rest of my jewelry seems to be from my childhood, and I’m no longer attached to most of it. I have one pair of work shoes, a pair of walking shoes, and the rest don’t fit (oops – a trend).

The issue will be with everyone else’s stuff. I really hope (although there’s no sign of it yet) that my kids will be excited about how easy it is to keep my areas clean, and how much nicer our room will look, that they will start to follow suit. We can pick three hours on a weekend day and just sort anything.

I’m oddly excited about that.

Updated to add: I was right. They took almost four boxes of the six I went in with. I left a few of the older books in the free bins outside, and the rest I’m taking to Goodwill. There are some good romance novels in there and a couple resources that I think will be helpful to someone.

Trello is better than Jello

Waaaay back when I first started using Trello (May 2012), they had a video with a tagline that Trello was better than *pause* Jello. I like it. I still use it.

I use Trello for my day job regularly. You could say religiously, although Trello is less a religion than an organizational, procedural powerhouse. I use it at work to keep track of projects, to keep coworkers appraised of my progress, and to delegate tasks that can be delegated.

But I’ve never been able to make it stick in my personal life. I give it a go now and again with boards for plotting stories, marking my life goals, and scheduling blog content. It works for a week if I’m lucky, but more often it’s just there, and I don’t use it.

I have the app on my phone, and I think this is where my biggest problem lies. I am logged into Trello on my phone to my work account (because I do like to keep these things separate), and one can’t log in to two accounts at once as Facebook sort of lets you.

I finally caved with my latest cleaning project. I really need to have that list digitally available on whatever device I have nearby, which means I need it on my phone, which means I needed to make a choice.

Either switch the logged in account or add my work account to the board.

I didn’t like this choice. There are reasons I don’t have my work things cross over to my personal things.

But it’s cleaning. It’s cleaning, and it needs to happen, and so I did it. I added my work self to my board, and now I have my cleaning list in Trello. I have lists and cards and checklists and labels to make my life easier.

And any time a job seems too big, I’ll add a checklist and break it down. I can convert any of my checklist items to cards if I need to. If it feels too overwhelming to take the entire closet at once, or all the clothes at once, or what have you.

I can do this. I need to do this. I want to do this.

The Cleaning List

I have a big house that needs a lot of cleaning, and it helps to think of just the small bits that need to be done, so I made a list. It’s not the mind map app that I started with, but this list doesn’t get canceled or taken out of development, and I don’t have to try to figure out how to sync it with the cloud.

The plan is to take a small bit and work on it as often as I can. Daily? Weekly? Whatever works. And when the bite seems too big, I can break it down more. Dresser too much? I’ll take a drawer.

The other scary part of this is what to do with the things I don’t want to keep anymore. I need to get it out of the house quickly, but quickly usually means the trash. I don’t want to create a lot of trash when a lot of things are in good shape, so I’ll need to find easy ways to recycle.

That might mean I don’t get the books to 2nd and Charles to earn money on them, or I take things to Goodwill instead of seeing if someone at work can use them. I just need this to be as easy on me as possible so I can have the clutter-free life I need to function properly.

Do you have any ideas for me? Things to add, or places to take the stuff? The dumpster is only a good suggestion if it’s actually trash.

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I can’t decide…

I have a whole Sunday, and I have quite the list of things to do, but I can’t decide where to direct my energy next.

I could…

  1. Try doing the finances
  2. Clean and declutter by my chair
  3. Vacuum the living room
  4. Take out the trash
  5. Write a story
  6. Take an exam to increase my earning abilities

But…

  1. That will probably entail trying to start a budget, and my afternoon will absolutely run away from me
  2. I might be better off doing that when the kids are asleep so I can just watch TV and throw things out
  3. My son is using the TV and the vacuum is noisy and I don’t want to disrupt him
  4. I’m waiting for help to gather the cat sand upstairs because I want to completely replace it and I need some help from the aforementioned son
  5. I’m afraid of sitting in front of a blank screen when I could be doing something productive
  6. I might be better off doing this in the evening after the kids are asleep

So instead of doing something productive, I’m goofing off on my blog. I think I’m going to go with #2 for now, and hope I don’t get distracted by the shelves, which need a second culling.

Y writer no writing?

I am alive! It was a close thing, let me tell you.

And it’s not over.

But the terrifying thing on Monday did not kill me. This is the good news. The bad news is that the terrifying thing pointed out that maybe I cannot make writing a full-time gig this year.

There’s a certain amount of relief in saying that, you know?

My free time, of which I have a small amount, will now primarily be taken up by things that can bring income into my pockets. With the stress that’s been swirling around lately, that’s not writing. It could be, but it’s not right now. Maybe once I cool down a bit. When my mind clears.

(The saying that is plastered on my writing laptop, that waiting for inspiration to write is like standing at the airport waiting for a train tickles the back of my brain, a painful suggestion that maybe I should be trying to write anyway.)

In the meantime, I will be cleaning other people’s homes on a part-time basis. I will also be typing for money. I’ll get better at both with practice, as one does who is willing to learn. I hope it will be enough, and then I still get to see my family.

Ultimately, I remind myself that our family is generally healthy, and as long as we have each other, everything will be okay. It might suck, but it will be okay.

That is the status of things. Happy March.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Oil Changes and Batteries

387 fiction words, 518 total words

My car has a thing to start it that isn’t quite a key but isn’t quite keyless, either. When I bought it, I read that apparently there’s a “thing” where the car just stops starting. It doesn’t turn over or anything. So I had in my head, when it started performing this way, that it was just a “thing” I was going to have to learn to work around.

My previous car had “things”. I’m proud of determining that, after filling the tank with gas (any amounts) I would need to start the vehicle without my foot on the brake but on the gas, revving it around 2K for nearly thirty seconds, and then, after making sure no humans or buildings or other vehicles were in front of me, quickly putting on the brake, throwing the car into drive, and then praying I could drive it about for a bit (occasionally taking slow tours around buildings) before having to hit the brake again. Then I was good until the next fill-up.

But today I went to get the new car an oil change at my favored service station, they did a courtesy check and sampled the battery. “It’s on the low side of good,” they said, “so unless you’re having trouble starting the car?”

Ding!

Words written yesterday:

387 fiction words, 518 total words

And I wrote a ton more words this morning at the shop, so I’m excited about that. Today still I hope to get the Income vs Expenses post ready. I have a bit of time, cleaning being put on hold for a bit because I’m tired of sweating.

Mrowr

168 fiction words, 309 total words

You get cat sounds tonight. My cats have been very vocal lately. I wonder if it’s the heat, or just a general desire for attention, but it’s not clear. They’re also still having fun on their brand new play place, the loveseat sofa sitting upended in my living room. It’ll go away Sunday. The bed will be here for another couple weeks, but that will give the cats new hiding spots, and that’s OK.

There are some really neat cat installations involving posts of about 1′ to 2′ that emerge from the wall horizontal to the floor and are wrapped with sisal rope. I’d like to do something like that someday.

Yesterday I struggled with writing, and I went to bed early thinking I would easily wake this morning to write. To a certain extent, this was correct. Just before 7 a.m. Elder Youth knocked firmly on my door, ripping me from my dream to let me know that something was dripping in the kitchen, and Junior Youth was “freaking out”.

Well, Junior Youth nailed it. There was water coming in the kitchen, and pots and pans were pulled out to catch it. (The house has quirks.) Elder Youth was unimpressed, but Junior Youth definitely got all the points this morning.

Speaking of words last night:

168 fiction words, 309 total words

And tonight is starting late for my routines, but I got a lot of other things done today. (Returning the bass was not among those things, unfortunately.) All is good.

Clean up your crap: a book review

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book coverWell, that’s a very sloppy title for the book I just finished by Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but there’s the gist of it as it gets filtered through my brain. Ms. Kondō wrote a lovely, short book about her method of “tidying up”, as she calls it. But that word (tidying) grates on my nerves, so we’re going to go with “cleaning up your crap”.

Anyway, on to the book!

Overview

Kondō writes that the way to clean up our homes and our lives is to take a look at everything, and if we don’t love it, lump it. No, seriously. Don’t worry about whether you’re still going to have enough underwear to make it through the week, don’t worry that you won’t have an outfit to wear to that super-specific event, just discard anything that you don’t absolutely love and everything will work out okay.

And for goodness’ sake, when you’re going through your stuff, don’t leave anything out! Otherwise, she’s going to throw it away. (If you didn’t remember it when it came time to look at everything, clearly it’s not worth keeping.)

Don’t forget to re-learn how to fold your clothes, either.

Overall

I enjoyed it. No, I really enjoyed it. To be perfectly frank, thanking items for their service, or for the purpose they served, is not out of my realm of acceptable concepts.

And let me just say right now that I keep absolutely everything. I keep things out of guilt. I keep things because of “someday”. I keep things because I spent good money on that. And I keep things because I’ll fit into it again, and seven years ago when it fit last it was so super cute! So I am the target audience here.

What Kondō has written makes sense to me, and I am beyond excited to try it out. And I hate to clean! (Unless, of course, I’m angry. Then I clean as an expression of my fury.)

Fine Points

There are a couple things, though, that I will adjust for my sanity. Not that I think I know how to clean crap up better than the author, but I do know me pretty well.

“Quickly” is going to have to mean a few weeks. If I start losing steam, I can probably pick up the pace again, but I only have a few weekday evening hours and one weekend day available to do such things.

And I’m going to have to run things by my family. There are things that have been entrusted to me with the understanding that I will keep them. In this process, I’m not supposed to involve my mother at all, but I don’t want her to find I’ve given away or trashed something that would “spark joy” (Kondō’s words for what happens when you find something you should keep). Or, you know, send her into a deep spiral of sad.

Buyer Beware

Okay, I should address the fact that this book is kind of hokey. Thank your house for sheltering you? Give each item an “address”? And I just flipped through a couple of reviews asking about finding joy in beige underwear and carrot peelers.

I get it. I really do. This isn’t for everyone, and if you’re rolling your eyes while reading it, don’t force it. Find yourself another way to clean up your crap. There are dozens of ways, and while Kondō hasn’t had any clients slip back into their pre-tidying ways, that doesn’t mean that this is the only route.

And Finally

I’m going to take pictures.

I’m going to work very hard not to attack my husband’s stuff or my kids’ stuff in the process because “I know best.”

I’m excited.

That is all.