downtime.

I am foraying into the world of self-employ.  While I’ve been freelancing for almost a year, I am now at the point where the work I’m doing is enough to cut back my office-work schedule to 3 days/week, and I have more than enough work to do the remaining 4 days/week for my main client.  I’ve fantasized for years about working for myself; it’s quite a different story when confronted with the reality of the thing, am I right?  I don’t say this as a negative, it’s simply an adjustment in both daily habits and practices, and in mentality/perception. I’m loving it so far, and getting more disciplined about my work habits, primarily because I can see how easy it is to simply work all the time. Although, this isn’t really anything new for me, I’m fond of being a busy-busy-bee! I can also see the necessity of getting out and spending time with people, ie volunteering, and participating in a writing group (of which, incidentally, I found a really great one last week! through the Hennepin County Library system.  Have I ever mentioned how much I looooove the library? Home away from home for this word nerd!).

What I love about working from home, more than anything, is that I get to decide my schedule.  I do not enjoy the necessity of being at an office for a prescribed number of hours during a set time frame. This has always made me a little cray-cray, though I’ve spent years trying to convince myself that it’s what I need to adjust to to make a living in this world.  I’m soooo happy to be finding out that there are other options- and they’re even viable options!  What I love about freelance writing is, well, writing.  Because the more you do of something you love, the more you do of something you love! Or, something to the effect of, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” While some may debunk this as bad career advice, I say it’s completely true!

At the moment, I’m taking a break from writing about various types of cancer for clients (just a little light writing for a Monday, thank you very much!).  These are the ways I like to give my mind a rest:

  • More writing, ovbi.  Though it’s nice to be able to vent the randomness in my brain
  • Trail running.  Today @ Lebanon Hills Regional Park, which is a bit of a jaunt, but definitely worth it.  It was grey and dreary, which made the leaves still clinging to the branches scream their vibrant colors.  I f’ing love autumn in Minnesota!
  • Regular running, too.
  • Or walking along the mighty Mississipp’, which is nearby.
  • Doing headstands, a la B.K.S. Iyengar. Like this:   Ha!  No, more like this:Except sh!ttier, with a lot of confused adjusting happening throughout.
  • Playing Words with Friends with a guy I used to date.  I suppose he would be considered some sort of ex, though he wasn’t technically a boyfriend (of course, this is my attitude about our relationship now. Had you asked while we were dating, he probably was considered a boyfriend.  Still, there needs to be some sort of nomenclature pertaining to people you formerly dated.  Ex… datees? No. Come up with something and leave it in the comments, if you would!).  Anyhoo, it’s weird because we don’t talk, but I soooooo want to beat him, so we keep playing.
  • Eat food.  Make food.  Think about going to get food or ordering food.  Looking at food in the cupboards. Making more coffee to drink for when my break is over.
  • Facebooking, tweeting, et cetera.  Truly, an addiction.  (Feel free to friend ‘n’ follow, btw.)
  • Daydreaming about getting a French Bulldog.
  • Perusing adopt-a-dog sites, searching for vicarious puppy-love
  • Many, many other interesting things.

What do you do on your breaks, peeps who work from home and otherwise?  I’m always fascinated by how people spend their downtime… or procrastinate-time.

Advertisements

American Woman, redux.

So many good things today.  But this was a  highlight:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had lunch with my friend, Russ, today at the lovely Indian restaurant Gandhi Mahal, in South Minneapolis, near Lake St. and Hiawatha.  We ordered the lunch buffet, which was loaded up with all gluten-free choices, plus a few dairy-free options. And dessert: 3 options, all gluten free.  And some kind of magical fried chickpea patties, also gluten free. He had read an earlier post re: this album, and just happened to have it in his collection, and gifted it to me (Thanks Russ! Cherishing this as we speak!). A funny bit in this: Russ and I worked at a coffee shop together back when blogs were just becoming a thing. And I lamented them endlessly! How boring to read about what some joker had for lunch, or went on vacation… Clearly, I didn’t understand the depth and breadth of what one is capable of communicating via this commendable medium.

…and returned, a marathon finisher.

After 18 weeks of training, it’s all over, and I crossed the finish line!  Not that I really doubted I would, I was more uncertain in what condition I’d cross it.  I want to do a whole recap, because I feel like this training, this process of the 18-week marathon training, has had a profound effect, but it’s more than I want to go into tonight.  I have yet to experience the 2nd day post-marathon, and as most would agree, that’s the day the toll of exertion is exacted, so sleep must be imminent.

kombucha experi-fermentation, bottoms up!

Despite my lack of posts, the kombucha is coming along nicely.  I have bottled a few batches, and even had the nads to drink a few bottles!  I’ve only allowed others a sip here and there, and then only those whose composition is tried and true, by way of raw-food retreats and Master Cleanseses.

Here’s the bottle of the stuff I drank tonight.

liquid gold, texas tea.

Bits and pieces I’ve picked up along the way:

  1. It’s important to taste the brew regularly.  I didn’t realize this until after the first big growth batch had passed its prime and tasted very much like vinegar.  For some reason I was hesitant to do this at first, as though I was growing some exotic cocktail I’d never tried before.  Now I taste it every few days, and am getting a better sense of the process just by looking at the scoby and the tint of the liquid.
  2. Bubbles aren’t automatic.  I was surprised to discover my first batch was flat.   I thought this was just another benchmark I had missed, but a friend recommended a little beer-brewing trick, which worked.  I then corroborated the tidbit by looking it up on the ‘net.  You know, the internet?  Yeah, I’m connected.  (you have to forgive the wackedness, I really just want to update the dang blog, and it’s late, and I’m loopy.)  It’s simple: just add a little sugar to the bottle, close it up, and let it sit for a few days.  I don’t know exact ratios right now, I’ve just been adding a scant teaspoon in each 16-oz bottle.  What it comes down to, I suppose, is that the little buggers have food (sugar) to eat, so they’re happy, and the by-product is the fizzies that can’t escape from the bottle because it’s closed.  There are laws of gas and physics here, that I could possibly explain.  No, I really couldn’t.
  3. Stockpile bottles in advance.  My roomies have been saving Snapple bottles for me for the finished tea.  But you also need a good amount of filtered or clarified city water (boiled then left uncovered to allow chems, etc. to escape) when you start a new batch, so you’ll want to have a place to keep that as well.  Ideally, you would have enough water to bring the temp of the sweet-tea mix down to tepid before adding it to scoby/wash.

That’s all I can think of, though I’m sure there’s more.  At some point, I will add some info on the water kefir, which has been a great addition to the kombucha.  It takes much less time (1-2 days) and is infinitely tinkerly-able!

kombucha experi-fermentation, day 4

I think the little beasties are making magic now.

I added some sustenance last night, which left the liquid a bit dark and murky. Today, however, the color is back to a lighter amber, and the small globules seem to have all joined forces, so there’s a larger blob floating around, with some random tendrils here and there. I moved it out of the furnace room, because with the weather as it is, I don’t think it’s any warmer there than on the pantry. Also, I like having it nearby so I can check it 5 times a day.

AM:

20120318-230139.jpg

20120318-230151.jpg

PM:

20120318-230301.jpg

20120318-230313.jpg

kombucha experi-fermentation, days 1, 2 und 3.

Immediately after posting my desire for the home-brewed bucha, a friend let me know that he happened to have a little SCOBY on hand (this stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, I believe, but I’m too tired to go look it up.  So we’ll go with that, shall we?) that he would be happy to share.  Since I wasn’t able to pick it up that exact moment in time, I picked up another bottle of tea after work on Thursday so I could get the tinkering started that night.  Getting some of friend Tom’s SCOBY would be easier, but you know, it’s just so much more fun to have grown one, or at least to have tried!  It’s the small things that excite me.  Such as, and I don’t know if I mentioned, but last summer I scored an amazing 70’s sun-tea jar, complete with etched-on sunflowers and a green molded-plastic spigot and screw-on lid with built-in handle (see below).

The first bottle of kombucha I had this week was the classic GT’s, and it sounds like tons of people use this to start their own mother.  On Thurs, however, I happened by the Wedge, where I found the only plain brand on the shelf was NessAlla, which I’m excited about because it’s much closer to home (ok, I don’t actually know where GT’s is brewed, but it can’t be closer than Madison, WI). I tried as best I could not to drink any of the bottle, but I failed, so there was only an inch or so to start, which I’ve let it sit for a few days.  Here’s the progression: I checked again that afternoon:Then again this morning: I was thinking about it a bit today, and a vague little tickle in the back of my mind told me I was missing something.  I just haven’t read enough about this process, basically.  I had it in my mind that you can toss it in a jar and just let it grow!  But it is ONE BILLION living organisms, and the little buggers need food.  I did a bit more reading, specifically on starting a SCOBY this way (on this awesome site), and got learned.  In consequence, brewed up some sweet tea, and added it to the mix.  I also moved the jar into the furnace room, where it tends to be warmer (which whole living suggests is better) than other spots in the house, and also more remote, lest my roomies come upon it.

FOOD! (ok- drink, actually) Kombucha

I’m thinking of starting an experiment:

batch of kombucha, mature.

I was at Whole Foods last night, stocking up on vites, as ya do, and wanted to get a little treat, also as ya do, since it was dinner time, and a beautiful day, and I simply wanted something fun to consume.  I grabbed for a bottle of kombucha, of which I don’t think I have ever, not once, drank more than a thimbleful another time I was at Whole Foods and a sampler was schlepping his fermented-tea wares.  Original flavor, GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha.  I was hesitant upon first sip, but it was quite delicious and I drank the whole bottle whilst (finally!) watching the Season 2 Finale of Downton Abbey.  Sixteen ounces may have been a bit much for one sitting, but I do feel pretty damn good today for no apparent reason, so I’ll attribute it to the tea.

It’s funny, once you start looking into it, everyone absolutely raves about this tea; it’s a cure-all from everything to arthritis to lactose intolerance.  In any case, it’s a tinkerly-type thing, so I can’t resist.  It’s a little like brewing your own wine (which I convinced mummy-kins to do), or concocting limoncello (pops and stepmum still do this on occasion, on my suggestion), or tapping the maple trees for syrup (next year- right, dad?).  I can’t take all the credit since my parents were, and still are, the ultimate source of my tinkerlyhood: mom with the giant garden in the summers and her devotion to sourdough bread; dad with the vast and sweeping building projects throughout my lifetime, including building a cabin, and swapping out vehicle engines.

The experiment will begin as soon as I can make my way to a store that carries kombucha, so I’ll have fodder to grow the scoby, or mushroom.  I already have a fantastic old-school sun-tea container that will work perfectly.  Can’t wait!  More to come.

In the meanwhile, what are your favorite tinkerly-type projects and hobbies?

A mind, once expanded…

I’m back home again after my epic-ly amazing dog-sitting stint in the lovely Kenwood area.  Tonight is the first night sleeping in my own bed in 2.5 weeks.  There are several things I love about shaking up the routing periodically either just a little, like dog-sitting in someone else’s house in another area of the city, or busting loose completely, i.e. moving cross-country to attend a commercial-diving programs (yes, that really happened.):

  1. Your routine is immediately broken up.  You’re in a new place, surrounded by different people (or pets), totally different energy, completely different surroundings.  You simply can’t do things in the same way.
  2. You’re not surrounded by your own stuff.  This I find very liberating.  I have A LOT of projects I want to do, A LOT of books to read someday.  What ends up happening is that I am constantly overwhelmed by the possibility, so I end up doing none of the things on the list.  When you’re somewhere new, you only have the stuff you’ve brought with you, so you are better able to focus on what’s before you, what you intend to work on.
  3. It’s easy to reinvent yourself, even if only a little.  This may sound a little silly, but I think we all need, from time to time, to just sort of pretend a little, to try on new hats.  And this is always easier when you’re not surrounded by people who’ve known you since you were three, with whom you feel obligated to act out that particular role.  I’m not saying it has to be anything drastic, what I mean is more that we often change and grow, but don’t realize because it can be a challenge to allow those changes into a relationship or lifestyle that might be rather static.
  4. You gain insight to and clearer perspective on your life.  Being removed from the ordinary, it’s just easier to see what you do, and don’t like about where you are.

So, I’ve gained some insight, and have a better idea of where I want to be heading.  Now it’s about keeping up the momentum, and not dropping back to the same patterns.

I’m curious to know, how do you keep your momentum going when you’ve made good changes?  Is it will power, or intention that keeps you moving forward?  Do you find truth in the Oliver Wendall quote, “The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size”?

 

winter mania!

I’m not sure if it’s because I sit at a desk all day long, or because I don’t get enough sunshine in the winter, or if it’s just because I go a little stir crazy, what with the routine of the work week, but I get a little crazy this time of year!  I mean, now that it’s finally winter, that is.  I would happily spend all of my free minutes outside doing stuff, if I could.

Here’s what my tonight looked like: I rushed home from work to investigate what the dog might have demolished during the day (she was merely cuddling with one of my running shoes, bless her).  My plan was to let her out, then to go for a run because I was miraculously home before daylight had disappeared.  Unfortunately she spied the gentle leader in my hand while she was still outside and refused to enter the house, not even for treats.  Eventually she came in (and if you have a dog, or kids, you know the feeling of wanting to accomplishing something time-specific, and battling with said dependent, all the while mentally hearing the time ticking away…), but I still couldn’t get her on the leash, and so ran the lake alone.  When I came home, she was ready to go, so we skijored for a bit.  She did much better tonight, slowly starting to understand what we’re doing out there.  I was also less ambitious distance-wise, and only ran around Isles, rather than aiming to do more.  When we were done with that, I took the dog home and skied the lake alone.  All in all, I probably covered 6-7 miles.  And I would happily head out on my skates, if I didn’t have to go to bed for the working in the morning.

skijoring fun with Maddy.

Why is it that I think of one MILLION things to write about during the day, and when I sit down to write, I can’t think of a damn one of em?  Shoot.

Clue at the Trylon Microcinema was amazing.  Rather than writing for the rest of the weekend, I worked on transferring old posts from another blog to this one.  Maybe that’s part of the block, I was looking at old blog posts!  It was fun to go back and read some of them.  I ran my first and second half marathons this year and I chronicled a lot of my training, good to look back and see what a challenge it was, and how awesomely I rose to the challenge.  Better still, the first one was hell and I sucked at it- but completed another one a month later in the best time I’ve ever run any distance.

Oh yeah!  I remembered what I was going to post about: New Year’s resolutions!  More on that in the next post 😉

Does this ever happen to you?  I randomly dreamt of someone last night, so I’ve been thinking of him all day long!  He just keeps booping me on the nose at the oddest moments.  Not totally random, someone I have a silly crush on.  But I don’t remember the dream, so it’s a funny sensation when he pops into my brain- do you know what I mean?  How the feeling of a dream can be so strong, but completely nebulous and incoherent at the same time?

What else…  The rest of the weekend was amazing.  Saturday afternoon/evening I ran errands, then came home and lounged.  Took the dog to the park, but it was crazy windy, so no outdoor activities for this girl!  Sunday I got out the skis and hooked the dog up to the Stunt Puppy waist-leash set up for a skijor trial.  With how much she loves to pull, it should have come as no surprise that she was a natural skijorer.  The crazy wind had blown a lot of the snow off the lake, but there was still enough around the outer edges to ski.

I’ve never skied with a dog who actually pulls, but Maddy is a puller!  5.8 in approximately 1 hour 33.  It wasn’t an ideal set-up, I had her hooked up to the gentle leader then to me with the waist attachment.  It kept her from pulling too much, and she kept running off to the side.  It was super fun though, and she was knocked out for the rest of the day, which is always fun to see.  Later that night, I got out the skates and headed over to the rink for a bit.  Just for stinks and giggles, I turned on the GPS for this outing, too. I covered 2.75 miles.

My favorite part is when I was at the rink, shown in detail here:

We got more snow on Sunday night/Monday morning, and by the time I left work, I was so excited to get out into it, I was on the verge of exploding.  I got out the real harness and hooked Maddy and I together, good and skijor-proper, and practically ran to the lake.  And she ran!  Holy hell, did she run:

3.78 miles in 1 hour 20, and that was with a bunch of stops, several off-course veerings, and a handful of falls.  One ice landing left me on the ground for… a while.  Do you know when people talk about having a “goose egg,” like in old-timey shows?  I know what that means.  I have one of these on the elbow that bore the brunt of my last digger.  I also have a kind of puncture on top of the goose-egg.  We skied out in the open snow for a while, especially on Calhoun.  On Isles, there’s a nice skating track cleared around the lake, and she really got moving once she was on a trail (I think any musher/skijorer will validate this behavior, they get in the zone on trail).  It was a good adventure for both of us.  I don’t have my own dog, and I love getting to hang out with sweet pups and get a better feel for what I’d like when I have my own.  I like being able to/having to exercise with the dog, I’ve decided.  I’ve been out every day since I’ve been here, even if it’s just been for a twenty-minute walk (this accounts for maybe one or two days out of 20, and only when it was frigid outside), so it does force one to be active.  It was also way more fun than I could have anticipated to skijor with a willing partner, just to see her want to go!  She would be amazing with a bit of training.

So that’s all, I think.  I’m sure I’ll think of one million other thoughts as soon as I post this…

Bonne nuit, mes chers 😉