Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Friday, December 14, 2012

2012 Goals Revisited

This has been a weird, weird year.

I went to Taos Toolbox and spent two weeks in the company of other writers. I learned a lot, I saw a lot of new things, and it was awesome.

I got a new job, which pays me more than I deserve and is an opportunity to learn new professional skills.

I wrote 45k words of a new novel, then decided that this one requires actual research, so I'm trying to do that (it takes a lot of time). I wrote 80k words of Avengers movie fan-fiction; I'm still not sure why, but it's been interesting. I've never really understood the phenomenon of fandom, and I'm not sure I do even now that I am part of it.

I've read a lot of comic books, trying to educate myself about the history of the genre.

I look at this list and get horribly depressed and feel like I have failed at life. I do recognize that this doesn't make much sense.

A lot of stuff didn't get done. My "things to do" list got completely neglected. The apartment is in a perpetual state of chaos (and maybe with three kids just can't be any other way). My commitment to other people's birthdays never seems to make it through the summer. Every time we get some financial progress, we get hit with some unplanned expense. My weight has if anything drifted upward. Cooking has been scattershot.

Blogging has, of course, entirely disappeared from my life.

I don't know what goals to set for 2013. I feel under-accomplished and over-stretched at the same time. I am looking forward to the holidays; due to the timing, I'll have a pretty long stretch of time off, and can maybe use some of that to figure out where the problem is and make some plans.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I Ain't Dead

Just in case you were wondering. I was in a funk and then I was traveling and now I'm working on a new book, and I haven't had the energy or the time to bake (sob), but I am getting back to where I need to be.

Current wordcount: 4,000

Gonna be a long climb.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Goal Roundup: April

Well, that month just flew past. And it was, er, kind of a bust, goal-wise.
  • Things To Do: Had a "date day" and went to the MFA and then to Margarita's. That was lovely and fun, but not exactly breaking new ground.
  • Better Me: Still going to the gym. Managed to read an entire book. Whoa.
  • Money: Bought my plane ticket for Taos, so no progress there.
  • Writing: Finished the draft of Fury, started working on a query letter, and started the next draft to address the problems D* found. 
  • Job Stuff: Still nothing, and one of my best friends got laid off, so if there was a job opening, I would feel guilty if I applied for it and she didn't. 
  • Birthdays: Managed to hit the important ones with a card. 
  • Household stuff: No money to do anything with this month.
Basically, all of my brain energy is going into this book right now. Which is appropriate, I suppose; I just wish I was making faster progress as a result.

TWD: Hungarian Shortbread

Holy new interface, Blogger!

Here you see my awe-inspiring plating skills, and part of my desk. Oh, and my shortbread.

Assuming I manage to post this at all, what I was planning to say was... this post almost didn't happen at all. I haven't done any serious cooking in weeks; my brain has been Elsewhere, writing even when I am not physically writing (which is most of the time; if I wrote nearly as much as I think about writing, I would have seventy novels).

This weekend in particular was a tough one. There is a hell peculiar to writers of fiction, and it is called the query letter. I spent much of the weekend trying out different approaches and feeling sorry for myself when people didn't like any of them, alternately hating my book, myself, and everyone who has ever given me criticism on writing, however kind and useful it has turned out to be. I didn't think I had the energy even to make shortbread.

Which is pretty damn silly. Shortbread is only one of the easiest things in the universe to make. On Sunday I managed to haul myself out of the Slough of Despond long enough to mix up a bare handful of ingredients (see our hosts, 1smallkitchen and The not so exciting adventures of a dabbler for the recipe), put them in a pan and bake them.

I have to admit, I thought the method in this recipe was really weird--freeze and then grate the dough? What on earth FOR? But it did make for very tasty shortbread, not to mention a good upper body workout. I eyeballed my dough halves rather than weighing them like a sensible person, so the base was probably a bit thinner than it ought to have been, but for what was involved, this is actually a very good, almost elegant (!) nibble.

Next time you're in a writing funk, or any other sort of funk, go ahead and make these. They go very well with tea and self-pity.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TWD: Lemon Loaf Cake

I have made, over the years, rather a lot of lemon cakes. There's the lemon cake to impress and the demure little lemon cake and the lemon cake I make all the time.

Thanks to Dorie and our hosts this week at Treats and The Beauty of Life, now there's another one. Whatever shall I do? This one may become my "all the time" cake. It's a very simple recipe, requires one bowl and no mixer, is firm in texture and modest on the tongue, and goes excellently with an afternoon cup of tea. An excellent sort of thing to have in the freezer for Cake Occasions.

I have not been getting the camera out much lately, but here are before and after shots.

She left off watching Kipper as soon as the camera flashed, at which point I became very grateful for how quickly-put-together this recipe is.

I brought it to the office for an afternoon meeting, and it was well-received. I may have had three slices. Maybe.

I have been horrible at visiting everyone else's blogs. I will try harder this week, promise!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

TWD: Pizza Rustica

I figured that this project would involve baking things I have never made before; that was pretty much the whole point. As someone who has been baking for well over a decade, I didn't expect that we would be making things I have never heard of. When I saw the words "pizza rustica" I thought, Hey, pizza. I make pizza all the time. Then people started talking about lattice tops and I thought, Uh... what?

Pizza rustica isn't pizza. It's kind of like a quiche, except it's mostly cheese instead of being mostly egg. It's kind of like a cheesecake, except it's savory. It's like nothing I've ever eaten.

But it is seriously good. Also--easy to make! The dough for the crust comes together in two minutes in the food processor, and is very soft and forgiving.

The filling gets a few turns with a spatula and you're done.

Lattice top? Like a boss.

 Put it in the oven. Bake it a bit longer than I did; at 35 minutes it was perhaps a teensy bit underdone, or else I didn't let it cool long enough because we were anxious to eat it!

For the recipe, check out Capital Region Dining and The Place They Call Home!

The recipe said it was usually served as a starter. Since we were having a friend over for dinner, we did that. I made a whole wheat walnut bread, roasted asparagus, Ina Garten's parmesan chicken, and for dessert we had ice cream and Outrageous Brownies. It was, in all modesty, one of the best menus I've pulled off in a long time.

And if you have any left over, I am informed that pizza rustica makes an awesome breakfast.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lunch Musings

Went to the MIT Coop to stare hopelessly at the SF shelves and wonder why I'm even trying to do this. Bought birthday cards for beloved people, and a ruler because I can never find the one I am certain that we own, and a book because, well, one does. Did not buy goldfish crackers, because when I am moody I crave salt and would eat the entire bag.

Headed back to office. Saw woman taking pictures of granddaughter on park bench. Wondered whether the sky actually is a different shade of blue every single day. Thought about aliens who have four hundred words for blue and the odds of being patted indulgently on the head by Christopher Priest someday (vanishingly low).

Back to work, eating a (relatively small) bag of pretzels to deal with the salt thing.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Goal Roundup: March

After last month's massive update, not much going on in March other than the creepy-early spring weather that ruled most of the time. T'ain't natural.
  • Things to Do: Not much. Saw some friends. Finished with the skating lessons. Keeping up with Tuesdays with Dorie.

  • Better Me: Still going to the gym, and in fact had my best run in years this week (and I went to yoga that same day). Reading has fallen off the list (again).


  • Writing: Momentum acquired, then lost, then tentatively getting back on stride. On average the FF revision has been going smoothly. I should have about a month left over before Taos to work on Go. Inner peace wobbly.

  • Job Stuff: Still nothing on Scrum training. :( No job openings to apply for.
  • Birthday Observance: March is a light month for my circle.

  • Household Stuff: Got a couple of new chairs. Got myself some new clothes.
 Pretty good, overall.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TWD: Irish Soda Bread

After the Great Rugelach Debacle earlier this month, I have to admit that I was relieved to have a simpler recipe on the schedule. Baking doesn't get any simpler than this: flour, baking soda, salt, buttermilk.

Mix, shape it a bit (but craggy-looking is good!).

Bake it.

Put butter on it (preferably Kerrygold Irish butter, which is amazing stuff). Eat it. That's it.

Which was good, because we were having company for dinner, and for some reason I decided to do it up proper. I made this ham from Food52, roasted butternut squash and tossed it with sauteed kale and toasted pine nuts, whipped up some mashed potatoes, and made a cinnamon-streusel pound cake from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book. On top of that, in the morning I made my usual cinnamon scones. (I had planned to make those on Friday, but inexplicably ran out of cinnamon chips, and my scone cravings do not permit denial.)

Everything was awesome except for the cake, which stuck to the pan (and still tasted awesome). This seems to happen whenever I try to make Bundt cakes with streusel in the middle, even with half a can of spray. I am going to swear off the darn things.

Our dinner guest, who has actual experience with the stuff, said that the bread was "almost" like the one his dad used to make. The "almost" was evidently because it was not dense as a brick, a distinction I am quite happy to live with. I thought it was wonderful, especially for something so dead easy, and will be happy to make it often.

Our hosts this week are My Culinary Mission and Chocolate Moosey. Go check them out!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

TWD: Rugelach

It only took three recipes for this TWD project to get me out of my comfort zone! I've never made rugelach.

I've never eaten rugelach. For most of my life, I thought I didn't like nuts, and I've always been suspicious of fruit-based desserts. But that's what this project is for. Making things I wouldn't ordinarily make, because you never know. I was a bit daunted by the ingredient list and the time estimates, but I soldiered forth, list in hand. I ended up with two containers of Aurora toasted mixed nuts, a bag of SunMaid mixed dried fruit, and a jar of prune butter from our store's tiny kosher section.

The dough looked easy enough, and on Sunday morning while Youngest toddled screechily around the kitchen and got out all of the measuring cups, I warmed up Godzilla and got this thing underway.

I have to admit, this is a pretty awesome way to start a project:

The finished dough was pretty sticky. Someone was curious about what Mom was up to.

While the dough chilled, I mixed sugar and cinnamon, and more sugar and cinnamon and nuts. It looks like beach sand--or maybe I'm just ready for summer?

I started thinking about what a crazy-indulgent, expensive dessert this must have been to make back in the day--butter! cinnamon! nuts! My mental bar for ingredient availability is stuck around the year 1500. Meanwhile, Youngest strewed Cheerios all over the floor.

Everyone else came back from church. Lunch was eaten.

Dishes were done (also, sweeping). A walk to the park was taken, in hopes of ensuring a nap for the baby and at least a half hour of recharge time for the boy--the first part worked better than the second, but he was engrossed enough by Dinosaur Train for me to get back to the kitchen.

Time to fill these puppies! The dough was very easy to work, and I had ample filling--possibly more than ample, I discovered when it came time to roll them. No beauty contest winners, these! In they went for chilling. It was already after 2:00. I recommend spreading this over two days if you can.

Time for tea and Toll House cookies and some editing work on Fury before diving into dinner prep. Dinner consisted of roasted chicken quarters, roasted potatoes, and steamed green beans--AKA things I can make in my actual sleep--because at the ripe old age of 38 I have finally learned that one big kitchen project per day is quite enough. After dinner, I started slicing and baking. I always bake one pan at a time because honestly, I would rather it take longer than be fussing around switching and rotating pans and shooing away children while my oven gets cold.

DO NOT TRY TO SKIP THE PARCHMENT PAPER. Nonstick or not, I would still be scrubbing these things if I hadn't lined them.

The best-looking of the final results:

Not the most photogenic thing I have ever made. A lot of filling leaked out; a lot of rolls loosened. About half of them were reasonable-looking enough that I took them to the office for tasting (since I've never had them, I didn't want to rely on my own judgement). The verdict was a unanimous YUM. I can't say I cared much for them myself, and I probably won't make them again, but it was an interesting project, and now I can casually say, Oh, I can make those if the subject should ever come up.
 This week's hosts are My Baking Heart and The Urban Hiker, so you can visit them for the recipe.
Looking forward to the Irish Soda Bread, which only has four ingredients. ;-)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Goal Round-up: February 2012

It's a little early, but I doubt much more progress will be made in the next few days.

"Unfucking" appears to be The Thing to Do right now. I ran across the word first in one of Chuck Wendig's brilliant posts, then in a marvelous writer's Girl Unlocked tumblog, the inspiration for which appears to have come from Unfuck Your Habitat.

As a word, I like it. It says that things are messed up right now, but we will do this thing and then it will be better. Not perfect--better. Whatever else the world has going on, at least my bed is made. Perhaps someday we will all graduate to unfucking bigger things. I suppose my annual goals and these accountability posts are in much the same vein. So what did we unfuck this month?
  • Things to Do: We did some entertaining. I went to the Museum of Science with some friends who were in town for the weekend (I visited the gecko exhibit and instantly was OMG I WANT ONE. Wonder if we could do that instead of rabbit, which is Eldest's current pet request). I took Eldest ice skating. I sent in my Taos payment, and the check was cashed, so I am going. This is a Real Thing. Maybe Tuesdays with Dorie fits in here, too? I did the first two recipes successfully. I finally filled out Eldest's Girl Scout registration form, which has been on my desk for two weeks.

  • Better Me: Gym has been great. I actually did a four mile run last week--slow, of course, but the last time I did that was probably before Middle Kid was born. I have been tracking my workouts and seeing steady improvement.

    One thing I am not doing is keeping a close eye on my weight. The stated goal of this endeavor is to feel better. Which is not to say that I am not thrilled at being able to fit back into my old jeans, but I don't want to make weight the focus. This is about not getting out of breath when I have to run for the bus, not about vanity... right? The one time this month I did weigh myself, the scale claimed I had gained three pounds. I suppose it could be muscle. Whatever.

    Also on the Better Me front, I have been making more of an effort to read. It's not a fast thing, but it's getting me through a few more books than was the case for a while. So, of course, I bought some more. This is a tough thing for me to fit into my day; the only slot available is right before putting Eldest to bed. It's enormously tempting to sit there and read the internet instead of a book--or doze off on the couch--while she does her school reading. Must Improve.

  • Money: The Taos payment aside, it's been a good month. I even went over to Fidelity and had one of those Real Grownup Conversations about what I should be doing with my investments for our hypothetical retirement and the kids' college funds. 

  • Writing: Up to chapter 6 of FF revision. I spent a very long time going back and forth over one early scene. It's better now, but I am still not entirely happy with it. However, I have a new thing I can tell myself: Maybe they can tell me how to fix it at Taos. I have been told that the only prep I need to do is to write the best book I can, and I am trying to do that, but I am in keen anticipation of learning how to do it better.

    On a related note, I have come to a new inner place lately, one strangely free of anxiety. I am going to do this thing; I am a writer. Maybe I won't be a success at it, but it's a real thing to me now. Is this a passing sensation, or an enormous new self-unfucking, this confidence? Time will tell.

  • Job Stuff: The Scrum thing is out of my hands, and there's been no motion on it. I've got my eye on some online classes to look into next month. No job openings to apply for.
  • Birthday Observance: Keeping up.

  • Household Stuff: Nothing doing, but one of the last remaining kitchen chairs in our set has started falling apart, so I think that will be the next thing that gets crossed off the list. Must search Craigslist now.
 Pretty good, overall.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

TWD: Choclate Truffle Tart(s)

Making sweets for other people is a bit of a tricky thing. More so than simply cooking for them, I think. A meal is sustenance, after all, a basic thing. Dessert is the extra mile. You want to make something they will like. You want them to like you for it. You want them to feel both appreciated (look at what she did! for me!) and appreciative (look at what she did!) without it being, well, all about you because you are, after all, doing it for them.

Sometimes I wonder how humans manage to do anything at all.

This is a surprisingly easy recipe. It does take time, what with making and prebaking the dough, but there was nothing particularly tricky about any of the steps (she said, fresh off a cake that required making two different sorts of caramel). That, too, makes it a good dinner party recipe, assuming that you have most of the day to fuss around with things; at least you'll know that dessert is done.

I made one error and two deliberate changes in this one. The error was adding a whole egg, not just the yolk, to the tart crust. I'm pleased to say that it didn't seem to be a problem.

The first change was that I made one 9-inch tart instead of 6 tartlets, because much as I adore Dorie and Julia, and much as I love an excuse to buy cooking gear, I couldn't really justify going out to buy a bunch of tiny tart rings. I had to bake it somewhat longer than the recipe stated before the center firmed up.

The second change was that I skipped chilling the rolled dough before baking it, because I have a side-by-side refrigerator that does not have room for a sheet pan full of tart. This, again, did not appear to harm the result.

I suggest making this for people you love, as soon as possible. Not a person, mind you. It's just as well that this post comes too late for Valentine's Day, because you need a lot of friends to help you eat it, and they should be good friends, because this is a very good dessert. This is serious chocolate. Six servings? I think we got ten.

For the recipe, see Good Eats and Sweet Treats, one of the hosts this week.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TWD: White Loaves

Is it strange that I can't remember what first moved me to make bread? I remember the kitchen I made it in, on the 1800 block of Commonwealth Avenue, a wretched little space with one balky window that looked into an airshaft. The refrigerator was older than I was, and needed frequent defrosting -- something I often did with a hair dryer, in defiance of all common sense. Our kitchen table was a folding card table I ordered from a Spiegel catalog (I had no idea how to shop back then); it had a green checked tablecloth, and was not by any means an ideal surface on which to knead bread. It would be years before I acquired a stand mixer, or a decent table.

It's not as if I grew up with memories of fresh bread wafting through my mind. We bought cheap, square supermarket loaves, and I ate them with peanut butter or salami. An unvarying menu met some need in me that is probably not all that obscure.

Still, one day in that unpromising kitchen, I put yeast and flour and water together and made the first recipe in Bernard Clayton's landmark tome. If I knew who Julia Child was, it was a vague awareness of her on television, and I had never heard of Dorie Greenspan. The Internet was in its infancy. The bread was underkneaded and overfloured, but I eventually made more of it.

That is one of the things about bread. It is almost impossible to make it, or to eat it, without thinking of all of the breads that have gone before. It gets its hooks into you deeper than just about anything else, in my experience, however casual your baking. Yeast, flour, and water are a time machine. You can look through your own kitchen window into ancient Mesopotamia, where the yeast (probably) made its way into bread via beer, into colonial America, into ovens around the world.

The simplest of animals and an accident of its biology link your hands with thousands before. I can't imagine a better choice for the inaugural recipe of the new Tuesdays with Dorie project.

I am not particularly good at these setup shots, but here are the ingredients.

The dough ready to rise.

First rise. (Elapsed time: sufficient to bathe a toddler and clean up the kitchen.)


Second rise. (Elapsed time: sufficient to try feeding toddler three different things in hopes she will eat something.)

Baking. (Elapsed time: sufficient to wipe toddler's nose approximately two hundred times.)

The verdict? Perfectly pleasant, smooth, and scrumptious, but a bit saltier than I would prefer in a perfect world. I could probably have let it enjoy a longer second rise, but I thought we had somewhere to go in the afternoon. Still, an auspicious beginning for the new project!

The recipe is posted with one of this week's hosts, Someone's in the Kitchen

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Goal Round-Up: January 2012

Time for the monthly accountability.
  • Things to Do: Missed Arisia, so this one will get carried forward again. I applied for the Taos Toolbox workshop AND GOT ACCEPTED. I am over the moon.
  • Better Me: Gym attendance spotty due to being sick for two weeks. Hopefully getting that out of the way for the year! Best workout: 2 1/2 miles, 32 minutes.
  • Money: Positive flow into the savings account.
  • Writing: Two chapters of FF revision down. Sickness did not help. 
  • Job Stuff: Working through approval process for Scrum Master training. 
  • Birthday Observance: So far, so good.
  • Household Stuff: Moved a problem bookcase out of Mimi's room.
 Where will the year go from here?!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Thought I Had While Running

It is easier to speed up than to slow down.

At least while you're running on a treadmill. Go faster, then a bit faster, and you don't have attention to spare for much of anything besides breathing. Slow down, and you suddenly notice how tired your legs are, how much you really want to stop. There must be a use for this, right?

A Thought I Had While Walking

Heading from the office to the T station the other night, I used to want to be a writer ran through my head, and then I thought, That would be a horrible, horrible thing to ever say out loud.

Might make a good opening line, though. Keep on keeping on.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Keeping It Real

Halfway through January, and everyone is still optimistic. My friends' Facebook updates are full of gym visits, and blogs overflow with gentle redirections to healthy fare after the holiday blitz of indulgence. Everyone is keeping a firm eye on their budget and their waistline again, as we swing back toward a more balanced way of living.

I don't actually have anything against processed foods. I know some people who have gone on a cleansing binge and threw out every last item, but I require my little treats, and also possess a four-year-old who won't eat anything other than canned ravioli right now (this too shall pass, I remind myself almost daily). It is generally sensible, however, from both a dietary and budgetary standpoint, to make sure that processed items are a small category on your shopping list.

Time is obviously a factor as well (the adage "good, fast, cheap, pick two" definitely comes into play), but this is where the planning comes in. Think ahead, use your leftovers wisely, and you won't find yourself falling back on "convenience" anything, because you'll already have it. Which is awesome.

So here's the menu plan this week:
Saturday - Potato Frittata; Butternut Squash Soup
Sunday - Roast Chicken; Butternut Squash Pilaf *
Monday - Black Pepper Tofu **
Tuesday - North Woods Bean Soup ***
Wednesday - Orecchiette with Roasted Cauliflower
Thursday - Pork Fried Rice ****
Friday - Fish TBD

* Using up the rest of the squash, something I am generally horrible about.
** To which I will add some veggies, and make some extra rice.
*** Lydia's pick for the week
**** Using up the extra rice made earlier in the week.

Since we have a three-day weekend, I may have time to make some chicken stock or marinara sauce--or even to bake something, which it feels like I haven't done in weeks.

Probably because I haven't done it in weeks.

Processed foods required? I'm not sure if pancetta and kielbasa count as processed. Pasta technically is, and so is rice if you want to get picky about it. I'll pick up some canned broth in case I don't have time to make it after all. The tofu dish requires cornstarch, which I'm almost out of. I do rely on canned beans for the soup. Pretty much all real food here, though. The produce aisle part of my list is much longer than any of the others = success in this book.

I'd also like to direct you to the Tummy Treasure blog, where an interesting experiment in budget-friendly meal-planning is going on. I generally throw caution to the winds while I shop, and while I doubt I will ever be as disciplined as she is (unless forced to by circumstances), I find reading this series to be a helpful reminder that it's not actually necessary to spend a small fortune to put good (real) food on the table.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 - Off to A Good Start

Discipline is not a fun word. It seems to have the word "slip" built mockingly into it, and it feels that way in the mouth. It's a word like the last bit of a soap bar; you would unwrap a new one, but feel guilty for wasting what's already there. It's also a word I mistype almost every single time.

Until they come up with a way to make everything that is good for us fun, however, it is pretty much the only way forward. A fair amount of research points to the idea that discipline works like a muscle. The good part of that is that the more you do it, the easier it gets. The bad part is that just like your muscles, it gets tired and eventually quits when overused, and while a sprained discipline won't put you on crutches, it can derail projects and lead to moping.

I do not like moping. I do like feeling like I'm making progress toward my goals. Therefore, some studious application of discipline has been in order this past week. It's been a good week, an encouraging week. Part of that comes from knowing myself well enough to know where my discipline is likely to wear out. I like being productive, but that doesn't mean I like working harder than I have to. Hence, my efforts to make discipline as easy for myself as I can.

First off, there's going to the gym. Yes, I joined along with the rest of the herd. I know from years of painful experience that the only way I will make it over there is to make the process as free of conscious thought as possible. I go early in the day, when there are no realistic excuses I can make to avoid it (not being able to sleep past five is in this case an asset). I pack my stuff and lay out my sweats the night before, so that all I have to do is pack a lunch, grab my ridiculous number of bags, and trudge out to the bus stop.

Packing a lunch (and breakfast, for that matter) is important for both fitness and financial goals. The most important thing I did for this effort so far? Stocking up on yogurt. I will only eat one kind of yogurt, and it's a kind that my normal store doesn't carry. I can get through my day on a half a bagel and a sandwich or whatever leftovers are around, but only if I have my yogurt in between. If I can't, then I'm going to eat an entire bagel for breakfast, and then I may as well go out for lunch since my day has already been calorically blown. I do realize this is silly, but there's no addendum on "know thyself" that says "but only if what you find out is not too silly." By giving myself this one thing (which is even good for me!), I make it easier for myself to eat decently during the day.

I do allow myself treats. There is no reason to be ridiculous about things, after all. I have adopted vending machine pretzels as my standard afternoon snack, which is probably better than M&Ms, and I give myself the occasional visit to Dunkin Donuts.

The third discipline is writing. This is actually a lot more difficult than getting myself to the gym, but it's been pretty successful this week. Inspired by this post on Terrible Minds, I had to admit that I spend an awful lot of time doing things that are not in fact writing. So now, after the gym, I sit down at my desk. I open up my document and -- this is the important part -- nothing else. No email, no IM, no browser. Just my book. I set the timer on my phone for one hour, and I work until that hour is up (also I drink tea and eat my bagel, which tastes pretty damn good by that time, let me add).

Can I keep this up? Remains to be seen. So far, it's been a good month. I've been to the gym every (week)day. I've revised the first 3,000 words of Fury's Flight, nearly 1/3 of what I need to apply for Taos. I haven't gone out for lunch even once, though I think I will need to schedule in some breaks in that; boredom does not make for a happy, productive me.

Finally, in what is perhaps a fit of insanity, I've signed up for the new Tuesdays with Dorie project, which starts in February. The fact that they're every other week this time was a big motivator; I should be able to bake twice a month! Serendipitously, while I was thinking about whether or not I should try to participate, my mother let me know that she had a copy of Baking with Julia that she had picked up free somewhere and wasn't using. The book has obviously been well-used by someone, and I look forward to adding my own sprinkles of flour and spatters of chocolate to its pages. Although I did a lot of baking for the holidays, most of it happened in something of a frantic blur, and it's been something of a sugar drought since then (I did mention that treats are good?).

If I was doing a Happiness Project, it seems that
  • January = Body & Writing
  • February = Kitchen (& Writing, since you are supposed to blog about the recipes)
I'm sure I will think of something to do in in March. With writing. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Here, We Write Stories

Once in a while a realization smacks you alongside the head like a loving parent, bringing to light something you already half-knew but never understood until that moment. I don't know if I will be able to set myself a schedule for blogging, but at least I finally feel that I know what was missing.