The shelving dilemma (300th new thing).

February 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

After my initial declutter myself project begun a couple days earlier, I finally got around to tackling the room which initiated my desire to sort, donate, and trash. The two closets in our guest room/Patrick’s office were a hot mess of random things stuffed into them , piled upon each other until the space was full. So on Day Three Hundred I cleared out everything and added a couple shelves in one of the holes to better accommodate our collection.

The clearing out proved more difficult that I had first thought. I threw out our old broken artificial Christmas tree and a couple of random pillows Murphy had destroyed by chewing holes in the corners. I added a few items to the donation pile (a pleather jacket, small TV, and a lampshades I had carted from place to place for years but never used). And then there was Patrick’s stuff. Guitars, a box of baseball cards from his youth, and two full cartons of random electronic material. Stuff which he wanted to keep. I laid it out on the floor hoping he would go through it in the next couple days, and instead planned on adding the sorted items back into a single closet in a neat fashion. I would build shelves.

I envisioned nice wooden plates screwed into the closet wall, but once we made it to Lowes and began wandering through the lumber department, I decided to try out the shelving ailse instead. Here I found a series of those wire closet shelves and figured adding a couple of those in addition to the one already installed in the space would suffice. The process of choosing which wire shelves to purchase took much longer than it should have. I debated on having the pieces cut to the perfect size of the closet, but in the end just picked up a couple of four foot long units with fasteners already included. Keep it simple.

The installation was probably the easiest part of the day’s activity. I followed the directions precisely and had items neatly stacked in the closet in half an hour. Even if all of Patrick’s random items are just stuffed into the second closet, I know my space will be organized and pretty. And that makes me happy.

The "after."

Vegetables Remastered (299th new thing).

February 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

I recently became acquainted with the green smoothie after purchasing a “Naked Juice” brand version in the store. The color is offputting, but the taste is delicious. On Day Two Hundred Ninety-Nine I decided to make one myself at home.

After a bunch of internet searches, I chose spinach, bananas, apples, and some yoghurt as my key ingredients. To thin out the smoothie I had some coconut water and orange juice on hand. The fruit flavors would mask the spinach and surely I would end up with a tasty, healthy treat.

I stuffed all my ingredients into the magic bullet-like blender and pulverized them together, adding some of the juices throughout. A couple of stubborn pieces of apple stuck to the bottom of the blender, but with a few fierce shakes, they were mixed into the rest of the drink.

The final result was an unappealing looking concoction of tastiness. The bananas overpowered everything else, but not necessarily in a bad way. The only gross parts of drinking my smoothie were the tiny pieces of spinach and apple skins that neglected to merge into liquid. But overall, I think I’ve found my new favorite breakfast.

Decluttered (298th new thing).

February 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

I am a clean person, but I may not necessarily be tidy. Most people have a table top or area where stuff accumulates. Mail, jewelry, clothing, you know…stuff that you can’t be bothered to put in its rightful place at the time you discard it. Well I have several such places, much to Patrick’s annoyance. On Day Two Hundred Ninety-Eight I decided to unclutter my areas in preparation for 2012.

I intended to shuffle through the two closets in the guest room and clear out a bunch of junk. We have an artificial Christmas tree, softball gear, suitcases, a VCR, guitars, coats, a drawer from the refrigerator, and about fifty Red Level Eleven CDs…basically stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else. I envisioned an unsentimental sort-through of all of this and being able to toss or donate half. Maybe even just move it to the crawlspace downstairs. Then I could build shelves and add other items from around the house in an organized fashion. That was what I intended, but instead I began with the assortment of craft supplies and general junk I have tucked away all over the bedroom, mostly in my armoire.

I sorted through twelve cans of spray paint, three bags full of fabric scraps, and a box full of artificial flowers. And paper. Lots and lots of random pieces of paper. That portion of my great decluttering took such a chunk of my day that I was only able to add the bathroom and my closet to the “done” list. Which is actually quite a lot, even if I didn’t get to the spare room.

I could now wake up to 2012 with a fresh outlook and clear clean home. And I will tackle the closets. Call it a New Year’s Resolution.

Taste the (Vodka) Rainbow (297th new thing).

February 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

My friend Jenny told me about infusing vodka with skittles for a sweetened boozefest. It sounded interesting enough that I stole her idea and made my own rainbow of liquor on Day Two Hundred Ninety-Seven.

I googled the process and found a simple recipe: 10 skittles for every ounce of vodka. So I bought a giant bag of the multicolored sugar balls and a liter of vodka. I added sixty little candies to four empty water bottles (leaving out the green of course, because the green ones are gross), and added six ounces of vodka to each bottle. I shook the containers like they were polaroid pictures and then let them sit for four or five hours.

Then I poured the chalky mixture through a coffee filter (not all that successfully) into some jam jars I had purchased for my canning trials. Into the freezer they went.

I tasted the yellow flavor (lemon, is it?) mixed with a little water to lessen the effect of the sugar and alcohol. It wasn’t half bad. Tasted kind of like a lemon drop. It reminded me of something I would have loved when I was new to the world of alcohol (you know, over twenty-one). It really did taste just like a skittle. I’m not sure if that is good or bad, though. I know with all that sweetness, drinking enough would surely lead to a massive hangover, so I suppose I’ll save my candy colored booze for a special occasion.

Elements (296th new thing).

February 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

My laptop was stolen a few years ago during a break-in (we weren’t home). What I missed most about my former computer was the pictures I had not backed up and the expensive computer software I had purchased in my last time as a student. Since then, I have had little or no photo editing programs on my computer. I used iPhoto to organize my pics and make minor changes to the images either on the software at work or on my phone. On Day Two Hundred Ninety-Six I decided to by at least a consumer-grade program. I wavered between an iPhoto update and Adobe Photoshop Elements. In the end I bought Elements.

I like Photoshop CS5 eight hundred times better. Like using Final Cut Pro and then trying out iMovie, the dumbed down effects and lack of precision in Elements is frustrating. Mostly I’ve used the software to organize the thousands of images I’ve taken this year on my phone, point and shoot, and DSLR. I think I like the iPhoto layout better though.

I haven’t really delved into the features of the program that I’m sure I would find amazing. I tried a modified version of merging images into HDR photography, but it turned out the feature simply allowed you to layer the same images on top of one another and then adjust the transparency. Well, it did it for you.

Hopefully I will find the time to explore and appreciate Adobe Elements in the near future. Until then, I may just become even more addicted to my phone.

Adding Mom as a Friend (295th new thing).

February 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

I never thought the day would come. It had been threatened, but I never believed it would actually happen. And then my mom went to England to visit family and my sixteen year-old cousin set her up with her very own Facebook account. I accepted her friend request on Day Two Hundred Ninety-Five.

I was my mom’s fourth ever friend, behind my aunt and two cousins. I had mixed feeling about what would happen once this social media connection was forged. I imagined the onslaught of posts to my wall.

Hi Lucy how are you I didn’t hear from you last week give me a call I hope everything is ok are you feeling better from that upset stomach you had last time we talked call me I saw you posted a blog I love you love, mom xxoo

My mom calls me Lucy sometimes, a sort of nickname (which is kind of strange since it is actually a real name). She also finds punctuation superfluous, although perhaps not intentionally. I often get worried calls should I forget to phone on our (loosely) scheduled Sunday catch-ups. So I could certainly imagine her expanding the contact to check up on me via FB. But it could also be kind of cool. I mean, I don’t ever post anything inappropriate or negative towards others (I hope). Besides, she probably wouldn’t be on it that much, right?

I can’t wait until she starts posting embarrassing baby pictures to get back at me for making this a new activity.

**Note: Since befriending my mom, nothing inappropriate or embarrassing has been posted. Usually she sees a post and then calls me as a follow up. It’s actually quite nice. I suggest everyone friend their parents.

eReading (294th new thing).

February 18, 2012 § 4 Comments

I got a Kindle for Christmas. Well, actually I received two of the eReaders (one from my family and one from Patrick), but one was returned. On Day Two Hundred Ninety-Four I pulled out the tablet and downloaded a “Kindle Single” to test how I liked reading a book without the paper.

I have mixed reactions to the idea of an eReader. On the one hand, I love to collect books. Many are arranged in a rainbow on my bookshelves. I like having something to touch and hold once I have consumed all the words within. But when I read in bed before sleep, the really big books are difficult to maneuver. The way I lay is dictated by how far along I am in the book. If I am just beginning I lay on my right, so the bulk of the book’s mass rests on the bed next to me. After the halfway point I rotate to my left for the same reason. Talk about first world problems, eh?

I also found the cost of an electronic version of a book kind of outrageous. It was the same or only slightly less than the hardcover version of new release novels. Wouldn’t I rather pay the dollar or two more and then have another box of words to add to my shelves? There really should be a “buy the book, get the electronic copy for free” deal.

In defense of the Kindle, I enjoy the idea of having multiple books on one device that can be discretely carried around in a purse or bag. Going on vacation with a single thin piece of equipment sounds much more pleasurable than filling a suitcase with reading material.

To test out how I liked using the Kindle I purchased something called a Kindle Single from Amazon.com. The Long Run by Mishka Shubaly. Patrick had met the Beat the Devil performer several times and heard good things from his little electronic novella about kicking drugs and running marathons. He bought the work on his phone several months ago, and recommended it, so I followed suit and downloaded it to my own device.

Reading on the Kindle was similar to browsing a physical book, but certainly had some distinct differences. I have the version of the Kindle that supposedly reads like paper text (no glossy screen, no color). I had wanted the basic model; between staring at a computer monitor at work and my iPhone the remaining hours of my day, I didn’t want to add yet another “smart” device to slowly kill my vision. The text did somewhat resemble looking at the pages of a book until you flipped to the next page via a small button on the side. There was a sort of dissolve effect going on and I found myself blinking so my eyes didn’t attempt to refocus in strange ways. Plus, I didn’t feel like I was reading an entire page. I reduced the font to fit more text on each screen. While I could see what percentage of the work I had gotten through via a bar at the bottom of the screen, there is something to be said about holding the pages of a physical book in your hand and physically feeling the heft of how far along you are.

I think it takes some getting used to. But so far I like it. Now if there was some sort of Kindle book exchange…or at least, of I could find it…then the eReader could be a phenomenal investment.

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