adventures, by accident


January 2013

No Place Like Home

I just got home last night from a pretty good trip to Seattle, though I could have done without the unexpected travel debacle that resulted from bad weather on the East coast and United’s frustrating and ham-handed adjustments to my itinerary. (And my suitcase! My poor suitcase!) I had a good time sightseeing in Seattle, and a busy conference, and didn’t get back until almost midnight last night. And then had a class session at 9:30 this morning! Live & learn, I suppose. And have an excuse to go luggage shopping online – I’m open to endorsements!

I may post more details about my trip later, once I’ve uploaded the photos and weeded through my mail/email and grocery shopping and laundry and sorting all my goodies and … And slept, mustn’t forget to sleep!

Meanwhile, enjoy this photo of how Cookie “helped out” around the house with the chores while I was gone. The beast can smell clean laundry a mile away!

Cookie's Nap
Cookie, napping on a pile of clean laundry.

2013, Week 2

As far as my resolutions go, 2013 is pretty good so far. I’ve been listening to a language podcast my my trips to the gym, though I have to mutter along with them, no doubt leading some of my fellow gym-goers to assume I’m a complete oddity. Though one nice thing about working out in the gym at the college where I work is that January is actually a very slow month, because so few students are around and even many faculty members are rarely on campus. Early February, that’s when it’ll get busy.

I have managed to streamline my recipes to a small degree, importing many printed-out recipes into an online recipe manager to free up a little space in my binder and on my bookshelf. And it makes it easier to find recipes, too. So far I’ve tried one recipe from that program, and am making another on Sunday. Tonight I’m making recipes from two different cookbooks – heretical!

As I said about the reading, the last few holds on some of the self-books that had been floating around on my wishlist have arrived, so I’m working my way through those. I’ve also noticed a number of interesting articles on self-help have been popping up lately; no doubt other people in addition to myself have been thinking the same thing come new year’s resolution time. One article, The Paperback Quest, focuses on the history of self-help in America, and even mentions some interesting books about self-help books. That may be too meta even for me, but it is interesting. I read a book this week, No Cheating, No Dying, which from the description I thought would be an interesting look at the  “relationship improvement” genre, but was more of a straightforward memoir. The other article, How Self-Help Publishing Ate America, focuses more on the growing role of self-help in American culture and how it is pulling many other genres into its orbit. Both are good reads, if you’re interested in the topic.

Cat hiding under a blanket
Also Cookie, Just Because

Week 1

We’re a week into the new year, now, and I think I’ve finally worked out a few resolutions for myself. As I mentioned before I have a few work-related things I want to work on, but I’ll be dealing with those at work.

1. Use my cookbooks. My mom joked over Christmas break, when I got the amazing Smitten Kitchen cookbook, that I must be about running out of space for cookbooks. And she’s … not wrong. I love cooking, cookbooks and food blogs, cookbook club, recipe swapping, and I have piles and piles of books, magazines and recipes “To Try Someday.” I think it’s time to start either using books or photocopying the three recipes I wanted in the first place and donating them. A Facebook friend was discussing this Eat Your Books website the other day, and I’m going to try the free option for a few months to see if it helps. Bonus points: I’m aiming to do better about not eating meat on Mondays. Monday is my regular day off, so I’m often idly grazing around the apartment, and I can do better about this.

2. Stop reading so many repetitive “how to” books. I am definitely the kind of person who, when I have a question, I want to read a dozen books about it. This tends to be be counterproductive for two reasons. First, diminishing returns: the more I read on a topic, especially in the self-help/productivity/relationship genres, the more I’m finding the same experts, studies, and examples given over and over. The first time it’s interesting and the second time might help it stick, but the third time is a waste of time. Secondly, I notice that the more I read about something, the less likely I am to take action. At some point I become more interesting in finding the perfect book on a topic than I am in taking action. Even if the dozen decluttering and home organization books come from the library, they themselves are clutter if I’m not using them. Obviously some books that I’ve read in this genre, like “The Power of Habit” and “The Worry Cure“, are worthwhile, but I need to be more selective and learn to separate the wheat from the chaff.*

3. Finally, I would like to do a little more work learning Spanish. I’m not sure what’s a reasonable goal across a long time span, but it’s something I’m hoping to pursue in a less rushed sense in 2013.

*It’s probably easier to say this since I just put holds on the last of these books laying around my wishlist …


Another confession, I’m afraid. My experiment with learning Spanish online in December was almost a complete failure. I signed up with, as always, good intentions, but life got in the way. Between hectic finals at school, travel and other related Christmas obligations, and cumulative burnout from a packed few months, I didn’t have the focus or willingness to give up my “break” time that I thought I would. I listened to some podcasts (recommended by my sister) on the treadmill and tried a few other ideas, but nothing really stuck.

Luckily, the online language program is free through my local public library, and it’s not going anywhere. Maybe a good resolution for 2013?

Welcome, New Year

All things considered, I would say 2012 was a pretty good year. Obviously there were highs and lows, but overall I give last year good reviews, and I was happy to spend the last piece of it with a nice visit home and time with the people (and pets) who matter to me.

I will confess that I haven’t made any resolutions for 2013. While I would generally consider my self a planner and an organized kind of person, the idea of annual resolutions leaves me pretty uninspired. I’ve read many books on self-improvement, planning and goal-setting, and related topics, so I understand the impetus behind resolutions and what types of goals tend to be successful (specific, measurable, etc.) Two years ago I did have success with a resolution to increase the amount I donate to charities by setting specific financial amounts to be given at specific times throughout the year. In 2012 I successfully gave up my Coke-Zero-a-day habit.

This year I’m just not coming up with anything that feels pressing, or feels like it should be addressed on the scale of a Resolution. I have some vague travel plans, but so much of that will depend on work-related circumstances beyond my control … I have some professional goals but I prefer to deal with those through work planning. All of which leaves me at sort of a loss, I guess.

Although I’m still up in the air, I did find this article on conducting an annual review, from The Art of Non-Conformity, which I think is worth a read for almost anybody.

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