a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
"One, two, you know what to do" 
rosefox: A cheerful fellow with a giant chaotic jumble on a leash. (busy-good)
A freelance check came in, so I bought men's pants! Men's Wearhouse was having a two-for-one sale and the 31–30 slim fit 100% cotton slacks fit me perfectly. Another gap in my wardrobe has been filled.

~~~

Tonight J and I made lentil soup and then I made mint chocolate chip ice. Both came out reasonably well but could have been better. Recipes:

Lentil soup
(adapted from The Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Laura Washburn)

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
4 carrots, cut into ~2cm pieces
2–4 tsp cumin (2 is "hm, I think there's cumin in this", 4 is "what a lovely cumin soup")
3 garlic cloves, minced (or 3 tsp chopped garlic from a jar)
2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup dry white wine
600g lentils (brown lentils will stay intact, red will turn to mush; you can use either or a mix of both), rinsed and picked through
12 cups (3 quarts) chicken or vegetable broth
300g baby spinach leaves
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, washed very very thoroughly and chopped coarsely
salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh lemon juice, crusty bread

Mise en place. In the uncovered pressure cooker, heat the oil over high heat and brown the onion and carrots for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cumin and garlic and cook until fragrant, 30–60 seconds. Add the thyme and wine, bring to boil, boil 1–2 minutes to cook off most of the alcohol. Add the lentils and broth and cover the pot. Bring to high pressure and cook 10–12 minutes depending on how firm you like your lentils. Quick-release the pressure and confirm that lentils are sufficiently tender. Stir in spinach and simmer 2–3 minutes or until wilted. Stir in basil. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Serve with crusty bread for bowl-swabbing.

Notes from tonight: We used only 1 tsp cumin, since that was all we had left in the jar, and included neither garlic nor lemon. The quantities above are estimates based on how desperately the soup needed all three. I am really not a fan of garlic and my first thought upon tasting the soup was "This needs garlic", so if you do love garlic, don't skimp. (The original recipe calls for 6 cloves, which by my standards would be excessive.) That said, it was still very tasty, just not terribly exciting. Makes about eight 2-cup servings.

Mint chocolate chip ice
(adapted from this recipe)

1 quart unsweetened vanilla-flavored almond milk
7/8 cup superfine (not powdered!) sugar
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Whisk or blend first four ingredients. Chill. Process in ice cream maker, adding chocolate chips once the mixture has thickened, for about 20 minutes total or until it's as thick as you want. Freeze for 2 hours to finish hardening.

Notes from tonight: This recipe makes 1.5 quarts exactly, so if your ice cream maker is a 1.5-quart ice cream maker, do not do what I did and decide you can add another 1/4 cup of chocolate chips with impunity; it will overflow. The texture is much more like Italian ice than ice cream, and the flavor is subtly minty and quite good if you don't mind the hint of marzipan from the almond milk. I only mixed it for 15 minutes or so and should probably have let it go the full 20, but see above re overflowing.

~~~

Ever wonder whether something is really as awful as you remember? X and I watched Blues Brothers 2000 tonight. It is actually more awful than we remember. Considerably more. That said, we're now very inspired to hunt down some good live music when we're in New Orleans for World Horror/Stokers Weekend next month. (Will you be there?) And it turned out she hadn't seen the video for "Q.U.E.E.N." so we rectified that as soon as the movie was done, and that made the world considerably better.

~~~

Last weekend I got both my inboxes down to zero, and I've kept them there all week. I have also been way WAY more productive at work and more relaxed at home. (I read a book--no, two books! I watched two episodes of DS9!) I don't think this is coincidence. I really had no idea how much stress I felt looking at unanswered things in my inbox until they weren't there anymore. Now I tab to my inbox, smile, and feel like I really get to choose what I do next--no pressure, no stress. I recommend this highly. (I explain my process in the comments on the DW version of this entry.)

~~~

After consulting with my therp, I'm tentatively planning to go off the Zoloft once Readercon is done. (The timing is not coincidence.) I'll wait a month to make sure I'm doing okay without it, and then try very carefully drinking some flavored tea and see what happens.

~~~

Readercon stuff is not actually that stressful right now, because we're in the part I love best: collecting data and building the program. I'm also organizing a really exciting thing for Saturday night that I hope will be stupendously awesome. Yay for friends who know what they're doing and can reassure me that my plans are feasible and unlikely to become "a clusterwhentwopeopleloveeachotherverymuch". Yay for feeling much better about trying this new-to-me thing now that I've actually got the ball rolling.

~~~

I wonder what I will do with all my free time and energy once Readercon is done. I'll still be on the concom and progcom and safecom, but I'm stepping down as program chair, and that's a huge weight off my shoulders. I don't go dancing anymore, and even if I took it up again, I wouldn't volunteer to nearly the extent that I used to (if at all). I don't cook for Arisia anymore. I have Long Hidden to co-edit, but that's a freelance project and I'll do it in freelance time. For the first time in a long long while, I will have no unpaid volunteer gigs to occupy me.

Maybe domesticity will be my next thing. It's what I most love doing right now: bustling around the house, talking with X and J about household projects, cooking, building and buying things, having people over, family time. More of that would be really nice.

Maybe I'll knit more, read more, do a better job of keeping up with the rewatch.

Or maybe I'll just improvise, be spontaneous, do whatever I feel like doing. I'm not very good at spontaneity, but the only way to get better at it is to make space for it.

~~~

Augh, is it really getting light out? I am not doing very well with sticking to anything resembling my sleep schedule. Having a week off from work isn't going to help with this. Oh well.
 
28 May 2013 18:00
rosefox: A half-completed game where one organizes jumbled dots. (order)
"Action" inboxes and to-do lists are basically useless, in my experience. Here's what works for me:

1) Use http://www.mailstrom.co/ to clear out the worst of the cruft.

2) Use a system of filters to shunt non-urgent things to labels:

- 'exp1day' for anything that's useful today but will be useless tomorrow, like daily deal emails and information about transit delays.

- 'exp7day' for anything I'm more interested in reading but still won't be really sad to miss, like listmail and updates on Kickstarters I've funded.

- 'Weekend reading' for Daily Science Fiction, Cowbird, and other stories and comics and things that I do want to read eventually. I treat this folder like an RSS feed and read it when I have time.

I use copies of this script to delete 'exp1day' emails after 1 day and 'exp7day' emais after 7 days. Those still land in the inbox so I see them while they're fresh. 'Weekend reading' items skip the inbox because timeliness doesn't matter there.

3) Anything that's "deal with this later" gets turned into a calendar item with an email reminder. Calendars aren't just for making dates; they're also for things like "When I get back from Boston, sit down with Xtina to pick out and buy a label-maker". Email reminders get it out of the inbox until I need to know about it, and then back in so I don't forget. This is the only to-do list that works for me.

4) Anything remaining should be pretty easy to deal with. If it needs a reply, reply to it; enable the "send and archive" Gmail lab (if you use Gmail) so that when you reply to an email it's immediately removed from the inbox. If it needs you to take action, take action right away. If you find yourself deleting or archiving it without reading it, unsubscribe or make a filter to handle them automatically in the future. Clean the inbox out every single day.

Right now I have 30 emails in my inbox.

12 of them are exp1day and 1 is exp7day; I click each label, glance over, delete them all.
1 is a reminder from Xtina that I turn into a calendar item.
2 are Readercon emails that just need a quick reply, so I send-and-archive.
1 goes to weekend reading for later perusal.
1 is a bank statement; I never look at those, so I create a filter to auto-archive them.
5 get unsubscribe requests.
2 are political action alerts and 1 is a daily deal; those go on the exp1day filter.
1 is a list of upcoming classes at a nearby arts nonprofit; that goes on the exp7day filter.
2 are from mailing lists and I can tell by the subject lines that I don't need to read them, so I delete them unread.
1 is the email with your comment, and now that I've replied, I can delete it.

Ta-da! Inbox zero in just a few minutes, and with a bit of unsubscribing and filtering I've saved myself a lot of future clutter.
14 December 2013 08:10
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
Updating this:

* I now use OmniFocus to manage my to-do list. It WORKS. I love it. (Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] karenbynight for recommending it.)

* I make use of Mailstrom's "chill" feature to get things out of my inbox now and resurrect them later.

Otherwise I've been using the same system pretty consistently for seven months and it's working really well.
27 October 2015 20:51
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
Updating again:

* I no longer use Mailstrom or the expiration labels. I gave up and unsubscribed from all my listmail because I just wasn't reading it. Mailstrom started charging just as I stopped needing it.

* I make extensive use of Boomerang for Gmail, which works the way Mailstrom's chill feature does but has the advantage of very detailed options and being directly accessible from my Gmail inbox. I use it enough that I pay for it.

I continue to have inbox at or near zero pretty much all the time.
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