Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

By

My New Bar Cart

Because of the state of the world, I decided I needed a bar cart. Ok, that’s not actually true. I actually decided I needed a bar cart because my friend Amy has an awesome bar cart and I was super jealous and also because I was sick of storing my booze in a broom closet. I’d been looking for one that would meet my needs1 for a while and finally found one that I liked, and then it went on sale for 50% off and so it was totally a sign that I needed to buy it.

Naturally, the kitties were very eager to help me build it:

Kitties helping me build my bar cart

Watson says, “My claws don’t count as a “sharp” instrument, do they?”

Here are the kitties doing a thorough inspection to make sure all the parts were shipped to us:

It was a little complicated to put together – this is clearly not an IKEA piece, but hopefully that means it will actually last a long time! Thankfully, Scott came over to put it together with me!

And here it is in all its splendour:

My new bar cart

The part at the bottom fits my wine collection as well as some short bottles of booze, like Cointreau and Chambord. The cart doesn’t actually even fit all my booze – well, it would if I put some bottles on the top, but I want to make sure that the cats don’t plan to go up there (so far, they haven’t). For the moment, my lesser used boozes are on the top shelf of my broom closest and the other shelves of the broom closest can now store other stuff. Hooray!

To celebrate, some wine may have been enjoyed:

Watson and a wine bottle

Crick is my dinner companion

  1. Translate: one where I am reasonably confident the cats will not knock over all the bottles. Not that my cats knock things over very often (certainly they break stuff much less often than I do), but I feel like if they were to knock anything over, I wouldn’t want it to be bottles of booze. []

By

A Spicy Situation

As I wrote my goals update post last week, I realized that though I’d long ago come up with a solution to my spice situation (item #14 on my list of goals for 2014) and I had promised Stacy that I would blog about it, I have been delinquent in actually writing said blog posting. But better late than never, right?

To give you a little background, I own about eleventy billion types of spices because spices are awesome. What was not awesome was that I had spices in all sorts of different containers – some were in bags, some in jars/bottles – of all different sizes and I basically just had them all thrown haphazardly into plastic bins that I kept in my cupboard, which meant that whenever I wanted a certain spice, I had to pull all the plastic bins out of the cupboards and dig through them all to find what I wanted. Not very efficient and rather annoying when you are trying to enjoy some cooking! Hence, why I decided I needed to figure out a useful way of organizing the damn spices.

My first step was taken care of, as I long ago had made a test tube spice rack out of surplus lab equipment1. I don’t have enough room for all elevently billion spices, but I was able to put the 13 spices I use the most often (or which just look really cool) into test tubes, labelled them, and now they sit on the counter, within easy reach while I’m cooking.

IMG_0436

For the eleventy billion minus thirteen other spices, I decided to use a drawer to store them, rather than the cupboard, because I’m short and I need a step stool to reach things in my cupboards. True story. For any spices that were already in a jar/bottle, I just laid those down with the label facing up. For all the ones that were in bags, I went out and bought a bunch of little jars and labeled them. Hence, I now have this drawer full of well-labeled spices:

IMG_0430

IMG_0433
The metal thing on the right is a grater that I use to grate nutmeg. Because my sister taught me the joy of freshly ground nutmeg.

IMG_0431
I have no idea why I inconsistently capitalized the spice names on the labels. I only just noticed it when I looked at this photo. Omg, that’s going to drive me crazy.

So there you have it – my spice storage solution!

  1. There used to be a lab equipment thrift shop at UBC, where you could buy cast off lab supplies. They even had an electron microscope in their inventory at one point! So I got a test tube rack, which was actual white plastic (which is the kind we usually used in the lab), but I painted it metallic silver to make it look cooler). []

By

Goals and 101 Update

So, I’m staying up until 4 am to watch the men’s hockey Olympic gold medal game – Go Canada!

My sleeping pattern is totally messed up right now – for various reasons, I didn’t get a lot of sleep this week and have been sooo tired all week and then last night after work I went out for drinks for Cath’s birthday, stayed out fairly late and so I fell asleep on the Skytrain ride home and missed my stop. I woke up when the train stopped due to mechanical problems, totally thinking that I was at one of the stops before my stop, like Joyce or Edmonds, but after dozing on the not-moving Skytrain for about 15 minutes I heard another passenger make a comment about walking to King George Station and so I asked the person where we were and it turned out that we were at Gateway, 3 stops *past* New West! GAH! So I got off the train and had to wait another 10 minutes or so before a train came going the other way to take me back home. Being stuck at a Skytrain station in Surrey at 1:30 am on a freezing cold day – not my idea of a good time. I had a 16 km run with Alicia scheduled for 11:15 am on Saturday, so I managed to get an OK amount of sleep despite not getting home ’til 2 am. And then it turned out to be *snowing* for our run, so it was a pretty tough and freezing cold run, what with the tiredness and 3 beers and a shot of Tequila that I had the night before, but we managed to complete the run, which is the main thing. My running jacket turned out to be less waterproof than I would have liked and that, combined with having run through some puddles that soaked my running shoes mean that on the Skytrain ride on the way home from Alicia’s, I proceeded to get colder and colder; by the time I got home, my hands were so frozen that I could barely move them. I don’t remember my hands been so cold since that time I went surfing in Tofino in January! At least I didn’t fall asleep on the Skytrain and miss my stop this time, and a nice long, hot shower fixed me up just right. And then I followed that with a nap for 5 hours. That’s right, 5 hours. Apparently, I was extremely tired. When I woke up after my 5 hour long nap, both the kitties were curled up at my feet. So cute!

Since I slept for so long this afternoon, I’m now awake at nearly 1 am, with puck drop only 3 hours from now. So it seems to make sense to stay up for the game and then have a nap again before my own 7 pm game. I’m sure this will in no way come back to haunt me tomorrow night when I’m trying to get to sleep at a reasonable hour for the workweek.

Anyway, being awake, I decided I may as well write a blog posting and so here I am. And I had a blog posting halfway written, so basically these first 4 paragraphs are the longest and most irrelevant preamble I’ve ever written! Now, on to the topic of the actual posting!

Without even realizing it, I knocked two items off my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days in January!

5. get a cat

I forgot this was on my list when I got Watson & Crick. When I was living with my last boyfriend, I couldn’t have a cat as he was allergic, so I kind of forgot that it was even on my list. And by the time I thought about getting kitties again, it slipped my mind that it was on my list, until I just noticed it the other day. Hooray! And really, I should get to check this off the list twice, since I got two cats.

101. publish 501 blog postings in this 1001 day period

This happened on January 4 and at the time, I didn’t even notice that it was my momentous 501st posting since I started my 101 list.

On the more deliberate front, I made a concerted effort to knock this item off my list of goals for 2014:

14. Find a solution to my spice situation.

As part of the 52 weeks to an organized home, I finally got around to coming up with a solution for my disorganized collection of spices. I thought I took some photos of the before and after, but I can’t seem to find them, so I’ll have to write a posting about it later, but I have all my spices in either my test tube rack or in neatly labeled jars in a jar, where they are very handy to grab while cooking. This makes me very happy.

And just now when I went to make the link to my goals for 2014 posting, I noticed this goal, which I’d completely forgotten that I’d set as a goal for this year: 13. Find a reliable cleaning person …but which I just achieved last week! I’ve been looking for a cleaning person for awhile, but finally found one through my friend Tig. I tried out this cleaning lady last week and she did an amazing job and her prices are reasonable, so I’ve now gotten into her rotation for a cleaning every 2 weeks. Especially with the cats, someone needs to keep this place clean and it certainly wasn’t going to be me. So cleaning lady it is. This also makes me very happy.

In addition to those updates, I can also inform you that I’m now past the halfway mark of the 90 Fitness & Accountability Challenge and so far I’ve managed to keep up with my weekly goal of 6 workouts of at least 30 minutes per day. This week was by far the most challenging for me, due to the being so tired and having so many after-work things to do, so I decided to be kind to myself and let one of those be a half hour of deep stretches while I watched the most recent episode of the Walking Dead. I actually felt pretty good after that – sometimes I forget how much good some yoga/stretching can be!

OK, it’s now 1:13 am – less than 3 hours ’til the game starts. Maybe I’ll spend some time playing with my blog theme – I’ve been meaning to do that for a while!

By

An Organization Quest

Since I finished school1, I no longer have an excuse for my place to be a mess. For the past two years, I was able to tell myself that I didn’t have time to be organized, but now that I’ve got nothing but time on my hands, I think it’s time to do a total reboot of my apartment.

Organizing my Seed StashAs I was thinking these lofty thoughts, I came across this on Lifehacker: 52 weeks to an organized home. It’s a series of challenges where you tackle one organizing task per week. The idea with it is that you can’t do everything at once, and even if you could, you’d probably just mess it all up right away anyway, because you haven’t given each new organizing solution enough time to let it sink in and become a new habit. Also, giving yourself a week to do each task allows you to spend time thinking about the best way to set things up for your particular (for lack of a better phrase) work flow and to test out the new configuration to see if it works. It’s basically Lean and prototyping2.

What really appeals to me about this is that I don’t have to decide where to start. I think of it as being similar to running. When I’m training for a half marathon, I follow a training plan where each day that I need to run, the decision about how long I need to run that day has already been made for me – maybe I run 12 km on Sunday, 5 km on Tuesday, 8 hill repeats on Wednesday. I know when I have to run and how far and so having to make a decision about that is eliminated as a barrier to me actually going and doing it. So it’s much the same with this organizing program. This week you organizing your kitchen counters, next week you organize your kitchen cabinets, etc.

As I’m organizing, I have to keep reminding myself to take it one step at a time. Like this week, I’m organizing kitchen counters, which means all the stuff that I had stacked on my counters that didn’t belong that had to be moved, ideally to the location where I’ll ultimately be wanting it. But as I do that, I’m super tempted to then organize that other location completely, but I know that if I fall into that trap, I’m going to become overwhelmed with all of it and that’s what this program is trying to avoid. So I’m trying to be content with shoving things in a cabinet or closet that isn’t organized, as I know I’ll get to it on a future week.

TastefulThat’s not to say that I’m not organizing *anything* that’s off schedule, as I have re-arranged my living room to accommodate the flat screen TV I bought myself as an “I’m done school” present, which necessitated moving a bookshelf from the living room to the growerly3, and since I had to take all the books off said shelf to move it, I used that opportunity to organize the bookshelf a little better. I also set up a better spot to keep my recycling bins, because they were totally in the way where I had been keeping them, as well as creating a box to put things to donate in4, as I figure the organizing process will generate a fair bit of things to recycle and things to donate.

So, that’ s my plan for the next 52 weeks. But this time next year, I’ll have the most organized apartment ever!

Image Credits:

Footnotes:

  1. Fun fact: 57% of my sentences these days start with “Since I finished school”. The other 43% start with “When I was in Ireland”. []
  2. See, I learned useful stuff in school! []
  3. Not to mention rearranging how my living room furniture was configured. []
  4. As I had just been shoving stuff into a plastic bag, which wasn’t working well at all. []

By

#mayhealth

Where the hell did April go1? It seems that tomorrow is the last day of the fourth month of the year. Which means that we are just one day away from the May Health Challenge!

As you may recall2, last year some fine Guelphites put out a challenge to anyone who is awesome enough to take up said challenge. And that challenge is to set a small, but challenging, health-related goal for the month of May. And then tell people about it – because research shows that publicly stating your goals makes it more likely that you’ll stick to them. Last year, my challenges were to (a) eat breakfast every day3 and (b) do some kind of exercise every day4, as those were two things I’d found I’d fallen out of the habit of doing when I turned my life all topsy-turvy by taking on a part-time MBA program in addition to my full-time job. I’m happy to report that those habits seem to have stuck with me, as I am in a routine of eating breakfast most days and am actually on day 121 of consecutive days of doing some kind of physical activity5!.

For this year’s May Health Challenge, I decided to again look at what bad habits I’ve fallen into lately – and thus come up with an area where I can work on re-establishing a healthy routine6 and one thing immediately came to mind: I haven’t been making dinners at home very much recently. And when I do, they have more often than not been of the quick – and not quite as healthy – variety. In fact, reading Mark’s7 blog posting about his May Health Challenge, I saw this statement which pretty much sums up my dining of late:

I eat out because of convenience (laziness), a perceived lack of time (poor planning), or as a social event (I have good friends).

The thing is – I actually love to cook! I love to take fresh ingredients, chop them, mix them, season them, and make them into a feast of deliciousness! I like to put on some music and dance around the kitchen as I do so. On occasion, I even do so with a nice glass of wine. But lately I’ve just not been that organized, so even if I do feel like cooking something, I don’t have any of the things I need to cook something wonderful – and that is if I can come up with an idea of what I want to cook. When I’m busy – as I have been at work and school for more months now than I can even count – I tend to feel overwhelmed by end of the day that making even the smallest choice seems impossible. What should I have for dinner? I have no idea. I’ve already made 100,000 decisions today and I’m all out of decision-making capacity!

Happily, I know exactly the fix for this problem of mine: meal planning. If I actually sit down on, say, Sunday evening, and plan out my meals for the week, I can then (a) not have to make last minute dinner decisions and (b) plan out my grocery shopping accordingly, so I have everything I need when I need it, thus resulting in a less stressed out and more healthily fed Dr. Beth.

Here’s my plan for this week – since May 1 is Wednesday, I figured I’d get a head start and include this whole week:

Meal planning - Week of 29 April 2013

Friday I’ve marked in a “school night”, since I have class on Friday and will go out for dinner with classmates8. My challenge isn’t that I have to cook for myself every day, just that I have to have planned my meals. I think that even just being more thoughtful about making a conscious decision about what I’m doing for my meals will help me be a little more aware of what I’m eating, rather than just kind of going along not paying much attention and suddenly realizing I’ve eaten at restaurants more than half the days in a month.

You’ve probably also noticed that I haven’t made a plan for Sunday just yet. I actually just sat down and planned out the other nights tonight, in preparation for this blog posting, and kind of ran out of steam. I’m taking suggestions if anyone has any good ideas!

For my second May Health Challenge, I’m going to do something that doesn’t, at first glance, sound like it has anything to do with health. I’m going to pick my outfits for the week on Sunday night, when I do my meal planning. “But what could this possibly have to do with health?” you ask? For me, it’s about my mental health. I find that on weeks when I pick out my outfits for the week and line them up in my closet so that each morning I can just grab an outfit and put it on, I feel so much better than weeks when every day I get up in the morning, am completely indecisive about what I want to wear, scramble around to find a shirt that goes with the skirt I finally picked, then am not able to find the sweater that goes with that outfit9, and on it goes. When I can just grab and outfit and go, I find I get to work feeling more relaxed/less frazzled and ready to take on the day!

So there you have it – my May Health Challenges! What are you going to challenge yourself to do this May?

  1. Not to mention January through March. []
  2. “May” recall! Get it?? I slay me! []
  3. Which I accomplished. []
  4. Which I managed to do 26 out of the 30 days of the challenge – as the 31st was reserved for celebrating! []
  5. As part of 101 things to do list to do some kind of physical activity every day for a year! []
  6. This is actually a good time to set up a new routine, as I recently broke up with boyfriend, so all my routines that I’d established over the last ~a year we’d been living together are gone anyway. Yeah, I just revealed my breakup in a footnote. I’m a heartless bastard. Or one who doesn’t like talking about this stuff on my blog. The jury is still out. []
  7. Mark being one of the aforementioned Guelphites. []
  8. Going out for meals on class weekends is actually something that I really enjoy – it’s a chance to socialize with my classmates. And in an intense program like ours, the support and camaraderie really does help you get through. []
  9. My office is freezing, so I always have to have a sweater. []

By

Feeling Organized

Tonight marks the end of my holidays – for tomorrow I head back to work. My clothes for work tomorrow are selected and hang waiting for me to put them on in the morning. My lunch1 is packed and waiting for me to bring to work. I’ve laid out a bowl and spoon on the kitchen table to remind me to actually eat breakfast – cottage cheese, fruit, and a hard-boiled egg (the  latter of which I made along with a few extras for the next couple of days).

I’ve set up my physical activity tracking spreadsheet for the new year2 and scheduled in this week’s planned physical activities on my calendar. I’ve successful completed three days in a row where I actually did some physical activity! I’ve also decided on the 101 list item I want to tackle for January: #78 – “sort through my many boxes of papers (most of which contain papers from my thesis), recycling the papers I don’t need and filing the ones I do need”3. I also managed to get a few nagging tasks completed – just little things that I’d been meaning to do since forever that I finally did.

My white board has been wiped clean of last year’s to-do list and stands ready with the few items I have pending – a paper to complete the last module4 I took before the holidays and the first readings for the course I start on Monday5. There’s lots of white space on the board now – which I’m sure will fill up in due time.

I’m feeling very organized at the moment and very thankful that I had such a restful holiday. I really needed the time to rest, relax, recharge, and get organized for the new year. Here’s hoping I can maintain this whole organization thing for more than a few days!

And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to get to bed at a decent hour!

  1. Leftover lasagna, made with homemade sauce that is chalk chock-full of vegetables. []
  2. One that Dr. Dan generously shared with me last year and that I updated for my planned activities for 2013. []
  3. I’ve already completed a fair bit of this compared to when I came up with that item, and figure that I really should just bite the bullet and get the rest done! []
  4. The topic of the module was Managing Patient Flow and the paper requires that I choose a journal article that focuses on operations research and write about how I could relate that to my own work. []
  5. Public Health Leadership. []

By

And Back To Work I Go

And so ends my glorious, glorious vacation. Before my vacation started, I knew that I was in need of this time off, but I don’t think I realized just how much I needed it. I’d been going pretty much non-stop since the beginning of January – with work and school and teaching and top secret projects and moving and losing my dad 1 – well, it all took much more of a toll on me than I’d realized2. Now that I’ve had some time off to decompress and smell the roses and do my homework in various exciting new locations after not having worked at work all day, I feel so. much. better. I realize that in the weeks (months?) leading up to my holidays, I was really just getting through the days. I wasn’t able to be as efficient as I normally am3 and I was just all around run down.

Frustrated Computer User
Me, before my vacation

But now I feel rested, exercised, mentally alert, and excited to get back to work and tackle the many awesome projects that I have on the go4 ,5! I’m excited to plan out my meals for the week6, and pack my lunches7 and pick out my outfits for the week8! Speaking of which, it’s 9 pm – I better go pack my lunch and pick out this week’s outfits!

Image Credit: Frustrated computer user image posted by Proposed Solution on Flickr.

  1. I still think about him every day. []
  2. I hadn’t really thought about how that was more than half a year of insane levels of busy-ness and stress without any vacation! []
  3. Meal planning? What’s that? Let’s just throw a frozen pizza in the oven! Deciding what I want to wear in less than 20 minutes? That’s not possible! I just can’t figure out what to put on my body! And omg, why do none of my clothes fit? []
  4. Both the A.W.E.S.O.M.E. project itself and other projects that are awesome in the conventional, as opposed to acronym, sense []
  5. Though I am a bit terrified to see the state of my inbox. I’ve resisted the urge to check my work email while I’ve been on holidays – and I’ve had the urge several times – because I really, truly wanted to have the break that I knew I needed. It was at Inbox Zero when I left two weeks ago- I’m betting it will be in the few hundred range when I arrive at the office tomorrow morning. []
  6. Nerd alert! []
  7. Rather than end up wandering the grocery store on my lunch break thinking, “What should I eat??” []
  8. Also heading back to work tomorrow is my friend Sarah, though she’s been away for two YEARS rather than two weeks. However, she’s far more organized than me – she always has been, but having two small children means that she’s taken organization to a whole new level! I’m curious to see though, Sarah, how many unread emails you have in your inbox! []

By

Apartment Makeover

And speaking of photos that I’ve been meaning to blog about, remember that time I said I was going to spend the first half of my Christmas vacation organizing my apartment? I totally did that. And I took photos!

My desk place that I stored “papers that I’m going to file someday” – before photo:

Desk - before

My desk – after photo:

Desk - after

Notice my corkboard of inspiration to the left of my desk – it contains my running medals, LG4CF player ID (not seen in photo), Polar Bear Swim button, a poster of yoga poses, and some inspiration photos. My diplomas remind me that I can really do this school thing, and the giant whiteboard is ready for to do lists/brainstorming.

Bookshelves – before photo:

Bookshelves - before

Bookshelves – after photo:

Bookshelves

And here’s my closet organization system – places to set out my outfits for every day of the week – and I actually have two of these in my closet, so I can set out two weeks worth of outfits at one time!

Closet Organization

Let the school year begin!

Whiteboard

By

Organization Queen

So, I decided to take holidays for these next two weeks, but not to go to Ontario for Christmas. I mean, I really enjoy seeing my family at Christmas, but trips to Ontario are *exhausting* because I have so many people to see and it ends up being a lot of scheduling, running around to see people, entertaining, more running around and I end up coming home 10x more exhausted than when I left on “vacation.” Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends, but knowing that I’m about to start school in January, I decided it that it made a lot more sense to spend my time off at home getting rested and organized for what is definitely going to be a busy new year1.

So, what is it that I plan to do with my time off?

BusyMy first priority is to organize my apartment. For example, I need to turn my desk from its current state as a piece of furniture buried under a giant pile of papers that “I’ll file later” to an actual functioning workspace. As I see it, my organizational tasks this week are:

  • sort through massive piles of paper:
    • all unnecessary papers thrown in the recycling (I’m looking at you, research articles from my PhD that I completed 5+ years ago)
    • all necessary papers filed in the appropriate file folder
  • organize my bookshelves, donating any books that I no longer need/want
  • fix clothes that need fixing2, purge clothes that don’t fit me3 and shoes that are worn out (to the landfill, sadly.)
  • review and update my budget
And speaking of organizing, I know that I’m going to need to be *very* organized in order to handle a full-time job, plus school, plus having some semblance of a social life. I’m thinking that the main things I’ll need to do are being ruthless about my schedule – setting aside time for homework, exercise4, and date nights – and getting an effective routine going. Things that I’ve found to be effective in keeping me organized and efficient, when I actually do them, include::
  • planning out my outfits on Sunday night for the the following week – it’s unbelievable how much trouble I have deciding what to wear in the morning!
  • cooking for the week on the weekend – I love having leftovers for lunch and especially for weekends when I have classes, I’m going to need to have prepared food on hand so that I don’t end up spending a fortune on, and gaining 50 lbs from, restaurants
  • going to bed at a decent hour – I am really bad for getting too little sleep during the week and then sleeping in on the weekends5. This won’t be an option on weeks that I have class at 8 am on Saturday and Sunday!
So I figure that after organizing my apartment, I’ll get my other systems set up – organize a spot in my closet for setting out my outfits, ensure my kitchen is appropriately set up for maximum efficiency, setting up my calendar with spots for homework time, times for going out for a run, etc.

I’m sure this sounds like the worst. vacation. ever. to most of you. But my nerdy nature is actually a bit thrilled to have some time to remove the clutter from both my apartment and my mind! Also, there will be plenty of time for fun – as I mentioned above, I’ll be spending Christmas with Devon and his family on the Island, so there will be family festivities, plus a chance to visit the Bard & Banker which has the beer that is so delicious that I want to marry it. I also hope to get to La Belle Patate, a Montreal-style deli where I can enjoy a Montreal smoked meat sandwich and, if their Facebook page tells the truth, a spruce beer!!!

This shaping up to be quite a nice vacation!

Image Credit: Posted by A. J. Cann on Flickr.
  1. Happily, Devon has offered to share his family with me this Christmas, so I will still get to enjoy family festivities! []
  2. I have a few items of clothing with loose buttons or ripped seams that I can easily put back into the rotation with a few stitches. []
  3. By donating them to a thrift store. []
  4. Exercise being my most effective way of de-stressing and rather non-negotiable for a public health nerd such as myself []
  5. And yes, I know that you can’t truly “catch up” on missed sleep, but I do at least “recover” from the sleep deprivation of the previous week. []