homemaking

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I wanted to let all of you know I’ve not disappeared! I’ve just been busy. I hope all of you have a beautiful, wonderful, and peaceful holiday season.

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so this is where i am right now

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This mess was on my dining room table this morning while I was trying to eat breakfast. This mess is what I’ve let my life erode into. And I hate it. The only thing to do about it is to get up off my butt and fix it. I did some of that fixing today but not as much as I should have. I at least got my dayplanner and Outlook calendar somewhat semi-reorganized. One step at a time, I suppose.

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get – Calvin & Hobbes

i’m still alive!

I’m still here. I’ve just not been blogging. Nothing to write home about? Yeah, well, that’s where I’ve been. I did NaNoWriMo again last year and managed to get 35,000 new words for Destiny (which is still searching for a new, real title, by the way). Also, I picked up some editing and reading for hire and will be picking up more.

I’ve also been going through this big organizational project. The apartment, myself, my life. Everything.

I got a 2013 Peanuts Moleskine dayplanner and finally got over my fear of actually using my Peanuts 60th Anniversary Snoopy Moleskine journal. This is all helping getting my life/mind/home “still” and organized. Organized isn’t really the word I’m going for here. The ADHD isn’t letting me find the proper word for this, of course. I know what I mean but just am not able to convey it right now.

I’ve wanted for a long time to get back into scrapbooking, the kind I did all through school while I was growing up, but I’ve never been happy with all the themed scrapbooking stuff that’s been out there for the longest time now. Scrapbooking isn’t supposed to be that orderly! So I just never did. Then last Summer while I was thinking real hard about getting back into journaling and trying to get my mojo going again, I ran into ‘smashbooks’. What neat things! And they’re so portable!

Like I said above, I got over my fear of using my Moleskines, and I’m so glad I did! Both of the ones I have are the 5″x8″ size, which is perfect for what I need them for. The dayplanner isn’t huge or bulky, and the journals isn’t one of those daunting 9″x11″ books I was hooked on for twenty years. Seriously, I think that’s why I burned out. I was trying to fill up those enormous pages with every thought and activity I had, and with the uncontrolled, undiagnosed ADHD I had going on, I got some righteous burn-out.

As for the dayplanner, I’ve known for some time (like three years) that dumping everything into Outlook Calendar just wasn’t cutting it. Especially over the last year. I’ve not been keeping Outlook open around the clock like I used to. I’ve not allowed myself to continue being a slave to e-mail (as a result, I also have a continuous backlog of e-mail, but I’m trying to break that habit, too). I don’t need it on 24/7, so I leave it off. But I needed something to help me stay organized and on task through the day, and everything I’ve read for months about ADHD is that having a physical dayplanner is a blessing. And it has been. It helps keep me on task.

Getting over my fear of actually using my Peanuts journal took a long time. But I’m glad that I did. Honestly, what got me going again was the time I spend on Pinterest and Flickr looking at beautiful and creative (and beautifully creative and creatively beautiful) things. I was searching for inspiration, and one afternoon, I found it, and got my books out and started using them. It’s made a world of difference.

I got into this whole journaling/dayplanning thing so much that I created a group on Facebook. The group is just over a month old, and we’ve all had so much fun and learned so much from each other already. Everyone supports one another. It’s been amazing. If you’re on Facebook and keep a journal or are considering picking the habit (back) up, if you scrapbook, art journaling, anything similar, we’d enjoy having you as part of our group. Daily, we start a Link thread to keep everything as corralled and orderly as we can. So like, if it’s Tuesday, someone will start an empty thread titled Tuesday Links, and everyone is welcome to post up outside links to anything journaling or scrapbooking related. We have a long thread about handwriting, even! (I’ve been working hard on improving mine, and it’s working.)

One thing I’ve learned over the last six or so months is that I’d been journaling wrong for the last thirty years. Wrong for me. I wasn’t exploring it as a creative outlet. I had, for all that time, created what could be called nothing more than Bitch Books. Finally, at one point, I sat down with the ones I’d kept from 1992 through 2007, when I stopped (I’d told myself I didn’t need to journal any more because I had my biog!). I went through some thousand pages of crap. Serious. I kept only what I found important. My poetry, good quotes, pictures, cards, letters, some stickers, comic strips. Stuff like that. I took, wrapped in two tightly tied T-shirt bags, and chucked them into the nearest dumpster. That act along took a load of weight from my shoulders. Amazing how stuff like that works out! I wanted to burn those books, but when one lives in an apartment, one does what one can with what one has.

Since then, I’ve gotten everything I saved, which was little, into its proper scrapbook or journal with the exception of my poetry. I still need to see what I already have in electronic copy and type up what I don’t. I think there are maybe eight poems I need to go through. Yeah, real hard work.

But like I said above, I’d been journaling wrong. I had approached it my entire life as a repository of gripes and sorrows, rants and raves. While I ripped those books apart, I rarely found anything good. That, and I’d insisted all that time in writing in 120 page, 9″x11″ books. All of them beautiful. I refused to buy them if they weren’t pretty! So on days when I didn’t have anything to gripe about, I just didn’t write. Those large pages were intimidating, and I allowed them to intimidate me. The odd part is that I had (a few months ago) a small slew of 5″x7″ journals that I never used. I bought them because they were pretty and just never did anything with them. I still have two I need to find a home/use for.

Then I searched “Moleskine” and “Journal” on both Flickr and Pinterest. My eyes were opened. Wide. What a wealth of creativity!

I don’t have to write an entire page to record my entire day. I don’t even have to write. I don’t have to do it in chronological order. Nor do I have to orient every single page “top to bottom”. When I was in therapy at Comprehensive Care in 2010/2011, my therapist “had a thing” about coloring therapy. I rediscovered coloring and art because of her. She especially favored mandalas and bright colors. Google “mandala” and “zentangle”. Wonderful things. I searched for and found good, easy to follow (and free!) drawing instructions at the art is fun website. My journal is littered with mandalas, doodles, lines, circles, shapes. I’ve filled it with pictures I’ve drawn and colored. I’ve added stickers. I started a collection of ephemera. I bought crayons, pencils, markers, and other things (including a box to keep it all in).

I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed this, how much it’s all helped me already.

Below, I share some pictures of pages I’ve made. More to come!

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This is the opening page in the Snoopy journal.

 

2013 dayplanner

This is the opening page in the dayplanner. I can control only what’s inside my hula hoop.

 

dream page

This is from my K&Company Smashbook. I got the Retro Blue one – because it’s blue and because I liked the pages inside; they’re all themed. I don’t generally care for themed scrapbooking or journaling, but most of the ‘prompts’ are great. I also got a themed ‘smash pad’ which is also great for prompts. You pull what you want to use on a given day from the pad, glue or tape the whole thing (or part) down, and write on it. Then decorate the page the best way you see fit.

 

hch page

This is the page I started for HCH. It’s not finished. I still have a ton of ephemera I want to stick in. The left-hand page is made of up a recent Harlan County map, a Harlan County directory, and the US 119 tag is from a packet of information I got from a Pine Mountain tour thing several years ago. The places I highlighted in yellow are settings in my Harlan Vampires stories. The right-hand page is a postcard about HCH and the welcome card from the book launch at The Morris Book Shop.

 

midnight page

This is the Midnight page. Totally unfinished. I started with printouts of the 100 word blurb, snippets of poetry that didn’t make my final cut as chapter headers, a writer ‘trading card’, maps of Loyall and Harlan, and excerpts from the book. Then, when the books is published, I’ll add more things in. Lots more things.

So that’s where I’ve been for the last six months. Embroiled and enjoying it. I’ve also relaunched my editing service – which now has a name! – and have taken in three projects so far. I’ll be free to take in more near the first of April. And yes, I’m still working on the apartment. Organizing, cutting down, simplifying, scrubbing everything to a showroom shine.

All of this has been so very freeing.

how i organize with onenote

About this time last year I made the switch from Evernote, which I’d used since it came out, to Microsoft OneNote, which is an integrated part of my Office software. After making a ‘trial run’ of OneNote to see how I could organize everything, I knew this was the better program for me. I hated to let Evernote go – they’ve been very good to me! But I just needed more than what their program offers.

imho, the worst thing about OneNote is that there aren’t a lot of templates available (although I’ve found they’re easy made), and there doesn’t seem to be much support / tips’n tricks available.

The biggest plus is that it integrates with the other Office programs – you can “print” to or from OneNote and share in the Office cloud (though I don’t use Skydrive – does anyone?). I keep my OneNote files inside my Dropbox folder – so it backs up its own backups, essentially. The program is largely intuitive. It’s easy to figure out what does what and what you can and can’t do with it. As for the lack of support et al, googling OneNote turns up what I’m looking for. I like that I can customize the interface, too. In the quickview bar, I have only the tools I use most often; everything else is tucked into the ribbon.

I have ADHD (leaning toward the Inattentive/Distractive side), so the way I organize things drives people straight up a wall. For them, it’s not intuitive or organized. For me it makes perfect sense. (I have friends who don’t like using my laptop because they never can find anything – but to me, its organization makes perfect sense)

From this article:

OneNote is designed to mimic a collection of spiral notebooks, with metaphors of tabs and pages. It has six total levels of organization–notebooks, sections, subsections, pages, and two levels of subpages. OneNote also has a system of links that allow notes to contain links to other notes, or to a Web page, a Word document, or a PowerPoint presentation.

I have three notebooks. One is for all my personal stuff, one is for all my blogging stuff, and the third is for all my writing stuff. I could break the writing notebook down into three notebooks, really: writing advice, adult stuff, young adult stuff. And I might if it keeps getting more crowded in there.

Another thing about OneNote is that you can size and position the sidepanels. You can put them on the right or the left and collapse them or widen them as large as you need them to be. When you open a notebook, tabs open across the top of the display, so really you can collapse the notebook pane entirely to give yourself more workspace. As well, you can minimize the pages panel. You can also color the notebooks and individual tabs any color you like, just like a physical notebook, to help sort this into that. “Oh, that’s in the green tab.” Click! Very handy if you’re as visual as I am. One thing I don’t like is that each page and subpage (and sub subpage and sub sub subpage, ad nauseum) under a given tab is the same color as that tab. I’d like to be able to color the individual pages – that’d be awesome!

Like I said, I prefer OneNote over Evernote; it’s what works for me. OneNote gives me so many more organizing / sorting / filing options. Also, the workspace is more user-friendly – I can make everything else smaller in order to view what I need to see / work on. OneNote pastes text into blocks (similar to a text block in Word) that you can click and drag around to reposition where you’d like. If you have a lot of small elements (small text bits / pictures) on a page, this comes in handy; it allows you to put things where they’re more available to you.

Since I started using OneNote last year, I’ve dumped almost all of my writing notes into the program. Some stuff still remains on my hard drive, but bit by bit, I’m moving it all into notebooks. This is so much better to (and for) me than having endless folders with endless streams of documents. Click FAQ tab, and voila, there’s everything in a neat little row for me to pick and choose from. Even with descriptive file names, I’d find myself sitting here thinking, “Is this the file I need? Or is it this one?” I don’t have to do that any more. Less muss, less fuss – I’m all for that!

living with ADD / ADHD

I wrote a response to this post at ADDitude Magazine online, and thought I’d post that response here. Because it’s relevant.

What I do is set myself a schedule for every day of the week. Every single day. It varies but the gist is: have set routines.

I get up, take my medicine, make the bed, shower, and have breakfast. Always take your medicine and make the bed before anything else. Coming out of the bathroom into a clean bedroom always makes me feel better, or at least good that there’s one less thing I have to face in the day!

I have breakfast and allow myself to surf the ‘net while I’m eating. (i feed our cat on my own eating schedule, which works for her; others may vary) I clean up after myself then clean something around the apartment. Even if it’s just wiping the dust off the television or some such – it’s something, and it’s gotten done.

This is time to figure out what to fix for supper, if we didn’t the night before. I’m a big believer in my crockpot, so if it’s a crockpot meal, the meat comes down from the freezer to thaw in the fridge overnight – then the meal goes into the crockpot after breakfast to cook until 5pm.

I’m a writer and an editor, so after this is when I get to work, and I work my way through/with lunch (and take lunchtime medicine!). Then I get to take a ‘net and/or gaming break. Especially if I’ve been editing. It’s draining, so I either pop in a movie to watch, pick up a book to read, take a nap, or play a game (The Sims 3 is good; it keeps me busy).

Our apartment has seven rooms (well, the living room and dining room are one room, but i count them as two!), including two full bathrooms and bedrooms. That gives me one full room to clean each day of the week. The bathrooms aren’t that big, and since I keep everything clean, they’re not that messy, so sometimes I do them both on the same day to give myself a “day off” here and there.

By then it’s time to get the mail and finish supper. After supper, the kitchen and dining room get cleaned, including loading and running the dishwasher, cleaning out the microwave, washing off the stove, and sweeping the floor.

Having a set schedule and keeping it has made a huge difference in how I feel, how my house is run, and how my life is lived.

mari’s so behind it’s … shameful, really

I know. I know. I said months ago (and then months before that) I was going to start blogging more regularly. We all see how well that turned out. Here’s the thing. There’s just not been that much going on, not anything that would make a blog post, anyway. I use Twitter now for the “this is what I’m doing right now” stuff – instead of using my blog for those one and two sentence updates I used to make throughout the day the first few years of my blog’s life. Also, I use check-ins at GetGlue for a lot of stuff, too. For example, I just checked-in to “pot pie” because that’s what I’ve got in the oven for our supper. I don’t want to let this blog go, though. It’s been part of my life since 2002, and there’s so much stored here (even if I did accidentally dump all the pictures a couple of years ago – whoops!). Yeah, I could archive it all on my hard drive, but that just doesn’t sound appealing.

So, here I sit. Trying to figure out where to start on catching up since … Christmas? New Year’s? My birthday? The funny part about all of this? Starting sometime in October, I created a tab in OneNote labeled “Blog Topics”. I have subtopics: brainstorming, love, memories, mental health, pagan, ‘women in fiction’, and writing. We won’t discuss the number of topics and ideas listed within each. I mean, I probably have enough material in there to work from for at least three months of intermittent blogging – like every third or fourth day kind of intermittent – especially with the memories stuffs. I probably should be shot for having all of these things and just sitting here and not doing one damned thing with them.

It’s a writing problem.

It’s a writer’s problem.

It’s so simple to create all these lists and jot down thoughts and ideas – and then just leave them and never once think about coming back to flesh them out. Especially with me. The whole ADHD (lately I’ve been joking and calling it ADDH – because CDO insists I keep everything orderly) thing makes me scattered. I have to keep telling myself over and over, “Focus on one thing at a time! One thing at a time! Easy now! Easy!” And that’s harder than it sounds. See, if something isn’t right in my face where I can’t see it or glance at it at least on occasion, I forget about it until I run into it again, be that a day or two or a decade or two later. This is the curse of having distractibility ADHD. (just look at this paragraph!)

Thing is, I don’t work at a desk; I work at our kitchen table. I’d have a garbage dump of a mess if I left everything out where I could see it all of the time – then I’d get cranky, irritable, and whiny because everything was a mess! What I end up with, then, is a pile of different notebooks containing this, that, and something else, pencils or ink pens clipped to each, and my cellphone stacked on top of that. I keep Outlook open all day because I need the reminder alarms, but I fail at keeping OneNote open all day – and that’s where my daily task list lives (but I tell myself I keep a duplicate in this one notebook …).

And see, I sat down here this morning with the intent of making one of those what I call “catchup posts”. I even pre-tagged it so I could look at the tags list and, with some hope and forethought, not leave anything out. But no. I’ve sat here doing everything but writing a blog post. I think I’m going to save the other half for tomorrow! If I don’t show back up tomorrow, just jab me and make me do it!

drop biscuits

This is for Ghracena. I promised this tutorial some time back in December, and as you all know, I’ve just not been blogging. So, I’m getting off my ass and finally posting this! I’ve never written a tutorial before, so bear with me!

I freely admit that I use Bisquick or Jiffy mix to make my biscuits. I’ve learned that the real trick to this shortcut is adding, depending on the size of the box you use, a cup of all purpose flour into to the mix. (Add a cup of flour into the mid-sized box)

This is for making drop biscuits. They’re quicker than and not as messy as rolled/cut biscuits. Besides, I like watching their little peaks brown in the oven. You can use this recipe to make rolled biscuits and ‘hand-shaped’ biscuits. For rolled, you’ll want just a little bit more mix and a nice floured surface, a rolling pin, and a biscuit cutter. For ‘hand-shaped’, you need extra flour for your hands; you just flour your hands good and get out enough dough for one biscuit, shape it to your satisfaction, and place it into the pan. Lather, rinse, repeat.

You will need:

2 cups baking mix
1 cup milk
large mixing bowl
good-sized spoon

(also preheat the oven to 450*)

grease or oil for the bottom of the pan

8″ cake pan (9″ is better)

I use ‘heaping cups’ of biscuit mix. Just ignore the orange juice in the background. I always drink orange juice while I’m fixing breakfast; it’s my morning must-have.

Make a little ‘crater’ in the mix with the spoon. Pour your cup of milk into it.

Then mix it all together good. It’s homemade biscuits. It’s going to be a little lumpy no matter what you do to it.

If you know what canned biscuits look like, that’s about the texture you want your biscuit dough to be. Like I said above, homemade biscuits are going to be a little lumpy.

Next you want to drop them out by the heaping spoon full into your prepared pan. I like to prepare mine by picking it up and telling it, “Look, I’m going to put grease into you, then I’m going to put biscuit dough into you, then I’m sticking you into a very hot oven.” I mean, it has the right to know what’s happening to it, right?

Depending on how you drop them, you’re going to come out with anywhere from six to ten biscuits. Seriously. Put them into the oven. Bake them for about fifteen minutes – depending on your oven, of course; some are quicker, and some take longer.

While the biscuits are baking, make eggs and gravy – and bacon or sausage and maybe some small pancakes.