Thursday, January 31, 2013

P is for Productivity

We each get 24 hours a day to use how we wish.

Some of us squeeze a lot out of those hours. Some of us try to do things but feel like time gets away from us. Some of us piss those hours away and do nothing.

I am a productive person. If I'm not doing at least one productive thing on any given day, there are three possible explanations: 1. I'm dead 2. I'm sick 3. I planned it. I squeeze a lot out of my hours. I've honed my way of operating many times over the years, always looking to maximize my time. Being an efficient person is one of my strong points, but I always strive for better. Faster. More!

A lot of people ask  how I get so much done on a given weeknight. Or people comment on my weekend posts saying that I was busy, when I thought I had a lot of downtime. Or they think I'm a liar or a completely insane robot who should sit the hell down and stop doing things. In which case, you should stop reading now. There's nothing left for you here. The rest of this is for people who want to increase their productivity and efficiency.

These things work for me, and with little to no modification, they should work for you too. 

One. Plan your week. Plan the week out on Sunday or Monday or whatever works for you, and adapt daily as necessary based on what comes up. Plan what you're going to do, what you're making to eat, what you're wearing. Going into the week prepared will do wonders for you. I don't always stick to my meal plan or gear, but at least I know I have food to make and clean clothes to wear.

Do not assign 15 tasks to one day and expect to be successful. You're relegating your productivity to the shitter before you begin. Strive for three things daily in each area of  life. As an example, here's my To Do for today:

Work - year end letter - printer?, web changes, process events
Errands - Aldi, library
Home - clean bathroom, dust and vacuum top floor
Exercise - Walk with weights, stretchy band workout
Dinner - Soup (leftover)
Blog - Picmonkey collage for Friday post

Two. Do your biggest/hardest/most dreaded task first. If you do the small, easy stuff first, you'll enter Putz Around Mode and won't get to the big mama, leaving you feeling unaccomplished for the day. I know doing the hard stuff isn't fun, but sometimes life isn't fun. Just get it done. At work, my hardest tasks are the ones that involve creative writing or detailed editing - I do those best first thing in the morning when I'm sharp and focused. At home my most dreaded tasks are putting laundry away, changing the duvet, and dusting. I just dive right in, otherwise I'll sit around thinking about how much they suck and not doing them. Gets to stepping, people.

Three. Don't answer the phone, check your email or texts, or any of your social media accounts. Forget the internet and electronics exist. Turn the TV off if you can't trust yourself not to get sucked in. All of these things only serve one purpose: to delay you. On days you seem to be unable to get anything done, I bet you $100 it was due to outside interference. There are some days when you're okay with that - days you're piddling around the house. Other days, when you have lots to do and little time to do it in, those things will break your back. Concentrate and get it done. Work first, fun later.

Four. Be round. Work hard, designate time for relax/play, sleep well, eat well, be active, be kind to someone. Rounding yourself out daily makes it easier to be positive, and positivity gives birth to productivity.  Wow that sounds like an infomercial or chakra lady talking, but it's the truth. p.s. - being really pissed off and needing to DO something also leads to productivity. Channeling your rage can work in your favor. Roar. And clean while you're doing it.

Five. Develop a routine and get into a groove, and productivity will become second nature. Of course you don't feel like facing hard things, tackling big shit, or doing chores that suck. No one does. But when you practice discipline and get into a routine, you don't allow yourself the time to whine and wail. You'll be more productive than you ever dreamed.

1. At home, be it on the weekend or on a weeknight, I don't stop or sit down until I get everything done. I truly think that THIS is what enables me to get so much done. I get through all the not fun stuff so I can maximize my time on the couch with a book, magazine, TV, what have you. Pay before play.
2. Move quickly but carefully. Don't cut corners or half ass, you'll just have to do it again.

To the haters who think scheduling is for losers who can't be spontaneous, I've seen the fly by the seat of their pants approach fail too many people. I like to feel accomplished every day. That's important to me and how I operate. I have a long list of things I want to do in my life, and scheduling makes that happen for me. If scheduling doesn't make it happen for you, that's okay. Differences make the world go 'round. We can still be friends.

Do I sometimes just say EFF IT, throw my hands in the air, wave 'em like I just don't care, and disregard this? Sure. But that's not my norm. And that's why I get shit done. Boom.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Talking about ice, books, shitting on The Vine, and other crap on Haphazard Wednesday

Ready, set go. 

As if Haphazard Wednesday thoughts weren't taxing enough to follow, we're going to start today off with...MATH. I've mentioned math on here twice since Friday. Help.  

1. This weekend, I got this photo in an email from my BFF Laura at 10:45 p.m. on Saturday night. The following conversation ensued:

Laura: I just did this to figure out the dimension of a cabinet. Holler. 
Me: I think I just had a seizure. What sort of voodoo math is that?
Laura: Pythagorean theorem. no joke. Needed it to calculate a corner cabinet.
Me: You just casually engaged the Pythagorean theory on Saturday night at 10:45. It's like we are from two different planets.
Laura: Yes yes I did.
Me: Could you have googled this?
Laura: Googled what? Its a corner in chris's house and the cabinet width is 40 inches so I had to figure out how much of the wall it would take up
Me: I don't know. I'm lost. I can't think right since I saw that voodoo math.

The moral of the story: Math hurts your brain and sometimes it doesn't work again right away. I'm sorry if any of your brains were hurt during your exposure to math while reading this blog. 

2. The Vine. ANOTHER outlet to take time away from real life. I blog to write - not to video myself. That's called Me In Real Life. My voice is awful, you will never catch me vlogging or putting videos of myself anywhere on the world wide webs. Plus, I'm grateful enough that you read what sometimes passes as surface drivel here. I don't want to push videos of me just uh...being me. Isn't that what I'm doing on these pages without the added annoyance of my voice or having to click on a video? Although I wouldn't mind if GIFS were all relegated to Vine, because then I'd never have to see them. Things that move repeatedly make me dizzy. Give me a video to click on any day. Plus, they distract me from reading and the point they were inserted to emphasize is totally lost. HONEY BADGER DON'T GIVE A SHIT.
3. My friend Lauren just started a blog, Confessions of a Domestic Wannabe. Check her out! Since we're talking about confessions, I confess I'd love to live in Gwen's neighborhood. Read about her YAHTZEE fun today on Confessions of a Gila Monster. Shelby's talking about how fresh coffee is king today on Big Hungry Shelby. I love reading my friend's blogs because I can hear their voices so well through their writing.

4. I have an addiction, and that addiction is ice. Not hielo like Dog The Bounty Hunter is always despairing over. Real ice. Ice from a machine. The happiest day I had in years was when I moved into a house with an ice maker after six years of living in apartments without one. I like to fill my cups to the brim with ice. Ice ice baby.  ANYWAY. The second happiest day of my life has arrived. I've been at my job for almost five years. We've never had an ice machine here. Last week, we got one! OH HAPPY DAY. Thank you universe and gods of ice. 

5. Yes, I did just spend six lines talking about ice. Jesus Christmas. ANYWAY. What kind of fool starts an engrossing book at 10 p.m.? This fool. Here's what I'm reading: 

6. Yesterday I almost bit it at the top of the escalator as I was coming up from the train platform. It was slippery as hell. My foot slipped allllll the way out in front of me until I was doing a half assed split. It was awful. I caught myself, but Christ! My lifelong battle with escalators continues. That kid is playing on the escalator again! I feel you, Brody. 

7. This girl is scary as f&ck on The Following. Cold blooded psycho.

8. Something very serious and historical is going to happen tonight. I am taking one small step for women, and one giant step for womankind. I am going to Target and I'm not spending money on superfluous items. My list of needs: soap for MFD, toothpaste, shaving cream, Gain liquid laundry detergent, suede shoe protector, gift cards for giveaways. I am also exchanging stupid boring black flats for sleek peachy flats. I will get an illicit thrill from this act. I will not pay attention to dish towels, stationary, candles, clearance baubles, scarves, or anything else. I will resist the siren songs of the clearance racks. I will triumph!!!

9. THANK YOU UNIVERSE FOR THE 60 DEGREE WEATHER FORECAST FOR TODAY. Sixty degrees on a haphazard January Wednesday in Philadelphia? Hallelujah, HOLLER, and amen.

10. Ecard of the week. Sorry hipster friends, this made me laugh and laugh. 

Come back tomorrow to talk about Productivity with a capital P. 

Now, good day. I SAID GOOD DAY.

Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

The MFD Files

Today's the day, mofos! MFD, my husband, agreed to let me interview him for my blog. This fills me with glee. For those of you who are totally unfamiliar with him, you can read more about him here. Thanks to Angie and Shug for giving me this interview idea.

Enjoy! My questions are bolded, his answers are under. Any commentary I have is in italics.

What's your favorite vacation that we've been on?
1. EPCOT September 2011; 2. Castaway Cay September 2012;
3. St. Maarten, the stop on the Disney cruise on September 25, 2012 (our second anniversary 4. Disney Cruise September 2012
Where would you go on your dream vacation?
Africa or somewhere in the Middle East with a lot of ancient history I once had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills...

What's the craziest thing you've done in your life?           
HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! Good one! That can not be determined! This cannot be determined most likely because MFD has done SO MUCH crazy shit in his life that he can't possibly choose a favorite. Hell, I can't choose a favorite. 

If this house caught on fire and you could only grab three things (not me or the dogs), what would they be?
My iphone, laptop, work bags so I can still work!

Who's your favorite celebrity? 
Right now, Sweet Brown! Aw, hell. Ain't nobody got time fo dat. I came home on Monday to him singing that to himself. 

Your least favorite celebrity? 
Right now, Taylor Swift and PSY and the Fruit Loop Nicki Minaj. AMEN to TSwift and NMinaj.

As a kid, which TV characters did you have a crush on? 
Hello... Alyssa Milano... 

What’s the most important political issue facing this country today? 
Voter disenfranchisement

If you weren’t a realtor, what would your ideal job be? 
Mate on a tuna boat

When did you know you wanted to marry me? 
around 2005 Thank you for being so specific. Remember when we were planning a trip to go to Ireland in 2006? I was going to ask you there. But then we didn't go to Ireland. We went to Key West instead.

1. On the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ, the day before our wedding. 2. Our wedding day 
What do you like about me? 
Your laugh, your ability to organize everything, and I mean everything... your smile, your eyes, your delicious food, your patience, your understanding, your ability to give, your family, your awesome writing skills, the fact you turned into a dog person quite easily, but Gus has that effect! It's true. I loved Gus immediately, as soon as we got him, and he built my tolerance and like for other people's dogs. 

What do you dislike about me? 
hmmm.... your difficulty in letting bygones be bygones... I asked for clarification. He means that once I cross over into actually disliking someone, I'm done with them. When you're out, you're out. He doesn't have that in him, to cut people out. I do. Snip snip.

What do you like about us together?
We're like two old souls. And we're comfortable.

What word first comes to mind when asked to describe me? 

What word first comes to mind when asked to describe yourself? 
Jovial The man wakes up whistling. Totally my opposite. 

What five things would you want with you if you were stranded on an island?
Gus and Jake (Strike that, they would suffer, that was selfish), a flint, water distillation device, the bible, pepper and a knife (preferably a large knife). What is a flint? Is that how you start fire? That question probably makes it obvious why I am not a choice for island companionship. There's a person who would survive on an island in this relationship, and it's not me. 

What's your favorite cartoon character? 
Old school - Tom & Jerry. Today - Roger the alien from American Dad.

Who are your five favorite movie characters? 
William Wallace, Han Solo, Darth Vader, Neo, Jason Bourne We've had so many fights over me yelling NO MATRIX! NO MATRIX! And he downloaded The Imperial March (Darth Vader's march) to be my personalized ring tone on his phone. Ha ha ha fitting.

What’s your favorite song to play with stringband? And with Hank? 
Stingband, I would say Over the Waves or Swanee, with Hank, Cherry, Cherry by Neil Diamond.

Do you believe in vampires? 
Not any more... Stupid chick flicks ruined the mystique

If you could have dinner with any five people alive or dead, who would they be? 
Clinton, George Clooney, Sinatra, JFK and Uncle Si

What are some songs that make you think of me? 
Glassblowers Daughter, (duh), Just the Way You Are, anything Counting Crows or Bruce!!!

We won the lottery! What are your first five purchases? 
1. House down the shore yes
2. A new car 
3. House in Florida (or on an island in USVI) USVI please
4. A large large vacant lot in Point Breeze What is Point Breeze? Lower Graduate Hospital For those not from Philly, it's an area in Philly. 
5. A multi-unit building in CC (Center City, Philadelphia)

That's all he wrote.

Have a great Tuesday! Even though Tuesdays always suck.

Linking up with Helene, Emily, and Sarah for TMAIT.

Helene in Between

the voluntary house arrest weekend that was

I went into this weekend intending to be entirely housebound. I'm happy to report that was a resounding success. I envisioned relaxing in a clean house, candles lit, nowhere to be and nothing to do. My vision became a reality.

Since Friday night's weather was treacherous, I thought my plan was even more fitting.

Here's what I did.


I cleaned the top two floors Friday night like a robotic hausfrau so I'd have the rest of the weekend free to lounge. I also conquered Mount Laundry. Eight loads of just my stuff and household stuff, and it wasn't like I was behind. What the hell, laundry.


Coffee, eggs, and leisure on Saturday AND Sunday mornings. The eggs were fried on Saturday and scrambled with green onions on Sunday. I love a leisurely breakfast. MFD dabbled in breakfast at night - he made french toast at 10 p.m. on Friday.

Meatballs and sauce from scratch. I like to saute my onions and garlic in butter and then hit them with some red, red wine before adding my peeled plum tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, and basil. I was OUT of tomato paste. Thank God I had some in the freezer or my House Arrest Weekend would've been in jeopardy. For my meatballs: 1.5 lb meatball mix, 2 eggs beaten, milk, salt, pepper, parsley, grated onion, parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs. I baked them for a half hour at 350 and then plopped them in the sauce. Healthier and less mess than pan frying. finally happened. After seven years of owning a pasta maker, WE MADE OUR OWN PASTA.  It was easy and delicious and left us asking ourselves why we bought pasta, ever, and why it took us so long to do this. After we spent 10 minutes battling over the (very simple) recipe. We went with 2 cups of flower, 3 eggs beaten, and a teaspoon of salt.

We mixed the dough on the counter top, then ran it through the machine, adding flour when it stuck. It was really pretty cool. It went into a pot of boiling water for about four minutes, and it was ready. Simple pleasures, y'all. Please don't be jealous of my fabulous outfit and beauty queen appearance in this photo. I know it'll be hard.

Saturday Dessert: Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bars. Come to mama.

Sunday soup: Tuscan soup. This made a shitload of soup. It's very good and healthy, but if I wasn't feeding a crowd, I'd definitely halve this next time. Here's your kitchen tip of the week - when you're making soup and have meat that comes in one of those styrofoam things, use it to hold the veggies you've chopped. Then you don't have to dirty another plate.

Blue cheese biscuits. The worst part of these was cleaning up the counter. They were pretty good, even though I burnt the ones on the bottom rack. You're supposed to eat these with honey, and I wasn't aware we were out. Balls.

Baked chicken. I tried a new marinade: 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons mayo, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of thyme, and some salt and pepper. I dashed the tops with paprika before baking. It was quite flavorful. A little bit dry, but that was operator error and nothing to do with the marinade.

Skinny potato casserole. I added two cups of cheese instead of one, and some ground mustard.

As you can imagine, I ran my dishwasher 472 times.


I exercised on Saturday and Sunday. This is not the norm. Disregard the hole in the toe of my sneakers...while I did walk a few miles with ol' Leslie Sansone, I was too lazy to walk the two flights up to get my sneakers. I used my gardening sneakers instead because they live in the basement. They still work. I consider this a successful week: I went to the gym three times for three ass kicking 45 minute classes, and I worked out at home Monday, Saturday and Sunday.


I finished Teaching in the Terrordome and spent the rest of the weekend thinking about the inequality of education in this country. I also spent the rest of the weekend catching up on my magazines instead of starting on my next book to read, Defending Jacob.

On the screen:
  • Shahs of Sunset - Why haven't I been watching this all along? 
  • Vanderpump Rules - insane drama. 
  • The Following premiere - I love you, Kevin Bacon. Even though your new show almost made me shit my pants. 
  • The Bourne Legacy - We are huge fans of the Bourne movies. I missed Matt Damon, of course, but I thought Jeremy Renner picked it up nicely. MFD kept saying Rennercat Rennercat RENNERCAT. I had no idea what the hell he was on about. After consulting google, I was pleased to see Jeremy Renner and Grumpy Cat side by side. 
  • Hart of Dixie - I wish I lived in Bluebell, Alabama. Except I hate excessive humidity.
  • Criminal Minds - This may be jumping the shark. Someone is constantly dying, no UNSUB is taken alive, and nothing sustainably good ever happens to the team. Yawn. I wish the Doyle storyline was still going on. That was some good shit.


I spent a lot of quality times with my dogs and MFD. See below for how MFD wears his pants to clean up snow - jacked up to his armpits. Hilarious.

My inlaws came over for dinner on Sunday, and I spent a lot of time texting with my people. So while I was housebound, I was not totally off the radar.

MFD got an iPhone around 5 p.m. I think I've lost him for the next 24-48 hours.

Now, another week. A warmer week, praise the universe. I'm sick of this cold. Wah wah wah, call the wahmbulance, right?

Word to your mother.

Linking up with Sami and Leeann for Weekend Update

Friday, January 25, 2013

The one where I attempt to do math

First thing's first...TGIF mofos! Five photos from this week. I cheated because three of these have already appeared on Instagramnation. Too bad, so sad. Enjoy:

1. Commuted in boots all week not because of precipitation, but because of cold feet.
2. My happy place: the library.
3. Leaving work on Monday - sky over City Hall.
4. View from the 17th floor.
5. Editing means feet up on the desk, lounging.

A counting game. A MATH GAME. Listen, math makes me crazy. I have a degree in english lit - Sweet Brown ain't got no time for math. Those of you who know me are probably thinking how is THIS math deficient person going to play a MATH game? By using a calculator, DUH. Haters. Step two of my plan was to have my BFF Laura the former mathlete check my work, but she has the flu. I thought it would be wrong to rouse her at this early hour.

Every time something good happened this week, I wrote it down with a +1. When something annoying or assy happened, I subtracted 1. It was a good way to accentuate the positive, big or small, and move on quickly from the negative. I began on Sunday.

Inspired by this post.

-1: Heartburn all day (Sunday)
+1: nothing to do on Sunday (Sunday)
-1: Had to work on MLK Day (Monday)
+1: No one on the train (Monday)
-1: Only had one cup of coffee before kitchen was lost to renovations at work. (Monday)
-1: Had to buy lunch due to renovations, in direct violation of my Spending Freeze (Monday)
+1: Walked two miles - exercise does not come easy to me on a (Monday)
+1: Finished a good book (Monday)
-1: Purchased coffee, in violation of spending freeze (Tuesday)
+1: Rocked a sweater I don't normally wear (Tuesday)
+1: Resisted the urge to get under covers after work. I changed and went back out to the gym and library instead (Tuesday)
-1: Got up later than I wanted to (Wednesday)
+1: Did some straightening up before work (Wednesday)
+1: Zumba (Wednesday)
+1: Didn't turn the TV on all night (Wednesday)
+1: Good solid sleep (Wednesday)
+1: Did not eat cookies that were on the counter at work (Thursday)
-1: Distracted by chipped nails (Thursday)
+1: Survived intense zumba class without hyperventilation or laying on the floor whining (Thursday)
+1: Only $7 over the set budget for food shopping this week (Thursday)
+1: Painted nails (Thursday)
-1: Hit snooze eleventy billion times (Friday)

That comes out to 6. I think. Someone check my math. ANYWAY, +6, not bad. I hope you had more plus than minus things this week.

One more thing: I'm participating in a group giveaway over at Raising Steppe Sisters, I'm ponying up a $10 Target gift card to add to the pile of prizes because hello who doesn't like Target? Go check it out and enter to win a lot of stuff!

That's it. I'm looking forward to not leaving my house this weekend. Hibernation in full effect.

Peace in the east -

Linking up with The Sowell Life for The Friday Five and From My Grey Desk Blog for High Five for Friday.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Honey Bunnies vs the reality of relationships

Everyone knows them - the flawless relationship people. They walk through life publicly declaring their love and happiness, as if shouting it out will make it true every day. He's so great! We're best friends! Love of my life, every minute of every day! I believe he is great and that you love your life. But I don't think you're riding the bliss train 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So I call bullshit. There's no relationship that's aces 100% of the time. And here's a secret: there's no need for you to pretend yours is. Your relationship is probably everything you want, need, and could dream of 90 percent of the time. The other 10 percent can be ugly, but you're not alone and you don't have to hide it. You're not perfect, and neither is your partner. Sometimes you do things to hurt each other. That's certainly nothing to be proud of, but it's not a shameful secret either: we all screw up.

I'm not encouraging people to air their dirty laundry for all the world to see, and for crap's sake, keep it off social media. I'm saying it's okay to go a day without declaring you're the happiest in all the land. I'm saying it's okay to acknowledge that you're pissed off at your partner, or that you're disappointed.  It's okay to be real about the reality of relationships. When we stop pretending things are great all the time, we become more approachable. We understand each other better. We're able to help each other more. We're less inclined to judge others while trying to sweep our own pile of crap under the rug.

It's mostly women out there fronting for the benefit of other women. I think a lot of people are afraid to be real even with their friends because while they crave validation, they also cringe thinking of hearing how horrible whatever their partner did is, how their friend wouldn't put up with that, etc. They don't want their friends disliking their spouse over something they themselves are going to move on from pretty quickly.

The truth is that while we're comfortable spouting off about how we wouldn't put up with what our friend is dealing with, we do put up with other things that our friends wouldn't. While we all love to tell our friends what we would and wouldn't take, please proceed with caution. What your best friend and her husband fight about might be different than what you and your husband fight about, but the fact is this - everyone fights over something. Just make sure you fight clean and you'll get through it.We all eat a little shit. And we should remember that when we're being there for our friends. We're sometimes too earnest in rallying around a wounded bird. We cross the line and morph from a supportive sounding board to a harsh and unyielding judge.

I really try not to do that, but it is a fine line. I'm the friend people talk to when they want honesty. I'm the friend who will tell you that yes, your spouse screwed up, but we all screw up. I'm not going to hate on your spouse later for a mistake, because it's not my marriage, and because you don't want me to. Unless you get the big D, then I will hate all you want. And I am so so glad I have a few friends like that around me. If you don't have one, find one. Everyone needs one.

Because amid the fluffy clouds and happy butterflies that dot the landscape of our long-term relationships, there are bumps in the road. There are times you're not on the same page. When you're in it for the long haul, these things are not the end of the world. The every day bullshit you have to learn to navigate together can cause friction: housework, bills, who does what when, staying in versus going out, where you'll spend the holidays, if you'll have kids, how you'll raise your kids, and a million other things. Communicate, always, and you'll get by all of it.

Don't compare. Who cares what someone else has? Concentrate on what you have. Be cognizant of what powers your love machine and what you need to bring to the table to make it work. Because it is work, and it takes work to maintain a good relationship. If you've truly given it your all and it's not working, walk away. Everyone deserves happiness. But make sure you really have given it your all and you're not just being lazy about putting in the effort.

It's safe to say that you'll love each other every day, but in the middle of a battle of wills, you might not like each other every day. That's okay. It's not a comfortable or nice place to be, but nevertheless it's where we sometimes find ourselves. No relationship is perfect, just like no person is perfect. I think fitting perfectly together is what's important. In a relationship, you are a unit. But there's also two individuals who are constantly growing and changing, and sometimes you need a period of adjustment to each other's changes. Life is long, give yourself and your partner some time to adapt.

Since Dear Abby is dead, I thought I'd step in and give you all an unsolicited pep talk on relationships, friendship, reality, and how the illusion of perfection goes over like a shit balloon. You're welcome.

Speaking of relationships, make sure to catch my interview with MFD, my other half, here on Tuesday. He's quite a card so I'm sure it will be a worthy read.

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