Tidyness + Kindle credit + a British bear

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up came in for me at the library (highly recommended by both El and Stacy). While talking about our tidying challenges, Tricia and I discovered that we’re both melancholy/sanguine, “a combination that doesn’t exist in nature.” I am tasked with reading the book and assessing whether it will be useful (and worth money) for Tricia, since her library doesn’t have it.
  • I ranted about the fact that even though Amazon’s No-Rush Shipping ebook credit is awesome, it’s exceptionally difficult to find out how much credit you’ve accumulated. After tormenting Amazon customer service rep “Milton” on live chat for ages this morning, I believe the balance can be found by clicking here, then on the “Check Your Balance” button, and then pretending “Amazon Instant Video” somehow reads “No-Rush Shipping Credit” or “Digital Products” or “Kindle Mad-Money!!!”.
  • Benjamin and I saw Paddington yesterday, and despite a long back-story which I won’t bore you with (even though I made Tricia suffer through it!), it was very cute and generally well done.

Cute animal videos + book/movie comparisons

Very cute animal videos

Movies that may or may not differ wildly from their book sources

  • How to Train Your Dragon: the movie is excellent and much-beloved; the books are also excellent (and the audiobooks marvelously narrated by David Tennant) but Toothless in particular is very different (in the movie: powerful and sweet; in the books, tiny and whiny but still endearing); both are a rolicking good time.
  • When Calls the Heart: Tricia loved the book, and hopes (reasonably, based on the high reviews) that the videos will be as good.

Other food

  • Four-plus layer cakes make for beautiful presentation without a lot of work. I like this pumpkin version but I’m convinced the technique can be applied to any flavor combination.
  • Everything in a waffle maker: this book is arriving today!

Everything else

Brené Brown + Ira Glass + Morrison’s Sound-It-Out Speller

  • Tricia is reading Dr. Brené Brown‘s I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) so I reflexively recommended her TED Talks. The book and the first TED Talk focus on shame and empathy, and came highly recommended to me by every WDS attendee ev-ar.
  • We want our kids to be able to look up words to learn to spell them, but frankly, English is insane. (I recently read there are between 20 and 40 sounds represented by our five(ish) vowels, depending on whom you ask!) Looking up words you don’t already know how to spell is a frustrating exercise in trial-and-error.

    My favorite solution: Morrison’s Sound-It-Out Speller (SPLR). Using it is easy, even for kids (once they understand alphabetical order): write down a word based only on how it sounds, cross out the vowels (“Elephant”/”elufint” becomes “LFNT”; “pterodactyl”/”taradaktle” becomes “TRDKTL”; “psychology”/”sikolujy” becomes “SKLJ”), and look it up in the Speller, which then tells you the true spelling of words that match the pattern.

    (Incidentally, I originally bought the book to help in brainstorming similar-sound words for domain names!)

  • Something Tricia said about the process of getting good at things reminded me of this excellent excerpt of an interview with Ira Glass where he talks about the gap between our taste and our skill when we start doing something we care about.

Two-bite pumpkin pies in snickerdoodle crusts

Yesterday on the way home from school I asked Benjamin, “If you could do anything this weekend, what would you do?” He thought for a second and then lit up. “Make pumpkin pie!”

Further discussion revealed that the actual desire of his heart was to eat pumpkin pie, but let’s not quibble.

I didn’t necessarily want a whole pie sitting around tempting me, especially not when I already have plans to make apple pies on Tuesday. I also am always on the lookout for fun lunch items, so I thought tiny pies might be a win on both fronts.

The only thing is, I have an irrational aversion to making (and in particular, rolling) pie crusts. The idea of doing a ton of little tiny ones? Shoot me now.

Then serendipity kicked in and I stumbled across Shelly’s Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles this morning. I’d never made pie with a cookie crust (not the same as a cookie-crumb crust!) before, but as usual, I thought, “How hard can it be?”

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Sweet Potato and Garlic Soup (a.k.a. Orange Soup)

I’ll admit when I first saw this recipe in Chris Carmichael’s Fitness Cookbook, I wondered if it was some kind of a prank. “Garlic… carrot… sweet potato… chicken broth… orange juice?!… honey?! They’re just throwing that in there because it’s orange!!!

But at Daniel’s request, I made it anyway, and despite the fact that it’s healthful, and despite the fact that I’m on the fence about sweet potatoes… we both liked it. A lot. Enough that it was Daniel’s pick for his birthday dinner this year.

(Apologies for the awful picture. I’ll try to remember to take a better one the next time I make this!)

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Easy Steel-Cut Oatmeal in Jars

I decided to try making steel-cut oatmeal because it’s both gluten-free (I have a mild sensitivity) and vegan (I’m moderately sensitive to cows’ milk). Plus it just sounds all healthy and fancy-pants. 😉

But seriously, who has time to cook it up in the morning?! There are crockpot recipes, but I was looking for something even lazier. Behold, the overnight-in-a-jar method!

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Remember the Milk

How to link to a specific list in Remember the Milk

I love Remember the Milk. I’ve set up all kinds of lists and “smart lists” to keep me on top of the things I need to remember.

In the larger realm of my business, I’m always looking for ways to “shape the path” and make it easier to do the best thing. One area that I’m working on is communicating with my clients. I’m good about initial communication, and I’m good at explaining everything when it’s done, but I’ve struggled to keep them posted while I’m doing the work.

This morning I came up with a good idea: add a smart list to RTM that just shows what I’ve completed that day (I called it “Updates”), and then add a recurring task for each workday afternoon that links me to the Updates list and reminds me to shoot off emails to the relevant stakeholders.

All fine and good, but it turns out there’s no obvious way to get a URL for the Update list (or any particular list).

Fortunately, there’s a not-so-obvious way:

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Six months from today…

…I’ll have crossed the finish line for the 100-mile “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride” (rather cocky, aren’t they?!) and earned my Team in Training Triple Crown (for completing a marathon, a triathlon, and a bicycle century ride).

Best of all, my sister Nadine will be with me, earning her own Triple Crown (Nadine and I coincidentally completed our Team in Training triathlons the same day, June 24, 2012, in different states).

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