food blogging & making things so labor intensive I don’t do them

derby pie
derby pie

I started a food blog on Tumblr last January. Here’s the about statement:

I started this project because after a year of taking photos of myself every day, I wanted to document something else. Over the summer and fall, I had developed a routine of trying new recipes on the weekends and some weeknights. This blog is where I share photos of the results, talk about what went right or wrong, and link to the recipes.

And sometime in May/June, I stopped. I got busy. I remembered to take some pictures, but they sat on my desktop waiting to be blogged for so long that I felt guilty and overwhelmed, so I eventually deleted them.

It wasn’t like it would take all that much time to write up something. And add a link. And format it the same as the previous posts. But it seemed like a big deal at the time.

Also, I stopped cooking/baking as much in the summer.

I have this tendency to make things that should be simple and routine into complex, detailed processes that become burdensome. Is this just some freak aspect of my desire for control and order, or is it simply human nature?

dark chocolate

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’ve never cared for dark chocolate. I know it’s supposed to be better quality than the milk chocolate, and certainly better quality than most American candy bar chocolate. But, it just never tasted right, and if eaten in the same quantities as milk chocolate, would make me sick to my stomach.

Despite that, I decided last week that I should avail myself of the imported fine chocolates available at a local shop and see if I can find a dark chocolate I enjoy. I aimed for Belgian chocolates sold in small sizes (5-10 grams) for a wide sampling of pure and flavored (i.e. orange). This limited me to two sources: Dolfin and Cafe Tasse.Cafe Tasse Chocolate Noir

Dolfin Chocolate NoirAfter doling them out one day at a time, I’ve finally finished sampling all of them, and it’s pretty much a tie between Dolfin‘s 70% dark chocolate and Cafe Tasse‘s 60% dark chocolate, with Cafe Tasse slightly edging out Dolfin only because it tastes more like a delicious hot chocolate as it melts on the tongue.

That’s the other thing that I learned in this process: I can’t eat dark chocolate like I can milk chocolate. I broke the little bars into approximately 1cm squares, and let each square slowly melt in my mouth (no chewing). This made the small quantity last longer, and I found that even that little amount satisfied my cravings.

I thought that perhaps the flavored chocolates would be more palatable, but after trying about six or seven, I realized that I didn’t like the distraction from the chocolate itself. This amuses me because I usually like chocolates with lots of other stuff in them.

beers, a love story

"11 - beer festival" by Dave Morris
“11 – beer festival” by Dave Morris

I drink beer because I’m a librarian. Or, more accurately, I started drinking beers with my library school classmates in grad school. Mainly because bars in Lexington (Kentucky) didn’t carry wine coolers or Zima. Yeah. It was that bad.

I remember my first NASIG conference in 2002. We were staying in dorm rooms and meeting in classrooms at the College of William & Mary. Back then, NASIG had a tradition of having an evening social with snack food and buckets of iced beer (and probably wine, too, but I definitely wasn’t drinking that then). One of my sharpest memories from the conference is of fishing out a Corona Light because it was all that was left by the last night of the conference. And discovering Purple Haze with Bonnie at the Green Leafe Cafe.

The next year we were in Portland, Oregon. I was introduced to many craft beers, and my journey towards becoming a beer snob was set.

Three years in Washington state taught me to appreciate well-balanced hoppy beer, which was hard to find my first year back on the East Coast. But I soon discovered Mekong, and began my now four-year romance with Belgian beers.

Most recently, I’ve discovered that I do like sour beers, and I suspect that is part of the reason why I’m incorporating more wine into my beverage consumption. That, and maybe the semi-regular meetups with a friend (also a librarian) at Virginia wineries.

Librarians. Who knew they were such lushes?

my twitter infographic

my twitter infographicIt’s a mashup of two of my favorite things — data visualization and social media. Of course I’m going to make one.

The interesting thing is that for some reason I come across as a gamer according to the algorithms. Unless you count solitaire, sudoku, and Words with Friends, I’m not really a gamer at all. The PS2, games, and accessories I bought from my sister last November that is are sitting in a corner unassembled are also a testament to how little I game.

Anyway, click on the image to get the full-sized view, and if you make your own, be sure to share the link in the comments.

becoming a better me

I have struggled with my weight for most of my life. As a kid, I was heavier than most of my peers, and gym class was my least favorite time of day. I played some softball in my early teens, but by the time I got to high school, I had dropped that and was headed into 10 years or so of sedentary behavior and avoidance of all things athletic.

Over that time period, I allowed myself to gain 100 pounds, mostly through a love of carbs, fats, and sugars. I wasn’t actively choosing to be fat so much as I was actively choosing to indulge myself with food and my inherent laziness.

A few years ago, I decided that enough was enough. I joined a recreational softball team and started going to the gym more regularly. However, I was never able to stick with a strict diet, so all I’ve been able to do is maintain my weight. It wasn’t going up anymore, but it also wasn’t going down.

In December, a friend asked me to be her partner in a Biggest Loser-style competition at work. At first my inherent laziness and fear of the unknown made me hesitate, but I went to the information session anyway, and that sold me on it.

The participants (about 20 of us) are working with two trainers who run at least one group workout session five days a week. The sessions are a mix of strength training and cardio, and they vary the activities with every session. In addition, I’m taking a cycle (spinning) and tone (weights and crunches) class two days a week and walking several miles on the weekend.

I’m also meeting with a dietitian as a part of the program, and she has made helpful suggestions based on the food diary I turn in every week. I have been making small changes to my diet over the past year, and I found that works best for me. I’m also learning to make conscious decisions about food. Sure, I could have that doughnut from the box in the staff lounge, but I’d rather spend those calories on a tasty Belgian quadruple beer later that evening.

Right now I’m six weeks into the program, and so far the scales haven’t moved much, but I am slowly shedding the pounds. Meanwhile, I’m seeing muscle definition that I haven’t seen in a long time, and my endurance is increasing. I don’t look forward to the hard work, but seeing how much I’ve gotten stronger in such a short period of time keeps me coming back.

Aside from having two enthusiastic trainers, the other thing that has kept me going is the team spirit that has settled on those of us who are regulars at the group workouts. Theoretically, we’re competing, but I mostly forget that it’s a competition, in part because everyone encourages each other to push beyond what we think we can do. I need to have some internal motivation to keep pressing on, but having an external accountability means I still show up, even on days when I would rather be anywhere else but the gym.

It’s never too late to change your life. Whether it’s something as simple as drinking a glass of water instead of soda or something more challenging like committing to an intensive workout routine. And there’s no better time to start than today, because I’m sure you can find an excuse to not start tomorrow, either.

Whatever you do, remember to be kind to yourself. Making one bad choice doesn’t mean you have failed or should quit. Just do your best to make the next choice a good one, and take it one moment at a time.

Article first published as Becoming a Better Me on Blogcritics.

library day in the life round 6

I plan on using Twitter and Flickr to capture my week this time. CoverItLive will show the tweets below, and you can follow my Flickr feed or check the widget under CiL to see what I’ve posted there.

www.flickr.com

eclecticlibrarian's items tagged with libday6 More of eclecticlibrarian’s stuff tagged with libday6

standing is hard!

I’m a faithful reader of Lifehacker, and a great deal of their content tends to come from the perspective of the home office of the freelance worker or telecommuter. Most of the workspace photos are of home offices, and I frequently find myself drooling over the elegant and clean custom setups. Meanwhile, I work in a cubicle that can be only slightly modified, and I simply don’t have the budget to really do up my home work space for the contractor work I do at Blogcritics/Technorati.

That being said, I’ve been thinking off and on about trying to do a standing desk setup at home, just for a change of pace and to off-set the sedentary aspect of my daily work. But again, I keep running into the issue of cost for anything fancy, so I’ve been putting it off. However, last night I was particularly frustrated with the prospect of spending a few more hours sitting at my desk at home after a full day of doing the same at work, so I decided to improvise.

I used a plastic drawer bin that I use to store random office supplies (pens, pencils, staples, batteries, etc.) to elevate my monitor high enough, so that was simple. And, since the monitor can be tilted down (and isn’t too high) it’s easy to switch it back to something comfortable enough for sitting at.

The keyboard and mouse solution was a bit more complicated. I didn’t want anything permanent, since I knew I’d want to be able to switch back and forth between sitting and standing until I built up my standing stamina. In the end, I borrowed a bookshelf from one of my IKEA bookcases (stacked the DVDs that were on it — will probably pick up another shelf for long-term use out of the as-is area the next time I’m up there) and elevated it by resting it on top of my comic book short box. The box is just long enough to stabilize the longer bookshelf, but light enough (and with handles) to move it around as needed.

Satisfied with my handiwork, I set to clearing out my task list. However, after only a few minutes of standing, I began to realize just how little I stand on a day-to-day basis. So far, I’ve only been able to stand for 20-30 minutes at a time, and am generally uncomfortable the whole time. But, hey, if this means I’m exercising those muscles while still working at a computer, I consider it a win-win.

swimming (or, trying not to drown myself)

This morning, I went lap swimming for the first time in six years. I tried to go on Tuesday, but the lifeguard was late, and I had to get to work. I was too tired/busy to go on Wednesday, and I knew that if I didn’t go today, it would be that much harder to get up and out of the apartment tomorrow morning.

When I arrived, lap swimming had been open for nearly 20 minutes already, and all but the one lane with the stairs were full. I knew I wasn’t going to be doing flip turns on my first day back, so I didn’t mind not having the wall on that end of the pool. I deposited my stuff on a bench near the stairs, and boldly stepped into the water, which was cool but not as frigid as I feared.

I dunked myself to wet down my hair, and then pulled on my goggles, making sure that I emptied as much water from them as I could. Then, I launched myself in to a freestyle stroke.

And floundered.

They say that you never forget how to ride a bike, but apparently, you can forget how to breathe when swimming. I could feel my lungs constricting as I panicked, and I quickly put my feet down and held my head above the water.

Thinking it was just a fluke, I tried again, with similar results. Resolved to do at least a lap before giving up entirely, I set off again with a modified breast stroke that left my mouth above the water so I could breathe normally.

It took me a lap and a half before I was willing to try freestyle again. Maybe it was because I’d gotten more comfortable with being in the water and my lizard brain calmed down, but I was much more successful after that point. I did a few more laps, pausing to catch my breath at the end of each length.

It’s a start. When I was at my peak swimming, I could freestyle a mile, pausing only infrequently. I know it will take me some time to get back to that condition, but I’m excited to do it. Swimming is by far my favorite athletic activity, but because I’ve been uncomfortable displaying my body in a swim suit, I’ve let myself make excuses.

No more excuses. I’m ready to get back in the pool.

librarian day in the life #5

Electronic Resources Librarian, Academic Library

iced teaArrived, turned on my computer, and while it booted up, I went and got an iced tea from the café.

Processed new email and scanned a document that I don’t need to retain in paper.

Attended weekly department meeting. We were extra chatty today and went 15-20 min longer than normal.

Worked my way through the action item email messages due today, including updating a resource description on the website and responding to a few inquiries.

Discussed with a co-worker ways we could use GoodReads for the library staff book discussion.

Discussed QR codes and their usefulness/popularity with a co-worker. Used the opportunity to yet again show off how my Android phone is as spiffy (if not spiffier) than his iPhone. I reserve this for Apple fanboys only.

Remembered again that this is DILO librarian day and began this entry.

calendarCaught up on journaling accomplishments from the past three weeks. I’ll thank myself next year when I have to write my annual review. I normally try to do this at the end of each day (I use Memiary), but I’ve been lazy about it, and then overwhelmed by the backlog.

Continued working through today’s action items while chatting with a colleague via IM about the online resource renewal decision workflow/tool that I stole from her. Well, stole the concept, anyway. Learned about something else I can steal, too.

Planned out my project schedule for the week. Then left for lunch with a friend in the dining hall..

view from the deskBack from lunch and on the Main Service Desk for two hours. Tried to track down a phone number of someone in rural Virginia. Answered an IM question from a law student about borrowing a netbook. Notified building manager that a copier is out of paper. Directed a software question to the Help Desk. Directed a product trainer to the conference room. Directed users to the bound journals. Referred a business student to the business librarian. Checked out a netbook to a user. Looked up a book for an IM user. Read some RSS feeds. Smiled at people passing by the desk.

Back to my cube and sorting through the email that has come in since before lunch. Only one new action item out of the pile. Whee!

Played around with some wiki software options for a departmental intranet. Still haven’t found the right combination of features and function.

Was about to start in on a project when I noticed that there wasn’t a Technorati tag description for librarydayinthelife, so I pulled something together and submitted it. Rewarded myself with peanut butter crackers and a Coke Zero.

Finally got into my current project, which involves pulling together information about our database subscriptions so that we can easily review upcoming renewals well in advance of the deadlines. Tweaked the Access tables, queries, and reports, and then set to adding more data. Worked on this until it was time to go home.