Monday, March 25, 2013

Still Alive

It seems I have accidentally disappeared from blogging for the last six months or so.  Oops.  

In my defense things have been busy.  In a good way... I think.  Lots of changes happening, and lots more changes in store for the next few months.  In a good way... I think.  

Though nothing in my busy schedule has changed, but I feel like I'm in a little groove with juggling everything at the moment.  I am not counting on this lull lasting for very long, so I'm hoping to make the most of it while it is here.  Tending to my much neglected friends and family, and getting a little more sleep.

~Claire Out

Friday, October 5, 2012

More Work?

Yes, that is a Warcraft reference.

I've found myself reading a few different articles lately about how people work.  Young House Love, a blog I follow rather obsessively (and write about here) recently reported their day-in-the-life post.  Then I happened across this short article about new media queen, Felicia Day.

Neither of them have the 'traditional' 9am-5pm job.  Their work is intermingled with their personal time, never really clocking in or out.  Each individual day of their work could require them to do something completely different from the day before.  And each of them are deeply integrated in "new" technology.

I think it has become sort of a hallmark of technology-related jobs that there are fewer rules (or at least less traditional rules).  Rumors of what the work environment is like at Google spread around like wildfire.  (Flexible hours, chef prepared lunches and free kittens from what I hear).  But as technology becomes more common place, even technology-free industries seem to be adopting a more flexible work day.  I don't really know a single person in the work force who has a job where they show up in the same place at the same time each morning and leave at the same time each evening.

It has gotten me thinking a lot about what my ideal work schedule would be.  I sort of suspect it would have a built in nap time.  I would have time to go for a walk in the afternoon.  I would be able to take a break and cook myself some dinner.  I would pretty happily work a few more hours into the night to be able to have my lunch/walk/dinner breaks every day.

What would you go for if you where in charge of your own schedule?

~Claire Out.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Back Again

Holy MOLY it has been a long time since I wrote here.  I have been swamped with all sorts of things lately, it is a little overwhelming to have to talk about it all in a single post.

The major highlights are (in no particular order)

1.) I moved to a new apartment with Mike.
2.) I went to Hawaii with my family to celebrate my Mom's birthday.
3.) I started taking a teacher training course on the weekends.

All of these things are thrilling and exciting and new, but they are also have made me wildly busy.  Since things could easily get a little out of control talking about all of these topics, I've decided to describe a few moments about each of these events.

The Move

The Good:
The first moment I got to see the apartment was actually after I had already signed the lease.  I was so relieved.  I had seen the craigslist add, and a detailed video that Mike filmed, but with my full time job/ impending trip to Hawaii/saturday classes there was absolutely no way that I could be there myself before then.  It took so much trust to sign up to live in a place for a YEAR site unseen.  But if you can't trust your fiancee who can you trust?  He earned huge brownie points for taking the lead on finding us such an amazing apartment.

Just as I began to stress out about where I would find a washer/dryer at an affordable price a great offer dropped into our lap.  (Washer/dryer hookups!  I told you Mike chose well.)  Our neighbor happened to be moving out of the apartment next door the same weekend we were moving in and offered to sell us his at a good price.  We didn't even have to move them over ourselves since he already had movers hired for the day.  Sometimes things just work out.

The Bad:
The busy schedule that kept me from seeing the apartment until after I signed the lease also prevented me from packing and organizing for the move.  I found myself two weekends in a row drenched in sweat (obnoxiously it was 100+ degrees each moving day) moving heavy furniture until my arms and legs literally stopped working.  I remember being stuck holding up my end of a couch halfway up an external staircase knowing for sure I would not be able to make it to the top, sweat running into my eyes and mixing with the tears welling up there.  (Don't worry the couch absolutely made it inside the apartment.  Though I am afraid to admit several swear words were probably uttered in the process.)

The Trip

The Good:
If you have ever been to Hawaii, or been on a vacation in a gap between two stressful weeks, or been reunited with your family after too much time apart, then you will understand how tricky it is to pick just a few good moments when I was lucky enough to have all three happen at the same time.  Here goes.

We went out to one of the biggest, most delicious, richest, dinners I have EVER had.  (And I am somewhat of a big delicious rich dinner enthusiast.)  The conversation was great.  We all reveled in what a treat it was to be all together and in Hawaii.  It is always special when you can take a moment to consider just how blessed you are in the moment.  We had far too much wonderful food and just enough wonderful wine and had an unforgettable dinner together.

To celebrate my Mom's birthday (I didn't say the number mom... you're welcome) we had another very special dinner.  A chef came to cook at the house we were staying at, something new for all of us.  I tried Ahi Tuna for the first time as part of a yummy tuna tar tar dish.   I had the most rich & creamy / bright & citrus-y Avocado soup.  Yummy mushroom ravioli.  (mushroom ANYTHING is always a huge hit with me).  A main course of fish and salad that was some of the best I had ever tasted.  And for desert a super chocolate-y chocolate cake with PORT FLAVORED ICE CREAM.  I'm realizing that this good thing has just turned into a list of things I ate, but each one was delicious and just far enough outside of my comfort zone to be exciting without being scary.  It was a dinner to remember.  And my Mom managed to weasel the ice cream recipe out of our chef.  :D

On my final night in Hawaii I went swimming in the resort pool with my parents and brother.  The four of us had the whole pool to ourselves.  We could hear the sound of waves from the ocean and swam around in the warm water talking about nothing too important.  It was a surreal moment reminding me of all the wonderful times I've spent with my family in all sorts of wonderful places over the years, and how much has changed between all of us and how much has stayed the same.

The Bad:
After an hour and a half on my plane ride home the captain announces that one of the external windows broke, and we would have to turn around and land in Honolulu.  I then worried about our safety while listening to the elderly woman sitting next to me complain loudly about her lot in life.  The movie was "The Three Stooges".

The Class

The Good:
Learning about a conflict resolution technique called "Council", we went around in a circle one morning and checked in with each person.  I gained so much from listening to every other person in the room being so open and so generous with sharing their emotions.  I really felt like I was among 'my' people.  People who were willing to sound a little silly in a group, perhaps behave a little 'childishly' and to be completely honest and open.  It was as nice for me to listen as to be heard, which was a bit of a surprising realization, but probably good for my personal growth.

I am getting to dive back into childhood arts and crafts as I am learning about different projects to teach in my future classroom.  As I am picking up crayons again and a recorder for the very first time I am thrilled to have an excused to learn and create every weekend.  I am particularly proud of my drawing of a mouse ... Mike will tell you.  It's awesome.

The Bad:
They make me dance.  Thankfully it isn't the hip-hop or musical numbers of my painful-to-recall high school dance career.  Eurythmy is much more movement (less "steps"), less memorization, and actually much much more intellectual then my experience of dance before.  I still find my blood pressure going up before that class each Saturday knowing I'll soon be singled out for being SO very terrible.

Since this post is the length of a short novel I hope this makes up for the fact that I have been away for a while.  I will try to get back to writing regularly soon.  What have you been up to the past few weeks?  Any big changes in the works?

~Claire Out.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Run Claire, Run!

Several weeks ago Mike had suggested that we add running to our new healthy routine when we were ready to jump up to Phase Two.  I scoffed a little, since I notoriously hate running, but said I would be willing to give it a try if he would run with me.

I looked up a running plan that I know several friends have had success with, the couch to 5K plan.  It is a training program that works you up from not running at all, to being able to run for 30 minutes without a break.  You go running three times a week, and it starts with intervals of running and walking, and builds up your endurance over nine weeks.  I felt like this seemed like a good place for me to start since I can't remember the last time I ran for more than 10 seconds.

Mike and I both committed to this plan by actually buying new running shoes.  This was a big deal because:
1. I don't spend money on clothes, like ever.  (Much to the chagrin of the people who have to look at me.)  I have a tendency to make due with hand me downs and birthday gifts.
2. I have weird feet, my left foot is a different size than my right and it is tricky to get any kind of shoes to fit right let alone shoes you have to be able to run in.
3. I was not entirely convinced that running was going to be a successful workout that I would be willing to stick with.

Hopped up on our successful shoe shopping trip, Mike and I set out for our first run on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend an entire week before we thought we would start and ... it was awful.  Really terrible.  I was hot, out of breath with my muscles screaming at me the entire twenty five minutes we were out there.  Since I have no background running I set out at what I thought to be a normal pace that was WAY beyond me and was never able to fully recover from that terrible error in judgement.  Also there were hecklers.  I kid you not.  Drunk neighborhood hooligans where shouting at us, asking us why we were running.  It was at that point that I started to cry.  Out of breath crying is not something I recommend.  And we still had one more set of running to go before we were done for the day.

Mike was a trooper.  Not only was he master of the stop watch, shouting out the countdown.  "Thirty more seconds of running... ten more seconds".  But he was amazingly encouraging during our walking breaks, and he didn't even get mad at me for openly weeping in the street.  I would like to publicly thank him for his seemingly unlimited patience.

I was overwhelmed with embarrassment during the run.  I had been in a certain amount of denial about how out of shape I was, and the run really forced me to confront where I am at right now.

Mike and I talked about the run after.  We decided that we would try a slower pace next time, and that we wouldn't rush the training program.  If we didn't feel ready to move onto the next week's training, we could absolutely repeat week 1.  With that in mind, we went out running again on Wednesday.  And things went MUCH better.  I could catch my breath as we were walking, I was able to look around me as I ran (instead of chugging along looking at the cement) and I didn't cry once.

Our run on Friday was similarly a success.  I actually almost looked forward to the chance to get outside and run.  I'm very surprised but very proud that I've been able to stick with the training program so far, despite how out of shape I am and my terrible first time out.  In fact, this past weekend Mike and I ran the first day of week two, because we felt we were ready for the challenge.  The new challenge of this week is with Mike back at school, I'm going to have to run on my own for the first time.  Wish me luck!

~Claire Out

Friday, September 7, 2012

Phase One Update

As I talked about in my post a few weeks ago (here), I turned over a new leaf in terms of eating healthfully.  I started following the diet recommended by Bob Green in his book "The Best Life Diet".  

The first phase of this diet cuts out a few bad foods and establishes some healthy eating habits.  It is supposed to last four weeks, and here I am four weeks later to report back.

Overall, a success!  Before I started my diet, my blood sugar would often drop down low enough to make me light headed (or at least cranky) at least once a week.  Since I've been eating better foods at more regular times I've found I'm less hungry than I used to be.  I've managed to lose some weight these past weeks, which is very encouraging.  And I've been sleeping better (due in some part I'm sure to cutting out soda).

However, I did cheat a little bit.  This is absolutely my biggest weakness when it comes to staying on a healthy eating plan.  I am a tad too lenient on myself when it comes to eating rules and I sometimes liberally interpret "none" as "just a little bit".  Unlike in the past, I managed to get back on the wagon immediately.  I didn't let it ruin my whole day, or week, or whatever I used to tell myself to excuse bad eating.  As silly as it sounds, I consider this personal growth.  It is absolutely going to be my focus in the weeks ahead to cut out my rebellious cheating completely.  (Not in a self denial, drill-sergeant-kind-of-way, but in a firm-but-loving-parent kind of way.)

This diet has been such a success that I am actually going to remain in Phase One until I stop losing weight consistently.  I'm going to ride out how much weight I can lose doing these small changes before I bump it up to the next level of healthy eating.  I'll keep you updated when I move onto Phase Two.

What is your biggest weakness when it comes to eating healthfully?

~Claire Out.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Tiny House

I have many strange qualities, and I am constantly surprised and grateful that you all (normally) find my strangeness charming instead of repellent.

One of my more peculiar traits is my love of teeny-tiny, well organized spaces.  I think it feeds the repressed engineer part of my soul so see something well considered and efficient and it feeds the artistic part of my soul to see something to cosy and beautiful.

This obsession is deeply rooted in my personality.  To lay the groundwork for you, as a child:

-I had an unhealthy interest in airplane bathrooms.  (I had to visit this wonderland at least twice a flight.)
-I went on trips with my grandparents in their motorhome and I was in awe of how they were able to make all the comforts of home fit into a car.
-I would play house in the space between my bed and my bedroom wall, and wonder why anyone on earth would need any more space than that 2' x 6' to live in.

So now that I've shown how deep this love affair with the teeny tiny goes, I'll share with you my latest obsession: the tiny home.

Weebee from Tumbleweed

Gifford from Tumbleweed

Just look at how cute these little guys are!  I first became aware of the concept of "Tiny Houses" while browsing around Pinterest, and have spent the last several months casually browsing through floor plans and watching web videos on tiny living.  (There is also an awesome episode of HGTV Design star where they design Tiny Homes, season 6 which is weirdly not online right now...)

One of the leaders of the "Tiny Home Revolution" is Jay Shafer, and his website is where I find myself many an day dreamy saturday afternoon.  His company sells plans, kits and pre-made tiny homes.  The one I have picked out in my dreams is actually one of his biggest: The Loring.

I love the idea of living super simply and uncluttered.  My current cleaning pattern is letting my living spaces get dirtier and dirtier until I snap and clean everything from top to bottom.  This can take anywhere from one week to two, but with this small of a space it would increase my cleaning cycle to daily.  (Bonus)

My palms get sweaty when I think about how challenging and rewarding it would be to build something like this on my own.  It is something that in one way or another I would love to attempt someday.

I just wanted to share my daydream about building my own little mini house.  Have any of you felt the call to downsize?  Do you swoon at the sight of precie space management?  Ever attempted to build something completely beyond your skill set?

~Claire Out

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What I'm Reading Wednesday: Abhorsen Trilogy

I finally finished the Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix earlier this week.  As I mentioned in this post I accidentally started with the second book first.  I took a quick detour over to read the first and just finished the third.  While I don't recommend this wacko reading order, I have to say that this is one of my favorite series I've read in a while.

I completely recommend them to fans of the fantasy genre or people perhaps looking to dip a toe into the fantasy genre after time away.  I feel I need to confess I am not the biggest fan of the fantasy genere.  Sci-fi yes.  Fantasy no.  However, I think this series avoids all of the pitfalls of fantasy (like an over-obvious quest, stupid but battle ready characters and cliché stock world).  It actually gives me hope that there is other equally good fantasy series out there in the world that remains to be discovered.  I mean I had never even heard of this author or series and the first book was written in 1995!

Have any of you lately tested the waters of a genre you thought wasn't your cup of tea to find you were dead wrong?  It wasn't even a recommendation that drove me to this wonderful discovery, it was a random pick off the library shelf.  I completely recommend this method for finding something new, but I would warn you to be on the lookout for jumping into the middle of a series.

~Claire Out.