Category Archives: food

21 for 2021: week 1

Week 1/2021: week of 4 January 2021
My 21 for 2021 list

This was my first week back at work so I decided it was as good a time as any to get back into the pre-work planning routine from the LifeHack program (thing 20). The video suggests following the exact routine for 66 days to cement it as a habit loop in your brain. I am struggling with that, not least because I’m not in the same place every day. It also feels very weird to try and work through a structured checklist like this. However, I will persist. 

Coincidentally, there is a chapter in the Change Journal (thing 4) about forming new habits, which also suggests trying new habits for 66 days. It gives you space to track seven new habits, presumably staring a new one every day for a week consistent with the way the rest of the book is structured to allow you to follow a new idea each week. I didn’t think it would be a good idea to try and introduce a new habit every day for a week, so I’m going to use this section of the book to track seven new habits over the course of the year. Unsurprisingly, the first one I’m going to try and follow for 66 (work) days is the pre-work planning routine.

I worked through the first module of the Brainsparker gym* (thing 17) and learned something really interesting. Well, as a contact lens wearer, I found it interesting. I learned that the modern contact lens was invented by a Czech chemist called Dr Otto Wichterle and his colleague Drahoslav Lím. Dr Wichterle had to leave the Institute of Chemical Technology after a political purge by the institute’s Communist leadership in 1958. He was appointed as leader of a new institute but, as it didn’t have a building at the time, he continued his research at his house. In 1961, he succeeded in producing the first four hydrogel contact lenses on his kitchen table with a machine he had made himself from a children’s building set, a dynamo from his son’s bike and a bell transformer.

The lesson from this: Keep going, even if the circumstances aren’t perfect. Use what you have and keep going.

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from Alice Zaslavky’s book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. This week I chose radicchio, which is another vegetable I’ve never cooked with (and, like okra, wasn’t exactly sure what to do with). I picked the radicchio and sausage pasta recipe.

Radicchio & sausage pasta ingredients

It uses pork and fennel sausages that you take out of the casing and smash up. Alice says to use the “fancy” ones, not ones that are packed full of fillers. It seemed a little sacrilegious to me to destroy the butcher’s work in putting these things together, and I wondered if using pork mince and fennel seeds might work as well. Perhaps I’ll try it one day. The recipe includes fennel, which is another vegetable I’d also never cooked, so I got two for the price of one with this dish!

Smashed sausages. Sorry, Meatgrrl.
Radicchio. Right.
Raddichio chopped.

It worked out well and everyone had seconds. So maybe it was worth destroying the sausages for. And I learned a very cool tip for adding zucchini to pasta rather than cutting it up and adding it to the sauce: use a spiraliser (I have one of those. I think I’ve used it once. I never forgave it after I cut myself on it). You put the spiralised zucchini in the colander before you drain the pasta and then let the pasta water soften it a bit.

Spiralised zucchini, yeah!
The finished product.,

Regular projects

There are several things on my list that are going to work best if I make a regular commitment to doing them. Consistency is the key. Brainsparker gym* is one (an hour a week) and the pre-work routine is obviously another one. So are these ones.

  • Thing 3: Complete the 30-day voice training course. I haven’t allocated time for this yet.
  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. One hour on Saturday morning. I didn’t do it this week because we went out most of the day, but I did work on a couple of the things on the list another time.
  • Thing 6: Grow some vegetables in the garden bed. One hour on Sunday afternoon for garden projects. I pulled out all the weeds and cleared space around it. I’m a little concerned that the cover for this garden bed is plastic that is rapidly deteriorating and I’m not sure what to do about that. No matter what I do, the plastic is still going to be somewhere, whether I throw it out or leave it. 
  • Thing 7: Clear out the area at the side of the house and make a space to sit. One hour on Sunday afternoon for garden projects.
  • Thing 8: Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos. One hour on Sunday afternoon. I started the next video on my list. 
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. This week, I arranged with my mother to visit once a week to talk through this project and capture her memories.
  • Thing 10: Complete the ImageWork course. I haven’t allocated time for this yet.
  • Thing 11: Complete the Photoshop Classroom in a Book activities. I haven’t allocated time for this yet.

Yeah, I know I don‘t do well in sticking to a plan, but I have had some success in fixing regular times to do things in my week and making them habits so I’m hoping this will work for these things too.

Nice afternoon for a walk

What else did I achieve this week?

My regular check in: I finished the final collage for my 2020 photojournal and I now have all of them printed so I just need to stick them into the book to finish that off. It’s one of my annoying undone things.

I didn’t work on my Hobart Street Corners project on Thursday, which is the night I usually work on those photos, because my computer was playing up and it took two hours to even get any photos off my phone, much less edit anything. I finished off my backlog of 2020 photos on Sunday morning instead.

Last year I had some questions that I asked myself every week that would set me up for the new week, about what didn’t got so well that week and what I might do better next week. Most of the time my answer was that I was scrolling through my phone too much, and I never really kicked that habit, which I’m sure made for boring reading. It also made me realise that this approach wasn’t working so it was time to try something different. I have a bunch of questions for myself related to areas where I want to do better, not all of which I might be able to answer every week, so I thought I would answer just one or two of them on the blog each week rather than run through the entire list every week.

What did I do for the Earth this week?

There is so much going through my head. So many things I could do and so many things I should have been doing for years. Part of me wonders why bother? I can take all the small steps in the world to reduce my footprint but it won’t make a lick of difference if world leaders don’t make some hard decisions. We have to stop using fossil fuels and overfishing the seas and destroying rainforests and all the things we do that make our lives easier. We can’t sustain what we’re doing, we just can’t.

It all seems too overwhelming so, rather than give up because I don’t know what to do, I need to start somewhere and keep learning and making changes.

There are a couple of things that are extremely low-hanging fruit and I have no excuses not to do them.

The first one is the kettle. I had a habit of filling it up every time I use it, which is, I learned (and if I think about it, actually knew) a massive waste of energy I couldn’t find any exact numbers for Australia, but suffice to say boiling a kettle with 1.7 litres of water when I only need 500 ml is very inefficient and I don’t do it any more.

What was the best thing about this week?

Getting my new glasses so I can see again!

My blog also celebrated its tenth birthday, so I will be posting some more on that in the coming weeks.

Getting out for a lunchtime walk

Summary for the week

What I’m reading this week: A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough.

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 0
  • Things I progressed: 7 (2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 17, 20)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 0
  • Things not started: 14 (1, 3, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21)

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 3
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 2
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 6
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7

21 for 2021: a new list and an update

Week 53: week of 28 December 2020
I’m not sure if the last week of the year was week 53 of 2020 or week 1 of 2021. Or if was both. Or if it really matters. (My Travelers Notebook 2021 diary tells me it was week 53 of 2020 and that the next week was week 1 of 2021, so in the interests of keeping things consistent for my weekly photojournal, I’m going to stick with that. But it doesn’t matter. A week is a week. Or it isn’t.)

I spent the week trying to find my Word for 2021 and writing about that journey, which you can read about here (it’s long, so get yourself a cuppa). I was thinking about my 21 for 2021 list as well and working through my 2021 Unravel Your Year workbook so I could make sure the activities and projects I put on my list relate to the intentions I wrote in there.

Coffee shop planning

If you’re new to this (hi there!) here’s a reminder of what a 21 for 2021 list is, and why you might want to do one, from Gretchen Rubin. To my mind, the key to making it work is for the list to include concrete activities, rather than vague things that don’t have end points. “Learn to use Photoshop”, for example, is vague and there’s no defined end point you might reach and say you’ve done it. “Complete xyz Photoshop course” is specific and you will know for sure that you’ve done it and can cross it off the list.

Of course, that’s just my take on it and you (if you were to make such list for yourself) might have a completely different approach. There are no rules, except for the ones you set yourself, which you can break whenever you want because they’re your rules, and there’s no right and wrong way to go about it. Hell, you don’t even have to have 21 items on your list. I had 22 things on my 20 for 2020 list.

By Wednesday, I had 44 things (some of which were pretty vague so they weren’t going on the list), a bunch of sub-things falling off some of them (the vague ones, mainly, to make them more concrete), along with 33 nagging annoying jobs that I want to get to in 2021, for a grand total of 100 things. At least if I made that my list, I wouldn’t run out of things to write about. It has shades of the “100 things to do in 2013” list I made in, well, 2013.

There’s also my habits that I want to keep up from last year, which are:

  • Do the morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5 days)
  • Work on my art (Goal = 2 days)
  • Read a book (Goal = 7 days)
  • Do yoga stretches (Goal = 7 days)
  • Have a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days)
  • Go for a walk or do some form of physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7 days)
  • Shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7 days, with the aim to move this to 10.00 as the year progresses, and maybe even 9.45)

And any new habits I decide to pick up in 2021. The focus of these will, as you might imagine if you read my last post, be on lifestyle changes that I can make to reduce the impact I have on the Earth.

I decided to pick out the 21 most concrete things and/or the things that were most important to me for the list, knowing that I’ll still be working on most of the other ones along the way. And it goes without saying that educating myself about issues like the climate emergency and social justice and making changes to my lifestyle and my mindset is something I also have to do. But as I said in the post, these aren’t things I can check off a list, so they don’t appear on it. I have a lot of work to do in that space though.

I’m not sure if thing 5 “Spend an hour a week working through my annoying mundane things list” is a sneaky way for me to get 33 more things on the list but I’m hoping that making a commitment to spend an (yet to be determined) hour will help me to get through that list really quickly.

The final list is here and I’ll keep it updated more or less weekly. 

  1. Go to the exercise physiologist and get an exercise program
  2. Choose a different vegetable every week from In Praise of Veg and make one of the recipes from the book
  3. Complete the 30-day voice training course
  4. Work through the ideas in The Change Journal, one idea per week for 24 weeks
  5. Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list
  6. Grow some vegetables in the garden bed
  7. Clear out the area at the side of the house and make a space to sit
  8. Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos (with the aim of completing two of them)
  9. Write my mother’s life story
  10. Make a book of my 2014 UK trip photos
  11. Complete the ImageWork course
  12. Complete the Photoshop Classroom in a Book activities
  13. Create a consistent web presence for my work
  14. Photograph some unexplored areas
  15. Use my tripod in public 
  16. Go out and shoot with film
  17. Complete the Brainsparker gym* program
  18. Update my resume and apply for at least one new job
  19. Get a Strengthsfinder assessment
  20. Implement my pre-work workday routine
  21. Read at least three books about Tasmanian history

So after all that, here’s my first update for 2021.

As I thought at the end of last year, I didn’t do any more work on any of my 20 for 2020 things, so that chapter is now closed.

As 2021 started on Friday, it was time to start thinking about 21 for 2021. While I didn’t have the list finalised by then, there were a couple of things I knew were going to be on it. First was the 50 vegetables challenge (thing 2), which you can read more about here.

On Saturday, I made my first recipe from In Praise of Veg, which was the okra peanut stew.

Okra peanut stew ingredients. Just pretend there’s a jar of tomato paste in the photo.

I didn’t even know what okra was before Saturday, much less how to cook it, so it made for an interesting evening and a very tasty dish. I love peanuts and this recipe seemed a lot easier than the southern fried okra, which had me worried I’d burn the house down. I’m not much of a fryer.

Okra. Right?

One vegetable down, 49 to go.

The end result

I also did some of the work in the “Clarity” chapter of the Change Journal (thing 4). I’ll have a post that explains what that journal is very soon.

I pulled out some of the weeds in the garden bed (thing 6) and I added things to the undone things list instead of doing any of them (thing 5).

Untrue. I did one of them. I reorganised my bookshelves on new year’s eve while everyone else was out partying, and I made the window seat/bookshelf in my room into a resource section for the work I’ll be doing this year. I hope the party people who kept me awake half the night had shocking hangovers the next day. #oldpersonrant

The tidy space. Not the shelf on the right. I didn’t tidy that one.

Summary for the week

  • What I was reading this week: This One Wild and Precious Life by Sarah Wilson
  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 0
  • Things I progressed: 4 (2, 4, 5, 6)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 0
  • Things not started: 17 (1, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21)
  • Habit tracker:
    • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): I wasn’t at work
    • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 2
    • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
    • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 0
    • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): I wasn’t at work
    • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 5
    • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): I’m not sure. I didn’t keep a very good record of this. Hey, I was on holidays!

In praise of veg: a 50 week challenge

In Praise of Veg is Alice Zaslavsky’s (aka Alice in Frames) “tribute to the wonderful world of veg”. The book features 50 of her favourite vegetables and goes “a little deeper into what makes them special for cooks and eaters alike, offering ways to bring the best out of them in the kitchen, no matter what your skill level”.

In Praise of Veg: a modern kitchen companion

It starts with a matrix of how to cook each vegetable simply: in a hurry, light and bright, set and forget, or “flavour bomb”. It explains the main cooking techniques from gentle and indirect through to point-blank and searing hot, and provides Alice’s suggestions for pantry staples before moving onto the main game: The vegetables.

The recipes are sorted by veg, not by the type of dish, which is a way of ordering a vegetable cookbook I find challenging to navigate because when I’m looking for a zucchini recipe I want to see all the zucchini recipes, not have to search through soups, salads, entrees, mains, side dishes and whatever else you put zucchini into to find recipes that use zucchini.

And even better, Alice has sorted the vegetables not by seasonal availability (although there is a guide to that at the back of the book) or by plant family, but by colour. Yay! The pages even have colour-coded edges so you can flick to the colour you want very quickly. Eating a rainbow just got easier! And there is a lot of pink to go around. It makes for an absolutely beautiful book, and at almost 500 pages and just over two kilos, a pretty bloody big one too.

It’s also full of great tips on buying and storing the vegetables, preparing them and cooking with them, foods that complement them and what you could do with the leftover bits.

Alice says that she wrote the book from the principle of starting with the vegetables and building dishes around them. She says that she believes many people want to focus their diet more on vegetables, but who might not know where to start and don’t really want to jump head first into vegetarianism. The result is 150+ recipes that start with vegetables and, where there is meat, it’s a secondary element to make the dish, not the focus. This is a way of eating that I’m interested in exploring, and I love watching people on cooking shows turn vegetables into hero ingredients, but as for cooking that way myself, I’m one of those people who is still in the starting blocks.

I got this book for Christmas. As I was thinking about what I wanted to do in 2021, I knew that “eat more vegetables” was going to come up on the list as it always does every year. So, without too much thinking about what this might involve or a close flick through the book to make sure if it would be possible, I decided I would choose a different vegetable every week and make a recipe from the book that featured that vegetable. 50 vegetables in 50 weeks. How hard could that be? Pretty cool challenge, right? Especially for the veg that only have one recipe, a complication I hadn’t appreciated when I told everyone I was going to do it and thereby committed myself to it.

What could possibly go wrong?

The first step in this undertaking is to do a little bit of planning (I know) to make sure that I allocate the vegetables over the seasons when they’re going to be available so that I don’t get caught short, especially over winter. Alice has included a rough seasonal guide in the book, but there is a much more detailed resource available specifically for Tasmania available at eatwelltas.org.au that provides not only seasonal guides but monthly guides as well. 

Apart from that, I’m going to be winging it.

That thing Alice says at the start of the book about “no matter what your skill level” had better be right. Otherwise there is potential for some massive culinary disasters in my kitchen.

Stay tuned to my Instagram for some #slgcooks mayhem over the coming 12 months. I’ve also made a page to keep track of everything that I do, which I’ll update every time I make a recipe (successfully or otherwise).

Here is the list of 50 vegetables I’ll be exploring this year, sorted the same way Alice has done it. Aren’t they pretty? Except the Brussels sprouts. They’re not pretty.

  1. Garlic
  2. Horesradish (+ Wasabi)
  3. Daikon
  4. Parsnip
  5. Kohlrabi
  6. Fennel
  7. Celeriac
  8. Cauliflower (+ Caulini)
  9. Wombok
  10. Ginger (+ Galangal + Turmeric)
  11. Lemongrass
  12. Sweetcorn
  13. Patty pan squash
  14. Carrot
  15. Sweet potato
  16. Butternut squash
  17. Pumpkin
  18. Tomato (+ Tomatillo)
  19. Radish
  20. Red capsicum
  21. Rhubarb
  22. Chilli
  23. Turnip (+ Swede)
  24. Beetroot (+ Golden beet)
  25. Radicchio (+ Endive)
  26. Globe artichoke
  27. Eggplant
  28. Onion (+ Red onion + Shallot)
  29. Potato
  30. Jerusalem artichoke
  31. Yams & tubers
  32. Mushrooms (+ Truffles)
  33. Spinach (+ Silverbeet & chard + Warrigal greens)
  34. Rocket (+ Nettle)
  35. Herbs
  36. Kale & Cavolo nero
  37. Broccoli (+ Chinese broccoli + Broccolini)
  38. Zucchini (+ Zucchini flowers)
  39. Cucumber
  40. Beans (+ Bean shoots)
  41. Okra
  42. Leek (+ Spring onion)
  43. Asparagus (yuck!)
  44. Celery (+ Celeriac)
  45. Lettuce (+ Watercress)
  46. Bok choy
  47. Brussels sprouts (nooooooooo!!!)
  48. Peas & snow peas
  49. Cabbage
  50. Avocado (+ Bitter melon)

20 for 2020: week 46

Week of 9 November 2020
My 20 for 2020 list.

What did I want to do better this week?
Put the phone down! Not unconsciously check Instagram.

Move more. Not stay sitting down in one place for too long.

So, how did that go then?
This work has been very busy at work and the work I’ve been doing has involved a lot of getting up and down so it’s timed very well wth the need to move. I think it’s something I need to think more about when I’m in periods where I’m doing focus work rather than that type of work, because I can quite easily sit down for an hour or more and not move if I’m engrossed in something. While that’s good for the work, it isn’t good for my body and think my work needs to be on finding out how to get in movement breaks without breaking my concentration.

I got through the whole week without checking Instagram at work, which is good. I think I need to break the habit of reaching for the phone in moments when I’m between activities. In the book Indistractable (thing 13), Nir Eyal calls these “liminal moments” and says they are danger periods for getting sucked into the phone.

Taking both these things together, it occurs to me that, I need to replace the phone habit with the habit of moving myself on those moments. What I need is for the phone to give me a small electric shock when I go to pick it up at time I don’t want to be looking at it . . .

On to 20 for 2020
That leads me nicely into the Bored and Brilliant challenge (thing 12), which is also about excessive phone use. I re-started it this week, and I’ve written a post about it that I’ll share later in the week, so I won’t go into any more detail about that here.

I’m sure you’re hanging on tenterhooks to find out if I got my uni mark (thing 8) this week. No? Just me, then.

I did and, as I expected, I passed. After a week of obsessively checking my email for the one that would tell me my result, I missed it when it did come in because I was so busy at work, and I actually got a message from one of my classmates to tell me the results were out.

I did better than I’d expected in my wildest dreams and am really happy with the result. I may have let out a strangled squeal of excitement when I saw my mark, which made my workmate sitting next to me ask if I was okay. I said I was in shock. She was worried. No, no, it’s okay, it’s good shock!

We’ll have a graduation ceremony next year so I can’t tick off the “and graduate” part of thing 8, but it’s as good as done for me.

I’ve been continuing the 50 in 50 photo challenge (thing 9) and you can see my (approximately) daily updates on my instagram.

Day 15/50

Finally, the sprouts (thing 21) were a success so I can cross that one off too.

Sprouts day 3
Sprouts day 5

What else did I achieve this week?
My regular check in: I stayed up to date with my weekly photojournal and my Hobart street corners project.

What didn’t go so well?
Apart from one day when I had people at work coming at me left, right and centre, and someone trying to get me on the phone at the same time and almost melting down but managing to hold it together, this week went well.

What do I want to do better next week?
Keep working on the “replace phone use with movement” thing.

Summary of week 46

  • Things completed this week: 8, 21
  • Things completed to date: 14 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21)
  • Things I progressed: 2 (9, 12)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (7, 11, 13, 17, 22)
  • Things not started: 1 (19)
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 7
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 0
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I went for a walk in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 6
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5

20 for 2020: week 30

Week of 20 July

My 20 for 2020 list.

In my quest to find a regular time to sit down and focus on my creative work for longer than 10 or 15 minutes snatched here and there, I thought Tuesday afternoons might be a good time. Except for the Tuesdays when I have appointments in town, which, for the next couple of months, is every second Tuesday. Not really a routine I can get into at this stage. But this week, I did have a free afternoon on Tuesday and I figured I should take advantage of the time rather than talk myself out of doing any work because I couldn’t do it every week at the same time. (That is really scraping the bottom of the barrel for excuses not to do something, isn’t it . . . ?)

20200723 Macquarie St 749am edit

Macquarie Street, Thursday morning

It was time to get back to the Photoshop course (thing 7). I had a look at the exercises and realised I’d forgotten most of what I’d seen in the videos because it had been so long since I’d watched them, so I went back and watched a couple of them.

That went well, and I went to do the work, but . . . Photoshop wouldn’t cooperate, which meant I had to spend time googling how to fix what wasn’t working. Adobe and my computer don’t really get on very well.

Once I finally got it working, I was able to run through some of the exercises, reminding myself that (a) I was working on a copy of the file so it didn’t matter what I did to it and (b) this is all just experimenting and learning and there are no mistakes or failures here. I would call the afternoon’s work a moderate success.

Cementing my bedtime reading habit (thing 14), I finished reading the book Down the Dirt Roads by Rachael Treasure, which I got for Christmas a couple of years ago.

20200726 Down Dirt Roads 2

Down the Dirt Roads

It was a fascinating story of a Tasmania that I, a lapsed suburban gardener, am only vaguely aware of. In the book, Rachael gives her account of learning about better land management and reconnecting with feminine principles in an attempt to restore the land from the practices of generations of intensive farming practices and big agri-business that have depleted the soil and provide us with food that is nutritionally deficient. It made me disheartened to read of consequences, some of which I was already aware of, about what our culture of “bigger and more” means for the food that we eat and the land we live on and, ultimately, our future and our ability to survive in a changing climate. How we have wiped out tens of thousands of years of sustainable land management in just a couple hundred years and the reluctance of most people to question ingrained habits, practices and assumptions.

But it also encouraged me to know that there are people like Rachael who are quietly going about promoting better ways to do things and there are people who are starting to listen. Her philosophy resonates very strongly with me, and reading her words made me want to find out more about what I can do as a consumer to make a difference besides my boycott of big supermarket chains.

20200720 Pepsi egg edit

Our first post-moult chicken egg

Unlapsing my “lapsed gardener” status might be a good start. I should have put that on my list!

I emailed the sewing machine people to arrange for them to repair my machine (thing 2). This was a thing on my 19 for 2019 list and I had emailed them last year but it hadn’t happened. I was waiting for them to let me know when they’d be in the area and hadn’t realised it was almost 12 months ago I first made contact with them and hadn’t followed up!

Conscious that I keep saying I need to get back into the book Indistractable (thing 13) but don’t do it, I picked it up again on Saturday and reread chapters 20 and 21 which are in the section about getting rid of external triggers. I’m already doing some of the things Nir Eyal talks about in these chapters, but I have a bad habit of seeing articles and blog posts and leaving them all open in browser tabs, which creates a lot of clutter on my phone and on my computer. So I decided to try Nir’s suggestion of using the app Pocket to keep articles I want to read in one place and making time to read them rather than leaving them as open loops on my devices. The result of that was that I closed more than 20 tabs on my browser on my phone and about ten on my computer. And I listened to several webinars and interviews I’d never got around to listening to.

One of these was an interview with the actors who played Julian, Dick and Anne in the 1970s TV series the Famous Five. I used to love that show and it brought back heaps of memories listening to them talking about their time on the show. Kramstable has the DVD set and it’s made me want to watch them all over again.

Fun fact: Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor Who, appeared in one of the stories and Gary Russell, who played Dick, was a massive Doctor Who fan (weren’t we all in the 1970s?). He’d been told not to talk to Patrick about Doctor Who but he said he couldn’t help himself and after a few days on set asked Patrick to sign a copy of one of his books. He said Patrick then sat down and talked to him about the show for more than three hours. Gary Russell went on to have a long involvement with Doctor Who both in the spin-off work throughout the years after the original show was cancelled and as script editor on the new series.

I’m all nostalgic about the TV of my childhood now. Grange Hill, anyone?

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 11 (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 3 (2, 7, 13)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (8, 11, 17, 22)
  • Things not started: 4 (9, 12, 19, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit: 5
  • Days I read a book: 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches: 3
  • Days I was in bed by 10.30: 6

Weekend wisdom 7

A weekly review of things that came through my inbox that I found interesting and want to remember.

Sometimes I find it interesting that emails, usually from lists I never remember subscribing to, all come in around the same theme, which are often things I’m grappling with at the time. Perhaps there’s an invisible thing out there that says everyone has to write about the same thing at the same time. And everytime I think, I don’t really want to be on this list and think about unsubscribing, the post is about one of those relevant things.

This is not one of those things. This is an interesting article about how to store cooked rice so you don’t get sick.

The theme that seemed most prevalent in my email inbox this week was about setting boundaries. It follows on a little from the topic in the Bold Self Love podcast last week about how we don’t get to control what other people do, but we get to choose our responses to what they do, and our response, not the behaviour, determines our feelings.

So what this was about was if someone behaves in a way we don’t like and that we feel like we need to protect ourselves from, we need to set a boundary for ourselves around that behaviour in order to do that. For example, if someone speaks to you in a way that upsets you, you might set a boundary around this by saying that you are going to remove yourself from any conversation where the person adopts that way of speaking. Or if someone continues to call you when you’ve asked them not to, you might set a boundary by blocking their number.

And the thing this is supposed to do is to protect yourself, not to control the other person. They can continue to speak badly to you, but you now choose to leave the situation because it’s unhealthy for you to be there. If they subsequently change the way they speak, I guess that’s a bonus, but your reason for setting the boundary was not to make them change their behaviour.

It sounds like a very subtle difference to me but I think it’s important.

I suppose the next article, from the Havard Business Review a couple of years ago, might help you have the conversation about setting boundaries. This came to me from the wonderful Kendra Wright.

The article suggests that the way to approach difficult conversations is by reframing your thoughts about the conversation. It presents the following ideas.

  • Begin from a place of curiosity and respect, and stop worrying about being liked. [Conflict avoiders are often worried about not being liked, so they don’t raise difficult issues. Anyone? Anyone?]
  • Focus on what you’re hearing, not what you’re saying. You don’t need to talk that much during a difficult conversation. Instead, focus on listening, reflecting, and observing.
  • Be direct. Get to the point and talk to the person honestly and with respect. ([o which you may well respond, but what if the other person doesn’t respond with honesty and respect, for whatever reason? I guess you halt the conversation and try again later. Or get help.]
  • Don’t put it off. If you’re always thinking it’s not worth arguing about and that you’ll bring it up next time, you most likely won’t. You haven’t done yet. The article says “now’s the time. Instead of putting off a conversation for some ideal future time, when it can be more easily dealt with, tackle it right away”. [Uggh! Scary! No way.]
  • Expect a positive outcome. If you tell yourself the conversation is going to be a disaster, it probably will be. Focus on the positive and  tell yourself, “This will result in an improved relationship.” [I’m not so sure about this one. It never works for me.]

I think I’ll just leave that one for now and move on.

Lastly was this piece from the Insight Timer blog by Carolyn Ziel on how writing can change your life.

I quite liked reason number 5: You Can Write Your Life!

Writing is powerful. Writing an intention is like creating a vision board on steroids.

If you just THINK about your goals and dreams you’re only using the imaginative center, the right hemisphere of your brain. When you write your visions, you tap into the left hemisphere, the logic-based portion of your brain. You open up your subconscious mind to seeing opportunities that you might not have seen before. Things start to fall into place.

You receive what you’ve asked for and you are living the life you have always dreamed of, as if by magic!

There can’t be any harm in trying, right?

Number 2 (Writing is great for people for like to be in control) made me think too.

Start by writing a list of your fears. As human beings we have the power to change our thoughts. Review your list and write down all the ways that the fears you have aren’t accurate. You can also list ways to counteract the fears. Looking at your fears in writing, rebutting them with common sense, changing your thoughts through the written word and knowing that you’re prepared for what comes next will help.

Keep writing. Write about specific outcomes. How you want to feel. How you want to think. What you want to let go of — like control.

Like to be in control? Me? Never.

I think I need to find something a bit light-hearted to end the post on.

Nope, I got nothing. Instead, a quote from Seneca, “How disgraceful is the lawyer whose dying breath passes while at court, at an advanced age, pleading for unknown litigants and still seeking the approval of ignorant spectators.”

19 for 2019: week 14 update

Week of 1 April

After my massive week of achievements in week 13, I wasn’t anywhere near as productive in week 14 with my 19 for 2019 list. In fact, I can count the things I progressed on one hand. One finger, even.

Status for week 14

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed: 8 (3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 1 (6)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  6 (1, 2, 11, 16, 18, 19)
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)

Not to worry, I have the whole year to finish the 11 unfinished things and I can’t expect to do everything at once.

Besides, I’ve been busy with the Bored and Brilliant challenge. Well, I’m not sure if that’s actually an excuse. After all, the point of that challenge is to get me off my phone to give me more time to come up with creative ideas and get things done. I’ve not been on my phone as much as I had been before I started the challenge, but I’m not sure I’ve done anything super productive with the time.

It did make me think maybe I could add some bonus things to my 19 for 2019 list for significant things I do over the year. That would give me a nice picture at the end of the year of some of the big things I did.

So what did I do instead of my list?

Well, I wrote three blog posts about Bored and Brilliant, I went for a whole day without taking any photos and I deleted Instagram (and Tweetbot) off my phone.

20190403 No more social combo

Now you see it . . . now you don’t

I visited the Plants of Tasmania Nursery with my sister.

20190406 Plants of Tasmania Nursery edit

Plants of Tasmania Nursery at Ridgeway

I went to a local living festival in our area.

20190407 Lunch from Honey Child 2

Smoky Creole goodness from Honey Child’s Creole Corner

I went to a union stop-work meeting

20190403 Stop Work

Public sector unions stop-work meeting at City Hall

and I got my poor old teddy bear repaired.

20190402 Pandy back from the Dolls Hospital

He got his leg stitched up and some extra stuffing but I left his nose because that’s his ageing personality

Plenty of things to do!

19 for 2019 update: week 8

Week of 18 February
I’m enjoying doing these posts. It’s a nice way to end the week: to look back over what I’ve achieved (or haven’t), what I’ve learned and what I’ve done. And, of course, what progress I have made with my 19 for 2019 list.

It ties in nicely with my Sunday afternoon (sort of) ritual where I write up my week’s notes in my photojournal. This is connected to Thing 11 (complete my 2018 photojournal).

I want to explain this a bit more . . . What the weekly photojournal involves is a Travelers Notebook (formerly Midori Travelers Notebook) weekly dated diary, which I use to record a couple of important or interesting things that happen each day on the dated page and then I create a 4” x 8” photo collage of the week’s photos to stick onto the other page so I can see my whole week on two pages and my whole year in two small notebooks.20190223 Weekly photojournal

It’s a big move away from Project Life, which I did from 2010 to 2016, and scrapbooking, which I haven’t done for several years. Most of my Project Life albums are incomplete, with a lot of photos waiting to be sorted, printed and slotted into the page protectors, and I may never get to them. This way is simple, and so much less bulky than the massive 12″ x 12” albums that I have for scrapbooking and Project Life.

There are also blank pages in these books that I could make additional collages for, to better cover events that have lots of photos (holidays, school sports days and that sort of thing) or that I could stick little pieces of memorabilia onto. I haven’t done that for any of them yet so there are a lot of photos that are sitting round unsorted, mainly from major holidays. I’m also thinking printed phonebooks might be a better way to store these photos and memories. They’re on a master list of projects I haven’t started.

So the idea with the collages is that at the end of each week, I’d look through the week’s photos, choose the ones I want to go in the journal, save them to a separate album and sit down during the week and make the collages for that week in the Pic Stitch app.

2018-41-01

2018 week 41

2018-45-02

2018 week 45

Because of the odd size, I find what works best is to make two square collages with anywhere from three to seven or eight photos in each and then put them together, slightly smaller than 4” x 4” on a 6” x 8” canvas in Photoshop and print them at that size, trim the edges and stick them in the book.

2018-44

2018 week 44 combined

Last year I never quite got the routine mastered and ended the year with about nine months of missing photos—hence the thing on the 19 for 2019 list. (I also didn’t keep up with the writing and ended up having a marathon session on a very long and boring plane trip to catch up. As I said earlier, I now try to make time Sunday afternoons to do each week’s notes so I never get that far behind again. It’s not a big job, five, ten minutes at the most.

I initially thought I’d try and fit making the collages into spare 10-minute blocks that I had during the day but I’ve found it easier to just sit down and power through them in a batch. There’s a bit too much friction associated with sitting down and doing it in five spare minutes because I need to be in front of the computer and actually see the collection of the week’s photos so I can work out which template to put them into and how to best lay them out. That’s easier than trying to flip between apps on my phone.

This week I printed weeks 20 to week 29. I made weeks 46, 47 and 48 collages and got weeks 30-48 ready for printing. I still have last week’s printed photos to trim and stick in the journal, but the editing stage is almost over. Trimming and sticking is something I actually can do in 10-minute blocks, like when I’m waiting for water to boil or I have a few minutes before I have to leave to catch the bus.

Some good progress there.

Other things I did this week were:

  • Entered book 4 of the 33 Beers journals into the spreadsheet (Thing 12)
  • Currently reading book 9 (non fiction) and 10 (fiction) (Thing 5)
  • Learned how to make a still frame from a video in Lightroom (Thing 19)
  • I added avocado into my breakfast smoothie. Yum! And I bought some ingredients for one of the other breakfasts I want to try. (Thing 6)
  • Defrosted my freezer. (Not a Thing but I just wanted to make this known. It was so much fun.)

20190223 Hinsby Beach 07 edit

Saturday afternoon walk

Status for week 8
Things completed this week: 0
Things I progressed: 5 (5, 6, 11, 12, 19)
Things in progress I didn’t progress: 3 (1, 2, 16)
Things not started: 7 (3, 4, 10, 13, 14, 17, 18)
Things completed: 4

  • Thing 9 (9 January)
  • Thing 8 (21 January)
  • Thing 15 (1 February)
  • Thing 7 (12 February)

Tassievore eat local feast – challenge wrapup

Last weekend I held my Tassievore Eat Local Challenge feast for my family. I invited my mum, Lil Sis and Mr Tall to join us.

It’s the second time I’ve done one of these feasts, and I really enjoyed doing it. As a rule I don’t like to cook, but when it’s on a weekend and it’s something I can devote several hours to doing, rather than a rushed mid-week dinner, I do enjoy it because it becomes a bit of an event that I can totally immerse myself in.

As organisers of the challenge, Sustainable Living Tasmania (SLT) suggested that during the feast we have conversation about eating locally, and they had some specific questions for hosts and guests to answer. Here are my answers:

What did you enjoy most about hosting a feast?
I enjoyed it all, from planning the menu, cooking the dishes and sharing them with my family. I was a bit worried that local produce might be harder to source in early winter than it had been in autumn, last time I did the challenge, but I was able to find everything I needed in the end.

Would you do it again?
Yes I would. I didn’t go a huge way outside my comfort zone, and stuck with dishes I knew I could cook, rather than try something new on unsuspecting guests and have it turn out badly. So I might become more adventurous over the next 12 months and turn out some new dishes next time.

Were there any negatives of the experience?
No. My biggest worry was not being able to find locally grown vegetables that I needed.

Is there anything that could be better or that the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge could do to support your local food journey?
As a meticulous, routinised meal planner (because most of the time I hate making meal plans and grocery lists) I would like to see more resources available around seasonal meal plans using produce that is available each month/season, as well as suggestions for substitutes if you can’t find particular vegetables in season when you need them. For example if you have a recipe that needs three or four types of vegetable and there’s one that you can’t get the local version of, what could you substitute for it?

Overall, how would you rate your experience of hosting your Living Local Feast?
5/5 – fantastic. Good food, good company, good wine.

SLT also suggested some conversation starters, which we didn’t cover in a lot of detail at the feast, but I did follow up with my guests later, and here’s a few of the points we came up with.

Did you learn anything new about what local food is available in Tasmania?
I learned that there is such a thing as Tasmanian goats milk feta. I wasn’t aware that there was an Tasmanian-made feta, so I’m glad to know this.

Do you think you will try to eat more Tasmanian food as a result of this feast?
The people that answered “no” said that they already try to eat as much Tasmanian food as they can.

Do you think about the origin of food when you are shopping and eating?
Most of us said that we did, and one person said that they will ask about whether produce is locally grown before they buy it.

How easy do you think it would be to eat mostly Tasmanian for a day/week/month/year/forever?
One person said that, other than a few exceptions, it’s quite easy to eat mostly Tasmanian most of the time. Others said they already try to do this. I think that if I was well-organised and had a good feel for what was available at what times, and had a good repertoire of dishes that didn’t rely on produce that wasn’t able to be grown locally, it would be fairly easy to have a mostly Tasmanian-grown diet, especially if I grew some things that I use regularly myself.

One area where I’d definitely fall down would be days I want to cook things like curries where I need spices that we can’t grow here (and coconut products, which I use a lot of), and things that I use year-round that don’t store well (or that can be stored but that I run out of before they come back into season – or that I don’t have room to store).

What are the problems with eating locally or supporting local business?
People noted that this can be more expensive and that some things can be difficult to source, either because they have a short season or because they aren’t grown in Tasmania.

One example that comes to mind is olive oil, which I use a lot of. Tasmanian olive oil is fantastic, but it’s very expensive, as I think most of the producers are relatively small scale, boutique producers who focus on quality over quantity.

According to a fact sheet produced by the Department of Primary Industries

“Tasmania’s cooler climate allows for a longer growing season than the mainland, and while this provides better quality fruit, it also typically generates lower yields . . . The majority of the production volume from Tasmania is sourced from smaller scale operations developed around key niche markets. Many of these products carry branding extensions which command premium prices in the market.”

So, if you’re not in a position to pay a premium price for this, it’s unlikely you could commit to eating only Tasmanian olive oil. While I do buy small quantities of it for specific purposes, I don’t buy only Tasmanian olive oil.

What would make it easier for you to shop/eat locally?
I think the key is both in being more organised but also being flexible. If I can base my meal plans around what locally-grown produce is in season and, therefore, most likely to be available, it shouldn’t be too difficult. But then I also need alternatives – which I might not always know I’ll need until I’m at the shop – in case something isn’t available. And this has the potential to upset my plans!

I like the way some stores label their fruit and veg bins so you know whether the product is locally grown, from the mainland or imported. Eumarrah gets a big gold star from me for this, because they go further and often provide the locality the produce is from.

I think the Farm Gate Market in Hobart also provides this information in their weekly newsletter on what’s available at the market each week.

These are my initial thoughts, and it’s an area I certainly want to explore further.

So over to you – what do you think? If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave me a comment or if you have any ideas for the broader Tassievore community I’m sure they’d love to hear from you. You can contact Sustainable Living Tasmania here.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to eat more local produce, the Tassievore website has some great resources for sourcing local food, including the Local Food Store and Market Directory.

Tassievore eat local challenge – feast day!

Yesterday was feast day!

I learned last time I held a Tassievore feast not to be too ambitious. I’d thought about including a dessert on the menu like I did last time, but decided in the end it would make things too busy for me. I could have made a cold dessert ahead of time, if I’d really wanted to, but I’m trying to cut back on sugar, so I ditched that idea too.

Last week I learned that proving my bread dough for too long and in too warm a room leads to bread that is edible, but visually unappealing. It basically spread out like a pancake. So this time I left it for a shorter time and kept it in a cooler room, and baked it at about 10.00 am.

20170528 Flatbread combo

Last week’s Loaf of Disaster

If you read my earlier post on the sourdough class I went to in March with Kate from Garden Shed & Pantry, you might remember the drama I had with the 12+ year old oven. We have fixed the problem with a shiny new oven, which is making cooking so much easier, and I’m glad we got it in time for this weekend.

The result was much improved. At least it looked OK.

20170603 Tassievore 14 Sourdough IG

At the class, Kate explained how the climate affects the properties of the flour, and the end result can be dramatically different in terms of texture if you use flour from a colder climate (like Tasmania) rather than the flour she recommends that’s from a much hotter part of the country. However, the challenge was to use Tasmanian produce, so I stocked up on some Callington stoneground flour that was designed for bread making, and looked at the whole thing as a an experiment.

I let the beef bones simmer away in the slow cooker for a few more hours, before straining it into a pot and letting it reduce. I have no idea how concentrated I’ve made it or what size portions I should freeze it in, but at least I now have beef stock.

20170603 Tassievore 16 Final beef stock

My plan was to serve:

  • Dips, carrot sticks and vegetables when the guests arrived
  • Pumpkin soup and bread as an entree
  • Roast beef with side dishes of pumpkin and beetroot salad, and honey-glazed carrots
  • Cheese, pinot paste and crackers for afters

I was originally only going to do one dip, the smoked salmon one, but as I had more beetroot than I needed for the salad I decided to do a beetroot dip as well. That involved roasting the beetroot, stick blending it and combining it with yogurt and garlic.

A lot of the afternoon was spent cutting up the pumpkin and the other beetroot for the soup and the salad. Cutting up a whole pumpkin isn’t something I do very often, and every time I do it, I remember why I don’t do it. I didn’t lose any fingers so that’s a bonus.

20170603 Tassievore 15 Pumpkin IG

I let the soup cook all afternoon, while I got the other dishes ready. For the chicken stock, I used what I had in the freezer. Whenever we have roast chicken I save the bones and, when I have a bag full in the freezer, I throw them in the slow cooker for 12 hours or so to make a basic stock.

My aim was to serve the beef at about 7.30. It needed about two hours to cook (I like mine well done), so it needed to come out of the fridge at about 5pm. A minor disaster hit when I couldn’t find the mustard I’d bought the day before for the topping.

Catastrophe averted when I found a jar of Tasmanian Rainforest mustard in the cupboard. This is from Hill Farm in Sisters Creek, and no one can remember where or when we bought it, but I’m very glad we did!

20170603 Tassievore 19 Beef Combo

Once the beef was in, it was simply a matter of remembering to put the vegetables in with enough time for them to be ready at the same time as the beef. I always forget that the beetroot takes a lot less time than the pumpkin when I make this salad, so I always end up with overdone pumpkin. One day I’ll learn.

The honey-glazed carrots included honey we got from one of Slabs’ workmates, who has his own hives. That’s definitely the Tassievore spirit!

The night was fun. I saw somewhere that it was World Cider Day, so Slabs had picked us up some from Wille Smiths.  I don’t know who decides these things but I’m not going to complain.

20170603 Tassievore 20 Cider IG

World Cider Day! Yay!

The bread was fine. It was a lot denser in texture than bread made from the flour Kate recommends, but still very good.  And the beef (with the dodgy red wine sauce – the reason I made the beef stock) was great.

20170603 Tassievore 22 Soup & bread IG

We had to serve the soup in mugs because we don’t have enough soup bowls

20170603 Tassievore 23 Beef IG

Mustard roast beef

20170603 Tassievore 24 Main IG

Main course

We concluded the night with a selection of cheeses from Pyengana and Udderly Tasmanian, a pinot paste from Grandvewe and the crackers I made on Friday, which went soggy overnight, so I had to refresh them by re-baking them.

20170603 Tassievore 25 Cheese IG

Demolished cheese platter

In the end I was too focused on getting all the food together rather than having a discussion about some of the questions that the Tassievore people suggested as conversation starters in relation to eating locally. Although we did learn that you can buy Tasmanian feta – as used in the pumpkin and beetroot salad. Westhaven does a goats milk feta, which worked really well in this dish (along with the Tasmanian walnuts, which I substituted for the pine nuts in the recipe).

I’m going to reflect on the questions that Tassievore has posed and put some thoughts together in another post, as I think this is already long enough.

Thanks to Sustainable Living Tasmania and the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge for putting this opportunity out there. It’s definitely something I’m keen to continue being involved with in the future.

The recipes
Salmon dip
Beetroot dip
Pumpkin soup: I have been using the recipe for years. I originally found it in the instruction book for a stick blender that broke years ago.
Roast beef: Adapted from Cape Grim Beef’s recipe
Roast pumpkin and beetroot salad
Honey-glazed roast carrots