Month: May 2007

The Creative Habit: My Creative Autobiography

I’m reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit and thought it would be fun to “blog through it.” Early in the book, she encourages you to answer 33 questions that help you to form your “creative autobiography” to help understand your creative identity. So here goes!!

Continue reading “The Creative Habit: My Creative Autobiography”

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Short Reading Week

Not as much time to read this week or weekend, but I did start several at a time so I have plenty to work through!

Finished reading:

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson is probably not a book I would have picked up on my own — the short, terse sentences would have confused me if I had initially flipped through it, so it’s only thanks to a comment in relation to PopCo that I picked this one up this past week. I found the story very intriguing, sort of thriller-esque. Who is working for whom? Hmmmm.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is a book I’ve read dozens of times, but Steve and I started reading it out loud so he could experience the hilarity himself. We read it during car trips and sometimes in the evenings, and finally finished it yesterday, then started Anne of Avonlea.

With a bookmark:
(Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  • Mommy Millionaire by Kim Lavine
  • Why Does My Dog Act That Way? by Stanley Coren
  • The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
  • Transcending CSS by Andy Clarke
  • Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

Library book box:

  • Lord of the Libraries by Mel Odom
  • The Hive by Bee Wilson (this and below picked up today)
  • The Wild Out Your Window by Sy Montomery
  • Spell of the Tiger by Sy Montgomery
  • Search for the Golden Moon Bear by Sy Montgomery
  • See Jane Lead by Lois P. Frankel
  • Murder By the Book by Rex Stout

Yours

We’re going to a wedding today, which puts me in a nostalgic mood. Here’s an old comic that I drew Steve when we first started dating.

Yours comic

Rockin’ My Goals

I’m posting an “early” week update (I still have all of today before the work week ends) to say that this has been a great week for my goals.

  • Running: Checked off the 15-min and 20-min milestones on my Monthly Goal Tracker worksheet.
  • Fruits/veggies: I had a goal to eat all my servings of fruits/veggies four times this month. This week I did it twice! Amazing (says she who used to eat 0 servings of veggies on some days).
  • Branding: I spent over an hour working on more logo sketches and thinking more about my “brand.”
  • New business: I scheduled some time into this past week to go downtown and file for a business license, which I did! I have two more milestones with my new business stuff to get through; I did run into a snag with confusing sales tax stuff. Time to pull out my resources on doing business in California again.
  • Routines: Filled out all my bubbles on Wednesday again this week, and definitely have more bubbles filled out day-to-day than I used to. For some reason I keep forgetting to take my vitamin when I eat breakfast.

As far as work goes, I’m pleased with my productivity level, although I’m definitely at max capacity right now and probably will be for another two weeks or so. I have a lot of email debt, and unfortunately will not be able to “catch up” this weekend as we are going to a wedding and visiting my mom. I’m hoping I can update our budget sometime tonight or tomorrow in between wedding and family commitments, clean the house up on Sunday when we’re back home, and be ready to get back into my routines on Monday!

Envelope Budget System in Quicken

QuickenHead has a post about using Quicken to track an envelope budget system. I like the idea and want to take a bit of time (perhaps this weekend when I update our budget) to think about how this might apply to my “envelope system in spreadsheet format.” It would be nice to simplify my system and take Excel out of it, but I’m not sure yet if the fact that I don’t have an actual cash envelope system will cause a problem…

Chinese Steamed Pork Buns

Pretty pork buns.

Old style pork buns My mom came to visit this past weekend and showed me how to properly fold/wrap Chinese steamed pork buns. I’ve made them before but never knew how to make them look “pretty,” so I was finally able to learn from the master. The photo above shows “pretty” pork buns, the smaller picture here shows my previous unguided attempts.

Steamed pork buns can usually be found at dim sum places or Chinese markets. The dough has a smooth surface but the texture is actually like dense white bread. Inside is usually a mixture of pork and vegetables. There’s a form of steamed pork bun that is probably more well-known that has a barbequed pork mixture inside.

Read on to see the recipe and, most importantly, make them look pretty! Bonus video included.

Continue reading “Chinese Steamed Pork Buns”

Compact Project Task Cards v1

Compact project task cards

New addition to My Organizer: Compact Project Task Cards. (Download available!)

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been keeping track of my various “projects I’m working on” in the extra margin space of my weekly planner sheets (in the photo above, it’s the space between the day-boxes and the binder rings, under the cards). However, I found myself copying over unfinished projects from week to week. This got annoying.

I thought about Getting Things Done and began to see the wisdom of having a master “project list,” which was essentially what my week-to-week list was. So, I tried using a paper “bookmark” (about the width of the margin) as a project list-keeper. That worked okay, but I found myself having to look up other pieces of paper, emails, and online to-do lists related to each project.

This is about when I started scheming a cooler way to keep track of my projects AND some of the critical to-do’s for each project. Read on to learn about my process and to download/print the form!
Continue reading “Compact Project Task Cards v1”

Book equilibrium

Just got back from the library. Eight books out of the book box, eight books in.

Finished reading:

Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, and Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde. The next two books of the “Thursday Next” series (the first was The Eyre Affair). Thursday Next is a “literary detective” who loses her husband in Lost in a Good Book by some time-travel machinations on behalf of a corrupt global corporation (but saves the world), escapes into the plot of an unpublished book and fights the loss and modifications of her memory by another foe in The Well of Lost Plots, then returns to the real world (with Hamlet and her son in tow) to try to get her husband back and bring down aforementioned corrupt global corporation. I was sad it ended. (The next Next book is coming out July 2007.)

Falling Upwards by Lee Siegel is a collection of essays by this “renowned critic.” The subtitle, “Essays in defense of the imagination,” and the fact that the first chapter was about Harry Potter, intrigued me enough to pick this book out of the “new non-fiction” section of the library. I read through the essays of books and shows that I had actually read, seen, or heard of (I’ve never watched an episode of The Sopranos or Sex in the City, but I still read the essays that were about them); the others I skimmed or skipped. He gets pretty feisty in some of the essays; Barbara Kingsolver is lambasted as writing “nice” books at the expense of maudlin storylines, but I was pleased that he called J.K. Rowling as a “literary artist” although I think he got some of the finer details of the Harry Potter books wrong (Harry’s ability to hear the boa constrictor talk is not because he has a child’s “lithe imagination” but because he has Parseltongue abilities. Thank you.).

Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading by Maureen Corrigan (host of a literary show on NPR and author). I came across this one in a bookstore display and was intrigued by the title; luckily, I was able to request it from the library and read it for free. It’s “part memoir, part coming-of-age,” an exploration of how books have shaped the author’s life. I thought it was a fine book, but not very much resonated with me; perhaps because she is uber-smart book-phd-woman and I’m not, although we both love books. The bits that did catch me were some poignant stories in there about her father, mother, and adopted daughter. I may have enjoyed this book more if I hadn’t just read Falling Upwards; two high-brow literary critic types in one week were probably too much for me.

The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery. Genre: Animal memoir, in the style of two of my favorites — The Dog Year by Jon Katz and Marley and Me by John Grogan (although I winced at Marley and Me as the owners fumbled through trying to train their dog). This is the story of a real-life animal-adventure author who travels all over the world to research animals and write about them who adopts a pig — a little runt — and how he transforms her life and the lives of others. This would be a great read-aloud book; I certainly laughed out loud at some parts and couldn’t help but read paragraphs out loud to Steve, and for those who care, it’s completely clean in the sense that there is no questionable language (so approved for my nieces and nephews). Warning — the pig does die in the end, although I’d still count this book a “feel-good” book. I was sniffling and wiping my eyes as we sat in a sports bar watching the Warriors/Jazz game. I was glad I happened upon this book in the non-fiction section last weekend, and I’m interested enough in the author to try to track down some of her other books.

A funny thing about reading Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading and The Good Good Pig at the same time (one was a “bathroom book,” the other was an “outing” book) — the authors were both bookish women and authors (both from Catholic backgrounds, I think) who married Jewish men, and part of the narrative in both books was about their relationship with their parents. I kept getting their personal lives confused as I switched back and forth between books, although the books themselves were about different subjects and written in different styles. “Wait — did her father disown her? No, that was the other book.”

I think this is also the first week that I’ve read multiple books that reference Jane Austen.

With a bookmark:
(Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

  • Why Does My Dog Act That Way? by Stanley Coren
  • The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
  • Transcending CSS by Andy Clarke
  • Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

Library book box:

  • Lord of the Libraries by Mel Odom
  • The Hive by Bee Wilson (this and below picked up today)
  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  • The Wild Out Your Window by Sy Montomery
  • Spell of the Tiger by Sy Montgomery
  • Search for the Golden Moon Bear by Sy Montgomery
  • See Jane Lead by Lois P. Frankel
  • Mommy Millionaire by Kim Lavine
  • Murder By the Book by Rex Stout