Going Analog

If you work in an office environment, there is a pretty solid chance you stare at Microsoft Outlook a decent chunk of your day. If not the majority of your day. For emails, yes. Calendar, definitely. Both of my jobs used Outlook to schedule meetings. Smartypants Superusers like my husband keep their tasks and lord-knows-what-else in Outlook too.

You know how people cleverly tally up the number of hours you spend sleeping or waiting in line or in the bathroom in a lifetime? I’ll venture a guess that if I tallied up the number of hours I spent calendar-jockeying in Outlook these past 10 years, I would be horrified.

In fact, I spent so much time staring at my Outlook calendar, it became second nature to just plop in my personal appointments too – for planning purposes. If Andy and I needed to let each other know about work travel or impending visits from family, we’d just send each other an Outlook invitation that automatically blocks out the time on the other one’s calendar.

I’m saying all of this for you Baby Boomers out there, by the way, because my Gen X and Millennial readers are like “DEBBIE, EVERYONE DOES THIS. BLAHBLAHBLAH GET TO YOUR POINT.”

So here’s my point: I have not yet successfully figured out how to survive effectively without Outlook during this, ahem, employment gap.

I’ve been using Google Calendar and making appointments on my phone using the calendar app. Shortcomings abound. We’ll start with the latter.

The Apple Calendar app is flawed. I personally like looking at a month view so that I can plan ahead… see whose birthday cards I need to buy and when the kids have appointments coming up, etc. Plan the week, you know.

This THIS is how Apple helps me plan ahead:


Awesome, thanks bro. So no dots tomorrow, then? Sweet.

I’m joking. This is completely unhelpful. A dot indicates that something is happening on that day. It does not indicate what at a glance. Which is what I need.

I have to click on a day to get details, which then looks like this:


Okay, better. Except now I’ve lost all spatial relationships to appointments. They’re all just… piled on top of one another. If a day doesn’t have an appointment, it simply doesn’t appear.

I’m sure this works for people. Just not for me. Screenshot 2016-01-10 22.27.32

This is what Google Calendar looks like when I log into it from my desktop computer. So nice, huh? (I know you can’t read it, but go with me on this.) Good color-coding going on. Spatially laid out with just a bit of detail. Very nicely done, Google.

Except… the only way I get this beautiful vista is if I walk into my home office, sit down at the Big Computer, and get on my web browser. Reference three posts ago as to why this happens, ohhhh…  basically never.

I’ve been stuck. Trapped in a neverending Pong game – alternating between habitually, obsessively checking my phone and neurotically making mental lists of appointments I need to remember.

Finally, FINALLY, today I took a time machine straight back to 2001, walked into an office supply store and bought a paper calendar and a bunch of colored felt-tip pens.







And a handy location that is at once close to the kitchen, in line of sight when you’re coming and going from the house (Yippees from me!) and also out of plain view from the rest of the house (Hoorays from Andy).

Yes, I still plan on using my phone for making appointments and sharing them with Andy. And any dyed-in-the-wool organizer will tell you this is a death sentence to a new method. Have one location for any given thing and rid yourself of redundancy. It takes up extra time and ultimately either one wins out or they both fall away in lieu of something new. Lots of boring and perhaps obvious reasons for this. Regardless, passing this wall calendar gives me peace. And I’ll take any little bit of that I can get these days.


Fire Starters

Andy’s installing an underground dog fence today, so that left the boys and I looking for something to do. Today also happens to be our neighborhood garage sale day, so the two and I set out to see if we could find any awesome deals. We fared okay. (Actually, I did score a cast iron skillet, so I was pretty stoked.)

One of the things I found was a pack of cheapie crayons, all barely used. So, after we got home and put Reid down for a morning nap, Graham and I set up at the kitchen counter and made some fire starters.

No, I’m not talking about her.


Or him.


I’m talking about the myriad of little things you can use as pre-made kindling to get your campfire started easily.

There are ridiculous numbers of ideas out there on Pinterest, but we just finished a carton of eggs today, so Graham and I decided to try our hand at one in particular that has had rave reviews.

First, you start with some crayons – take the paper off.



Then we started some water boiling in a pot to make a double boiler. I mean… I have an actual double boiler, but nothing I plan on melting crayons in anytime this century.

While the water was boiling, I pulled out our tinder boxes. One we keep in the laundry room, collecting lint. (Literally.) The other we keep in Andy’s shop in the garage, where he collects sawdust and wood shavings.

I had Graham stuff lint in each egg carton well.


Then I had him sprinkle sawdust and wood shavings on top of the lint.


This also would have been a great place to include the paper from the crayons too. Or even the cardboard from the crayon box, come to think of it. I didn’t think of it until later. Not like we were short any amount of wood shavings, though – as you can plainly see.

Finally, with our egg compartments filled, we had boiling water to melt our wax.



… going…IMG_0685

… gone.IMG_0687

Ultimately, this only filled about half the egg cartons (this was 16 crayons). I ended up taking some sagging candle tapers [that we, for some reason, moved all the way from Texas] out of the closet and melted those down too.

But yes, after the wax is all melted down, you pour it on top of all the lint/sawdust/shavings/paper in the egg wells. Pour until you fill up the well and voila! 12 fire starters! Just tear or cut one apart from the pack, light the egg carton on fire, and that little thing will burn until your kindling catches. Very handy!


We decided to make some super easy fire starters we had all our stuff out. We took some paper towel rolls (we had two that had been recycled lately), cut them in half, layered lint-sawdust-lint-sawdust-lint and so forth in a sort of tinder parfait, then we laid a sheet of wax paper over a sheet of newsprint, rolled up the lint/dust tube up and then twisted & tucked in the ends.

These paper towel starters are super quick and easy to make, but are better suited for a fire pit – where the wood is drier to start with – because they burn a bit faster. The egg fire starters are lauded for burning long enough to get a damp morning campfire started. Game on – because that is a tough gig!

Wish us luck – maybe we’ll try one of these bad boys out for some s’mores tonight. :)

Marcel the Shell

Just sharing the highlight of my day so far. I have no idea what this is. But I do know I don’t care. I just love it. Perhaps it’s something you have to be in the right mood for? If so, I was certainly in the right mood for this today.

The quote-ability of this bit is completely off the charts. I’ve already gotten a lot of mileage already.

“Lint is a shell’s best friend.”

My Poor Hands

So often they’re blistered from wrangling the dog, burned and/or cut from cooking. My nails are short for playing piano, and if they’re long, they’re split – from playing the piano. I can’t get manicures: no nail polish in a food production facility.

Most days, I give them moisturizing lotion, cuticle oil when I think of it. And I do have this very sparkly ring…

Must… Start… Doing… More…

“So what did you guys do this weekend?” That, lately, is the single-most confounding question to Andy and me. What did we do this weekend? :::crickets::: “I, uh, well… honey? What did we do this weekend?”

No, it’s not that we actually don’t remember. We do. Pajamas, coffee, tossed the ball out back for Hugo, swept up with the Swiffer, considered getting McDonald’s for breakfast, opted to stay hungry until lunch instead, moved over to the computer to mess with the website, played around on Photoshop, started a movie on OnDemand, cursed the DVR, got bored, played piano/guitar, ate lunch, took a shower… We remember all these things, but we have the compelling need to not list these things off like they’re the only thing we accomplished in a 48-hour period. Surely we went out to dinner, tried a new brand of beer, caught a movie, ran in a charity 5K, painted an old lady’s house, or contributed to humanity in SOME way.

Nope, the weekends pretty much play out like this lately. Sometimes we rally and start a project that necessitates a trip to some store somewhere. Most Saturdays it’s this, though. Complete and utter, most-wonderful sloth. We figure the eventual kid will wake us up from this coma, but for now, honestly, we rather enjoy it.