Mylifesamess's Blog

Buttercream Icing

Posted in baking, cooking, motivation, Organization by mylifesamess on 06/07/2011

I went to my mom’s after work today and baked a cake.  It turned out ok.  Tasty, but not very pretty.

Luckily, during my afternoon break at work, I took a moment to study my recipes a bit and discovered a difference that I hadn’t noticed when I first compared the Julia Child buttercream recipe to the one accompanying the Martha Stewart recipe.  The Martha Stewart recipe creates the syrup for the icing using egg whites and sugar.  Julia Child creates the syrup using sugar and water, then calls for it to be whisked in with egg yolks.  I’ve made the mistake before of using the wrong part of the egg because I didn’t read the recipe close enough, so I’m very glad I caught it.

The Julia Child recipe was much tastier, but it was quite a bit thinner and difficult to spread, even after whipping in additional butter.  Part of the problem could have been that the egg yolk / syrup mixture didn’t form properly while I had it sitting over the pan of simmering water.  I don’t believe I got the “ribbon” effect that Child describes.  I’ll also try to remember next time to make the icing ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge for a while to see if that might help with the firmness.

The cake portion turned out fantastically, as it did last time.  It turns out a beautifully moist cake with the perfect blend of raspberries.  I made two tiers and frosted it, then decorated the top with fresh raspberries.

I thought about posting the Julia Child recipe, but I hesitated as it may constitute copyright infringement.  The recipe I used was called “Creme au Beurre, au Sucre Cuit (French Butter Cream Made with Sugar Syrup)” from her book “The French Chef Cookbook.”

I don’t know if it’s true, but I often feel like being organized and prepared is still new to my life.  Today was a hectic day, but I enjoyed it because I had my shit together and was ready to go.  I was able to attack the daunting tasks I faced today with order and precision, and it was totally satisfying.  I’m wondering if my motivation for an organized life waxes and wanes depending on whether I feel challenged in my life.

 

 

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Using Circle Clips to Keep Plant Tags (and flahscards) Organized

Posted in efficiency, gardening, Organization by mylifesamess on 04/22/2011

My middle school teachers were big on organization.  At the time, I thought they were just pushing their OCD onto their students, but I now realize that the basic organizational skills that they were teaching us were actually important.

My French teacher required us to make vocabulary flashcards.  In order to prevent our flashcards from littering the bottom of our backpacks like mulch in the bottom of a pot, she, rather ingeniously, had us use a single hole punch and a circle clip to keep our cards organized.  The genius of this method was that the cards didn’t have to be removed from the clip to be used for study; they could just be slid along the circle clip like keys on a key ring.

Skip ahead 15 years, and I’m doing some Spring planting on my porch.  I never know what to do with the little tags that come with each plant when I purchase it.  I thought about throwing them all in a little pencil box, but then I remembered the flashcards.

Obviously, make sure you don’t chop off / punch through any info on the card you’d like to keep intact. I imagine this would also work for seed packets.  You can just toss them in with your gardening supplies and quickly pull them out when you need to reference them.

Merci, Madame Nickles.

Box Cards

Posted in crafts, Organization by mylifesamess on 03/12/2011

I like buying pretty cards to send to people.  I’m not very good with what to say inside, though, which means I often screw up what I’m writing and end up with a pretty card with a messy sentiment that I never send out.  So, I was quite excited to finally discover a practical use for all my unsendable cards over at Atomic Shrimp : Recycled Christmas Card Gift Boxes

Incidentally, I had also been looking for a better way to store and more interesting way to package some of the vintage jewelry that I sell on Etsy.  It’s not a perfect system, but so far it’s worked pretty well for me :

Picture Your Errands as a Video Game Map

Posted in efficiency, Organization by mylifesamess on 03/09/2011

As an education major in college, I studied a lot of different learning styles.  The VARK model seemed to be my professors’ favorite, which posits that students prefer learning through certain sensory experiences.  There are visual learners, auditory learners, reading / writing learners, and kinesthetic / tactile learners.  I discovered that I learn well through three of the four methods, but I have a very difficult time with auditory learning.  It’s a useful piece of information, but I still never much cared for VARK (you can go here and fill out a questionnaire to see what your learning style is).

I start off with this because I’m reminded of the VARK model when I analyze some of my thought patterns, in particular when I’m making a trip with multiple destinations.  I realized that I had a habit of visualizing an overhead map of my route and had created mental markers on that map with my destinations.  This not only allowed me to better remember all my destinations, but also allowed me to plan the most efficient route to achieve my goals.  I also found it amusing that these mental maps seemed to have been unconsciously based on the dungeon maps from the numerous Zelda video games I played in middle school.  For those unfamiliar with the game, here’s an idea of what I’m referring to :

Just picture some in-bins, vending machines, and mail rooms instead of treasure chests.

Anyway, point is, I thought I’d share this as a potentially helpful strategy for minimizing the time you spend running around the office, or the time you spend running multiple errands.  When the goal is achieved, the mental marker is removed.

Maybe it’s so painfully obvious that it’s dumb that I even bothered to post about it.  But, it saves me time and gives my office trips purpose, which also helps cut down on the distractions you encounter on the way.  That’s usually a good thing, though there’s something to be said for being in touch with what’s going on around the office.

Blog Overhaul

Posted in Organization by mylifesamess on 03/06/2011

My month long resolution to get my shit together lasted two days.  Everything’s still a mess.  This brings me to a very important life uncluttering lesson that I have learned over the last year or so which I would like to share with you :

Keep trying to get back on the wagon.

Even though most of my time is spent off the wagon, I haven’t thrown in the towel.  Though my motivation wavers, my goals are pretty consistent.  So, even if my apartment is an unattractive mess and I hate it (for more reasons than the mess), I keep trying, even if it’s not always quite enough.

I’ve been thinking about expanding this blog beyond uncluttering and organization and into day to day life, food, home improvement, and stuff that generally interests me.  I’ve been wanting to get into the journaling thing a bit more.  It helps my anxiety, I enjoy writing, and writing about life day to day keeps everything from flashing by in a forgetful blur, which seems to be happening more as I grow older.  So, my one subscriber (I’m looking at you, anytutuwilldo), expect a wider range of topics and (here’s hoping) more frequent posts.

Night Class

Posted in Organization by mylifesamess on 02/06/2010

School has started up for the semester, which means this blog and my organization projects are being neglected.  I’m snowed in this weekend, and the boyfriend is out of state.  I’m messier when he’s not around, which is no good, but I have a very intense desire to actually clean this weekend.  Maybe I’ll post again on Sunday night and let the one person who once read this know how it all turned out.