Trying New Things: Putting the Shine Back on Winter

 

Most of us start the year ready to tackle goals and do new things. By March, though, some of that shine has begun to wear off and, if you’re like me, you start longing for something to freshen things up, to polish up the motivation a little. Trying new things staves off boredom and research supports that surprising and challenging your brain with new information and tasks can help fight dementia. It also helps to distract you from the long, gray days of winter (if it happens to be March and there is still a foot of snow outside your window).

For all of these reasons, I have been in the mood to try more new things, some successful (and delicious) and others a work in progress. Here’s a little run-down of some of the new things I’ve been doing this month to put the shine back on my winter:

1. 5K Sundays.  January’s a great month to dive into resolutions and self-improvement challenges.  You go gung-ho and feel inspired. My Monthly Accountability Challenge goals had indeed been humming along until, about halfway through February, I felt a tug to “put more challenge into my challenge.” In that spirit, I decided to add “5K Sundays,” an activity that would require regular effort and flexing of the commitment muscle if I was going to:

  • Do it, and
  • Do it without any trips to the Emergency Room.

So, I put treadmill time back into regular and frequent rotation on my calendar and set to cap off each week with a 5K on Sundays. So far, so good, and no injuries or trips to the hospital. (Knock on wood)

2. New Office Arrangement. Nothing freshens up a living space quite like moving furniture. I don’t know if Mike was trying to fight off doldrums of his own, or what, but early this month he had the idea that we should remove our second pellet stove from the utility room/my office area to give me more space (why I share an office with the washer and dryer is a whole ‘nother  matter). Here’s the resulting “before” and “after” photos. I’m not sold on having all my furniture lined up against the wall, but I do have a great view and I’m told this is “only temporary” until I get my real office space upstairs. (Hint, hint, Michael!!)

Office area before furniture move

“Before.” My office area before the stove came out and furniture was rearranged.

Photo of office area after the stove came out and furniture was rearranged.

“After.” My office area after the stove came out and furniture was rearranged.

3. Sleeping in until 5:00.  Two weeks ago, I decided that I’d try sleeping in until 5:00 and shifting my pre-work activities (writing, exercise bike, etc.) to after work. The first night, I was up at 1:30 a.m. to let Moose out to pee and then slept the rest of the morning in the living room with him until 5:00. “Slept,” regrettably, is a very generous term. I really just laid on the sofa with my eyes mostly closed for three and a half hours. The second night, Moose and I got up at 3:00 and, after the trip outside for Moose to answer the Call of Nature, I went back to bed and then laid there with my eyes mostly closed for almost two hours. Shifting my usual morning activities to after work was hit and miss. I did the treadmill as intended, but writing fell away, and getting my butt on that exercise bike just wasn’t happening. I’m still tweaking that schedule. I realize the importance of a good night’s sleep and want to get it without having to go to bed at 6 p.m., but some things just have to be done in the morning or not at all. The win here is that I have a better understanding of my limitations and can work around them. I hope.

Moose drinking water

Hey, Moo. Do you really think you should be drinking so much water so close to bed time?

4. Krusteaz Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancake Mix. I go through periods where traditional bread products really hurt my body, so I try to limit them. However, my family knows that I can’t say no to pancakes. No stranger to the kitchen, I’ve made my own gluten-free versions with great success, mixing up oat, coconut, and almond flours into various concoctions. I’ve made some pretty tasty cakes, too, if I do say so myself. But, here’s the thing: I’m also a little bit lazy sometimes so if I can get a good boxed mix that will save me the trouble of buying sorghum, rice, amaranth and an assortment of other expensive gluten-free flours, I’m for it. Enter Krusteaz, which has a spankin’ good pancake mix. I made mine with two slight variations to the box recipe. One, I added vanilla (because you always add vanilla!) and some whole milk yogurt. The first batch from the griddle went to Mike. He raved. “So light! So fluffy!!” Then, I showed him the box and his eyes got as big as his pancake. Impressed, it was hard for him to believe these were gluten-free and he had nothing but kudos for Krusteaz. But make no mistake: it was a pancake. There’s no halo on it. Just tasty goodness to be enjoyed in moderation. Forks and syrup optional.

Krusteaz GF Pancake Mix Box

Did someone say pancakes? I’m in!!

5. Website revamp. I recently began the Herculean project of updating my website and re-categorizing my old posts into more modern, relevant categories. Gone will be the meaningless categories of old projects gone by (”This week in 2014,” “Project 52,” etc.). In their place will be fresh categories that have that new car smell. With more than 140 posts on the site, though – and having to re-read many – this may take more time than I originally planned. It was a March Monthly Accountability Challenge goal but I have a feeling this one’s going to spill over to April… And possibly May… OK, June… No later than July.

6. New Bag, Baby! I’ve been thinking for weeks that I need a new bag. The backpack I had been slinging around since the end of last summer was starting to fall apart and the canvas bag with my employer’s logo emblazoned on it that I was using temporarily was starting to make me feel like a hobo. The Universe listens and responds, and my friend, Crystal, sent me a great little scarf with Poe heads on it and – ta-dah! – a gorgeous bag decorated with some of my favorite things – book titles! All the books are banned, too, which means I now want to read them all the more! I can’t wait to try this bag and see if it ends up being my daily bag or a special books-to-the-beach kind of thing. Whatever happens, it’s awesome and I love it!! Thank you, Crystal!

New bag and scarf modeled by me

Nothing says quirky fun nerd quite like a banned books bag and little Poe heads on my scarf.

OK that’s enough new stuff for now.  We’re only halfway through the month, though, so who knows what’s coming!

Life is most fun when we try new things, even if it’s just moving our furniture. So, tell me about some of the new stuff you are trying, how you keep your life interesting or how you shake things up. Did you try a new yoga class? Make a new recipe involving brownies and Cadbury Creme Eggs? (No, on second thought, don’t tell me that). Did you get new teeth? I’d love to hear what kinds of new and exciting things you have going on in your life.  Yep, even if it’s just a new pancake mix. 🙂

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4 Responses to Trying New Things: Putting the Shine Back on Winter

  1. Sherry says:

    My new thing is 1) adding another mile to my bike routine with increased resistance 2) made up a new recipe of my own: pasta fagioli with mushrooms,spinach and capers using refrigerated fresh cheese tortellini and seasoned chili beans. Cook pasta (2 cups) 10 min.,drain ,return to pot,add all ingred.One can of the chili beans,drained can of mushrooms,a few capers,and a handful of spinach, stir occ. until heated through,shake in some green tobasco,Mrs.Dash and pepper .Drizzle with olive oil and serve sprinkled with parmesan.

  2. Patrice says:

    Wooot woot! Bring on the new!! Love hearing all of these exciting things (yes, even finding a gf pancake mix lifts the winter doldrums.
    My newest things are learning how to make a glass mosaic (but it’s a secret pressie to my hubby at the end of the month, so shhhh!) and setting up a youtube channel.
    Looking forward to seeing the green again rather than this white blanket.
    Fun to read your wonderful blog posts. And I’m once again impressed with all you get done. Reorganizing your blog? You rock!!