Monday, August 26

Quarter-Life-Crisis Homeschooling

Continuing from Unemployment 101

Class Ideas. Part one.

Select a few of the courses below for your semester-ly (or quarterly) schedule. Each of those "courses" should then be attempted for between 30 minutes and one hour at least two to three times per week. Just pick one or two of the suggestions -- or make your own -- to try for each "course".
Take the weekends off :)

Course Name: Employment 101
Description: Since my biggest problem right now is my lack of job (or real job, for that matter), a good place to start, even though I don't want to, is on learning how to get a job. I really hate tutorials on resume building, job interviews, etc. But part of me knows that if I never learn this stuff, I will remain stagnant. So let's get learning about work.

Syllabus Ideas:
*Use online job search resource pages:'s Career Advice
Career Builders
Huffington Post
Remember, not all advice will apply to you. Keep learning.
*Google search "How to become a ____" and fill in with your desired profession.
*Buy (and read!) the resources that deal with your profession. This could be manuals, histories, how-tos or biographies. For me this would probably be Style Guides, Writer's Markets, and books on editing/editors. My beau has a large collection of books on typography and design.
*Find local resources. Many cities and universities have a surprising amount of resources for people looking for work, beyond just unemployment and long lines at state job networks. Look them up in your area!
*Field Trip! Go out and look! This week, if I can drag myself out of my apartment, I'm hoping to go to a local job network meeting. I don't really think it'll get me a job-- because I don't actually  have a skill set (thanks college)-- but I do see it as a step forward.

Course Name: International Languages
Description: It's not a secret that knowing another language is not only cool, it opens up doors for you, whether they're social, in traveling, or your career. Being bilingual looks really good on a resume, and can be just fun.
Though I grew up in a multi-racial family, I was too lazy as a child to learn spanish, and now I'm just bad at it thanks to a terrible memory. But I also have never tried hard enough.
Admitting that is step one. Step two is getting started. Step three is not quitting. Step four is learning.

Syllabus Ideas:
Have rosetta stone? Awesome! An available tutor (or friend, family, etc)? Sweet! Otherwise, do some research! There are plenty of sites that have videos or learning tools to help start the basics.

My tool of choice will be Babbel, a wonderful, (almost) free resource online and on an app that lets you learn (almost) whatever language you want.
The app is completely free (from what I've seen) but the website is not. After using the app off and on for a month, I'm only now looking at the website, which seems to have trials but not full access for free; so stick with the app.
That's okay, though, because the app is awesome. You go through lessons of word listings where you're given pictures of the words, you hear the pronunciation, and you then repeat the words so it can judge how you're doing. Then there are mini activities to help you get used to the words and how they're used, and in the main menu there's also a Review program that goes through a certain number of the words you've done (can be repetitive) to help your memorization. So far the only thing it seems to be lacking is sentence structure, but if it doesn't come up, you can look that up or get a children's learning book to help.
Watch out for some of the pronunciation, though. This is Spanish spanish (as in, from Spain) and some things can be tricky/different. One example is juice, which, in most of the hispanic world is "jugo" (who-go), but in Spain is apparently "zumo", but with the Spaniard lisp, is pronounced "thoo-mo". I tend to fail that one, but luckily I already knew jugo.

Course Name: Gym
Description: Seriously. We need to exercise. The fact that I have this time to do anything, but no motivation to go to my gym which is a) within walking distance (like 20 feet) and b) free (!), my excuses are poor and pathetic. So it's time to get moving! Different from Recess in that it focuses on moving with a purpose instead of general play (we'll get to that later), Gym should consist of exercise that clears your mind, makes you sweat, and builds your body. Exercise can help you lose weight, stay healthy, fight stress (and illness), and even help you sleep. Cut your excuses and get moving.

Syllabus Ideas:
*Get to the gym. Whether its a free gym or not, going to the gym gives you really no choice: you're there, so work out. Use motivational apps like Zombies, Run! ($6) to get you started on something (treadmill, in this case- you can start out walking until you build stamina) and work your way up slowly.
*Field Trip. Take a $5 zumba class or something, or find local groups that offer donation based classes (my city has tai-chi, but i haven't found anything else). Just doing one will make you feel better -- more active, more social, more energized -- even if you can't do more than that.
*Play! Use games like Just Dance, Dance Central, or Wii Fit or Kinect Training to get some exercise in your own home while having fun (and not having to worry about looking bad.
*Use your environment. Have a pool nearby? Swim laps. Live near a mountain? Go or a hike. Got a bike? Use it! Don't let what you have go to waste.
*Stretch. A simple Gym course can be just 30 minutes of simple stretching. It seems like a lot, but find a Stretching Routine that you like, spend at least one minute in each pose, with some minute breaks in between, and you'll feel more flexible, healthy, and relaxed when you finish. 
*Oh, don't forget abut sex. There are a lot of different statistics about how many calories sexual activity can burn, from a tiny bit to a whopping workout. That doesn't really matter all that much. Sex is healthy and does, in one way or another, burn calories and get your body moving. So make it heavy and make it last, and you've got a workout to begin or end your Gym class.

Course Name: Recess
Description: Where Gym class is about getting sweaty and fit, Recess is a time for fun. Active fun, that is. At school, there are no computers, no movies, no games, no couches. But there also doesn't have to be treadmills or long distance sprints, weights or aerobics. Recess is about fun, laid back activity that gets you moving in a much less strenuous way, and encourages fun/happiness a little more than fitness.

Syllabus Ideas:
* Take a walk around the block. Your block or someone else's. Park? Downtown? Anywhere. To take up time, you can start with five minutes of stretching, a 20-25 minute walk, then five more minutes stretching to cool down. Enjoy your surroundings.
* Play with your pet. Inside or out, just 15 minutes of playtime can improve your emotional and physical health.
* Play with friends. Whether it's Frisbee at the park or swimming at the pool, any time spend moving about outside is a good activity. Or get someone to play tennis or basketball with. Don't have friends? Find out if your community has an intramural/casual sports team. I used to live in a park area where twenty-somethings got together to play kickball or ultimate frisbee. No commitments and social activity makes it a win.
*Go to the park and play on the jungle gyms. Monkey bars, climbing walls, and anything you climb through, over, or under can make you feel active and silly and fun. This is more fun if you have someone to be silly with you. **You might want to go to an empty one to avoid looking like a creeper.
* Play games! Twister. TV Tag. Racing. Simon Says. Jump Rope. Make like a kid and find someone to play games with!

Next time; FYI Sciences, Art, Home Ec, History Appreciation, Nutrition for Beginners, and Sex Ed!

Wednesday, August 21

Tidy by Numbers

This means almost nothing coming from me, because I'm a terrible mess all the time, but few things feel as good as having your home significantly cleaner.

Although I kind of imagine a Weetzie home to be adorably cluttered, I also see it as a certain kind of tidy.
There are probably a lot of things, definitely, but I'm sure almost all of those things have their place, and I really can't imagine Weetzie stepping over mountains of dirty clothes and towels to make her way across her bedroom. Witch Baby, maybe, but not Weetzie, nor some of the other creative FLB characters.

So even when I'm busy like crazy, I yearn for a lovely, moderately tidy home, even if it's covered in decor and comfy cushions. They should at least look a little tidy.
Because I'm effing lazy as hell, I rarely do full cleaning sprees, but I've picked up a few little things that help me feel better when the dust and dirty dishes are piling in on me and making my head spin.

1. Empty your small wastebaskets.
Seriously. It doesn't seem like much, but any small trashcans sitting around with trash in them are a hinderence on your cleanliness, and your state of mind. It's practically miraculous how instantly cleaner a room is when there isn't a pile of trash heaped in the basket by your desk, bed, or toilet. And it only takes like 30 seconds!
Empty it!
I get vanilla scented mini trash bags from the dollar store, and use those for all our small wastebaskets. It adds a touch of happy freshness to the process.

2. Have two minutes? Clear something off.
When I just finished reading, writing, or watching something, before I transition to something else (regardless of what it is, as long as I have time) I try to un-clutter something. Whether it's my coffee table, my kitchen counter, the tray I keep on the foot stool, or just the pillows and blankets on my sofa.
The first thing your eyes settle on that's more cluttered than it should be-- be it a desk, shelf, table, counter, whatever!-- fix it!
Put books back on the shelf, throw out the little bits of paper and plastic wrappers, stack the coasters, put the remotes back where you prefer them, wipe off the dust with a wet napkin. Even if part of this process is piling paperwork on your desk to file/throw out later, just focus on one space at a time. I mean, don't just move the mess somewhere else; put as much stuff as possible wherever it actually belongs.
Two minutes, that's all it takes, then you're off to do whatever you actually wanted to do.
Later, or tomorrow, do it again.

3. Put things back.
It seems like a simple enough thing to do, but we just can't seem to put things back where we got them!
Makeup from my (over-the-door) vanity pockets always seems to settle onto the bathroom sink, where there really is no room for them. Snack bags sit on end tables until the chips are stale. Remotes rest on the couch, eventually migrating to inside or behind the couch. Mugs stay on the counter, instead of the sink or dishwasher. Towels are abandoned on the floor. Books and notebooks always find themselves deserted on every possible flat surface.
If only we could put things back when we were finished with them, even if only for a while, the mess wouldn't add up, and the clutter would slowly but surely disappear.
The easiest way to avoid all that extra clutter is simply to put things where they belong. This both applies to after you've used it, and also that junk we always set down or pull out of our pockets as soon as we walk through the door. Don't let it happen. Either put it away immediately, or have a designated Junk Space where you can pile things to be sorted later.
If you can't seem to drop the habit, use those two minute clutter clean-ups to put everything that isn't in its proper place away. Not things that need to be cleaned, but just put in the proper place. Put all the laundry on the floor in its basket. Put all the mugs around the room in the sink. Put all the lost books on the shelf. One item at a time, or one room at a time. Only spend a few minutes on it, then move on with your day. This way, you won't feel like you're really cleaning at all, and -- hopefully-- it will simply become part of your transition from one activity to the other (even if those activities are watching tv to getting in the shower to watching more tv).

4. Clean as you do.
Generally, this phrase is 'clean as you cook,' meaning that as you make a meal, clean (or put in the dishwasher) each piece of kitchen equipment immediately after you use it. At the very least, rinse it and put it in the sink. This keeps your post meal cleaning a little simpler by cutting down on clutter.
But I think this applies to pretty much all activities. Working on a project? Put away everything you're done with as soon as you're done with it. Having a DVD marathon? Make sure the DVDs actually go back in their cases instead of sitting on the player. Have afternoon tea? Rinse that pot and put the settings away immediately after your finished. Sewing a new dress? Put away each piece of fabric, yarn, ribbon, or string away whenever you're not using it so it doesn't pile up around you.
You get the idea.

5. Use resources.
Check out websites, pinterest boards, and apps that encourage you to clean and help you get ideas. I know people who swear by "unfuck your habitat", and there are plenty of apps that help you manage your time between work, play, and chores.

6. Designate days.
Too busy to do more that a quick spree all week? Plan out one or two specific areas to do for each day of the week. This can be by cleaning type, by room, or however you feel helps you the most. For example, doing all the dishes on Mondays, cleaning tables and counter tops on Tuesdays, collecting all the trash (and taking it out) on Wednesdays, sweeping (and possibly mopping) the whole place (or just the dirtiest rooms) on Thursdays, and getting a load of laundry done on Fridays. For the weekend, do whatever is left to be done, like cleaning the bedroom, organizing your cluttered desk, or picking up laundry off the floor.

Honestly, my favorite way to clean, at the moment, is to put some music on and get started on the first simple thing I need to get done. Then, as I go, I just let myself get distracted by whatever mess catches my eye. I go for at least half an hour, but if I can do more, I just do it, keeping my stress level low by letting myself roam from task to task and back again with no pressure to finish a whole thing right away. When I lose steam, I do something that is more relaxing, like folding clothes or reorganizing my bookshelf until I feel like I can either go again, or just stop. No pressure, low stress, but a nice productive feeling.
It doesn't work all the time, but it's a good start to getting things done.

Have you tried any of these? What do you think?
What are your favorite quick and easy cleaning methods?

Sunday, August 18

Making Waves

Currently obsessed with my new nail polish. 
Magnetic wave nail polish by Sally Hensen.
I don't usually get excited about nail polish and stuff, but I love it.
Takes some work to get all the waves right, but it's woooorth it!
Makes me feel glamorous.

A few other nail products I'd like to try if I ever had the money. Check them out!
Let me know if you've used them!

Hunger Games nail polish set -- couldn't afford these when they came out...
Lustre Shine
Crackle Overcoat
 Sephora Spice Market
Sephora Blasted -- like Crackle but glittery
Velvet Manicure

Friday, August 16

Worlds of Taste {6} Necklace of Kisses

Centering on a much older Weetzie Bat, Necklace of Kisses is a really interesting and beautiful addition to the Weetzie series. With themes of lost romance and the struggle to find happiness long after you thought you'd found it, it's one of FLB's books that I really enjoyed. 
And, since it's a Weetzie, there's lots of food.

"Weetzie opened the refrigerator and took out a bottle of tonic water and a bottle of grapefruit juice, which she mixed..." [17]

"As she put a milky way bar into the freezer for later,... [18]

"'What if I wanted to get eggs and oatmeal and fruit and a bran muffin?' Weetzie said." [19]

"'I found some oats, grapes, and a kiwi, he said." [20]

"...carrying a silver tray with a bunch of red and green grapes arranged elegantly beside a carefully skinned
and sliced kiwi. There was a bowl of oatmeal and three small china carafes, one with yogurt, one with raisins, and one with brown sugar." [21]

"...after three beers, she had eaten done yellowtail, slurped a salty, jiggling, orange sea urchin, and even rigorously chewed a piece of white-and-purple octopus,..." [29]

"If he opened the refrigerator and saw a plate of her soy cheese green chile enchiladas covered with edible orange nasturtium blossoms, he knew he would lose it." [36]

"There were slices of honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, mango; there were blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and grapes. There was also a huge oat bran muffin ad big as a cake, two perfectly poached eggs, oatmeal, freshly squeezed orange juice, and yellow tea roses..." [40]

"Then she heard the frozen milky way singing to her. It had a voice like Barry white." [43]

"When she was eighteen, she could have lived on raw fish, chocolate, and beer, but but not anymore."
"...Weetzie ordered miso soup, spinach with sesame, edamame, sauteed pumpkin, rice balls with umeboshi plum, cold soba noodles with scallions, and tofu steak." [69]

"...drinking an iced mocha latte with extra whipped cream..." [83]

"She felt like a ladyfinger that had been dunked in rum, while her daughter's were chilled cucumbers, ready to be sliced for tea sandwiches." [88]

"She lived on huge glass goblets of coffee...and mushuritos...-flour tortillas wrapped around carrots and cabbage, bean sprouts, tofu, and plum sauce." [94]

 "...silver serving dishes of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, pancakes, and French toast dusted with powdered sugar. There were fruit plates decorated with scattered pomegranate seeds, shredded coconut, and toasted pecans. There were platters of lox, cream cheese, red onions, olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes. ...making omelets to order with a selection of finely chopped vegetables. ... fresh crepes. ... baskets of bagels and pumpkin muffins and... miniature fruit tarts that looked good enough to wear."
"...he would make free lemonade for her, the way he used to do, adding lemon slices and sugar to the ice water." [102]

"...only took some sliced cucumber, fruit salad, and scrambled eggs. ... after she and Bean had devoured six pieces of bacon, an avocado omelet, a bagel with lox and cream cheese, and a pumpkin muffin..." [104]

"...where she ordered some miso soup, avocado rolls, vegetable tempura, rice, and tofu salad..." [121]

"'Pasta with white beans, garlic, basil, Roma tomatoes, and a touch of olive oil.'" [124]

"'Blueberry pancakes. Come have breakfast with me.'" [132]

"Then they ordered grilled salmon with cilantro mango chutney..." [136]

"...a glass of lemonade and some chips and guacamole from the snack bar..." [142]

"...eating huevos rancheros." [152]

"...a bento box of soba noodles, rice, sauteed tofu, seaweed, and pickled vegetables..." [157]

"...potato puffs, crab cakes, mini quiches, shrimp satay. She washed it all down with more champagne..."

"...fruit salad, a poached egg, and fresh squeezed orange juice." [185]

", baguettes, and cheese..." [210]

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