Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 in Review and Goals for 2016

[insert sentimental introductory paragraph here]

I figured, both for the purpose of getting things straight in my head and for accountability, it would be worthwhile to compile a list of noteworthy milestones, lessons learned and all that good stuff from this past year and append a short list of broad resolutions for the coming year, because I'm a white girl and we do stuff like that. So, without further ado, here's a tenuously categorized litany of 2015 and all it wrought:

Home and Household:
Obviously, the big thing this year was succeeding in purchasing property, but it was big in more ways than one. The mortgage application process alone was invaluable in teaching me how to accept and ask for help and also showing me that rejection and uncertainty need not spell ruin and a shameful march back home to be a spinster with one's mother. Setting up my own place has done wonders for me; even the delusion that I am capable of being an independent adult makes me better at actually becoming one, to the point where I will get a rush from knowing my bills are paid early and performing big maintenance tasks. I now have something tangible to channel effort into and take pride in, and this little '70s foreclosure condo has proven the most supportive environment to personal growth I've ever found myself in.

On a micro level, household management has become my art medium. I revel in isolating specific things, such as cabinet organization, diet and decorating, and optimizing them through research, trial and error. There's no one around to please but myself, so I can tinker and tweak to my heart's content. I like to think at least some of my experiments have been fruitful and practical, but they're mostly just fun for me.

Once again, I'm going to attribute improvements in the arena to living alone. It's a lot easier to avoid getting peopled out when you have a sanctuary of solitude, and I'm slowly getting better at making social commitments and suppressing the urge to flake out. I was concerned briefly that I would relish solitude to the point of becoming an actual recluse, but my social life is the best it's been since college. Since I'm less dependent on people than ever before, I have put a big dent in my people pleasing reflex. I'm getting better about cultivating deeper relationships with people I actually like and letting go of ones that feel like a chore. I'm now involved in two small hobby groups (modeling and D&D) that meet routinely, and I'm finding I look forward to these get-togethers. I've been entertaining a bit more now that I have the space and wherewithal and find that I enjoy spoiling my friends, on my terms. Haven't had to break anyone's kneecaps yet -- they keep coming back.

Family relationships have also improved -- living apart, I believe, has helped us to see each other as friends with an extensive shared history, and family gatherings are becoming something to look forward to. We razz each other to the point of appalling the people around us, but it's like our secret affection handshake.

Work and Money
I'm blessed to have been able to support myself entirely from my remote editing work and actually had a pretty flush year. I'm finding that work makes me feel safe, like I'm investing in the security of a financial buffer by prioritizing it. I got positive feedback that made me feel valued even as a contractor, and I feel like, if this gig collapsed, I could make valuable contributions elsewhere.

I've been pretty good, actually, at keeping on top of my bills. I've yet to get a good budget in place, but that will be a priority in the new year. Even without it, and with being less frugal than I could be (friggin' Amazon), I believe myself at a visceral level to be more or less on top of my finances.

Apart from slacking big time on exercise, which is nothing new, I think I did a pretty good job of taking care of myself. Finally kicked a prolonged ailment, through great trial and tribulation, and have been good about buying progressively healthier groceries. I've identified a number of fixes I could make and implemented many of them, and realize there's still more I could do. I'd say I'm going a little bit granola, but I still can't stomach the stuff.

As for resolutions . . .

Home and Household
This year, I really want to pursue self-sufficiency in any way I can. I made big steps in waste reduction in the last six months (e.g. learning how to recycle, switching to reusable menstrual products and using cloth over paper towels), but I'd like to take paper reduction further by making and using cloth hankies and giving family cloths a try. I intend to get a small worm compost system going to minimize organic waste as well. Further, I want to really maximize what little garden space I have and use it to produce food, perhaps even taking it so far as investing in a grow light and getting stuff going inside. I've already started experimenting in making my own cleaning implements and body products, with the goal being to use up commercial products and replace them with homemade ones as I run out. The primary goal is to make or learn how to make rather than to buy. Livestock isn't an option right now, so I can't be fully self sufficient, but I have every intention of cultivating these skills while I have the luxury so that I'm prepared if and when they become a necessity.

In addition to the more domestic end of things, I want to get better at doing the hard stuff. I want to cultivate at least a working knowledge of how to troubleshoot plumbing and auto issues, how to build and mount heavier household fixtures as well as how to shoot. If you've read any of my gender politics stuff, you know I firmly believe no one is entitled to anything from anyone, and I'd like to walk the walk by learning how to do the things I'd otherwise ask men in my life to help with. Again, self-sufficiency.

I've got a pretty good thing going with my present social circle, so I'd like to cultivate my existing relationships. I'd like to entertain more frequently and with less fanfare, so that it's less of a contrived production for everyone. In finding that bigger, scarier social functions are usually at least tolerable when I get up the nerve to attend, I'd like to cultivate a strategy to talk myself down from flaking out at the last minute or learn not to commit as a reflex. Above all, I want to get better about giving and receiving without overthinking it. I want to be freer with expressions of affection and appreciation and not freak the hell out when I receive them.

Work and Money
Budget, budget, budget. Since I don't have the security of a predictable income and benefits, I want to really focus on building my savings, getting ahead on my mortgage, staying out of debt and getting my spending under control. Amazon and organic food get expensive very fast, so I'd like to have a concrete amount to spend on these items and find strategic ways, e.g. couponing and waiting for sales, so that I don't exceed the allotted amount.

As for work, I want to diversify my avenues of income. If I can, I'll try to pick up more online gigs to fall back on, or I'll apply somewhere concrete if that's not feasible. I also intend to get my resume out there in the off chance freelance work becomes available. I've become my social circle's go-to grammar nazi, and it's time to capitalize on that. In the near term, I want to focus on time management and develop a productive routine that minimizes distractions from burnout. I've realized I've been afraid for a long time of flying too close to the sun with my income, but I feel like if I build myself a safety net, reaching higher will be easier.

The biggest thing here is developing a routine of regular maintenance, even when I'm not going anywhere or seeing anyone. This means proper grooming, even if I stay in my pajamas. I'm doing pretty good with diet, but I could do better. I use entertaining as an excuse to overindulge and eat terribly, so I'd like to find healthier things I can serve my friends. I live literally right outside a public park, so I'd like to schedule time outside for exercise and Vitamin D, perhaps justifying it as foraging. I also need to get back into regular yoga, since I live very close to my studio now and it's a shared activity with my mother, who also needs it.

I'll probably add to this as I ruminate more on it, but these are the prevailing themes. Hopefully this was insightful for others too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Brief Treatise on Gift Guilt

Obligatory attention-grabbing stock photo!

'Tis the season . . .

If you've known me for any length of time, you know I am about the least gracious gift recipient of all time. Not that I'm rude or ungrateful about it, or at least I try not to be -- I just overthink gifts and make the exchange awkward for everyone involved. When I'm the recipient, I either feel wildly unworthy of this great gift I love or horrible if I don't end up liking or using it. As a giver, I assume I'm burdening the recipient with clutter and guilt.

Gift exchanges just do not make sense to me, especially when they're prescribed. Don't get me wrong -- there are few better feelings than coming across something, thinking "So-and-so would love that," and seeing So-and-so genuinely delighted to receive it. This does happen, but I'd argue it's the exception and not the rule. How often do we scrimp and save hundreds of dollars for birthday and Christmas gifts because we have to, only to pick up something vaguely pertinent and present it to the recipient because we have to, only to have them fake a smile and stash the gift somewhere out of sight because they have to? What part of this makes anyone feel good?

I know a number of people who dread the holiday season because of the socially prescribed level of planning, commitment and investment involved, and I don't blame them. You're either in the Christmas spirit or you're a Scrooge, Grinch, etc. There's little recourse for folks who just want to spend time with friends and family without the burden of investment -- no one wants to be the only guy who didn't bring presents, nor the only one who did. There's no winner in this scenario except people who sell things that people give to other people (and bless their sorry asses for putting up with the rest of us).

This year, I'm trying to overthink this less (and clearly failing by about 500 words and counting). I'm trying to tell myself that if I can just make myself want to give gifts, it will feel less like an obligation, and if I bring gifts, I'll feel less like a schmuck for receiving gifts. Currently, my plan is to make everyone gifts. While there is a very, very large and very loud part of me that says this will backfire -- that I'm not only burdening my loved ones with storing this homemade crap they won't use, but fishing shamelessly for their validation like a kid who needs his fingerpainting mounted on the fridge -- I'm trying to tell myself that they will probably neither use nor like what I make them, and that that's okay. I'm not foregoing any better or more expensive gift just to make them something cheaper, so they're not missing out in that respect. What I will be giving them, and myself, is the knowledge that I put forth focused and tailored effort to make something I thought maybe they would like, and right now as I figure out how to be authentic without being a massive bitch, that's the best I can do. I can apply myself and not expect the gratification of affirmation.

As for receiving gifts, let me first say, to anyone for whom this is pertinent: I am seriously perfectly content without gifts. I will feel like much less of a shitty human being if you leave me off your list, so win-win for both of us. YOU DON'T OWE ME SHIT. I love you and don't want you to agonize over pleasing me. Since I know there are those who insist on gifts, thank you I guess? Enjoy your wacky potions in thrift store bottles, because I know you, as a good human, wouldn't want me to agonize either. At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

As a footnote, I for one do not believe it's at all cheating to drop less than subtle hints as to what kinds of gifts you'd get the most use out of, with the caveat that they are not requisite to your affection or good graces. I labor under the assumption that anyone giving a gift wants the givee to like it, so why not make this easier? Wishlists, ideas and expression of voids you'd like filled (heh) all help everyone involved come out of the exchange smiling. No, the person shouldn't know you well enough to read your mind. Cut that shit out. If you want something, say so. If you don't want something, or anything, say so. If someone says so to you, do your best to respect it. This "but I HAVE to get her something/but he HAS to get me something" attitude needs to die.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Homemade Greek Yogurt in a Crockpot: How I Did It and What Not to Do

In case you are not among the hapless schmucks who follow my self-indulgent documentation on Facebook, my most recent domestic experiment consisted of an appropriately seasonal diplomatic mission with the colonies -- bacteria colonies, that is. I was determined that Greek yogurt, one of my four basic food groups amongst coffee, kale and snark, should absolutely be something I learn how to make on my own, and I'm pleased to report that I succeeded. 

Initially, I considered investing in a yogurt maker, but that somehow felt like A) cheating and B) a waste of precious counter/cabinet space. Instead, I followed The Tasty Cheapskate's recipe for crockpot Greek yogurt "for dummies." Since either I'm a special breed of dummy or the recipe isn't quite as dummy-proof as I'd hoped, I'm going to share my process as well as what absolutely not to do. As a disclaimer, I have attempted this a total of twice, once with success and once with a mild case of food poisoning. Since they didn't occur in that order, I'd say progress was made.

Rule #1 of yogurt making/biggest mistake I made the first time since it wasn't mentioned in the recipe: KEEP EVERYTHING SCRUPULOUSLY CLEAN. Any bad bacteria you introduce or don't eliminate has the perfect environment to propagate itself and wreak havoc on your digestive tract. Anything that comes into contact with the yogurt should be sterilized, including spoons, thermometers, jars and the crockpot itself. I kept water boiling in my electric kettle throughout the yogurt-making process and poured it over any new utensil to be used -- I suspect you could also sanitize everything all at once, if you're better at planning than I am.

Rudy is why we can't have nice things.
To get started, you will need a 7-quart crockpot, a reliable thermometer, an oven or other draft-free warm environment, a thick sacrificial towel, a gallon of whole or 2% milk (I used whole and can't vouch for 2%), 1/2 cup of plain yogurt* for starter, enough airtight containers to hold a gallon collectively, and a large chunk of time to devote to babysitting your batch. I suggest starting on a weekend afternoon about six hours before you usually go to bed, on a day when you have nowhere to be in the morning. Supervision's only really necessary when the milk is coming to temperature, but I wouldn't leave it alone until its temperature is stable.

*When selecting a yogurt for a starter, the most important thing is that it have the five requisite live cultures and minimal extra stuff like pectin, flavoring, gelatin, etc. -- you can determine all of this by checking the tub it comes in. Look for a good plain yogurt whose flavor and consistency you like -- I used Mountain High. Greek yogurt starter does not make Greek yogurt; in fact, using Greek yogurt as a starter can throw off the bacteria balance and give you a wonky batch.

Now, then. On to the process:
  1. About six hours before you want to go to bed, pour your gallon of milk into your sanitized crockpot, put the lid on, and turn it on Low. At this point, you should be able to leave it alone for two hours or so. Take the milk's temperature periodically to see how fast your crockpot heats up -- I generally crank mine up to High after two or three hours when I get impatient. The idea is to slowly heat the milk to 180 degrees to kill any harmful bacteria present in the milk.
  2. When the milk reaches 180 degrees F, turn the crockpot off, unplug it, take the lid off, and leave it to cool to about 130 degrees. This takes about an hour, so don't stray too far. The milk will develop a skin throughout this process -- just skim it off with your thermometer and flick into the trash. Do not stir it in, or you'll have gross slimy lumps in your yogurt. Do NOT rinse your skimming implement in tap water and put it back in the yogurt, or you might as well pitch the whole thing now.
  3. When the milk reaches 130-ish, get your starter and your oven ready. I like to measure my yogurt into a Pyrex measuring cup -- you'll want something roomy that you can pour from, and make sure it's sanitized! Arrange your oven racks to the lowest level, and make sure your oven is warm but not hot. I turned my oven on to Warm for a bit, but some people just turn the oven light on or set the oven to a bread proofing temperature (spoiled bastards). A too-cold oven will slow down the culturing process, and a too-warm one can kill your bacteria.
  4. When the milk reaches 115 to 110 degrees, ladle a bit of milk into the measuring cup with the yogurt, and whisk them until they're smooth. This tempers the yogurt and keeps you from having lumps. Mix this slurry back into the crockpot of milk, working quickly so your temperature doesn't drop below 110.
  5. Put the lid back on the crockpot, and wrap the the whole thing in your sacrificial towel. Stick the bundled-up crockpot in your warm but NOT HOT oven (you want it to maintain around 110 degrees overnight), and close the door. Leave the oven light on if you can. If you have a self-cleaning oven with one of those little levers that locks the door, use this to help trap heat. If you share your oven with others, leave a note so that no ones turns it on. Once your crockpot is all tucked in, you can hit the hay. 

Soft yogurt, warm yogurt. . .
In the morning/after 8-ish hours, check your yogurt. It should be set up, like gelatin. If it is still runny but looks yogurty, you can stick in back in the oven to continue curing longer. You can also let it cure longer if you like a tangier yogurt, so be sure to test. DO NOT try to heat it back up -- this was a giant mistake I made the first time. Also, do not stir it at this stage, or you'll end up with a nasty cottage cheese consistency. If you're happy with flavor and consistency, take half a cup off the top right away, and stick this in the freezer to start your next batch. Then, you can go ahead and scoop the yogurt into your choice of airtight containers and stick it in the fridge.

If you like a good thick Greek yogurt, you can strain off the whey (make sure to take your starter for next time before straining so the bacteria balance is correct). Set up a large colander over the sink (if you don't want to keep the whey) or over a large container (if you want to keep the whey). If the latter, make your colander a little kickstand of some sort so the colander doesn't sit in the whey as it accumulates. Line your colander with a clean tea towel, T-shirt or cheese cloth, and pour/scoop in all your yogurt. Leave this for two to six hours; the longer it sits, the thicker your finished product. I left mine for a little over two hours as I had somewhere to be, and the finished product was about Yoplait consistency. In the future, I'd leave it a couple hours longer.
Turn and face the strain . . .
When your yogurt has strained to your desired consistency, you can either pack it up right away or whip it with a mixer or eggbeater to ensure a uniform texture. Once your yogurt is packed in its airtight containers, it purportedly lasts in the fridge up to two weeks. If you don't think you will go through it that quickly, you can freeze it (probably). If you chose to save the whey, use it in smoothies for a splash of protein, or use it as a buttermilk substitute in baking.

The total cost of the ingredients was ~$6 for a gallon of organic milk and half a cup of yogurt, which came out to about $0.50 per one-cup serving of yogurt seeing as I yielded three quarts. If I strained it longer, I'd probably yield 2-2.5 quarts at $2.50-$3 each, or $0.60, $0.75 a serving. Considering organic Greek yogurt retails for ~$3 a pint, that's a hell of a savings. If you reuse your containers and make a new starter every time, you can make this process even more economical.

Pro tip: before you wash all your dishes, slather some of that yogurt on your face. The lactic acid and beneficial bacteria make an excellent mask -- just rinse it off after ten minutes.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Elderberry Syrup and Plans to Culture All the Things

As of today, November 15th, I am officially free from the bonds of Q3 earnings, or "busy season" with my work. This means more time to play in the kitchen and continue trying to optimize the ways in which I take care of my home and my person. Today held a series of small victories on that front.

First, on a mission to Vitamin Cottage for elderberry syrup implements, I discovered this:

As some of you are aware, I've been meaning for a while now to start making kombucha and actually attempted to grow a SCOBY at home using some store-bought kombucha, but that experiment has . . . fizzled out, shall we say. Thanks to, I suspect, a combination of ginger in the existing kombucha, using metal utensils, using non-organic sugar and/or keeping it in too cold an environment, I remain sans SCOBY after three weeks. Since this kit comes with a SCOBY, all I'll need is a gallon container to start what will hopefully be a successful batch, with potential for further brews. Plus, pear and ginger sounds awesome.

While at Vitamin Cottage, I also discovered that organic Greek yogurt is obscenely expensive, so I went a-Googling and found this recipe for bulk quantities of homemade Greek yogurt made in, of all things, a crockpot. This strikes me as the most economical way to keep Greek yogurt around, since I eat it every morning. If I'm especially crafty, I can probably even stock up on gallons of milk when it goes on sale and freeze it till I'm ready to make yogurt.

Finally, I got around to making a batch of homemade elderberry syrup -- FrugalGreenGirl's recipe, to be specific. For those who've yet to be subjected to my proselytizing on the subject, elderberry anything is excellent for boosting the immune system and treating colds and flus. I've now used the commercially available Sambucol (basically elder berry Zicam) to nip two colds in the bud, but that runs $15 for 30 tablets, or one cold. This syrup ran about $5 for a two-cup batch. Ingredients are nothing more than 1/2 cup dried elderberries, 1 tsp fresh ginger, 2 cinnamon sticks, 4 cloves, and 3 cups water, brought to a boil, simmered on low for half an hour, strained and mixed with 1/4 cup of honey. It purportedly keeps in the fridge for up to three months -- we'll see if it lasts that long, knowing my propensity to come down with stuff. I'm planning to drizzle a tablespoon or so on my morning yogurt to keep me evenly supplemented.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Musings on Meal Kit Services, and Feeding Myself Economically

I was debating whether this was worth a blog, but figured I'd spit it out so I can quit overthinking it. You're welcome?

My friend Jessi posted on Facebook an article entitled "How to Save Money When You're Young, Dumb and Broke." I won't tell you which of those modifiers I identified with, but I read the article and noticed that the author, who also seems to be living alone, has taken to using a meal kit subscription service and finds it economical for her circumstances. For those of you who don't know (I didn't), companies such as Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Plated and Gobble offer weekly subscription boxes delivered to your door that contain ingredients and recipes for 3-ish meals, for anywhere from 2 to 4 people. The one the author cited, Blue Apron, costs $60 a week, and she gets anywhere from 6 to 9 meals out of it. This got me thinking, and I've wasted most of my morning ruminating on the pros and cons in my head, which I will presently share because I can.

Pro: Cheaper than grocery shopping
I know, $60 sounds kind of expensive for three meals. However, in watching a Youtube grocery haul recently, I realized I spend an average of $100 on food a week. For myself. $50-ish at Costco and $50-ish at Trader Joe's, once a week. Having groceries delivered would dramatically reduce my monthly food costs by mitigating temptation if nothing else. Even if I went shopping twice a month for breakfast food, fruit and snacks to augment, I'd still be saving over $100 a month on food. If I got 7-9 meals a week out of it, my daily food cost would be under $10 total, which is pretty good -- better if I can stretch the leftovers.

Pro: Less Waste
The food I consume is 90% perishables and 50% Costco quantities. Even with a consistent diet and eating at home as often as I can, I end up wasting a lot more produce than I'm happy to admit simply because I can't get through that large a quantity before it goes off. (I do plan to start composting to offset some of this, but that's a work in progress.) Having pre-portioned ingredients means no waste. As for the packaging, it all seems fairly recyclable -- some services even let you ship the packaging back for free to be recycled.

Pro: Variety
When it comes to feeding myself, I am spectacularly unoriginal. My daily meals at home consist of a bowl of plain Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries and chia seeds (which I have eaten daily for at least six years) and a lunch/dinner salad consisting Costco power greens, cherry tomatoes, a couple other veggies, maybe some fruit, Kirkland pre-grilled chicken breast strips, a smattering of blue cheese and some balsamic vinegar (which I've eaten daily for three years), occasionally augmented with hard boiled eggs to snack on. I just never think to make anything else and can't normally be bothered to do any food prep that involves slicing, let alone heating. With one of these boxes, I'm guaranteed at least some variety in my diet without having to be creative.

Pro: Forces me to cook
I'm not a naturally gifted cook and don't do it unless I have to. I bought a crockpot thinking that if I could cook in bulk and freeze it, but it's been a long ordeal retraining myself that the freezer is not just where food goes to die, and that leftovers from the freezer can indeed be palatable. Knowing how I tick, I'm much more likely to cook three times a week and eat day-old leftovers than cook twice a month and eat leftovers that went unrecognizable in the freezer.

Pro: Less time spent shopping
I'm a bit of an agoraphobe, and grocery shopping for me is like running the gauntlet, especially on weekends (stay tuned for a Costco intra-aisle road rage post to follow). Not only would having to do it less be delightful, but I'd save a gallon of gas each week I don't have to go. Plus, I'll be less likely to starve those weeks over the winter when I can't be arsed to put on snow boots, unbury my car and go out.

And finally . . .
Pro: It's a package to open
I'm a Prime addict -- I love flirting with the delivery guy receiving packages in the mail. There's something tactile and fun about unpacking surprises, even if you picked them out and know they're coming.

As for the cons . . .
Con: I might still waste food
If for some reason I don't like the recipe, get busy or otherwise flake, there's still a good possibility I'll defeat the box's purpose. I like to think I'd do better than that, but let's be real -- I'm committing to cooking three times a week when I currently cook once a month at best.

Pro/Con: I might never leave the house
There are indeed some weeks when I only go out because staying in means waiting to see whether the cats eat me first or I them. If the food comes to me, why go out at all.

For my circumstance, this service has enough going for it that it's at least worth a shot. I'll probably order a box for next week since I'll be out of busy season and will have more time to cook.I'll try to chronicle that ordeal -- with pictures -- if I remember.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Back in the Saddle Again . . .

That's right, kids -- the time has come for the biennial resurrection of the blog and kidding myself that this time will be different!

Before I found myself given to fits of misanthropic indignation, this blog was intended to document my pitiful attempts to play house while shacked up --  a role and circumstance I referred to as hausfraud. A great deal has changed since my last post, and yet not so much. After a four-year relationship and two years of living together, my beau and I broke up -- in sentiment at first, but not in dwelling. Since we renewed the lease for another year two weeks before we pulled the plug on "us," we continued sharing our one-bedroom apartment for another year after the breakup, both of us working from home the whole time. Maybe at some point I'll post something on how to not kill each other when you're within 500 feet of each other 24/7, because I'm frankly extremely proud of the civility of that breakup given its duration and proximity.

Since my first foray into domesticity was predicated on that relationship lasting, I thought for sure that a breakup would mean moving back in with my mother and turning into Little Edie of "Gray Gardens" infamy (Google it), but then a miracle happened: I bought a condo. I'm blessed with a smart and sainted mother who embodies the perfect balance of pushing her young to better things and also helping them get there. Because she'd pushed me to go to college in high school on the state's dime, I had a large enough college fund to put a down payment on an 880-square-foot condo in the same complex where my kid brother had already bought one (you see, in our family, the fetus isn't viable until it has a mortgage). She functioned as my realtor and hooked me up with other family friends to cut me a deal on renovations and help with the accounting and loan-acquisition side of the equation, which made this small semblance of autonomy possible. Clearly I'm not grateful at all.

At any rate, the point is that I find myself in a new stage of hausfraud-dom (hausfradity?): keeping a house I own, for no one but me. In a masochistic sort of way, being able to support myself and also be my own housewife feels like having it all. Because I live alone, there is no one else to please, no one to object when the urge to grow a new thing comes over me, and no one to kvetch when I cathartically clean the kitchen and listen to standup at 1 AM. I have a lot more responsibility, but also a lot more freedom, and keeping my home has become my greatest joy, even with no one around to keep it for. I'm beholden to no one, which means the domestic itch in me can grow completely unchecked. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Since I've been plastering my Facebook with pictures of plants and kitchen decor for several months now anyway, I figure I might as well consolidate it. I'd promise more content, but it is me we're talking about. We'll see.