Christmas 2016

Christmas is upon us and here in Norway we start the celebration on Christmas Eve. Actually most of us start on December 23rd which is the day the last details are supposed to be put in place. I can’t manage three days in a row now so my Lille Julaften (Little Christmas Eve) was spent resting, taking a shower and making the Norwegian version of sauerkraut.


Our sauerkraut is not fermented like the german version is. It’s delicious tho and is perfect with the pork based feast we traditionally eat on Christmas Eve. To make it you need:

  • 1 cabbage
  • 1 apple
  • 1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar/apple cider vinegar (maybe a little more if it needs it)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 l Stock (I use chicken)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I cut the cabbage into wedges and then into strips in the food processor. Cut the apple into smallish cubes (it will dissolve when cooked). Put all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil, simmer for about two hours until it looks like this:

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Surkål – directly translates to sour cabbage

Heat before eating.

My mom and I have spent a couple of hours tonight with me in my new Christmas PJs. That is a new tradition that we started after I got worse again. She left me while I still had some energy left and has gone up to my uncle to spend the rest of the night there with some more of our family. She’s picking me up tomorrow to go to hers for christmas breakfast (traditionally it lasts all day here but I probably only have about two hours in me).

We’ve eaten our pork belly, pork meatballs and pork roast and had cloudberry cream for dessert. We’ve opened a few presents and toasted in non alcoholic beverages. I do miss having a little Aquavit to drink but that seems like an incredibly bad idea right now when just a little alcohol makes me very hung over and this particular drink has a lot.

I wish you all a very merry holiday and hope to come back with more in Romjula (day 1-5 of Christmas).

 

GOD JUL!

 

Making new habits – getting better at being effective at what I can do

I’ve talked bit about habits before and how I use them to preserve energy.  A few years ago I found a tumblr called Unfuck Your Habitat (UFyH) and that started changing how I approached housework. I used to be really messy, and would clean and tidy up in a panicked frenzy when someone was coming to visit. Naturally that meant I hated every second of it.

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Oh, do come in.

It’s a lot of work changing habits like these, it has taken me about a couple of years to get to the point I’m at now where I have a home that is pretty much always – if not super clean – at least tidy. It feels good to have gotten this far being as sick as I am.

So what sort of routines have I created for myself? Well the rules of UFyH are pretty simple; put it away not down, laundry has three steps – wash, dry, put it away dammit, everything has to have a place to live. Most importantly the system emphasises working within your limits. I’ve not documented the paring down of my excess stuff since most of that happened in the middle of the renovation of my living room and kitchen, but trust me I got rid of a lot of stuff I never used.

The routines I have now is as follows: Keep the kitchen and bathroom spotless by doing a little bit every time I’m in there. I wipe down counters and sinks and put stuff away pretty much on automatic now and I think that I might use about 10 minutes or so a day keeping things clean. I had to get a new dishwasher for my new kitchen and bought a narrow (45 cm)  one because a full size one wouldn’t fit in the new layout. Best decision ever! It’s more than enough space for one person, and has a very handy short program that I often use when the machine isn’t full. Not filling things up to the brim makes it easier to empty again strangely enough 😏

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About a decade ago I was an apprentice in a restaurant kitchen, and pretty much the first lesson I got was to keep your workstation clean. Don’t know why I stopped doing it ’cause it turns out it’s a lot easier to cook when I do it now. We separate out food leftovers in green bags Oslo (they turn it into bio fuel) so I keep the (smallish) bucket I use for it on the counter while I prepare food and have less steps to go to get rid of vegetable peel and eggshells etc. Packaging gets tossed in the sink first and sorted later. Most of it is plastic and gets recycled and some of that needs to be rinsed before going into its blue bag (blue and green bags gets separated out by a giant robot named Bagsy and goes to making new stuff. The leftover garbage gets burned and is used for heating homes, like mine). My bins are under the sink so its a short distance.

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This goes in there, that in here and we’ve saved the world!

I’ve also gone back to preparing all the ingredients before I start cooking (mise en place) – it saves a lot of energy since you never have to hurry to finish chopping something up or finding something you need. And as always – there is no shame in using frozen and already prepared ingredients. If you have a food processer of some kind using it as often as you can does save your energy.

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Cooking is easy, all you need is a horse a cow and a goat.

Laundry gets the same treatment. I thought I had to get a narrow top loaded machine for my tiny bathroom (a narrow frontloader will fit I found out later) and had no room for a tumble dryer. Hanging laundry can be really heavy work, but I tend to run smaller loads these days so I manage to get it done. When I can tho, I’m getting a combination washer/dryer so I can just skip the hanging up all together and go straight to putting it away dammit.

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This is where this belongs, and this is where that belongs

My mom comes in to change my sheets and mop the floors for me and do other heavy stuff, but I manage to stay on top of most of my chores even if it gets a bit dusty in here sometimes. I have though about getting a robot vacuum cleaner but my google skills has failed me a bit on finding one that will work well in a small apartment with a lot of walls and furniture in the way. If anyone has any suggestions I’ll be grateful.

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Step aside peasants, I’m coming through here

I hope this didn’t come across as too splainy, I’ve re written this post a few times and still think it could be better. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask ( I might take a little time to answer tho, I haven’t slept that much lately and it feels like I might be able to now :))

 

My bullet journal is an imperfect mess. I love it anyway

You know, I’ve seen a few articles and blog posts about perfectly laid out bullet journals with beautiful calligraphy and artistically done pages. You know the ones. These articles make it seem like you have to do it perfectly to even have one, but in my opinion that misses the point of a bullet journal completely. The journal is supposed to be yours, not a competition on who writes and draws the prettiest. It’s also meant to be useful. It’s a practical tool for every day use. I use mine to keep track pretty much everything – meaning my earlier loose notes “systems” are gone forever, and I have everything I need in one portable place.

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Yes, that is Smaug

You might ask why a chronically ill housebound person needs a bullet journal in the first place. Well – I have memory problems and I use mine to make notes of what I’ve done or seen or read. I have lists of questions to ask my doctors. I write down what prescriptions I need refilling. I write down important phone conversations. I have a summary page for each month that I write down things that happened in the world, and to me personally.

And as everyone else I have administrative stuff to get through – I have to change my phone company, call insurance, write someone a birthday card. I have medical appointments, someone is visiting me, there are builders coming and the heating company is turning of all the hot water for a day to fix something gone wrong.

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My monthly layout

I have a habit tracker to see patterns so I can simplify my life better. I track the weather and have a box each day to track medical symptoms and pain. That part is a bit complicated at the moment, I’m trying to see if I can find triggers for certain things that keeps happening. I’ll simplify it again when I figure it out.

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Very tidy day layout

I use an unlined moleskine journal for now, but next time I’m getting a dot matrix one to make some things easier to do (like write straight) and my lines a little less wobbly. In the moleskine journals the pens I like to use also seem to bleed through the paper a bit too easily so any recommendations for better journals would be great.

 

I colour and doodle on my pages. Other people do not. Some journals, like the basic starter journal on bulletjournal.com does not but it makes me happy to add colour. YMMV. I’m not the best artist but the doodles that take me a couple of minutes makes my journal colourful and fun to me. I use “ruined” pages for notes and make them useful anyway. I write down shopping lists and ideas on half used pages.

doodlesaIt took a few months to find the best layout for my day to day pages, and now I really like them. At the end of the year I’ll have a physical reminder of what happened, and with my memory problems that makes a big difference. I can go back and check when something happened, what was agreed to in a phone conversation and when I sent in some paperwork to whoever.

I make a doodle page for each month. I’m not brilliant at drawing stuff, I have to look at what other people do and copy them. I use a pencil and trace with a pen after, and still some things turns out pretty bad. I dont mind at all, I just put some colour on it and have a laugh. I also make doodles on the day pages. Maybe I saw a cat through the window, or read about ants.

doodlesMost importantly, this is a system that works for me precisely because it’s so adaptable. It might not work for you at all, or it might need a completely different layout than mine to be functional. You might need a full page for a day if you have lots of stuff to do, you might need less. Before I tried the system for myself I figured it was overhyped but as it turned out it was exactly what I needed.

Sorry about the pictures by the way. I’m not much of an photographer either as it turns out.

 

What *not* to do on a good day

So yesterday morning started out as a pretty good day. Pretty low on the pain scale (about a 5), I’d slept well and getting out of bed was easy peasy. For me that is. The weather was nice, lowish humidity and the temperature juuust right. The sun was shining and it didn’t hurt my eyes. After about two weeks with only shitty days this was brilliant.

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Here’s what I did with my great day:

  1. Vacuumed
  2. Changed my sheets
  3. Cooked
  4. Laundry
  5. Had to go back to bed and lie very still

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My mom asked why I hadn’t just gone outside for a bit with my good day, and I felt like an idiot. After eight years you think I’d learn wouldn’t you? Oh well, at least my apartment is dust free and my bed is clean… Which is nice since I’m staying in it today.

 

Things that make my life a little easier

Over the last year and a half I’ve had to adapt to a whole new way of living. A lot of it is spent resting and even though my couch is great, my bed is better. I’ve found a few things that make being in bed a lot a little better.

  1. Hotel pillows:  Giant soft pillows that makes sitting up and lying down in bed comfortable. I have two of them stacked up under my normal pillow and they make things much easier.
  2. A tray for coffee cups, water glasses, phones and whatnot. I have several, but the plastic trays from IKEA functions beautifully. Get one with a bit of edge in case of spilling things.
  3. A bed table/laptop table. I use mine all the time, but I’ll probably get a new one that I can tilt up for even more comfort.
  4. Mason jar drinking glass with lid. I have spilled a lot of water on myself while in bed. The drinking glasses with a lid is brilliant. They are a bit heavy, but being glass they keep me water cool much longer than a plastic glass would. It’s also easier to drink enough when drinking from a straw for some reason.

Other things that keeps my life a little better:

  • My Sodastream machine. It’s sometimes difficult to drink enough. Carbonated water is easier to swallow for some reason. I also gave my mom one a few years ago for Christmas, and it still functions beautifully even though that was the cheapest version.
  • Cleaning as I go. My kitchen is spotless. Always. I keep it that way because I’ve discovered that it takes a lot less time and effort to clean as I go than say once a day. I probably use about a minute every time I’m in there to make sure everything is in order. I have a small kitchen and it is just me here so this might not be something everyone can do.
  • Getting groceries delivered. This is a new discovery, but it’s so great. I think I can manage to get deliveries about once a month if I plan it well enough.
  • Soft clothes.

Found my camera

I found my camera the other day and thought I’d put up some pictures of my balcony that isn’t totally bad like my iPhone pictures 😏

Look – the sun was even shining for a little while…

My balcony is starting to look great

Thanks to my great mom I have a fabulous starting point for my balcony. I have flowers, herbs and some vegetables going on. I’m getting some more flowers to put in between my lobelias, and I’m going to get some lettuce seeds to grow my own in the side that isn’t planted yet.

I even have a pumpkin plant going but I’m not sure how this is going to end 🙂

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