Friday miscellany: Melting snow, little wins

After a wintry February, spring is coming. The snow is melting, down to the ground in patches. I went on a slippery hike (in lieu of running) on an icy trail the other morning, but I did see mud in spots. The 10-day forecast calls for highs in the 40s and even 50s. (And lots of rain, which may interfere with some weekend adventures, but here’s hoping not).

I had some rough nights with the baby this week and sometimes it feels like I’m playing whack-a-mole with big kid school crises. So I try to look for little wins, even if  it’s just laughing at a situation. When I drove a forgotten project to one of my children’s schools yesterday, the security guard who greeted me looked at the project and said “Hey, that’s for Mr. [name]’s class, right?” Apparently he had spent the morning delivering forgotten versions of this project to the same class. Good to know we are not the only household with some executive functioning fails!

I played the piano for 30 minutes at the new house — mostly old Tori Amos sheet music. It took me back to high school immediately. I also attempted to play a Gershwin suite I hadn’t tried in decades. I am looking forward to having piano playing be a bigger part of my life when time opens up. As it should, someday. In my time diary study for I Know How She Does It, I found (with high statistical significance!) that women with children under age 2 have less leisure time than mothers of older children. The transition doesn’t happen immediately at age 2 by any means, but we are only 10 months away from there.

(And potentially teaching the toddler to wear masks in public…oh my goodness).

I had a few little money wins. On the income side, I learned that the New Corner Office podcast did in fact turn a profit (after recouping my advance) in the last quarter of the year. Yes, I pulled the plug on that project, but it’s good to know it could have had an economically functioning life. On the spending side, I got an email from OpenTable that I had lots of dining points about to expire. I confess that I didn’t even know that dining points were a thing (I don’t choose restaurants or times based on them) but I dutifully clicked over and saw that I could redeem some of my points for a $50 Amazon gift card. I did and then used that for a puzzle I’d been eyeing but didn’t need, and some school supplies we did need. A child used his Christmas Amazon gift cards to order a video game he wanted, so I feel slightly less like piles of money have gone there this week. I also went to order an ebook that looked interesting and saw that I had ordered that ebook in November 2018. What happened then? Did I read it? I have no memory of it. But at least I didn’t buy it a second time!

Now I just need to figure out how to get some paper towel rolls for another kid school project. We are not going through paper towels quickly enough to produce an adequate supply. However, we have slightly accelerated usage this week as my 6-year-old has become quite interested in cleaning bathrooms. I required him to help me clean up a bathroom after he made a big mess in one (no need to go into the details here) and he discovered that it was quite satisfying to spray the cleaner and wipe up smudges and dirt. Most days this week he’d come home from school and request we go clean a bathroom together. I guess there are worse hobbies!

In the non-win category: We made sourdough bread from a starter and it didn’t really work. We got a loaf of bread but it didn’t have that sourdough taste. Oh well. If you took up sourdough making during the pandemic, I’d love to hear your tips.



16 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: Melting snow, little wins

  1. Recent wins- I finally bit the bullet and had a cleaning service come and do a deep clean. Best money I’ve spent in a LONG time. Scheduled a donation pick up and cleared out a bunch of clutter. Combed through my kids bookshelf (mine is pretty lean) and found books we could give a new home via eBay. Finally bought the Science Museum membership and reserved timed entry for late tomorrow afternoon (during projected rain).

    In other news, I love Tori Amos. I can imagine playing something like “Pretty Good Year” would be quite satisfying!

  2. My 4 year old has recently become diaper free (finally!) and has developed a passion for bathroom cleaning. He wants to wipe everything down and use the brush every time. I feel like this is not something I should discourage but on the other hand, a quick call for my assistance turns into 10-15 minutes!

  3. Refrigerating the dough overnight (or even a full day) will make it more tangy, it promotes the bacteria that release acid and make it more tangy. There’s an extra tangy sourdough recipe on the King Arthur flour website that’s yummy. Congrats on getting it to rise though! Sourdough can be temperamentalz

  4. Yes, definitely agree on women with children over two having more leisure time (as you know!). My youngest recently turned three and I find myself often remarking how much easier things are.

    You always do a great job in your writing of reflecting on the positives and seeing the glass half full with small wins. I’m looking forward to the fireside chat next week.

  5. Little Wins: We too will be getting an Amazon gift card from Open Table! I was able to run on my favorite path this afternoon for the first time since a big snowstorm at the beginning of the month. The virtual fundraiser I co-chaired last night did amazingly well (there is something to be said for low overhead!).

  6. I’ve been making sourdough for four or five years now, and I’ve found that the “sour” level really varies, since so much of the science of it is dependent on what bacteria is in the air at any given time. At any rate, my bread has never been as sour as store-bought sourdough; I do think the store bought stuff often has an additive in it. Sometimes I get a more sour flavor when 1) I don’t discard when feeding – so instead of discarding half the starter and feeding 100g water and 100g flour, I don’t discard and just feed 50g flour and 50g water, and 2) I do an overnight (or longer) initial rise before shaping, usually in the fridge. 3) and this might just be coincidence, but my last loaf I did the first rise in a Ziploc bag (rather than my usual towel covered bowl) and it was the most sour it’s ever been.
    My wins this week has been the sunshine (finally!) and my 17 month year old saying “mama” (Finally! She’s a little bit language delayed). None of these things are my doing, but little joys nonetheless.

  7. When I read this, I remembered I’d also just received a reminder from OpenTable that I had points that were expiring (cue reminiscing about pre-COVID, pre-baby times lol). I had skimmed the email subject, assumed it would be annoying to redeem, and deleted it. But after reading this post, I checked my deleted messages and was also able to redeem points for a $50 Amazon gift card. Thanks!

    1. @Chelsey- woo hoo! I suddenly feel very useful. Hopefully a few others actually opened that email after reading this. I wonder what sparked the email. Probably a lot of $50 Amazon gift cards going out the door over there…

  8. This is a random comment not really related to your post, but your blog and your podcast are really a blessing to me, especially during the pandemic. Just want to say thanks for continuing to produce this stuff and for sharing. Your posts tend to inspire me to do things that are either fun or good for me.

  9. My understanding for tangy sourdough is that it’s a combination of a tangy starter plus lots of time for the initial dough to sit. I usually forget to start my dough the night before but that overnight sit is a key component. The King Arthur site has a recipe for Extra Tangy sourdough. I just started mine for tonight which means it won’t sit long enough even though I remembered to leave my starter out an extra day or so to get some more tang in it. Here’s the King Arthur recipe. Hope it works for you.

  10. Whack-a-mole is a great way to describe our school situation, too.
    As for sourdough: I’ve never made an all-white-flour loaf that was tangy enough for my taste. I find I get the best flavor when a bit of whole wheat and/or rye flour is involved. The Perfect Loaf site is fantastic for all things sourdough, and in particular, I’m a huge fan of this recipe. It is fussy, but doing everything exactly as he instructs nets amazing bread.

  11. I also want to echo the comments above about how helpful your honest but “glass half full” blog has been during this covid era – I have it on my phone as my default ‘screen break’ instead of social media. So much more energizing!

    On the sourdough front, my husband has been baking for years and created a how-to for friends keen to start during isolation (“bread-solation”) – it’s a series of short videos on Instagram (non-commercial):

    1. @Anne Marie- thank you so much! I’m glad I’ve been providing some non-social media scrolling fun during all this. Here’s hoping it’s all over soon…

  12. As you talk about the snow melting and moving into spring – I would love to see a Spring Fun List. Our spring in MN “seems” to be coming early so my plan to take a couple days off to ski, sled and ice skate with my kids over their spring break isn’t working out as planned. It got me wondering what are the fun things to do in Spring – especially early spring as the snow melts so some outdoor items are hit or miss (or muddy). I searched the site but summer, fall and winter seem to be the key fun lists so I’d love to see a Spring one added.

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