Monday, April 25, 2016

MITs and simple pleasures




It is rather difficult to work from home when the weather is as good as it has been for the past week. In fact, I cannot remember the last time it rained, and this is the west of Ireland. I keep making excuses to get up and do something that involves fresh air and sunshine (such as finally peeling off the foil on the new door frames, which clearly states "Remove immediately after installation"... oops.).

In an attempt to tick off at least some of the items on my to-do list, I have dug out one of those productivity tips I had stored away in a corner of my brain, which is to set the three most important tasks (MITs) of the day first thing in the morning. While I always have a million things I ought to do swirling around in my head, determining and writing these three down - and, crucially, thinking of them as 'most important' - helps me to focus. I have two sets of threes, one for work (both the Uni work and my freelance work) and one for everything else (these days, at least two of that second set are house- or garden-related, and the other one tends to be something to do with correspondence or organising, for example meal planning or scheduling things). It is so simple and works so much better than my overfilled and overwhelming diary (which I still keep, but I now try not to stuff sheets of paper covered with more scribbles into it).

I know I always go on about aromatherapy, but there is such a strong link between smells and wellbeing, and, perhaps accentuated by the sun, I am noticing them much more, and 'stop to smell the roses' throughout the day. The soaps pictured above were housewarming gifts, including a cinnamon soap from Germany, and they smell and look amazing.

We had friends over for lunch on Friday and Sunday, and I ended up making the same cake twice. I used to make this lemon-blueberry cake a lot a few years ago, but this time I made it with coconut sugar, which gives it a darker, more wholesome appearance (even if the health benefits over white sugar may not be that considerable). I love using citrus peel in baking and cooking (grating lime peel onto stir fries is a favourite).

 The garden is bursting with activity. You can watch things grow; the neighbours' dogs and cats visit; and we have added a bird bath (another gift) to the bird feeder - a safe distance from the cats' reach. I spent a good chunk of my work-from-home Friday weeding, which has got to be one of the most therapeutic tasks there are. The specks of orange in the photo above are calendula, which is not a weed, but we have tons of it (I need to ask my mom for her recipe for calendula balm), and a couple fell victim to John's polytunnel tidy-up.

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