January 6   An unexpected lesson

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Over the weekend I was gifted the task to build Alex’s yarn stash. Apparently this is a very real problem for some people – no stash – and it turns out, this is in fact my dream job. I’m seriously thinking of starting a freelance business for it. Well, not that seriously. Anyway, Alex is bad at yarn stashing. She is also bad at buying books at a faster rate than she can read – but you know that if you listen to Galactic Suburbia. I was given a budget and free range by basically the best husband in the entire world. Saturday night, I poured over online yarn stores, browsed through yarn company catalogues, debriefed with Deb, discussed the limiting factors of postage and conversion fees with Chris. And basically had a mini freak out.

My mini freak out basically was – look how big *my* stash is, look how much money I must have invested in it over the last ten years, *what* am I going to be get for Alex? But beyond that, it finally dawned on my that a yarn stash (any stash) requires time, curating and investment. If you only buy craft supplies for the project at hand, you’re subject to the price of the product on the day you need it. When you curate a stash (ok, fine, collection) you take the opportunity to buy things when they are on sale, or in bulk, or when there is free postage. You grab limited editions and one of a kind supplies that may never be available again (I have a thing for indie hand dyed sock yarn, you might have noticed). And if you decide on a whim on a rainy Sunday that you want to take part in a KnitALong that’s starting that day or the next, you can stash dive and find something that will work – or you can play around with various choices, even cast on and unpick, before committing to your colour or yarn weight choice. And truthfully, I’m mostly a spontaneous crafter.

These thoughts made me second guess my 2015 Resolutions list – why was I aiming to Reduce This Stash then as though it was a bad thing to have? And what would happen when I did start working through the stash and ran out of things – like, mostly recently, anything neutral grey? Would buying yarn unattached to a specific project be bad? Be undoing the goal? Was I saying I’d never buy yarn without an already specified purpose? What was my intended outcome?

And, in a similar, but not immediately obvious, story, yesterday I procrastinating an hour and half by organising my tea stash. As you do. I went looking for a different tea for my tea pic of the day and discovered I had a bunch of really interesting and different teas that I’d completely forgotten about and therefore, was not drinking. Cue impromtu tea organisation which even involved David Allen style labelling, and decluttering of Other Alisa’s tea stash (She drinks chai. I can’t stand it. She bought like 5 different kinds). Now I can see what I have and am excited to try a few of these too:


This is my tea chest wedding gift from Helen and Stewart (I left her really cute post it note on it). All kinds of interesting teas had been neatly filed away by Past!Me.

I realised whilst labelling and decluttering my teas that I’m actually a tea drinker. Or, that I am a tea drinker  (again) *now* after spending the last month or so getting back into the habit of drinking tea everyday (and cutting back on instant coffee). At one point in the tidying, I accidentally upended one canister of loose leaf tea and spilled it on the floor (my hands still not fully recovered post pregnancy *glares at the liars*) and C said, “Well that’s one way to use up the tea stash faster”, and that comment made me a bit annoyed. I realised I didn’t want to “use up the stash” ie to get rid of it so we didn’t have it anymore. I realised that I didn’t want to then feel bad about buying more tea when I empty out of some of those drawers. I didn’t want the idea of “stash” to constantly have a negative implication; I wanted to continue being a tea drinker with a nice range of teas in the cupboard (or in pretty canisters across my kitchen bench *pokes out tongue*).

Both these incidents reminded me of a thought I’d started in a comment on Ben’s blog last week about how New Years Resolutions shouldn’t feel, or be about, a goal that only when you reach it you will be happy. That if you want them to stick, they should be about the journey and that the taking of this journey is what will make you happy. And less focus on the destination. You know, habit changes, where the goal/destination redirects the journey but otherwise is more or less irrelevant by the time you get there. The resolution should be about helping get you to that change in lifestyle, not about some thing that you can only tick off at the end of the year.

But where does this leave me????

“Reducing my tea stash” was about drinking a cup of tea every day to get me back into enjoying tea drinking again. Taking a photo every day of the cup was to make that goal accountable, and it’s helped me learn a bit about taking photos.

“Reducing my yarn stash/WIPs” was about kickstarting me back into loving knitting again, finishing off stale projects so I had things to enjoy from what I’d spent my time working on made. And to reduce guilt about buying more yarn – if the stash turns over (even on a 5 year turnaround), then I’m a knitter and have supplies. If it just continues to grow over time (as it has done in the last year to 3), then I have a yarn shopping addiction problem. But at the same time, I should not feel like I’m eyeing off a mountain of already assigned future time and project debt aka burden. My yarn stash is not a To Do List I am a behind on.

So much food for thought. I’m going to look at reworking/redefining/repositioning my 2015 list.

Thanks James for the new perspective!

Note: For those wondering BUT WHAT ABOUT ALEX’S STASH? On the Sunday, I got an email about a closeout yarn sale at a discount supplier and I managed to get her a pretty good start on a few of her colours and some neutrals in fingering weight. I also managed to save her some postage by getting myself some of that neutral greys I was needing (I got it on sale for me, and also reduced postage as I shared it with her stash) – total WIN WIN and the trigger for the above blog post. Now the Aussie dollar is at an all time low so I am going to need to be smart and stealthy with how I spend the rest. And whether I post it to her one skein at a time (fun, but obviously $$) or give it to her as one big bulk stash (would her brain explode?).

Today’s drink: Black tea (pic here using a Noir filter because pretending you are a private detective in a noir novel is more fun that first Monday back at work at your regular day job)

Today’s total word count: 3535

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 22 396

Progress on: Wrote 2000 word piece for the Galactic Suburbia Papyrus fanzine, signed off on final edits for Years Best YA 2013 proofs, quote sorted for Garden Project, recast on Catkin shawl, knit the first clue on Edith’s Secret, cast on for Quicksilver shawl.




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December 31   Adventures in Caffeine

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In a very odd turn of events, I gave up instant coffee in December. It wasn’t really planned in advance. I think I might have thought about it fleetingly when I ran out of instant coffee the jar before and replaced it but this time round, I didn’t mention to C when the jar was close to empty (he does the grocery shopping) and I just put it in the bin when it was.

I made the decision to only drink fresh espressos because I’d noticed on days where I made espresso coffee at home, I enjoyed the cup more and I drank less coffee in the day overall. And I slept better at night.

Not an overly earth shattering discovery. One year after World Fantasy Convention (was it Ohio?), I gave up coffee for a year – Crohn’s flare up while away meant I drank none in the US so I came home detoxxed – and it was probably one of the most energising years in recent history for me. I felt great, I slept great and I woke up refreshed. I felt like a freaking Special K ad.
So, I know that caffeine doesn’t give you energy. It’s like any drug. You need to come back to it to make you feel half as good as you do without it but twice as bad as you would detoxxed from it.

But I *like* coffee. I love it. And I enjoy really good cups of coffee. In the last year, I’ve found that I’d rather come home and drink one of my own cups made from good beans and in the way I know I like it, than pay $4 for a dreadful one in a not great cafe somewhere. I’m coffee snubbing it up by buying better and better beans, upgraded my grinder, learning better techniques to draw the shot and heat the milk. And finding I can stand mediocre cups less and less. Life’s too short for bad coffee. Especially if I’m trying to stick to two cups a day.

Since I’m at home most days, I found myself mainlining instant coffee and not even noticing it. With a newborn, I was constantly making cups but not getting to finish them and I got used to just making new cups and having no idea how many I was drinking in a day. As I got to finish my hot cups more often, I just kept making cups, now in the habit, and when bored and so on. And I’d be wide awake til 2am and later every night. And feeling brain foggy for most of it.

Instant coffee is not a great thing to drink with Crohn’s disease. And it’s also not the best beverage in the world. I can’t say I even really notice it now it’s gone. I’m going to bed earlier at night and hopefully getting better sleep. And most importantly, I’m enjoying the cups of coffee that I am drinking in the day – only 2 (double shots) a day. And when I’m bored, I’m drinking the odd cup of tea. Which should help me to reduce my very large tea stash!


Today’s drink: Single Origin by Five Senses (pic above)

Today’s total word count: 580

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 18 174

Progress on: Took half of the uni online course I have to finish by 31st, completed Day 2 of the 20 Days to Organise your House.

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February 1   Tea review

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I’m the sort of person who likes new things to “settle in” when I get them. I dunno why but I can’t just use up something I just got – I like to admire the yarn skein before it gets knit up, or admire the candles before I burn them etc. The trouble with that though is there’s no clear timeframe on when the settling in is up and the enjoying is on. Luckily for me, I married someone with no such philosophy. C is the kind of person who eats all the goodies out of his Xmas stocking between breakfast and lunch on Xmas day. He has no desire to save nice things for another day.

This, then, is the only reason that we have already broken out the teas from the January Monstrositea and tasted tea number 3. (I should note that I discovered a segment of ginger included in the canister for the peppermint tea and thus the hint that the teas are to be enjoyed now, when fresh and not later when the honeymoon is over.)

I’d baked a cake. I know! I can’t believe it either. I’d just whipped one up for no reason at all. I used to be that kind of person, maybe I’m her again. Anyhow, this was Wednesday night, with Blue Jasmine to watch on the TV:

I enjoyed both the movie and the tea! The tea we had was from Lupicia – a green tea with strawberries and vanilla. It was a subtle, gentle tea, perfect for midweek relaxing and accompanying my chocolate cake. The cake was light and fluffy, not too sweet. I would probably add more milk next time as it was a bit dry. I used The Road to Loving my Thermomix chocolate cake recipe and substituted lactose free chocolate milk for milk since I had one and not the other.

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January 29   Monstrositea

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Despite my well-documented tea stashing problem (see here and here), and the fact that my constant acquisition of tea drives my husband up the wall, for Xmas, he bought me a subscription to Monstrositea. It’s a subscription based tea adventure! Every month you get 4 different teas, enough for a pot each, to try all kinds of varieties both from Australia and around the world. (You might have noticed we have a thing at our place for subscription boxes at the moment!)

The very first parcel arrived on Tuesday and here is my unboxing of it!

It arrived in a gorgeous little tin:

With instructions and descriptions of each of the teas:

And here are this month’s teas:

Since I’m still enjoying my quiet cup of teas last thing at night, I’m looking forward to quietly enjoying these. I’ll report back later!

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January 22   A Tea Realisation

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Long time readers may recall a confession I made some time ago about my tea buying – not drinking, mind – obsession. It did not improve after that post. In fact, I might have drunk 1 or 2 cups of tea ever after that day. My tea stashing habit is so bad that I can troll my husband  just by suggesting I need more tea as we walk down that aisle at the supermarket.

Since then, I have studiously worked on my coffee snobbery. I’ve scouted out all the coffee shops within a 10 to 15 minute drive from my place. I have found 2 places with actually pretty good coffee that are sort of nearby. Close to Melbourne coffee, even (with Perth prices). Eventually I realised that since I work from home now, I have time to clean an espresso machine after my first coffee in the morning. I pulled out the one we’d inherited and set it all up and it makes a very good cup of coffee too. And then I started working through the blends and single origin beans of my favourite coffee bean roaster. I go through a 250g bag in a fortnight, which I think is pretty reasonable and I’m enjoying fabulous flat whites in the comfort of my own home. And I’m drinking a lot of instant coffee too as is my way when I’m studying. (I checked, more than 5 cups a day is an issue with breastfeeding and the baby doesn’t seem to mind it as long as I keep under that.)

I like coffee. Anyone in my vicinity knows that.

I lied. I LOVE coffee.

So it was the oddest thing last night to find myself actually craving a cup of tea. And then enjoying it. And following it up with a peppermint tea. It was damn weird. Recently I’d had a conversation with my mother about not enjoying drinking tea anymore and she’d suggested I try drinking it a bunch of different ways to see how I like it. That making it like I make coffee might not be appropriate. This made sense given I adjust how I take my coffee depending on the beans and the barista.  I did try a couple of cups but didn’t really have much enjoyment so to then be craving a cup of tea was downright strange.

I’ve been thinking it over all day and realised that whilst most people offer a relaxing cup of tea to calm you down in a stressful situation, I respond to tea as a reward at the end of hard work, to drink *when* relaxed. Kind of like that beer at sunset after a good hardworked day, when you sit back and reward yourself for your achievements. A drink that’s enjoyed because you already feel good about yourself. And I drink coffee when I’m working, to get myself to work, to comfort myself, to amuse myself when bored or procrastinating and to feel decadent. I think it’s the rich, velvetyness of it, like chocolate, which I find comforting. Tea is less viscous and it often goes down scalding. It’s pure and it strips away impurity.

Lately, I’ve carved time out for myself at the end of the day, very late at night (it’s nearly 2am). It’s when I clean up the kitchen, make the baby’s bottles for the next day, catch up and make headway on emails and when I’ve started eating into digging myself out of my sandpit of to do lists. It’s when I finally feel like I’ve made headway on the day. And because now, so many small things are big victories – like going to the toilet, eating lunch, taking a shower – I’ve shifted some of my expectations of myself (possibly getting my organisational systems more up to date is helping me feel optimistic about digging my way out of my work and phd backlogs). I am also seeing slow headway. So I feel like a cup of tea at the end of the day.

I’m well aware of what this says about how I’ve seen myself and my accomplishments for like the last 5 years. But anyhoo … at least I’m in therapy :)

And now, to bed.

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