Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On Leaning Out

There's been a lot of talk lately about Leaning In, a concept made popular by Sheryl Sandberg's book (y'all know this, I'm sure). It's been on my mind again, since she was a keynote speaker at BlogHer this year. For the most part, I am all for it. Reading the book didn't teach me much I didn't already know about workplace inequality, the need to support stay at home dads, and all the other wonderful feminist things I've been fortunate enough to be exposed to. But I understand that for a lot of women (and men), her message is a wakeup call.

But I don't want to talk about Leaning In right now. I want to talk about Leaning Out.

I spoke on a panel last night about setting boundaries: "When Yes People Need To Say No". It's part of the Organization Organizers Rockstar Roundtables (a series of monthly learning and development discussions that I help to organize), and I volunteered to speak on this one because I felt like I was awesome at saying no. I considered myself to be someone with years of experience in this area, ready to coach eager pupils in the art of setting and sticking to boundaries. "Hell yeah!" I cried to myself. "I can't wait to lay down some truth about boundaries!"

It was only after we started the planning process that I realized how terrible I actually am at this. I'm a "yes" person. I want to be a part of everything. I am overcommitted. I am currently battling a gnarly cold, no doubt the result of going to hard for too long. My calendar is full, and it stresses me out rather than making me feel blessed and excited. The truth is that while I may be pretty good at setting boundaries, I'm not so great on paying attention to my bandwidth.

So for the rest of the year, I am going to say no. I'm certainly not going to say yes to anything new. But I'm going to start actively saying no, without fear of disappointing someone (or myself). Or maybe with that fear, but an acknowledgement that it's ok to disappoint people sometimes.

What would I do if I wasn't afraid, Sheryl? I'd start saying no.

Do you feel powerful when you say no? Do you say no? Are you a yes-person?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Oh, hi there.

Since it's BlogHer Conference Time (whoa I'm actually checked into my hotel and sitting on the cushy bed!), I thought I'd put up a little post for all you new blog friends out there. Before I'd even checked in to the hotel, I met 5 lovely women, and gave them all my card, and hopefully they'll come on over here, and well, I should probably have something to say. BlogHer is a time to meet new people and make new connections across the internet, in real life, and back across the here goes.

My name is Kim. I recently put up an About Me page. It has information. About me. Some of it might be interesting. All of it is true. I mostly write about everything. Sometimes gardening, sometimes organization, sometimes The Internets, sometimes knitting, and sometimes I just share things I think people might like. Sometimes I write things for other people, which is fun.

I'm super stoked to be attending my third BlogHer Conference, and I'm ready to take on Chicago, learn some new things, shake some hands, and bask in the warm friendly glow that comes from 5,000 ladybloggers* all being in one place at one time.

My day job happens to be for a company called Disqus (I run People Operations, which is like Human Resources), who happens to be sponsoring a session on Saturday at 2:30. I'm pretty excited about it. I will still be your friend if you don't come. But it should be awesome. I mean, the woman who created Cheeseburgher (my favorite party) is on the panel. Come on. Rockin'.

So if I gave you my card and you found your way here, awesome. I hope you like it here. If not, I won't be offended. You can just back away quietly and I'll never even know. If you do like it here, say hi! Leave a comment! Let's grab a drink or wander the expo or tweet awkwardly at each other. It'll be fun.


*and gentlemanbloggers

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Camping Gear: Storage and Organization and What to Pack

Exciting news! I've started guest-blogging over at the Extra Space Storage blog. For each (quarterly-ish) post, I'll be posting a teaser here, and you can click through for the full post over on their site.

I'm pleased to present my first post, just in time for summer camping (or a little late, perhaps, but hey, better late than never).  Enjoy!

Camping Gear Storage and Organization (Bonus: What You Should Pack)
If you’re like me, you’ve amassed quite a collection of gear over the years…and if you’re like me, you might not have a beautiful suburban garage in which to store said gear. In a small apartment, or even in a small home (ah, city life), storage space is often limited, and miscellaneous gear ends up all over the place. Whether you’re finding tucked-away corners for your gear or storing it away from your house (hello, Extra Space!) when not in use, it’s important to keep things organized.

The best thing I ever did was create a Camping Box (ok, well, now we have a Camping Box, a Backpacking Box, and a Miscellaneous Extra Outdoors Supplies Box as well, but still). Inside the camping box is (almost) everything we need for a weekend mountain getaway, and oh man, do I love it.

-Keep reading on their blog for more tips, photos, and an itemized list of everything our box contains. Oh yeah, baby. (CLICK HERE

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Harvest

Tonight's harvest: gallon-sized bags of Toscano Kale, Red Russian Kale, & Arugula/Rainbow Chard, 3 yellow squash, 3 purple beans, 4 Sun Gold tomatoes & around 30 Padron Peppers. Pretty impressive, given that we picked the plants clean on July 4th!

20 days worth of growth? Not bad!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fermentation at work...

Ah, a pickling adventure! The purple beans were starting to lose their color...things were happening in these jars!

By day 7, they were green and murky.

Those are starting to look like pickles, no?

We finally tried them after a full week of fermentation. By far, the pickles won. They aren't perfect, but they are good. 

The beans were all too salty, and not vinegary enough. I wonder if I should have altered the recipe for beans? Not sure how to salvage them at this point. Any tips?

Guests (mostly) Welcome!

After all the drama, the sofa bed finally arrived! My dear friend Andrew came over for wine and assembly, and before long, we had wrapped it all up!

The room still has a ways to go before it's truly comfortably guest-ready, but it's functional! 

IKEA Hagalund sofa bed, closed and opened. It's pretty comfy, and the cushions fold up with a cool zipper feature to make it look seamless. Bonus: storage under the seat! 

Can't wait to finish the room more living room air mattress for guests at Chez Rohrer!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dynamextremely awful

Dear Dynamex,

Thank you for your incompetence.

Once you graciously moved my delivery date from Monday to Tuesday (no, truly, I do thank you for that), thank you for refusing to accommodate when I asked to move the date a second time. I know it's annoying, but I had a last-minute schedule change at work (requiring my presence on Tuesday) that I was trying to work around. As I juggled my schedule, I really appreciated your refusal to move the delivery to Thursday, stating a rule that "deliveries have to be made within 3 days of the originally scheduled date, so Wednesday is the last possible day." Since I was unavailable on Wednesday, thank you for warning that if I didn't accept the delivery, it would be sent back to IKEA. Thank you for telling me a 4-hour window was the shortest you could offer. At least that's better than Comcast.

And despite the fact that I had a scheduled delivery from 10am-2pm today (supposedly the very first window of the day), thank you for calling me at 11:30am to "schedule" my delivery as if I wasn't waiting at home for a previously scheduled (and thrice-confirmed) delivery. It was really no big deal to rearrange my day around this delivery, so it's really no big deal that it didn't actually happen. It wasn't stressful to call a friend (Dear Laura: you are a superhero, and a tribute to all things Friendship) to come sit at my house so I could run into work (30 min away) for 3 hours, just in case you showed up (this wasn't your fault, but if I'm going to move my ish around for you, the least you could do is show up). Thank you for calling at 1pm to say you couldn't come today after all.

Thank you for offering such helpful information as, "We should know if we can make a delivery today after 2pm. We can let you know by 6pm for sure. Maybe we can deliver tonight, maybe before 7 or after 8, depending on the schedule. If not, we can definitely deliver any other day and give you a 2-hour window."

Thank you for this flip flop. I do appreciate your offering Saturday 8am delivery to me (hmm Saturday is more than 3 days after my original date, though isn't it?). That 8-10am window would have been great as a first option, but I understand if that's only available to people whose deliveries have been so screwed up that they call repeatedly to complain. If I'd had that option when I originally scheduled my didn't-happen-anyway delivery, I wouldn't have had to get all twisted up running back and forth trying to get to work and back, but thank you for getting my heart rate up. I probably needed it. Thanks for confirming though, that someone would definitely call me before 6pm to let me know if delivery tonight would be a possibility. I started feeling sorry for the drivers who would return at the end of their shift to be told they had one more delivery to make. I started picturing the effusive thanks I would give for their unexpected above and beyond service. I waited for the phone to ring, ready to pour my gratitude upon the person calling to say they'd made it work.

It's 6:15pm. Thank you for not calling me. And when I called you, thanks for having no idea what I was talking about, and instead insisting that I am scheduled for 8am on Saturday and there is no option for delivery tonight. Thanks for offering to check with your coworkers (always with the "let me check with my coworker") and confirming that there's no way it can happen this evening, and you're not sure why someone would have told me that. Thanks for laughing a little bit, as if this idea was just the silliest thing ever. Thanks for confirming that the note on my account says 9am delivery, when just 5 minutes ago, you said 8am. Thanks for being so reassuring when you said it will "definitely be there by 9:30 though". I have no reason to doubt you, of course.

Thank you for at least having customer service reps who try to be nice. They're mostly sweet, despite their apparent ineptitude and lack of interdepartmental communication skills. Maybe this isn't their fault. Maybe the system really is extraordinarily glitchy. Maybe they're being told different things by different people all day long, and they're just doing their best.

Thank you for not delivering my furniture today. I look forward to waking up for an 8am for a delivery that's not likely to arrive on time. My husband thanks you too.

All the love,

Update (7.17, 9am): Husband said he could be home for a Thursday morning 8-10am delivery, which would be preferable to Saturday. I called this morning (Weds) at 7am to see if that was an option, fully aware that I am possibly a crazy person. The woman on the phone (whose name, again, I forgot to collect) said she wasn't sure and would have to call her dispatcher. And then...the best part? She confirmed my Saturday delivery window as 9-11am, saying they don't deliver earlier than 9. So now I've heard "we don't deliver before 10", "we can deliver from 8-10", and "we don't deliver before 9". I am officially confused, and awaiting a call back. Thanks, Dynamex, for securing my confidence in you.

Update (7.17, 11am): Spoke with Dynamex Manager Hector, who (after I explained my frustrating experience so far) said they could deliver tomorrow (Thursday) between 9-11am. When I asked if I could have the 8-10 window I had previously been promised, he said it's impossible because the trucks leave the warehouse at 8am. BUT I got him to promise me that he would make sure our delivery is the first on the route (and Hector, we confirmed twice, and you guaranteed it!), so while he can't guarantee an arrival time (traffic and whatnot), it's looking good that the delivery will happen before 10am. Fingers crossed for a smooth delivery and no more problems.

Update (7.17, 1pm): Got a call from the call center confirming my delivery for 9-11am tomorrow (Thursday). When I asked if a note from Hector was on my account, the woman confirmed that it said, "Deliver this first!" -- ok, Dynamex. The ball's in your court. See you in the morning!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

July Weekend Warrioring: First Weekend Recap

On Saturday, I posted a post full of promise and motivation. Full of songs unsung and wine untasted and hopes that were high, and life that was worth living, and ok I'm done with this weird Les Miz thing I'm inexplicably doing right now. I wrote about stuff I was going to do, and then I did stuff this weekend. I did it. Booya.

What stuff?

I moved some guest room furniture around, so that the desks are in their new locations (including some very exciting cord-wrangling, and the addition of a new surge protector...ooh exciting).
I took the printer out of the living room and set it up in the guest room (slash office).
I did 5 loads of laundry.
I shredded so much unnecessary paperwork that the shredder needed a break.
I Craigslisted the dishwasher that never worked, the old printer we don't use anymore, and the file cabinet I no longer need. And they were all picked up.
I drove three bags of donations to Goodwill.
I organized the storage closet (already blogged).
I unpacked the clothes and gifts from our Portland trip.
I purchased way too much cute baby stuff for a friend's baby shower next weekend.
I got a pedicure.
I enjoyed the company of my dear friend Emika, including a super awesome slumber party where we watched Bachelorette, which is in fact, not a good movie.

Oh, and I pickled some things.

It was quite a weekend. There's nothing new that's photo-worthy yet (well, except the pickles), so this post is really more of a "hey look at me I did stuff" than a beautiful blog post full of photos and prose. Next weekend, I tackle the giant stack of boxes that line the wall of the guest room...there's a lot of nonsense going on over there, and it's going to have to get organized before the sofabed arrives!

That's all I suppose. Did you set goals for your weekend? Did you accomplish them? Is any of this interesting, or am I just navelgazing with the knowledge that when I put my goals on the internet, I'm more likely to accomplish them?


It's always nice to visit friends who happen to have a robust garden. On Saturday, as we sat around eating homemade nachos and playing with the kids, I offered to help pick some beans and cucumbers - their vines were overflowing, and they're about to go out of town. I happen to enjoy harvesting; there's something thrilling about the hunt for fresh fruits and veggies, eating some straight off the vine and thinking about what you might like to do with the rest. And they were happy to have the help.

We picked what I thought was just an insane amount of beans (green and purple) and cucumbers, but it turns out that this is an average harvest for them, and they get this much booty every 7-10 days!
The harvest - hand pictured for scale.
We filled that silver bucket with beans three times.
All in all, it was approximately 1 bajillion pounds of beans.
That's a scientific measurement.
My goodness. Insane. And so delicious.
Beautiful tomato for good measure.
What to do with all these beans and cukes? I'm a bit of a pickle fiend, but somehow I've never actually made my own. Rather silly, really. Anyway, I couldn't get the idea of pickling out of my head, so I looked up a recipe, bought some Ball jars, picked up some spices, and got to work.

One jar of cucumbers, one jar of green beans, three jars
of purple beans. Varying spice levels.
Gotta label your jars, right?
For the purple beans, I did three different levels of salt: one followed the recipe, one used significantly less, and one was half-full-salt and half-less-salt. This was sort of by accident at first (I really need some reading glasses for reading recipes on my phone, I swear), but I decided to roll with it rather than making them all according to the recipe. It's an experiment, right?

Cucumbers and green beans...looking pretty
un-pickled at this point.
The purple beans are so dark that it's hard
to see them. Eventually, they'll lose their
deep color completely and turn greenish brown.
No special canning equipment, no boiling the jars to seal them (these aren't shelf-stable and have to be stored in the fridge after they're done fermenting). So easy. Supposedly in about 3 days or so, these should be all kinds of pickled goodness. If this works? Man, do I have a summer full of pickling ahead of me!

And a little bonus organization-gasm for all you organization freaks like me out there...

LOOK AT MY FRIENDS' FREAKING AWESOME GARAGE (hipster filters optional)! This is all the husband's territory, and he's got quite a sweet system going on there, what with the pegboard for all the tools and the shelves with organized plastic bins. It's hard to see, but there's a library card catalog screwed into the workbench to hold screws and whatnot. Super cool (they're both teachers). He even has a few bunches of shallots hanging from the ceiling to dry right now. Sigh. So nice. I think he's my spirit animal. 

I'm curious to hear about your pickling adventures. Have you pickled? Do you like pickles?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Eggs and Greens and a House to Myself

My husband and a friend are off on an overnight backpacking excursion in the Desolation Wilderness, and I have the house to myself. And I'll say, as much as I love my husband, I do treasure these weekends alone. I tend to get a lot done while he's away, and this weekend, I have the added bonus of a visit from a dear friend who's currently studying at the Yale School of Drama (which, while very exciting, is very far away from me!). I don't know what it is about having the place to myself...I'm sure there's some psychological reasoning around wanting to impress my husband with the awesome work I've done, or maybe I just focus better when I have full control over the space. Either way, I look at this weekend as an opportunity to get a lot done, and I'm going to fight the lure of the sofa and the rom com and make an impact on the house, Weekend Warrior style.

Some before shots, for posterity.
Last week, I set a lofty goal for myself: I am going to finish the guest room by the end of the month.

Why now? As of August 1, we'll have lived here for two years. Our office/guest room has never been fully functional, serving more as a storage facility than a usable room, and dang it if I'm going to hit our two-year anniversary in this house with an unusable second bedroom! Also, I have this and next weekend almost entirely void of plans, which is highly rare these days. Once mid-July and August hit, we have work trips and camping trips and weddings and just all sorts of things that will interfere with a weekend of housework. So it's now or never.

Anyway, Will's desk is in there, but he's recently transitioned to a laptop, so while we'll keep the small desk in there for the few times when we want to work at a desk (and the printer will live in there as well), the room will primarily serve as a guest room. My wonderful friend Melissa is a professional designer, and donated a few hours of her time to help me figure out how to use this tiny room (it's 11' 7" x  7' 9", less than 80 sq ft). That was in December. Of 2011. It's just embarrassing at this point.


Check out that floor. You can see it!
You definitely couldn't see it a few hours ago.
This room is hard to photograph,
especially with an iPhone.
Yesterday, I ordered the sofabed we picked out, as well as a new shelf (sorry, Melissa, I'm taking a slight detour from our original plans) to replace the file cabinets we don't need. IKEA should be delivering them in about a week.

And this morning, while the guys were sorting through their gear, I organized the storage closet off our dining room, just for kicks.
(<-- photo)

All this is to say that I've started off on the right foot.

And as a little reward for my morning of good work (I started the laundry too - I'm on a roll!), I made some eggs and greens, inspired by Smitten Kitchen's Baked Eggs and Hollandaise (from her cookbook, so I can't link to the original recipe).

I used the greens I mentioned in yesterday's post, and cracked two eggs on top. Baked for just under 20 minutes at 375, and topped with some Cougar Gold and Tabasco. I slightly overcooked the eggs, but it's still quite good. So excuse me, I have to go devour this now. Wish me luck with the whole productivity thing :)

Greens, glorious greens
I'm not winning any awards for my food photography,
but it's damn tasty, and that's all that matters.

Are you getting anything awesome done this weekend? Have any projects in the works?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Harvest Season

Summer is upon us, and the garden is in full swing! We've already had two very successful harvests, and it's looking like we'll be seeing more of the same for some time.

We planted back in May, after the annual starter plant sale at the Edible Schoolyard. But first, we had to  get rid of a few remnants from last year...

Like some insanely tall, sprawling Toscano Kale
...and a whole bin full of shrubbery, branches,
small trees, and miscellaneous dead plants.
With all the junk out of the way, we had room to plant! And plant we did! Oh man, did we plant.

What you see here is a garden, with five types of tomatoes, eggplant, red russian kale, toscano kale, arugula, basil, gold coin onions, padron peppers, three other kinds of peppers, two kinds of beans, zucchini, crookneck squash, lemon cucumber, and strawberries. Plus the padron peppers, rainbow chard, and parsley from last year (though the parsley has flowered and is basically useless now), and the lemon tree.

And that tall plant climbing up the spiral garden stake (kind of right in the middle of the picture - not the lemon tree)? That's that one remaining padron plant from last year, which looked so sturdy that we didn't rip it out. It lasted through the winter and is going crazy now! Like, super flourishing, guys. Not just "not dying" like I would have expected it to be.

This is a lot of garden, guys. It's a tight fit, but we had our first harvest a few weeks ago, and I'm pretty stoked for the rest of the summer. I'd like to thank our automatic sprinkler system, and my can-do husband, who was responsible for a large majority of the junk removal.

The first harvest:

Tops from the gold coin onions, rainbow chard, red russian
kale, toscano kale, basil, and padron peppers
And then on Monday night, when we returned from a week in Portland, we picked all this:

Red russian kale, rainbow chard, toscano kale,
basil (4 cups!), onion tops, arugula (and
flowers), and a TON of padrons!
In fact, we harvested another five padrons a few days later, and cooked them all up on the Fourth of July. We've eaten almost all of them, and it seems like I may have gotten the only spicy one out of the whole bunch! We made pesto out of the basil, have been using the arugula as a base for salad, and I sautéed that entire bunch of greens down to about 1 cup, which I'm planning to eat with some eggs this weekend. Eating what we've grown! So fun!

Yum yum peppers! I count more than 20!
We're having an excellent garden season so far, and it's only been about a month and a half. The squash are starting to come in, and the tomatoes, while not yet red, are plumping up. I have low expectations for the eggplant, but we should have some continued pepper luck. They seem to like our garden.

Unfortunately, we're starting to see some aphids and those little green caterpillars that were responsible for so much damage last year. I'm thinking about getting some ladybugs to release, just like we used to do when I was a kid and the aphids got into the roses. What will eat the caterpillars but not the greens? 

Anyone out there gardening? Harvesting yet?