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I recognize there probably could not be a more boring title, or subject.  Still, everyone has some semblance of a routine, even those who don’t do the same thing all day every day.  I mean, at the very least, everyone brushes their teeth at least once a day, right?  Right?  I’m constantly reminded how important acknowledging and understanding your routine is if you want to incorporate a new habit or activity into your life.  For me, that’s blogging.

When I very optimistically started this blog last summer I thought I’d just write when I felt like it and has the misguided notion that I would feel like it fairly often.  In reality I rarely felt like it and when life got busy I never felt like it.  But it’s like exercising–I never feel like doing it but I want to feel like doing it and I know I’ll be glad I did it once I do it.  That means I need to find a way to get it done without thinking about it.  And that means creating a routine.  I’ve tried getting up early in the morning and exercising first thing, but I know I don’t really have to get up and I’d always rather sleep.  I’ve tried planning to come home and go for a run/walk immediately before doing anything else, but there’s always something else to do–like open the mail, or sit on the couch.  I’ve tried using the gym where I work during my lunch hour but I always feel rushed and gross when I get back to my desk.  After some thinking I realized that if I took advantage of the convenience of the gym at work, the free time I have immediatley after work, and the utilized restriction of changing at work and not going home first I would actually get to the gym more days than not.  And it works.  I pack my clothes in the morning when the thought of a work out is far away enough not to be bothersome.  I bring the bag into my office with me so I have no excuses.  And when I leave I just walk over to the gym (which I’d have to walk right by to get to my car) and once that happens there’s no turning back.

So I needed to figure out something similar with blogging.  I started by figuring out what the obstacles to my blogging were (following my other tenet of identifying the problem–more later).  Since I spend so much time on a computer at work I rarely want to look at one when I’m at home.  But I don’t have time to blog at work, nor is that what they’re paying me to do!  But if I could take advantage of the technological roll I’m on when I’m at work as well as the free time I have when I’m not at work…thus, blogging at the end of the work day, before I head over to the gym.  Ta da!

The same is true with getting organized.  If you currently have  a routine that leads to disorganization, you’re going to go back to being disorganized no matter how much time you spend getting everything in order.  You need to identify the issues that are causing the disorganization and then do the hard work (!!) to create a routine that combats them.  If your routine is to just leave non-essential stuff in your purse when you switch to a different one, you’re going to have a bunch of purses filled with random stuff and never be able to find anything.  But if you suffer through a few seconds of inconvenience when you switch purses you’ll save yourselves potentially hours of inconvenience later when you’re searching for that thing you forgot you left in your other purse.  The good thing is, after just a short while of enforcing your new habit, it will become…routine, and you won’t have to think about it anymore.

Of course, sometimes life happens and routines get interrupted–case in point, I am now posting this from home because it’s snowing so hard that I left work early.  So you do have to retain some flexibility and can’t take your routine too serisouly!

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I went into my boss’ office the other day to drop off a file and as I was walking out she asked, in a very congenial manner, if she could ask me a personal question. I said sure! Then the look on her face made me wonder if maybe I should have said no…

Then she said, “how do you maintain your eyebrows?”

Clearly she’d been thinking about this for a while and had been meaning to ask me. Talk about random. I informed her I’ve been neurotically plucking them myself for 15 years and we proceeded to have an in-depth, 10 minute conversation about eyebrow shaping. Somewhat intimate conversation to be having with one’s boss but that’s ok, I’m an open person.

Except now the pressure is getting to me…every morning I’m paranoid I’m going to miss a stray hair, now that I know people are studying my eyebrows!

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These are the kinds of mountains I am happy to climb.   Immediately upon returning home from Ecuador two of my best friends had birthdays so I had to get to baking pretty quick.  I made these for Stephanie–chocolate cookies with chocolate chunks and walnuts.  Yum.  These were soft and chewy and the chunks stayed melty because it’s so humid and warm here and the walnuts were nice and crunchy.  My only complaint was that the flavor was somehow a little…flat.  dull.  I know, it just lacked pop–maybe it needed more coffee, more vanilla, more chocolate?  Of course, I’m the only one who thought this (as far as I know) and Chris and I definitely had absolutely no trouble polishing off the extras…neither did my coworkers or Stephanie’s, whom she said inhaled them in about five minutes and then were dying to know where the heck they came from!  I’ll play around with them a bit next time I make them, though that won’t be for a while since I still have 26 recipes from this book to make before I’ve made them all, which is my goal.

Chunky Chocolate Mountains

adapted from Big Fat Cookies

3 ounces unsweetened or baking chocolate, chopped

2 3/4 cups flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp water

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

3 cups semisweet chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350, with a rack in the middle.

Put the unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water and stir until melted and smooth.  Set aside.

Sift the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter, vegetable shortening, sugar, and brown sugar until well blended and smooth, about 1 minute.  Mix in the melted chocolate.  Add the eggs, vanilla and dissolved coffee and mix until smoothly blended, about 1 minute.  Add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.  Mix in the nuts and chocolate chunks.

Using a small to medium ice cream scoop, scoop out balls of dough and place them 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake one sheet at a time for 10 minutes.  The outside will turn dull and the interiors of the cookies will still be quite soft.

Cool the cookies for 15 minutes on the baking sheets then transfer to wire racks to cool completely–it will take at least 4 hours for the chocolate to firm up (or, never, if it’s July in Boston).  They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days (and will be better microwaved for a few seconds the longer they hang around).

After spending most of the night awake with my foot in uncalled-for pain and my mind racing about how I’d hurt it worse than I thought and wouldn’t be able to travel by myself and would ruin the trip, I “woke up” (having not really slept) with it feeling much better. I have a slight limp, but Ira says he’ll work around it and it’s “no problemo” (see how his Spanish is improving so much already!). So I’ll survive.