The Holidays are upon us! While I am, like all of you, still a goal-oriented person, this is your last post here until next Tuesday arrives; I love blogging but even I need a break while doing a whirlwind Christmas visit to both the in-laws and my family.

That being said, I chose that this last day, a day off work but still a day before I head out to see family, as a big day: on a variety of projects, my goal is to complete 4000 words of writing! I know that technically I don’t have to do that much, but if I do accomplish that goal, I will feel incredibly fine with taking 4 full days off of writing so much and devote all that time to family.

Why can I take four full days off and not feel like I’m lagging on my goals? Easy. One of the goals in my Best Self Journal is to nurture relationships with my friends and family. That isn’t something that is easy to quantify (I cannot make a goal of “speak 4000 words to my family today” like I can about writing). What I’ve chosen to do instead with the next 4 pages in my notebook is to just… journal.

That’s the truth; it’s still a journal. So instead of spending hours each day trying to meet my writing quotas, I’m going to try to take 10 or 15 minutes at the end of each family-filled day to write what I’m grateful for and to process any interactions I had but didn’t think about thoroughly. As we all age, each person in my family needs different things, and sometimes I’m too busy to notice what those things are. I hope that spending just a little bit of time journaling will help me notice how to be the best daughter, sister, friend, and in-law I can be, for the specific people in my life.

I hope that your holidays are full of rest, if that’s what you need, or activity, if that’s what you need. I hope that all of us are able to tell the difference between joyful productivity and drudgery, and choose productivity at the times when it thrills us. See you all next week!

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I had a pretty exciting day yesterday. For the first time ever, I have a baby nephew; my sister in law gave birth to a little dude and they are both doing really well! The baby is going to be spoiled, I can tell: neither her family, nor Husband’s family have ever had a member of the new generation. A bunch of grandparents were born yesterday. 🙂

There’s no babies on my side of the family either, so it really makes me feel like my cousins and I are entering a new time of life. For years, our families have been having adults-only kind of trips: rowdy camping trips where we all stay up late into the night telling stories by the fire, adventurous trips of all kinds. There will be a new domesticity for Husband’s brother’s family; while I’m sure they’ll still come out when we’re camping, they will also have to keep the little guy on a schedule. They’ll be pretty tired themselves just with keeping a little life alive.

Husband and I are pretty excited about being aunt and uncle; we want to take the little guy to the zoo and have him visit in the summers and of course, we’re going down to meet him. It also makes us think about the future though: someday, our married-no-kids lifestyle might change. It’s interesting to think how I can make all these big plans, thoughts for how my career and travel will go, but in the end, it will also be determined by the little lives around me, big and small. Some of them are people I already love, and some of them, like my new nephew, come into my life all of a sudden and are important to me without ever doing anything to earn it.

Just thinking about the next generation over here; don’t mind me and my musings. 🙂

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We’ve been loving our small city pretty hard lately, and this weekend feels like the perfect time to take a 3 day weekend and get out for a little while. We want to see something new, and I also have to go on a trip for work anyway, so Husband is coming along, as well as a colleague of mine. Both of them are big sci-fi novel dorks, so I think the 8 hour road trip will be well worth it.

I’ve had multiple schools of thought when it came to road trips in the past. I had a distressing phase where I liked travelling in the very early morning or late at night so as to maximize time with friends and family when I arrived places, but it didn’t account for my own lost sleep so my parents pretty much constantly worried about me dozing off at the wheel.

Then I got into a place where I was studying my graduate school degree while the rest of my friends and family were working full time jobs, which meant I could take more time “off” – in reality, I just brought all my books with me – to travel around. I road tripped in any direction feasible to me, making very infrequent stops because I wanted to get where I was going whenever I could.

There was a year of long-distance dating with Husband (then, he was Boyfriend), which meant that I would have awful weeks of withdrawal when I returned to regular life; while I never missed anyone else as much as I missed him after those trips, I think I’ve always been a person who wishes the trip could last forever.

Now, my trips are usually with him even though we also live in the same place, to coming home isn’t quite as big an adjustment. We have a joke that every time I travel with him, I’m required to spill pretzels in the floorboard of the car, because I’m clumsy and we always pack snacks and this seems to inevitably result. He makes me take things slower and drive safely and stop for as many rest areas as we need. It’s a nice change, even if my personality is still always pushing the envelope and trying to get places faster, cheaper, more often.

How do you organize yourself for trips? What are your trip quirks? Road trips are a pretty common part of United States life, but every family does them differently.

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Husband and I have a fairly small freezer in our kitchen, and way too much of it, at any given time, is totally full of coffee. Sometimes it is packs of green beans from Sweet Maria’s, which Husband then roasts to a delicious toastiness on our back porch. Other times, it is a bag of socially-conscious Javesca Coffee, from a company that combines fair wages to their growers with a commitment to provide meals to impoverished people from the proceeds of every sale. Sometimes… it’s too many bags of too much coffee, usually purchased as a souvenir from a recent trip somewhere, and it takes us a while to drink it back down to a manageable amount of space in the freezer.

Part of the reason that we take so long to drink our coffee is how long it takes us to brew our coffee. We are not a K-cup household; I love doing things quickly, but the habits we’ve developed are anything but fast. We start with whole beans from the freezer that go into one of two grinders: we keep a daily blend in an automatic burr grinder, which grinds the right amount with the touch of a button, but we also have a hand grinder in our kitchen, which we use when making a specific amount of a special coffee.

After grinding, we heat water on the stove or in an electric kettle, and prepare a French press, a pourover, or an Aeropress. They all make great coffee, so the decision usually comes down to who wants how much coffee and which filters do we have handy for the process. I like a dark, pressurized and almost espresso-like drink from the Aeropress, but the pourover is easier to do and quickly get on to business like making breakfast.

In each case, the coffee that results is awesome, at or above the level you’d get in a coffee shop, and much cheaper if you don’t count the minutes of work it takes to make the stuff. It’s worth it to us because we have long commutes that are made infinitely better by having a really amazing cup of joe by our side, and because we bonded originally over coffee, and because it is a fairly inexpensive hobby to keep up and can come with us camping or on trips with only a few things carried along and a hot water source.

What characterizes your favorite hot drink? How do you make a pleasant ritual of it, even if it means taking a bit longer or costing a bit more?

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