Saturday, December 31, 2011

In 2012, I Resolve To...

New Year's Resolutions are not typically my thing. I like to periodically look at my life and try and work on making it better without a calendar date to tell me it's time.
This year, my goal-setting and the new year happen to coincide. 
I've got a couple of different resolutions that relate to each other well. Before I go into that, I'd like to say how pleased I am with my self that I don't have those typical "lose 50 pounds" or "quit smoking" resolutions. I was going to try and lose about 5 pounds and get into better shape, but thanks in part to and, I did that in December. Now it's just keeping up the fitness and maintaining the weight for me. So, not really a resolution. But I do have a few that may sound familiar to you. In no particular order, in 2012, I resolve to: 
  • Simplify
This relates mainly to my volunteer work. I am determined to find a way to make it what I want it to be so I can spend less energy doing things that don't excite me. It's not always about having the time to do these things, it's also about having the energy to devote to it. The more energy I devote to volunteering for stuff I don't want to do, the less I have to spend on the fun stuff. 
Simplifying can also relate to the other ways in which I'm already working on simplifying: my home decor, wardrobe, diet, schedule, etc. 
  • Water My Lawn
I saw this post on Pinterest the other day and it fits me well right now:

Not that I'm about to jump ship or anything, but every now and then the day to day of hum-drum life seems just a bit blah. A bit unfulfilling. I think it's natural for the mind to wonder what if. To look outside of ourselves for validation and worthiness. So- I resolve to water my own lawn.
I've got tons of great stuff going right now. Seeing what I have and appreciating it is great and needed, but I've got to do more. I've got to "bring it." Nurturing the parts of my life that nourish and fulfill me. Things I will "water":
My health- continuing to exercise and eat well and take vitamins. Keeping up with good habits and being generally loving toward myself.
As taking care of myself is quite important, I've also got to give some love to those that love me back.
My family- From the outside, my husband and I have a great relationship and really, we do. Being human, we do have things we need to work on. When I'm feeling less than fulfilled in marriage, I will often look to my husband, thinking up ways he can improve and picking at things that just don't seem like enough. This year, I'm going to work to shift my awareness here. Sure, there's things that I want to be different, but what am I bringing to the table, here? If I don't bring myself 110% to the marriage/ family/ household picture, there's no way the grass on this side will be greener. Then what? go to the "other side" and fuck up that grass? No way.
Along with that, bringing more of myself as a parent to my daughter is a 2012 plan of mine. If my daughter is acting like a turd, it's likely because I haven't yet done a good enough job of teaching and modeling how not to be a turd. (Not that she's a rotten kid or anything, but she is a kid.)
For me this year, watering my own lawn looks like bringing more of the best parts of me to my family. They are the ones who help me thrive and they deserve more of the best of me.

  • Save Money For Eurotrip 2012
So, we bought our tickets to Europe! This effectively drained our bank accounts. If we don't do a great job with focus and savings in the next 6 months or so, our Europe trip will look like this: We fly to Berlin and hang out for 3 weeks at a friends house, eating rice and beans and wandering aimlessly on foot 'cause we're dead broke. We'd rather our trip look more like this: Some visiting in Berlin, travel to Paris, South to the French Mediterranean, Over to the Swiss and/or Bavarian Alps [hiking!], Cruise down the Rhine and head back up to Berlin all the while tasting wines and beers and chocolates and cheeses and touring museums and castles with the possibility of a night at the Moulin Rouge in Paris and a night at a rock concert in Berlin. 
While we could have fun either way, I'd rather my first ever overseas trip look more like the latter. 
So, how do we save? We really live a fairly frugal lifestyle. That said, there are ways we can cut back a little more. We do tend to dine out more than we need to. Even if we choose to go to restaurants, we can make little changes like splitting a meal (T and I used to do that a lot) and ordering water instead of wine with dinner. 
We've spent quite a bit of money and energy in the past couple of years on home improvement projects. At least for 2012, we can ease off the house projects and send that money to the bank for our trip. 
Of course, any "found money" or spare cash, or if by chance, we get a decent tax return, that will go to saving for the trip as well. 
We are fairly good at saving and "telling our money where to go" so I'm confident we can do it, we just need to keep reminding ourselves of our goals. 

Along with these 3 resolutions, I've got some minor goals of nurturing friendships and not stressing so much about things that I can't change, refocusing my business goals and that sort of thing. Lils starts kindergarten in 2012 so it's overall going to be a big year! 

With that said, Happy New Year! 
I hope 2012 is the best year yet for you and yours. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Survived the Holidays!

Christmas is officially over at my house. It ended when Lils and I took down the tree today and shoved it out the front door. It will look lovely in the New Year's Eve conflagration on Saturday. 

For all my grumpiness around the holidays, I actually did quite well this year.
I managed to Christmas shop without breaking the bank. I've got a marketable skill as a massage therapist and am convinced that a good massage is all anyone really wants for Christmas. I hit up a couple of local business owners and bartered gift certificates to gift shops, boutiques, and even a hair salon. I even gave some massage gc's directly to some people who I know would use them. There's a good gift at little cost to me. We also gave out cookies and cranberry chutney to folks. I even baked some gluten free cookies for those people in our life that eat that way.
So, as the gift giving tends to be the most stressful part of the holidays for me, I am happy to report that it went quite well this year! Kiddo's best gift from us was a handmade doll changing table. For $10 at the thrift store, we got this:

 And turned it into this:

I love that she is still at that age where the biggest gift she asks for can be got for very little. We were pretty proud of ourselves for making it, too. 

I feel like I made out well this year, stressed way less than usual, and didn't go broke trying to make things just right for everyone. 
For now, I will look to 2012 with great anticipation. We bought our airfare to Europe as a gift to ourselves this year. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Letting Go and Simplifying...

I'm trying to simplify my life these days. Eating better, exercising more. I think I finally figured out a work schedule I can be happy about. I'm even working on simplifying my wardrobe, little by little: a few practical things that I can mix and match; giving away the clothes that I don't wear. I have dreams of simplifying my home decor but am coming up against some opposition from the lovely people that live with me.
The biggest thing that clutters my thoughts (and home) these days is my responsibility to the ski club. I love to help the club, I can be effective in my role with them, but I know I took on more than I'd like. When they made me president of the board, I was torn between feeling honored (It's the oldest ski club in America, after all) and the feeling of "oh shit, what am I getting into, now?"
8 months ago, I told the board that I wanted to let go of my role as president. Yeah, that didn't happen. Now,  I'm searching for ways to let it go without hurting the club too badly. I've got an idea of my ideal role with them: Local fundraising, community contact, web presence, helping with events, connection to club members, that sort of thing. Somehow the stuff that I'd love to do gets pushed aside in favor of the things I need to do: chasing paperwork, communicating with the state (our trails are on state land), helping with grants, being the go-to person for everything else with the club. ugh. How do I let go of the stuff I don't want to do in favor of the things that excite me about being involved with the club?
I've let the rest of the board know that I'd rather not do these things. No one else is keen on taking it over, though. Some days, I just want to walk away from it all. Then my sense of responsibility kicks in and I concede to sticking around a while longer. My current goal is to make things simple and streamlined enough for the next person to be able to just step into the role without too much difficulty. Simplifying my job so I can let it go to simplify my life. Sounds complicated...
Meanwhile, I hope for snow so we can open the trails for the season!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Few Odd Things That Made Me Chuckle Today

Kiddo asked me how to break into buildings, 'cause she "might want to do that someday." OK then.

We went to a Christmas theme park today. There was the usual holiday- themed stuff: mechanical sleighs, elves, gingerbread cookies. All fun for the little ones.
There was also this one-antlered reindeer:
 There were a few of these, and for no good reason, I was cracking up inside. 

Another silly one: A dinosaur with a puffin (or penguin?) head and another with antlers. What the...?

Well, that was silly. 
It was a COLD day for wandering around a theme park and I found myself emphatically saying no to any ride that seemed it may have any speed for fear of wind chill.
Days like this make me especially grateful for my hot tub. What a lovely way to warm up. It was a crisp clear night out there. Perfect for star-gazing. We even got to see a few shooting stars; likely leftovers from the Geminid meteor showers. 
Yep, life is good. Strange at times, but still good. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Surviving These Holidays.

So I wrote a post last week about how much I dislike the holidays. Then it got deleted. It was a great post and I'm not going to attempt to re-create it.
I do get all weird and grumpy during the holidays, but I'm doing a few things to combat my inner Grinch and they seem to be helping.

  •  I'm giving in- the Mr and Mini Me really dig Christmas so I decided to surrender to it. I went along with getting the tree and didn't whine too bad when they wanted one that was bigger than the 3 foot tall balsam fir I was keen on. We saw a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet and it was actually really lovely. We've been watching Christmas movies. (Well, I've been cruising Pinterest while they watch movies.) 
  • Handmade stuff that I want to make. I've been able to leave the paper snowflakes and gingerbread cookies to the others while I focus on the mindlessness of handmade paper bows and the culinary delight that is my cranberry chutney.
  • I surrendered (a bit) to the commercialism of the season. I went shopping. This year, I was lucky enough to have some good friends along for the shopping day. They are the type of friends that can talk me into or out of buying just about anything. Sometimes, that's just what I need. Plus, we got to have a big yummy lunch out. I live for lunch with my girlfriends.
  • I've been working out. Not too extreme, but exercise is a great way for me to combat the doldrums of the season and I'm doing a bit more than usual these days. Hooray for endorphins! 
You won't catch me caroling around town any time soon, but I am finding ways to be less grumpy for the holidays. Who knows? Maybe someday I'll actually look forward to the season.

Until then, Here's my favorite Christmas song ever:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Clutter or Holiday Decorations?

I'm constantly fighting clutter. I don't usually win. I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays for various reasons, one of which is all the added mess and clutter it brings into my home. Decorations don't really excite me much. I wouldn't put them up at all if it weren't for kiddo and Mr. T. -They love this stuff.
Having recently decorated a float for a holiday parade in town, and having had all the decorations in piles around the house, I feel like I've already had my fill of Christmas decorations. (and Christmas music!)
Along with that is the extra travel we do this time of year, making sure to see all the family. We end up living out of bags and never fully unpacking. Then we have lots of family and friends visiting us, too. We absolutely love to see them, but the toys scattered by the kids and the constant dishes and messes to clean up, and the ever-growing piles of stuff that get left behind, well, it's all part of it I suppose.
Don't get me wrong. I love the company and the cooking and festivities of it all. I just have a fairly small house and any bit extra gets to feel overwhelming at times. So, forgive me if I don't rush out to get the Christmas tree and if I slack a bit on getting the holiday lights up on the house.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Too Much to Do?

I'm pleased to be able to do all the volunteer activities I participate in. Really. It's just that I have a family and a job and a life of my own as well. And I have a hard time saying no.

When I started to get involved with the ski club, I went in with some ideas and thoughts on how things ought to run. Then I got all bossy and opened my big mouth at a few board meetings. Somewhere along the lines, they made me president. It's not what I wanted. My ideal would be to be able to come in with ideas and do some trail work and some fundraising and defer to someone else to get the hard stuff done. In my case, the "hard stuff" is organizing of any kind, working out land use permits with the state, and dealing with hiring a contractor to plow and sand the access road to our trails. Meanwhile, I'm trying real hard to make things as non-reliant on a single person as possible. That way, I can quit without taking the organization down with me.

On top of that, T and I are on another non-profit board for a long distance hiking trail that goes through our neck of the woods. It's not as time consuming as the ski club, but I found that We've worked so much on other projects this year, we didn't get out much to hike.

On Monday, Kiddo and I baked a pile of yummy treats for a bake sale to benefit the child care center's garden project. We also gave an hour of our time to selling the treats.

And I just got a message that a local group doing a free Thanksgiving dinner for the community is in need of more pies! Looks like I'll be baking again.

I do enjoy it, and am happy to help, but I do need to look at all I do and figure out a way to pare it down so I have more time for my family and my business and my own selfish stuff.

Meanwhile, there's a 17' long fully decorated parade float waiting to join a parade this Friday. More on that later.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Flashlight Dance Party

Our little family seems to have developed a ritual for blowing off steam at the end of a long day (or series of long days). The flashlight dance party.
We turn off all the lights and blast tunes on the ipod as we dance around the kitchen holding flashlights. We go crazy. Jumping around and shaking it like drunk co-eds at a night club. Lils calls it "getting your sillies out." It's the best. We get to blow off steam and re-set our moods. Sometimes the best things to do as a family can be just goofing off.

Our playlist for the flashlight dance party tonight:
E Eats Everything -They Might Be Giants
Shake It- Michael Franti
If I Ever Leave This World Alive- Flogging Molly.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nothing like visiting a friend's spotless house to make me want to come home and clean.

We had a little pizza playdate party with a good friend. The woman has 3 young, rambunctious boys, and her house is somehow spotless! Now, I know we all do some level of tidying up before people come to visit, but I've been over a couple of times and am convinced that her house is usually this neat.
How is it done? She intentionally keeps the place sparsely decorated and not cluttered. Sheer avoidance of nick-nacks and whatnot. OK, I've got that part pretty well covered and still have piles of STUFF everywhere! I like to blame my mess on kiddo's toys. (neat friend has a playroom and we don't) There's a play kitchen in our real kitchen. The TV stand is a play cube that is full of toys (currently, the openings are covered with blankets to make a "fort".) On any given day, you'll find a varied conglomeration of musical instruments strewn about the living room. And art supplies. The project of the day varies from bead work to collage making to your run of the mill coloring project.
Looking around my kitchen right now, I am faced with the cold reality that I can not blame the entire mess on one 4 year old. Strewn about this one room, I can see piles of ski club related paperwork, business paperwork, travel books, tiles and whatnot from the shower project, a counter full of dishes (clean, waiting to be put away), various laundry (mostly clean), today's mail, empty wine bottles (hic), a bathrobe, and, of course, a few toys and art supplies.
Other friends of ours have a magnet on their fridge that plainly states "Excuse the mess, but we live here." Of course, their house seems cleaner on any given day than ours does lately.
So, I'm striving for balance. I want the zen-like appearance of very little "stuff" cluttering our living space, with the comfort of a home that says "hey, we live here."
If I ever discover the secret for myself, I'll be sure to share.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Living in the projects

Ok, so it's not "the Projects" like you picture them. We seem to be in a constant state of home repairs. since we've moved in to our little house, we've embarked on one project after another. Constant state of work. Whenever I razz the Mr about not having any real hobbies, he responds with "working on the house is my hobby."
The day after we closed on the house, he rented a rototiller and dug up and re-sloped the entire yard. We haven't stopped since.
Our current project is the new shower. And of course, there's a back story.
A little over 3 years ago, we remodeled the entire 1st floor bathroom and put in this cool looking shower:
As it turns out, the shower was a total piece of crap. The base was made of some styrofoam stuff (not dense enough) and covered in a thin plastic. The styrofoam got some dents when stepped on, and the the plastic coating cracked in several places. Seems this company thought they could manufacture a shower not made to last 3 years. 
So we ripped it out.

 T had to change the location of the drain and do a little leveling on the floor. Voila! A new base!
 Up went the cement board. Then 3 coats of seriously smelly waterproofing sealant stuff. You think he looks high on fumes here?
 When tiling, it's mostly planning the layout and measurements. When properly planned, the tile goes up pretty slick.

Wait till you see the glass doors we're putting in! 

Although these projects can get to be a bit tedious (and dusty!) It always pays off with something better in our living space. I for one am ready to have use of my shower back!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Today was...

Well, I did some cooking today. I made good use of those leeks from the market and made a potato leek soup in the crock pot (secret ingredient: sunchokes!) 

And T got some more work done on the shower project. the next step will be adding the tile and I am o so psyched for that part!

 Oh, and we did a little chalk art in the driveway. The neighbor kids came by for a while and played hopscotch with us. Yeah!

 Then Lils and I went to a building owned by the local theater group to gather up some materials for a parade float for the ski club. What did we find? Hats! We had a little photo shoot with all the awesome hats there.

Then some friends came by for a soup dinner. always nice to get together. I sent them off with my wedding gown, as my girl-friend is helping a young woman who grew up in foster care to plan her wedding. I recently read an article that had helpful hints for storing wedding gowns in perpetuity and decided that that wasn't going to be the fate of my gown (It was a fabulous dress, after all) so I was SO happy to be able to give it away today. After all, when a person grows up in foster care, they are not "nobody's kids" they are everybody's kids.

Oh, and my sister in law was in a bit of a car wreck today. She should be ok, but I'm sending out some extra good universal consciousness love and happiness her way, or whatever passes for healing vibes these days. I really hope she heals up fast and has very little trouble as a result. She's such a good person...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

To Market, To Market

I love the farmers' market.
OK, flashback 3 years. A friend of mine is wishing the local community had a farmer's market. She goes to another market in the region to check things out and suddenly she's the coordinator for the first ever farmers' marketplace in our depressed mill town. Inspiring to say the least. Last year, I lugged my massage chair downtown every other week and did back massages for a buck a minute. I alternated with another massage therapist in town. Mostly, I did it because I wanted to be in the market scene. I made a few bucks and left most of my earnings back at the market with the food and hard cider vendors. My business is pretty well established in town, however, and it seemed that folks thought I wanted to build up clientele. They'd refer me to folks thinking I needed more business. Not to complain about abundant business, especially in this economy, but I have been doing massage for 11 years and intend to do it for many more, so overworking myself is not on my to-do list. Also, since moving my business to my at-home office, I have been more discerning about who I let in to my space, and frankly, I didn't need every market client coming home with me.
So this past summer, I let the market go. Instead, I visited as a customer when I could, and liked it that much more (except that I often stopped by between in-office massage clients and rushed through so fast I barely got to say hello to those fantastic market vendors I've grown so fond of.)

My friend the market coordinator could not be stopped at a simple weekly outdoor market. She decided that the community also needed a harvest market in November just before Thanksgiving, and a Holiday market in December as well. So we moved indoors. Last year, I lugged my massage chair over and did the back massages and sold gift certificates. This year, I decided to devote my harvest market day to the ski club. As we're in the middle of a membership drive, I figured I could get some new and returning members on board and sell a few t-shirts as well. Plus, I can bring my 4 year old to sell t-shirts where she'd be distracting for massage.
Although I made no money for myself today, I brought in nearly enough to buy groomer fuel for the season. That makes me happy. 
Aside from the monetary gain for the club, I was able to talk up our events and programs, and shmooze with folks that may or may not have local influence and even money to help our cause. 
I also get to meet folks with Nordic ski history that puts my meager kick and glide abilities to shame. Today I got to meet a guy that won first in his division in ski-jumping in '68. From this 171 foot insanely steep jump.  

On top of all that, I got some amazing multi grain bread from a local baker, fresh local cranberries, and some leeks. All in all, a good market day.

Oh, and while we were at the market, (and the 6 year old's birthday party immediately afterward) the Mr. was installing the base for the new shower and some backer board for the fancy tile job we're doing. What a productive day! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Busier than we ought to be.

OK, so I've been MIA for a while.
I'm still trying to find some balance between my work life and my volunteer life. This ski club I volunteer for is great and fun and has some real historical significance, and I feel like I ought to give it more energy than I have been. Of course, it's all volunteer run, and although I get some great ideas, I keep having to remind myself I'm just a volunteer. So I need to lay off. Or not. I am having fun learning new things, like how to write a grant, and I'm loving the trail work and the times we get to get outside.
Now, if I could spend more time outside and less time squinting my eyes in front of grant-y terms and what not...

I did get to spend some time with Lils and the neighbor kid jumping in leaves last weekend. That stuff brings me back to the best times of my childhood.

To make an eventful week even more so, our hot tub busted last Thursday. In the midst of my stressing out about something that was probably unimportant, I decided to take a few minutes in the tub to relax. then the jets stopped and this happened:
Yeah, that's the contents of my tub draining out onto my yard. It was on warranty and the hot tub company sent a very adorable redhead man to repair it for us. Although the broken tub totally harshed my mellow, I am well aware that this is not a real-life problem, so if you were pitying me, you should stop now.

So what's on tap for the weekend? It's Veteran's day so Mr. has Friday off. We're going to tackle the shower project this weekend. A while back, we totally re-did a bathroom and installed a shower that we chose mainly because it was inexpensive and looked cool. Like a portal or something. the shower turned out to be a total piece of crap and the floor cracked in several places. It wasn't how it was installed. It's that the base was a not-so-dense foam covered in a thin plastic coating and never made to last. We got a pile of tile and a new floor and glass doors and are tackling the demo of the old shower tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll have it done by Monday. 
The Before Picture

Of course, We've got a pile of other stuff going on this weekend, so we'll see how the project goes. 
I'll post more often, as we're getting psyched and planning our Europe trip and this shower project ought to have some progress to report soon. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A week in pictures

What on Earth have I been up to this past week? Well, Halloween, for one thing:
 It's quickly becoming my favorite holiday. Kiddo was a witch (her choice) and I went all out and did 2 different costumes. A witch for the daytime trick or treat, then this awesome fairy costume for a party and the night time trick or treat. Fairy costume is a little on the racy side so I'm not posting it here.
While I had the sewing machine out, I restyled a couple of boxy t-shirts. This one's my fave:
 Apologies for the bad bathroom mirror sideways shot.

We got our first real snow of the season. About 4 inches here, but some folks south of us got more than 2 feet of snow from the same storm.
 First snowman of the season:

Aside from all that, I've been stressing myself out to the max, trying to get the ski club I volunteer for all set for the season. Herding volunteers isn't always easy. I'm also working on boosting my own enthusiasm to make things work. It's been waning, and that's no good for anyone. 
Wish me luck!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Moving In.

We spent much of Sunday cleaning and organizing the house. We're getting ready to "move in." Living in a climate with (at least) 4 very distinct seasons makes us sensitive to how we use our space throughout the year.
Our house is fairly small. About 1100 square feet or so, and a big part of it is taken up by my massage office. In the summer, we live outside quite a lot. The house cleaning gets neglected as we give attention to our gardens and other outdoor projects. (This year, it was 100' of privacy fence to guard against the prying eyes of a bad neighbor.) We cook on the outdoor grill year-round, but it's nearly daily in the summer. We have fires in the backyard pit a few times per week. In the hot weather, we bring our mojitos to the shade of the front porch. The size of our indoor living space is rarely a concern in the summer.
As the weather cools, we start to move in. Although we're pretty active outside with sledding, nordic skiing and other outdoor fun, the days are just shorter. When sunset occurs mid-afternoon, it's not as appealing to go out. Plus, we tend to get several below-zero days in the winter.
Along with putting away the lawn furniture and getting the snowblower running, here are some things we do to adjust as we move in:

  • dust the damn house - It's just not something we do in the summer. 
  • re-arrange our space- This is a constant with us. We recently did our bedrooms, working toward a minimalist look and adjusting furniture for more usable floor space. 
  • organize the basement- We use a section of the basement as sort of a rec room. It's not pretty, but it's functional. This time of year, it looks a bit like a campmor catalog threw up down there, so we're picking up and putting all that stuff on shelves. 
  • de-clutter- It's a constant struggle around here, but the clutter gets worse in the winter. I'm still trying to figure out a way to effectively organize papers related to the ski club I volunteer for. They end up in a pile on the kitchen counter for weeks until I get around to filing and dealing with it all. Along with that kind of "grown-up" clutter, we have a plethora of "kid clutter." That's a whole other monster to deal with. So- we're nowhere near perfecting this step, but getting better each year. 
  • organize- It goes along with de-cluttering, but I look at organizing as assuring that when I get around to de-cluttering, there's a space for all that stuff to go. It's organizing the house so that everything in the house has a committed space where it belongs. 
These steps are helpful when mid-February comes along and we start to dream of building huge additions to the house so we can have more space to live. 
I have to admit, we do cheat a little. Last fall, we bought a 7 person outdoor hot tub. It's had a huge effect on our lives. It's like we added a room to the house that is the size of all outdoors. We often talk ourselves out of an expensive home addition while soaking in that thing. 

What kinds of things do you do to adjust to "moving in" in the winter?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Boob Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 
According to the Wikipedia page on it, it's "an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer. As well as providing a platform for breast cancer charities to raise awareness of their work and of the disease, BCAM is also a prime opportunity to remind women to be breast aware for earlier detection."
So, everything I see is pink this month. And there's lots of PSA's telling me to touch my boobies. Nearly every part of my being wants to make fun of all this pink-ness and boob touching. 
Then I remember my Gram. She lost a breast to cancer. Then she was a miracle cure for a few years. 'till it went to her bones. That's when she took up cigarette smoking again. She said she only smoked when she was in pain. Toward the end, she was a chain smoker. 
So when everyone is raising funds and buying pink shit and feeling their boobies, rather than standing back and making fun of them, I join in. I spend an extra 5 minutes in the shower checking for odd lumps. Beyond that, I really don't do too much. I don't like the amount of donated money that goes to administrative costs of cancer foundations, and I know that all the pink ribbon crap is just a bunch of "pink-washing".  
Not to be a total downer, here's my favorite breast cancer PSA of the day:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Working Smarter

I was reading an essay about the Occupy Wall Street movement. The writer states that, "If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald."
Although I disagree with the unfair distribution of wealth in the US, and the world, I do admit to a part of me dreaming of being in that top 1%. Heck, I'd settle for the top 30%. The above statement, arguing against the idea that working harder makes you wealthy, goes with the adage I like to live by of "work smarter, not harder". 
For my entire adult life, I've been aspiring to do just that. I chose a career that called to me, and luckily for me, massage therapy school was not very expensive when I attended 12 years ago. I came out of school with no student loan debt, thanks to a high paying summer job and parents that scraped together the rest to help me through. I have marketable skills, that, for whatever reason, even in this economy, people are still willing to pay for. And I'm good at what I do. (If I do say so myself) 
However, at this point in my career, I fear I may have hit the "glass ceiling" of my earning potential as a massage therapist. 
By moving my office to my home, I cut away nearly all business related overhead. 
Charging more is out of the question in the current economy. I'm already charging the same if not more than other local LMT's. The local economy is showing signs of improvement on the horizon, so I may revisit this option sooner than later. 
I'm physically near maxed out on client numbers each week. Sure, I could up my 12 or so hours of massage per week to 20 or 25, but at what cost? I'd need to invest in some advertising, spend more on lotions and linens, and more importantly, I'd be using my body to its max every working day. This would surely lessen the longevity of my massage career, and I'd be too wiped out to spend my off time enjoying my life. My family would surely suffer. 
What to do? I've been taking continuing ed. classes that lean more toward bodywork modalities that are effective yet easier on the practitioner. That's helpful. But really, what I'm trying to discover is that elusive way to make more money while doing less. I want even more time off. And I want the lucrative income source to support that.
Don't get me wrong, I love what I do. I'm one of those people who, if I won millions of dollars, would probably keep my job. 
I'm thinking in order to break through that glass ceiling, I'd need some form of income that wasn't entirely dependent on my physical ability. Preferably something I can work at while I had the sniffles or if I was down with an injury. Something I can do from anywhere. 
Time to "automate" my income. I'm not exactly sure what that would look like at this moment. For now, I'm keeping my eyes and ears and mind open for that next big idea that will make me millions. 
What would I do with all that time and money? Mostly travel. And ski more. And buy all the fancy new gear for every type of outdoor recreation. Skis? Yes! Kayaks? Yes! Wingsuit for base-jumping? Sure, why not? But mostly, I want to travel. 

ps, If you are reading this, and want to give me large quantities of money for doing nothing, I'll take it, thank you.

pps, also taking suggestions on how to make money while doing very little. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Retail Therapy and Skinny Jeans

I haven't shopped for clothes in a long time. I'm not one to get big into the shopping thing. When I do set out to be a good American consumer, I like to take a friend or 2 along. Moral support is important for me when I shop. I tend to talk myself out of buying stuff. If I look at something long enough, I can talk myself out of making the purchase. There's nothing like a girlfriend saying "ooo, that looks CUTE!" to get you to whip out the ol' debit card and buy stuff.

Today was different. I went to 3 locally owned stores in my town (all by myself) chatted with the owners, and I bought stuff. A couple of dresses, some shirts, super-cute boots, some fleece-lined leggings (engineering genius), and, much to my surprise, I purchased some Skinny Jeans. yep. 
In my mind, I look like this in them:  
So if you see me walking around in these things, please don't tell me otherwise.

To balance off all that crazy clothes-buying, I also got the book, The Night Circus. I look forward to reading it. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

They tell me it was a good weekend.

So, I spent much of the weekend in a cough medicine induced haze. I'm told my brother in law and niece came to visit. And that we went to Mom and Dad's to check out their new ambulance, purchased to convert into a camper van. 
And the kids made cookies. Here's proof:
Back to the grind for Monday. I'm feeling much better, but still not 100%. I only had a coughing fit in the middle of one massage. My clients are way too tolerant of that kind of nonsense, in my opinion. Good for me.
I even managed to have dinner ready and on the table in time for T-Rex to arrive home. (I can count the number of times I've done this in our 8 years married on one hand) 
I canceled my dental appointment for tomorrow. I actually told the receptionist, "I have post nasal drip and am coughing and nobody wants to be in my mouth right now." TMI? I think so. 
I think I'll use that time for some good retail therapy instead. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Weekend Love

This weekend couldn't come soon enough. As much as I love my work, I've been fighting with an upper respiratory "something" that has been sending me into some nasty coughing fits. Imagine your massage therapist having to go off to a corner of the room and hack up a lung midway through your session. Yeah. Not appealing. Whatever it is that has set me coughing hasn't been bad enough to cancel my schedule (remember, no work, no pay) I have been dreading the inevitable nastiness that it has brought to nearly every massage session this week.
Unlike most weekends, we don't have anything scheduled that we absolutely need to be at in the next couple of days. I fully intend to enjoy every last second of whatever we do or don't do.

Hello Friday!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Life's Little Surprises

This morning, I put on a pair of pants that I haven't worn since spring. They were tight in the spring, and today, they fit quite comfortably! How do I reward myself?
Pie for breakfast!

ps. I seem to be catching a cold. How much Dayquil is too much?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Playing Hooky

Today was one of those bonus days; mid October, warm weather, kiddo in preschool, federal holiday, day off!
We had tons of house work and other fall project goals in mind, but just before lunch time, we both said "screw it, let's go hiking."
So here we are:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Unitasker

I've been reading the Unclutterer blog. Every Wednesday, they feature a "unitasker." That's an item that was created and marketed for one purpose. Usually, it's an unnecessary item as other items can accomplish the same task and take up less space in your home. 
We went to a Pampered Chef party at my Mom's house today.
They do offer a few useful items, mostly overpriced, but the thing that caught my attention was the amount of "unitaskers" they have available. Mango slicer, Corn kerneler, pineapple corer, peeler, slicer. 
These items will take up space in a cabinet or drawer, and a single knife can do as good a job while taking up less space in the kitchen. 
The thing is, this company is making these products and it seems someone is buying them, as they have been in business for a while. I have this mental image of some middle aged woman with kitchen cabinets overflowing with "unitaskers." 
Today, I bought a vegetable basket for the grill. It's something I didn't have, and makes a lot more sense to me than an avocado peeler.
Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Looking Up.

This has been a wacky, stressful and overwhelming week. Rather than complain about the things that went wrong, here's a few things I'm psyched about.
Lil' One's room is painted. She picked pink. Caught us in a weak moment and we let her pick the color.
It's done and that's what's important. 
 We now have a "high efficiency" washing machine. We were able to go to the store and pick one out and take it home today. My dad lent us his truck so we wouldn't have to wait on delivery, and a dear friend helped with the install. (That's the guy that looks like Mr. Clean here.) This machine should help with the electric and water bills. 
 Kiddo went apple picking today with her cousin, aunt and uncle. We have 2 apple pies and this lovely apple & blueberry pie to show for it. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

And the laundry piles up.

In the process of cleaning up the house from the enormous mess left by the insulation company, our washing machine died. 

My dad says all electronics have a special component that makes them work: Magic Blue Smoke. When the MBS comes out, the device no longer works. Well, that's what happened to my washer. In the midst of washing a load of curtains, the machine made a nasty sound and all the Magic Blue Smoke leaked out. It's kaputt for sure. 

As a massage therapist, and a mom, and a person who's trying to get construction dust under control, I need my washing machine. It's been dead just one day, and there's already a huge pile. 
I'm hoping we can get the new washer soon. ugh.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is this week over yet?

It's been one of those weeks. 
After the tough dinner on Sunday, we went right into the home energy upgrades (insulation). 
We had no choice in who we were going to hire. If we went with this program, we had to use a certain "approved" contractor. 
Long story shorter. These guys were slobs. Of course, we'd expect a little mess whenever work happens in a house, but this was ridiculous. They left large gobs of cellulose insulation all over the house. The 2 attic access panels are blackened and nasty. 
When they started, we weren't even sure how the job was going to go, so we hadn't had the chance to move furniture or protect our stuff from dust well. 
I had no clue that when we hired these guys, we'd be left with the trash from the project to dispose of, and a house full of cleaning to do. 
And I'm still grumpy about the bad dinner we had the other night. 
I know, in the scheme of things, these are not real problems. When you're me, and you've got to spend the evening scrubbing down your house, well, I can become a bit unhinged. 
Hopefully, they'll make it right. 
Yesterday morning, this access panel was white. It's not just dirty. It's gouged. Thanks guys.

They left clumps of cellulose like this all over the house. You know that bristly thing on the end of a stick? Yeah. That's a broom. Use it.

and the saga continues...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Playing House

Now that the little one is 4 (and a half), she plays pretend, like, all the time. It got me thinking how we're still just playing house. 
Sure, the money has real meaning, and if the bills don't get paid, we'll have a cold winter, but grown-up house is not all that different from the "house" of the preschooler. When playing pretend at 4 or 5, it is your whole world and things can get very serious. 
Flash forward 25 years. Our house sometimes becomes our whole world. This is one of those times. 
We're currently in the process of weatherizing our home. The utility company got a grant which helped us to get 50% off energy upgrades on our home. There's another program in place locally that helps homeowners get the other 50% at a 1% loan. 
So we took them up on it. Our main concern was Kiddo's room, as the knee-wall was getting frost last winter. Usually these guys go in from the outside and blow insulation in. We had our house roofed and painted last year, so messing up the outside was not an option. I insisted they go from the inside, and it's a good thing, too. They opened up the wall and found some very wet insulation.
So they pulled it all out.
And insulated with some spray foam.
Tomorrow, they will close it in.  
We had lots of attic work done and they sealed up the basement as well. 
Lil' One will get new paint on her walls soon. We might even let her pick the color. 
Some of it was even paid for with pretend money.
Playing house is still an adventure for us.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I shaved my legs for this?

On a recommendation, we went to the Notchland Inn in Hart's Location NH for dinner last night. I'm sure the person who recommended the place had a good experience there. I however, did not.
I have a hard time dining out. We live in a rural area. Being veg, I don't set very high expectations. Sometimes, I even eat before going out.

This time, I was expecting better. When we called for reservations, the owner of the inn asked my husband some very specific dietary questions. It sounded like they knew how to make a vegetarian meal.
When we arrived, we were told the vegetarian meal was a delicata squash stuffed with quinoa, etc. It seemed promising.
First we got some bland bread, followed by some mushroom soup. The soup was good, but there was not nearly enough of it. Then came the meal. Bland, and worse than that, not cooked properly. Quinoa is not supposed to be as crunchy as this was. I figured they'd ask about it when they saw the entree uneaten on the plate. Nope. They came, took the plate, and that was that. No "how was the meal?" or anything like that. The salad and dessert were barely worth mentioning. I ate the tiny salad, but the dessert was a disappointment.
I suppose I could have said something, but I have this defect when it comes to food. If I'm paying money for it, and it's unacceptable, I cry. It's embarrassing. I literally cry. So, rather than point out the inadequacy of the meal and start bawling in front of a dining room full of people, I kept my mouth shut until we got in the car. Yeah. I cried to my husband over undercooked quinoa. Well, I think it was over the money spent on the undercooked quinoa, and that this was not the first time a "fine dining"establishment royally screwed up vegetarian food for me. And I was hungry. And we had a sitter. And it was date night.

Some highlights from the evening:
It was dark and rainy, and we had a hard time figuring out what this was when we drove up. It turns out, they did a bride and groom pumpkin people display as part of a local business competition.
It was downright creepy.

At least the wine was good.

This Saint Bernard came over to see us during dinner. He made himself comfy by my side.

 Oh, did I mention? The meal cost well over $100. 
When we got home, I made myself a sandwich.