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.