Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ah, The Best Laid Plans.....

OK, a little more than a year ago I decided to change things up in life.  One of my goals was to lessen our expenditures of money and be a little more eco-friendly.  I started line drying clothes, I unplugged everything, I turned off lights -- my husband laughed at me.  I didn't care.  I also tried to develop a new outlook on life in general -- again, more green -- more natural -- more vegetarian.  I went about it as I usually do when I start something new -- I jump in with both feet.  As usual, some things don't stick, I can't keep up with it all or I lose interest.  Now is the time to take inventory of how I am doing.

I am still line drying clothes -- to a certain extent.  After Hubs complained about crunchy towels I started drying them again but I still line dry my personal things, most of my shirts and slacks and I absolutely refuse to spend energy drying kitchen towels!  I am still making my own laundry detergent -- I really do prefer it -- and I am still using vinegar for softener.  I have also fallen hopelessly in love with Bon Ami and buy it by the multiples.

I have reached a happy medium with the dishwasher.  I try to wash up whatever I have used immediately but use the dishwasher when I have a large load -- I have even managed to teach Hubs to not run the d/w with four cups, a couple of glasses and three cereal bowls.  He has learned -- I guess he got tired of hearing me yell.

I have managed to curb my magazine addiction.  I am gradually getting rid of subscriptions and the mags I really like, I am subscribing to on my Nook.  They are just as easy to read and look at but not so much clutter.  I have also quit buying books for the moment.  I have enough that I haven't read to last quite a while so I am making a point of avoiding the bookstores and, instead of buying everything that strikes my fancy, I make a wish list and then find a way to get them at a better price.  It has come to my attention, however, that my latest Nook purchase -- the 16 GB tablet, was probably not the best.  After doing a little research today, I think I should have taken a closer look at Kindle Fire.  I was very surprised to learn that the books for Kindle are quite a bit less expensive than for Nook.  However, when our neighborhood library's renovations are complete, I will probably be visiting there first before I acquire any books -- physical or virtual.  

I have gotten rid of most of the plastic in the house and what I have purchased is BPA free.  I have bought a number of the Ball freezer jars because I have trained myself to store leftovers for immediate use or freeze for later use.  Hubs won't eat leftovers, but, hey, I am not proud.  I love leftovers and will eat them, even prefer them, most any day.

We are never going to quit eating out.  It is just part of our routine now.  With just two of us, with completely different preference in food, it is just easier sometimes.  However, we are learning how to cut those bills as well and it is working well.  We have figured out that, if we are going to eat out, eat out at lunch.  The lunch menus are cheaper and have smaller portions which is great for us.  That way we don't over-indulge or end up carrying half our dinner home with us.  We have also found that many times, the food tastes better and fresher at lunch.  It is also a lot quieter.  I have become very sensitive to noisy restaurants -- can't stand them -- so lunch seems to work for us as well.  Also, when we agree on what to have, we share.

Now, my downfall -- the plant based diet.  I have completely abandoned it and I don't feel so good for it.  However, when we do eat at home, Hubs is doing a lot of the cooking since I am babysitting these days, and he is just not a vegetable person whereas I am.  So, I am going to have to figure out how to incorporate more veggies and not hurt his feelings.  I am not opposed to frozen vegetables and actually like to stock up on them so I am just going to have to make a point of steaming them for myself if he doesn't want them.  

I have a new mid-year resolution in regards to expenditure of money.  I would like to keep a record of what I spend and what I save and try to not buy anything without a coupon or a store reward card or something.  When my children were little I made a game of couponing -- I tried to have a coupon for everything on my list and I saved gobs of money.  Now, it isn't so easy because I don't shop the same way I used to.  We use a lot more natural products and fresh produce and there are never coupons for those things but I am still going to make an effort to do as much saving as possible on everything I buy and I would like to keep a record of it so I can see that I really am saving money.  

I still haven't bought a new toaster oven.  I know what I want but I am waiting for the old toaster to pass on.  It seems to be trucking right along, however, so who knows but I am not keen to replace it when I have one that is working.  I know that a toaster oven would be cheaper to run and will replace the pop-up but not until it need be.

So, I don't know, how am I doing?  I am trying to find a happy medium between being over indulgent and too frugal.  It requires analyzing every move I make and I am not used to that -- I, like most, am a creature of habit and sometimes I find myself doing things the old way and then realize I could have done something better.  Old dog/new tricks?  I don't think I am that old, just a bit set in my ways and I need to focus!!! Honestly, I don't think I am doing too bad -- just need to get the eating under control -- more plants, less sugar, NO soda (that is the hardest) and not be so hard on myself.

Last but not least -- time.  I need to make better use of my time.  Less television, definitely less facebook, more books, more music, more genealogy, more exercise, more creativity.  Again -- focus.  

So, that is my report card --- now to start keeping track of things.

Monday, September 17, 2012

17 September 2012

Today's Musing Monday question is -- "What is your least favorite book?  And why?"

My answer,  without doubt, would have to be "Bramwell Valley".  It is the first book I put on my Nook and it will be deleted at some point to be lost forever in cyberspace.  Why was it my least favorite book?  Well, it was silly.  It was about a group of witch sisters who managed to drum the devil out of hell and he was loosed on the world, took on earthly appearance and drove an SUV to Vegas.  The door to hell was left open and all the demons got out.  The witch sisters had a really hard time trying to get Satan back where he belonged, break up the romance he was actively engaged in and round up all those demons.  It was a comedy.  It was ridiculous.  I was determined to finish reading it although I have no clue why.  I don't recommend it and I really am not to eager to say I read it.  My apologies to the author, I don't mean to be cruel but not my cuppa.  Really.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hello, Blog,

I guess by now you figure I have deserted you for bigger and better things -- emails, social media, heck, maybe even the newspaper but alas, that is not true.  I have been spending a lot of time thinking lately and organizing everything in my life, or trying to.  Quite a challenge, I have to admit -- especially when talking about magazines, but I digress.

One of the  things I have been thinking about is you.  I bet you don't know you have a name, do you?  Oh, I know, the top of the page reads "Boyett-Brinkley" but that is MY name.  Your name has always been a secret because it sounds a bit eccentric to actually "name" something like you but you do have one.  It is a special name, suggested to me by my father for a business I wanted to start.  I guess that is another reason why I have never published it -- it was sort of a poignant moment between me and my father in his later days and I guess I wanted to keep it that way.  However, I guess it is time to share your name.  You would be Tinklepaw.  Tinklepaw Boyett-Brinkley.

So, Tinklepaw, one of the things I have been thinking about in regards to you is what your purpose is.  Did I create you for my own purpose --  a diary so to speak -- or did I create you for the entertainment of others?  Are you here to showcase things I do or see, to be a venue to share thoughts to be read by others or  are you here to be a place for me to share private thoughts?  I have never been one to share private thoughts much -- they wouldn't be private then, would they -- so I doubt that is your purpose.  I know, for sure, one of the reasons you were created -- maybe the primary reason -- is to give me a place to write.

I have always been a reader and, as so many readers do, I have always wanted to write.  I did a lot of creative writing in school -- high school and college -- and many times my work was confiscated to be used as examples which was always a great feeling.  When I was a young mom with a toddler at my feet and a baby on my lap, I took a creative writing course with the idea of actually writing for profit.  About a dozen works later and many times that the number of rejection letters I sort of put the dream on the back burner -- I still have the work, however.  Who knows -- maybe one day I will self publish.

I did try my hand a poetry once.  It wasn't a concerted effort; it wasn't that I sat down one day and said "today I will try my hand at poetry" -- it was more that the words struck and I had to write them down.  I HAD to write them down, in the night, or I couldn't sleep.  One was about my son, a newborn at the time.  It was about the awesome wonder I felt at his very existence, the ethereal quality of the softness of his skin, the strawberry blond "duck down" he had for hair -- I still remember the overwhelming feeling of love that had overcome me when I wrote it.  The other was about the tragic life of a little boy who lived down the street from us.  He was about nine, we were helpless.  He is still living, in his forties, still tragic and most likely helpless.  Over the course of a number of moves, the poems have been lost.  They can't be reproduced because they were done "in the moment".  Were they great poetry?  No.  However, they were my feelings at the time and I wish I still had them.

So, I guess in regards to your purpose, you are all of the above -- a well rounded blog, which I think you are, would have elements of all the things I mentioned -- maybe even some private thoughts although I am pretty protective of those.  However, I think you should be more for me than for others pleasure.  Taking this viewpoint would help with the guilt I feel if I don't write, or post, for a while.  I feel like I am letting people down if I don't post something with gorgeous photos, or in depth book reviews or witty observations of things on a daily basis.  I need to take the approach of quality over quantity.  Yet, with that said, I need to be more organized and not let you be on your own for unreasonably long periods of time -- who know was a bored blog might do, after all.

So, since I have been negligent about writing for the last few weeks, I guess I should bring you up to speed on the things of life around here.  Our brother-in-law had a heart attack about six weeks ago.  He is fine, it was a very near miss and he is fortunate that he works in a hospital and has an observant secretary.  He is doing well and apparently sustained very minor heart damage and was cleared to go back to work after a week.  He didn't but he could and he is very lucky.  My aunt had a heart procedure done, an ablation, to help correct the atrial fibrillation she has had for years.  It was a success and she is enjoying a regular heart beat for the first time in a long time and she is even being taken off some of her meds.  However, she discovered a lump and has been diagnosed with a rare form a breast cancer.  That is the bad news.  The good news is that it seems to be a slow growing, non-metastatic form that attacks older women.  We are waiting to learn the treatment plan but I have a feeling she is going to be fine.  About a month ago B had a really bad allergic reaction to something she had touched, not eaten.  Her little face swelled up and she was put on prednisone to get the allergy under control -- nobody knows what created the problem but her parents think it was a down comforter she was playing on.  Two weeks later she had another allergy attack resulting in bronchiolitis -- and more prednisone.  She seems to be fine now but apparently our allergy season is getting started early -- as my aunt used to say -- "if it's not one &*#% thing, it's another".  I miss my aunt.

For some ridiculous reason, I have been obsessing over purses.  I have been looking for the perfect purse -- large enough to hold everything I need but not bulky, not leather because that is too heavy and not Vera Bradley because, being a child of the 50's I feel like I have to "match" and find myself changing my purse all the time when I carry Vera because one print does not fit all and, when I have to change purses, I invariably leave something essential behind.  Yes, that was an unnecessarily long sentence.  So, I purchased this at JCP --

No, I didn't buy green but it was a lovely green.  There was also a butter yellow and a British Tan color but I opted for the black.  Yes, blah black.  Black goes with everything.  I would have preferred it without the tacky metal logo thingy but what can you do.  It fits everything and doesn't have magnetic snaps which I was afraid would affect my tablet.  There is room to spare and a big pocket on the back that I can put my keys and phone in and not lose them in the bottom of the bag.  I have carried it for two days now and it seems to be ok.

I have been trying to get in more reading time -- another priority.  I am working on two books right now -- something I rarely do -- it gets too confusing.  The first book is The Little Stranger   by Sarah Waters.  I am really "into" this book but it is a slow go.  The second title I am reading is on my Nook and it is An Irish Country Doctor.  I have just started this one but I think it will hook me as well -- I have never tried to read  two very compelling books at once -- it will be an experience.

I have some cross stitch projects that I am itching to get into but the weather change and the rain have left my hands aching.  It isn't like my joints get red and swell, although they do that sometimes, but more of an ache in the palm of my hand and if I twist my hand a certain way it is very painful.  When this happens I am very clumsy so the idea of holding a needle is not very appealing.  The same thing is happening to my feet, as well.  I am sort of a crippy mess, actually.  I am very thankful that I have my little Nook Simple Touch -- it is much easier to hold than a big 400-500 page hardback book.  I never though I would opt for an e-reader over books because, to me, books are treasures but the NST is quite a blessing on some days.

I guess the whole idea of the e-reader is just another facet of my thought process lately -- how to do things in the most efficient way for me and the Hubs.  The funny part about it is that, in order to effect more efficiency, I have had to revert back to some of the things we used to do "old school".  Hanging a calendar on the wall is one thing ---  Hubs missed a dental appointment because, being retired, he doesn't have a calendar on the home computer to alert him to things like that.  I have a calendar on my tablet and have it filled  but it is a pain to mess with it.  I have a notebook planner that I have everything written down on but sometimes it is with me and not there for him to look at.  So -- I bought one of those nifty "Mom" calendars  to put on the pantry door.  I have color coordinated the entries and it even has a tablet of paper for lists and menus and such.  I am using a "command hook" to hang it up with and now we have no excuses for missing appointments or not knowing what is for dinner!  I never thought that, in my old age, I would have to keep learning new ways to do things more efficiently.  I guess it makes sense though, because as we age and little challenges crop up -- like sore hands, we have to find ways to adapt.

Another thing that I have done recently is something I have wanted to do for a long time and never had the courage to do and then regretted not doing it.  Hmmm....that was a little vague, wasn't it.  Ok, I have taken the initiative to get in touch with people that I have lost touch with.  Last year, when a classmate passed away, I spoke to his ex-wife, who I also went to school with, and mentioned that I had a special photo of this man and she said she would like to have a copy for his brother.  As I was making the copy I got to thinking about my very best friend in kindergarten who was also in the photo (it was a group, class photo).  She passed away in around 1991 so I found her daughter and sent her a copy.  I also reached out and wrote a letter to my second grade teacher.  She is the only teacher I had in elementary school that is still living and she was my favorite teacher.  I felt compelled to write her and she remembered me.  I also sent a birthday card to my algebra teacher on her 93rd birthday.  These are the types of things I have always wanted to do but was never bold enough to do it.  Now I have and I enjoyed it.  Now I won't regret not having done it.

Well, Tinklepaw, it is time to close.  Never fear, little blog, you have not been replaced by Facebook or Google +.  Those things are fine, for what they are, instant gratification.  You have more meaning, though, more substance and I want you to represent the deeper thinking me, the me that actually has something to say worth listening to.  So, again, quality over quantity -- that is our goal.