Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Humble Abode

Life in our humble abode isn't exactly picture perfect.  Right now, we are challenged to keep it clean as I'm not as  mobile as I'd like to be, we're both working a ton of hours, and we have weekends at camp to take up our time.  The thing is with a small house, more of it gets lived in so it gets ratty real fast.  However, it also takes less time to clean it up.  I can't imagine how much worse off we'd be if we had twice as much space.  Wait, we've been there and done that!

Our next project will be to put sub-flooring down in our attic, which is currently just a crawl space.  This will be somewhat of a challenge since some rooms have higher ceilings that have cut into the area, and there is a ton of insulation that needs to be re-distributed.  We'll also want a light up there as well. In addition to the attic sub-flooring, two bedroom windows need to be replaced.  They don't raise or lower well and they aren't well insulated.

I would surely love to take on a project that had some decorating potential but we are boring people.  The prospect of more storage space does excite me as I've not been able to live as much of a stream-lined life as I'd imagined.  A sparse existence just isn't me.  So even though this is a "small life" it is a battle for me not to over-acquire. On the other hand, it's tempting to want to decorate and ignore mechanical/structural things.  However, I sleep better at night knowing the house is taken care of as opposed to how nice it looks.  I guess I won't be doing the stupid Wayfair, "I'm in debt but my house looks nice and the shipping is free" dance and will instead shuffle over to Home Depot and buy some plywood.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Living the Real Life

My new job is a big challenge, and I think I've posted about that.  It was a good increase in salary and I'm coming to realize it pays as well as it does because it's hard work. It is no fantasy job.  I get into work with a list of things to do that I've put together at the end of the prior day.  Then I start on that list and all sorts of other events take place and I have to address a ton more things.  By 10AM I am overwhelmed.  Then I just start a list going and dive into whatever I can.  Sometimes I prioritize, other times I look at something small that isn't as important but just do it so I can get it done.  By the end of the day, I manage to get 95% of what I was supposed to do done, in spite of it being stuff I wasn't even aware of before I got to work.  Sometimes I think my motto should be "Plug and Chug," just take in the work, plug away at it and chug on to something else.  This goes on for five days straight, then it's the weekend and I've got two days to sleep in.  Yeah!
The work I do is project related (I'm a project manager right now). I don't manage people in a supervisory role, but I do manage processes and see that work gets done.  My PM colleagues are all ages, gender and have a variety of personalities.  No two of us are the same.  We all have a lot of work to do, and we all get it done.  My company is expanding so I can guess our ranks will just continue to grow.

There is a point to this post, and that is that I'm constantly amazed at how much of a disconnect there is between how the average working man or woman is portrayed in media and in politics.  I'm not here to take sides with regard to the current election cycle either.  Just to say that I don't see a lot of attention paid to people who work hard, get paid adequately, do a good job and use their brains.  The sad truth is no one wants to make a movie, TV show, or write a book about how most people live because it's not very exciting.  I can't imagine a musical crescendo would have started this morning when I had a call with a account exec turning a project over to me admitting the business partner I was going to work with touches something and turns it to crap.  There could have been some snappy music when I informed a fellow PM who worked with her that it was my turn.  Maybe my life needs a laugh or sound track, I don't know.  But it's work and it's what we get paid to do.  If nothing else, the assignment will qualify as interesting.

The thing is, I have a good job, it compensates well, I have a nice little life and we don't suffer any real hardships.  In fact, we are doing better than we ever have before.  Each year our life improves. It is continually getting better and it's because we work hard and live realistically.  We will be able to retire in seven years and probably not have to adjust our reasonable standard of living at all.

I worry that too many people buy into hype or have a fantasy of how easy work should be, that we all deserve to live like Kardashians or Real Housewives.   It is possible to work hard, afford to live within your means, and not feel like you are a drudge (ok, some days I fill like a drudge -- but an educated/capable drudge).  I think we live in a great country and times are good.  If I thought otherwise, then my job would mean less to me.  But I see having a lot of work to do the symbol of a good economy.  The difficulty/challenge factor means I'm not under-employed.  The fact that my business sector is a success and is growing signifies that I'm not living in a time of decline.  The job I left sucked, and I was not scared to look for something else -- and now that company has a hiring freeze.  I have the satisfaction of knowing I will be missed and my role can't be filled any time soon. The chance I took paid off. Things get better if you're always on the look out for opportunity and know how to work for it.

In other words, I'm trying to set my mind set to being happy and refusing to be held captive to a fantasy.  I don't know how others feel in this day and age, but my goal is to feel satisfied to be where I am and not waste time imagining anything ideal.  Reality is just fine for me!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

End of the Season Basil

With temperatures dipping towards freezing earlier in the week, I was desperate to save some of my basil.  Three plants were the size of bushes and there was no way I was going to let that much wither away from the cold.

Many people chop their fresh herbs and put them into ice cube trays with water or oil.  Not me, as I want large quantities for pesto.  Instead, I chopped it up, mixed it with a lot of oil, put it in this baking dish, covered it with plastic wrap and froze it.  I'll then cut it into big chunks so each portion will be enough for a batch of pesto.

I can live with dried basil in recipes all winter and would rather save my stash for homemade pesto.  I'll have to see what else in the garden I can save before it gets cold for good.

Now, on a totally unrelated note, my posting came to a halt because blogger was not letting me pull my images into a post.  I found a work-around for anyone else who experiences it.  Switch to HTML mode, insert the image, then go back to compose mode. It's a pain in the neck, but it got the job done!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Jewelry Cleaner

I love my bling!  The only way to really justify how much I own, is that I only buy it when it's a real deal.  Just because I get it as discount, doesn't mean it's not worth taking care of.  The thing is, jewelry cleaner can be pricey and just isn't a priority purchase for me.  That's why I make my own.

My recipe consists of cheap ingredients.  I start with one aloe-vera leaf, which I squeez the gel out of and mix with an ounce of concentrated lemon juice.  3 ounces of rubbing alcohol and three ounces of distilled water, then give it a good shake.

You only need to pour a small amount into a tiny cup and set your jewelry in it. I let it soak for about 20 minutes while I did other stuff.  A soft child's toothbrush can be used to gently scrub areas such as prongs.  Rinse with plain water and dry with a soft cloth or paper towel.

This isn't something to use on a porous gem like a pearl or opal.  But for hard or sparkling stones, it works great.  It's also more gentle than ammonia.  Best of all, it takes pennies to make and it doesn't hurt that I almost always have the ingredients on hand.

Make a small batch of this up and keep it under your kitchen sink.  Take your rings off at night when you do the dishes, or set them in this before you go to bed and let them soak over night.  Your stones will look great and have a lot more sparkle because they'll be clean.  And what good is bling if it doesn't sparkle???!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Stock Again

This week there were a lot of left-over tomatoes and of course an over abundance of basil from the garden.  We've got tons of it and one of the high priority items for me is to cut it all and preserve it for the winter.

One discussion list I was on many years ago had a message board for cooking.  I mentioned how most of my would-be food waste either went into stock or to the dog.  I got a lot of negative feedback on that.  Food purists have a very specif method of making stock/broth.  I was told that I was making garbage.  My dog was also going to die from eating people food!

Obviously, I paid no heed to the criticism.  Being a non-traditional cook, I just like to get things done.  There are too many people who can't or are afraid to cook and I think part of it is because they have this idea that you have to do it according to a recipe and do it right -- or not do it at all.  It's also appalling to me that so much food in America ends up in the garbage dump.  That's why I'm not at all ashamed to admit I made soup with the carcass of a rotisserie chicken, tomatoes, carrots, basil, water and seasoning.  No mire-poix.  Sorry, I had no celery.  I did  not bother with a bouquet-garni.  I just dumped it all in a stove-top pressure cooker and let it go. 

Along with three sauce jars full of stock, there was a nice sized bowl of tomatoes and carrots that I strained out.  The pup sure will enjoy this stuff.  She'll get a little each day for the next three or four days. 

If anyone out there wants away to add a little real food to their dog's diet, take something like this and put it over their dry food.  We don't feed dry food, but if we did, that's what I would do.

It would seem that someone like me watches a lot of cooking shows.  Not really.  I take my lead from the food I can get my hands on, what's in the house, and how I can mix it together.  Real foodies probably think I'm a hack... and I'll own up to that!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Going Nuts

Are you crazy for nuts? As a daily consumer of nuts, sometimes it's hard to pull everything together if I'm in a hurry.  Lately, the cabinet where our nuts are stored had become a jumbled mess of bags.  Today, I decided to deal with it.  I put each bag into a jar -- a good plan since I obsessively hoard jars and need to make use them or else they'll pile up to become another jumbled mess!  Of course I didn't have an equal amount of jar space for all of the bags, so I made up a couple of jars of mixed nuts -- pecans, walnuts, almonds, peanuts and sunflower seeds.  This is a mixture I love over salads and also eat every morning.  A typical morning meal for me is a multi-grain english muffin, peanut/almond butter, chia seeds, jam, and mixed nuts.  Each day I've been opening a bag of each and pulling a few out.  Now all I'll have to do is reach into the jar.

 We eat a lot of seeds too.  I'm a big fan of both chia and sesame.  With too much chia for one jar and not enough sesame for another, it made sense to pull together another mixed jar.  I'll sprinkle the mixture over bread before I bake it, mix it with cheese and bake that over burritos, and also use it in salads and dressings.  I also put together a jar of cinnamon sugar -- using natural sugar (it's not white), the rest of a previous jar of cinnamon sugar, and a pinch of nutmeg.  This will be used on toast and also in pancakes and for french toast.

There were also assorted bags that I didn't have jars for -- roasted and raw sunflower seeds and pine nuts.  These are being stored in a big zippy bag for now.

The good thing is that the shelf these items were on is now orderly again, but even better is that I have health nuts stored conveniently which will make it easy for me to use them. 

We don't have a lot of storage space in our little kitchen and we like to eat healthy foods.  Nuts play a part of our daily diet and it was worth the time and effort to make some order of it all.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Working it Out

Adapting to a new and different workplace has not been a problem for me, but it has been an eye-opener.  My new position is a challenge and there is a higher volume of work than what my previous employer presented.  Work days are shorter, but start later.  Rather than going in for 7AM, I'm in at 9AM.  I don't hate that!  What is different, is getting home an hour and a half later and trying to fit evening tasks in.  This is one reason, why my posting frequency has fallen off a bit.  Chances are I'll be staying a bit later some evenings and that will draw out my day too.

I'm one of those people who is not afraid to re-invent and it looks like some things that I focused on over the past two years are going to change.  Working in a bank meant restraining my wardrobe, pushing the envelope only a little here and there to be creative without crossing any lines.  Now those lines are gone.  The clothes I wore to work at the bank probably won't be an asset.  That means I'll be packing them up, probably donating them, and spending money on clothes.  The image above isn't a photo from my new workplace, but it very closely captures the look and feel.

Over the next few months, I'm going to have to decide what to cull, what to keep, and what to buy.  Orthopedic challenges mean that pumps are out for a while but I can't make myself part with my shoe collection just yet!