In the name of Frugality

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In the name of Frugality

Sometimes I make things harder on myself than need be; the more difficult route  seems to call my name.  Yesterday, I spent the entire afternoon and most of the evening working on my patio.  I’ve had visions in my head of a cozy place to sit outside and relax.  Easy enough right?  Well, apparently my visions have expensive taste. The furniture I pictured, well, let’s just say, was slightly out of my already-tight budget.

Plan B. Wooden pallets.  I watch too much HGTV and peruse  Pinterest too much.  The wheels in my head start churning and I mentally start making all these plans to do this and that without really thinking through how I will actually  do this and that.  Searching “wooden pallet projects” on Pinterest is like opening the DYI’ers closet of dreams.  I thought to myself, “I’ve used pallets successfully in the past so why not again?”

palletsThis time however, the pallets seemed heavier and bigger. After lugging them up a hill and onto my patio, I had trouble moving them around.  Their sizes were slightly different, they weren’t conforming to the idea in my head and I was one short.  I flipped them, moved them around and finally decided other things had to be changed on the patio first, which lead to digging up the flower bed,  potting a gardenia and moving the table.  Finally able to get the pallets into a configuration that worked, they had to be sanded; they were a splintery mess.  As I sanded and the sweat dripped from my nose, I thought about my last experience with pallets.  Conveniently, I had not recalled the work that went into it.  I just remembered how pleased I was when it was completed.  I sanded some more, stopped to pull out a splinter and mumbled to myself, “Should have just plopped some patio furniture on the credit card, ugh.”

Back aching and getting a little sunburned, I was finally ready to paint; just plain white and only the parts that showed. At this point, I wasn’t going for perfection.  “I’ll shoot for the bohemian, shabby look…”painted pallets

Painting complete, I spent the next 10 minutes scrubbing paint off my hands and arms.  I’m a messy painter. Then I moved potted plants around from here to there and fiddled with the table trying to get it to sit correctly in the now defunct flower bed. “Great, now I need to get pavers so the table will sit level.”

I had intended to get this far and stop for the day; I would go later in the week to buy cushions. However, when I get on a roll, I can’t sit until it’s done. So, at 6:00 pm I headed out to buy cushions.  I found some on sale and considered what sizes would work best.  I shopped around and found some solar lanterns on sale (I have a thing for lanterns) and headed home.  Anxious to see how they looked,  I didn’t even go inside first.  I pulled them out and started placing them and of course something wasn’t quite right.  Now 8:00 pm, I headed back to the store, returning one cushion and buying three others.  They worked.  Finally, the cozy little area I had hoped for was reality. Tired, bruised, back aching, I took a deep breath and exhaled.  Except for some tweaking I will no doubt do later, I was done and it looked pretty damn good.finished pallets

Yes, my frugality and my “sure, I can do that” attitude may kill me one day, but I  doubt the feeling of accomplishment would have been there had I just gone out and bought the standard patio furniture.  There aren’t many things I do on a  daily basis that make me feel accomplished. Like most people, my job is just that, a job.  It pays the bills.  I love the people I work with, but I push paper all day and stare at a computer.   There’s no creative process.  Maybe I subconsciously look for projects that challenge me a bit.   I use my brain and my hands to create something.  I have something to show for my day of work.  Do I bite off more than I can chew sometimes? Well, all I can say is every project I’ve started, from tiling a back splash to faux painting a living room with a vaulted ceiling, I’ve completed.  It’s an awesome feeling saying, “Yes, I did that.”

Now.. If I just had power tools….

 

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Beach

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holden beach 1

A warm, dense breeze caresses my face;
the taste of salt lingers in the air.

Light jumps and plays across the water;
waves rhythmically roll and crash on the shore.

My toes dig into soft, moist sand;
cool water laps at my feet.

Salty air fills my lungs;
bright, warm sun lulls my eyes closed.

My shoulders slide down from their hitched position;
the furrows in my brow relax.

My mind quiets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Art of the Hand-Written Note

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hand noteHand-written, personal communication of any kind is a thing of the past; taken over by the quick text or short email hurriedly tapped out with little thought, only to get lost in the multitude of other texts and emails cluttering our Inboxes. They are glanced at and deleted.

I come from a family of letter writers, card and note senders. I use snail mail for birthday cards and Christmas cards, thank you notes – all with a handwritten note. I was taught to always send a thank you note for formal gifts (weddings, graduations, showers etc.) or to thank someone for their time or anything that may have been done that was out of their way. When someone acts surprised by receiving one, it makes me realize how unfortunate it is that note and letter writing has become a lost art.

Case in point, I am the editor of the company magazine at my organization. It is supposed to be a magazine for and by the associates, meaning professional writers are not doing the articles. It’s a lot of work, but the most difficult part is getting associates to write an article. I do get it; not everyone enjoys writing. So, when someone is persuaded to do so, I always include a hand-written note attached to a pre-mail copy of the issue with their article. I thank them for their time and say something I learned or enjoyed about the article and sign it. My hope is they realize their effort was very much appreciated. It takes me all of 2 or 3 minutes to do.

Yesterday, I received a voicemail from an associate in our Technical Service group; a techie guy. The team I work with on the magazine was after him for several months to write an article on an app they had put together that had done extremely well. I would have known nothing about it had it not been for his article. I sent him a note saying so and thanked him for doing it. His message was thanking me for my note. He really appreciated that note and thought “it was really nice touch.” My hope was realized. He got that I valued his time.  Isn’t that what everyone wants?

No one has time any more, or should I say, no one takes the time any more, to take the effort to actually write a note.  Such a seemingly small thing can mean a great deal to the one receiving it. We live in a time where everything is disposable; we rush through our hectic days without taking a moment to think about others. I don’t expect to hear back from those I send a thank you note to, but when I do, I am thankful I took those 2 or 3 minutes to put word to paper.

handwritten-notes

 

 

The Move

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Monday, May 2

My body feels like it’s been through a major workout and looks like it’s been beat, but all of my crap is moved!  And boy, do I have a lot of crap. It’s been an exhausting couple of days. Makes me truly admire people who live in tiny houses!

So the actual move went well.  The moving guys were great.  Two thumbs up to Two Men and a Truck (actually took 3 men to move all my stuff).  They were so nice and laughing and friendly.  Don’t think I would be like that if I had to move people everyday for a living… and they had another job after mine.  Just goes to show you, mood and attitude means a ton.

I have so much crap, I had to make two more trips on Sunday.   That was not planned and not a welcome thought after all the moving Saturday.  Every time I thought I had everything, I saw something else. I also had to clean…. ugh.. and wrangle the cats and get them moved.

I have two cats.  Cats are not fond of change, and mine are not fond of being confined and riding in a car.  So second endorsement coming here… kudos to Cat-in-a-bag.  I saw this video on Facebook about Cat-in-a-Bag… a canvas bag with a neck at one end with a Velcro strap for tightening and a zipper at the other end.  The premise is that the cat does not feel quite as confined with the head being free and the bag is big enough for them to move their legs. It’s supposed to keep them a little calmer.  The video kitties had no problem having something slipped over their heads… mine, well, lets just say it took a little more coaxing, but once in and I got them situated in the car they seemed ok.  There wasn’t much howling.  No freaking  out until I got them out of the car and was carrying them inside.  For a few hours, Spot (yes that’s his name) would not come out of his bag and Angel (these were the names they came with) hung out in the bathtub.

When I finally sat down last night, I remembered I did not clean out my freezer at the apartment and I think I left a clock on the wall.  Keys were already turned in… I also checked my email.  Trying to be on top of things, I had placed a flower delivery order for Mother’s Day.  To my surprise, there was a delivery confirmation… they were delivered yesterday.  Obviously I was not thinking straight when I placed that order.  Oh well, the thought was there.

So here are my tips for moving to anyone getting ready to do so:

  1.  Make sure you have wine..
  2. Do not pack the corkscrew.
  3. Have frozen pizza available… when it’s 8:00 pm and you’re tired and hungry, it hits the spot along with that wine.
  4. Mark the box with the coffee pot and coffee in LARGE, BOLD letters and put a coffee cup in with them. Make sure you know where that box is.
  5. Before you unpack anything, makeup your bed, hang your shower curtain and get your soap out.  When you are ready to shower and drop in your bed, its done.
  6. Have a sense of humor.
  7. Most importantly, have awesome friends that help you. I have two that have helped me every single time I’ve moved. I LOVE them.

 

 

Lists

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I’ve had so much going on this past month, I’ve been making lists. It’s not unusual for me to make a list, but the amount of lists is getting ridiculous.  I always have a list of things to do at work.  I’m responsible for such a wide variety of things and am constantly interrupted; lists give me a little stability.  With the move and my impending week off, I also created a “things to do early,” list which consists of reports that are usually due the first week of the month, out-of-office messages etc.

Of course, I have a “townhouse closing” list, listing all the inspections, forms to go to the lender, calls to make regarding power and cable, line-up moving truck etc. You get it. Thankfully, most of that has been marked off the list.  The biggest part of having a list is the satisfaction of marking things off of it.  There’s a sense you are making headway; there’s light at the end of the tunnel.  I’ve been known to add things to a list after it’s completed just so I can mark it off.  Now I have a “things left to do” list…. Items I didn’t think about on the “townhouse closing” list. There’s also a list of what to take to the closing. The rate I’m going, I’ll have to create a list of lists to keep them straight.

This morning, I had an email from my realtor. The Seller’s wanted to know if we could move the closing date to next week.  What??? Heck no, that would mean more lists:  things to undo and then redo for the new closing date.

2 days to closing… 3 days to move…. just get me through without losing a list… or my mind.

 

The Gown

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bridal gown

Two weeks ago, I began the process of cleaning out; pulling things out from closets and under beds in preparation for packing and moving. Several things were hiding I haven’t thought about in a while.  Out of sight, out of mind.

My wedding portrait was one of those items under the bed. It was a Christmas gift from my mother in 2010.  Three months later, I was separated.  The portrait was never hung.  So it here was in front of me again.  And again, as I did 2 ½ years ago, wondered what in the hell to do with it. I posted on FB for feedback (I needed non-biased opinions).  I got 27 comments on that post. But one friends’ comment really resonated with me.  She suggested I keep it, but give it to my mom saying, “There’s old and negative energy attached to it.  Having it in your space is holding on to bad “juju.”…Keeping that around may be hampering efforts to move forward in your life, particularly in your love life…” Do I believe in bad mojo or “juju” as she said?  I’m not sure, but I do know my dating luck has been horrible.  I started really thinking about this.

This lead to more purging. I dug out my wedding gown (stock photo above), which has been stashed in the back of a closet for 10 years.  Again, what to do with it?  I have no daughter or nieces that would ever want it and they are very hard to sell.  Yet, it’s the most expensive item of clothing I’ll ever own and I paid for it myself. One friend suggested we have a paint ball fight in it. HA… I’m not angry anymore and the gown didn’t cause the demise of my marriage. I thought it deserved better than being dumped at a thrift store.  I started researching places to donate wedding gowns.

This past Friday, I came across some charities accepting old wedding dresses to make “angel gowns.” Angel gowns are outfits for still-born babies or babies that never make it home from the hospital.  They may either be a burial gown or a keepsake for the family.  A friend lost a baby just last year; together, we found a place to donate my dress.   I wanted to keep it as local as possible and found a seamstress in Raleigh accepting gowns to make the angel dresses.   That night, I also decided to take the portrait to my mom’s, along with the wedding photo albums.  I felt a huge load off of my heart almost immediately.

I woke up Saturday morning ready to do more purging. I found a box for the wedding dress.  I packed it and taped it up.  Without much warning, the tears started flowing.  I probably cried for a good 10 minutes.  And I didn’t even know why.

I wasn’t like most little girls. I never dreamed of my wedding day or wearing a wedding dress.  I didn’t take hours upon hours shopping for it and I didn’t cry when I bought it (that well-known scene from Say Yes to the Dress where the bride is so overcome that she’s found THE dress).  And I knew it had nothing to do with the marriage.  I was done with that the minute I kicked him out the door.  So why all this emotion??  I pondered that the rest of the day and into Sunday.

I believe the stress of packing and moving, on top of the recent (and past) bad dating experiences, lead to a slap-in-the-face realization and strong possibility I may never wear another wedding gown or find that special someone.  Letting go of this gown was letting go of something I may never have again.  Very hard to swallow, even for someone who never really thought of having one to begin with. It was truly an exhausting day.

I feel better today. I dropped the portrait and albums off at moms and the gown is in the mail.  I said my farewell.  Maybe my prince will come; maybe he’s fallen into quick sand.  It really doesn’t matter.  None of that possible bad “juju” will be entering my new home.

The seamstress said she would send a picture of the angel gowns when they are complete. Maybe this was the gown’s true calling and it was just waiting for me to let it go.

Hot Mess

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Forgive me bloggers for I have sinned, it has been 2 1/2 months since I have posted. Its been a hectic couple of months. Quick synopsis for those not on my FB page.

My forray back into the dating world was short-lived. Holiday boy ended the Thursday before Valentines Day (my doing), right after which, in mid February, I found myself with a very sick cat. Two vet visits, one ear surgery, a cone on a not happy kitty for two weeks and $850 later, brings us to March….

I decided to give the dating app one more try. The lineup:  a guy who might be related… far down the line but still…. not into that, some very “interesting” chats with a pilot who thought it very important to keep reminding me he has the labido of an 18 yr old …which I did not care to know,  some back and forth chats with a very nice man who ended up saying he was just now planning a divorce after being separated for 2 years and wasn’t quite sure if he was ready to date (Hello? you’re on a dating website?) and another guy that owns a pizza place (like I need that around) that literally begged me to go on a second date with him to only end up essentially standing me up.  My face started breaking out.  Umm, yes now I remember why I stopped dating…

In the mean time, traffic has been nutzo to and from work and rent is skyrocketing, so I decided to stop the dating craziness and dive into the house hunting craziness instead. I looked at 3 properties, all of which ended up with multiple offers, over asking price. Definitely a Sellers Market, and a very tight one. I soon discovered, for the area I was wanting, my budget was definitely a beer one in a champagne area. Being my stubborn self, I plunged forward and by April 1, I had found a place. It went on the market one day, and I had it by noon the next, with a closing date set for April 29…less than 30 days.

A note: one major hitch in all of this is my apartment lease, which isn’t up until end of August.  This means I continue to pay until someone else does. My fate is in the hands of the leasing gods … May they please be kind to me.

Three days later, my car started to act funny.  Well of course!  I took it in for service and end up being there for 3 hours.  Found out my maintenance contract ends next month!  Yipee! and I need two new front tires.  “These definitely won’t pass inspection in July,” I’m told.

Let the games begin.

That brings us up to date.

It has been a whirl wind of sorting, packing, inspections, appraisals and basic hemorrhaging of the bank account ever since. Lots of stress and purging of things, literally and emotionally, which I will follow-up on… 2 weeks til moving day.

She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink

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Catching up on some reading. Came across this… so much of it sounds so familiar. If you are or have ever been married, this will resonate with you in some way, shape or form. It’s just fact, men and women think differently so communication will always be an issue to some degree. One guy I dated a few years ago told me about the book The Five Love Languages … I bought it and read it (not real sure he did..) but anyhoo..
Give this a read and let me know your thoughts….

Must Be This Tall To Ride

(Image/jerrywilliamsmedia.com) (Image/jerrywilliamsmedia.com)

It seems so unreasonable when you put it that way: My wife left me because sometimes I leave dishes by the sink.

It makes her seem ridiculous; and makes me seem like a victim of unfair expectations.

We like to point fingers at other things to explain why something went wrong, like when Biff Tannen crashed George McFly’s car and spilled beer on his clothes, but it was all George’s fault for not telling him the car had a blind spot.

This bad thing happened because of this, that, and the other thing. Not because of anything I did!

Sometimes I leave used drinking glasses by the kitchen sink, just inches away from the dishwasher.

It isn’t a big deal to me now. It wasn’t a big deal to me when I was married. But it WAS a big deal to her.

Every time she’d walk into the kitchen…

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Alive and Cooking

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imageI love to cook. It’s a creative outlet and a good stress reducer.  I don’t think about anything else when I’m cooking.  I’m addicted to cookbooks too… it’s like cookbook porn… I can’t help but look!  And, if you know me from Facebook, I like taking pictures of my food.  Naughty girl…

I narrowly avoided buying yet another cookbook at Barnes and Noble the other week. I looked through that section for at least an hour.  Here’s the thing, I rarely follow recipes!  If I find a recipe that really intrigues me, I will follow it – the first time.  Fair game after that… I’m sure to up the garlic factor and the red pepper flakes the next time, at the very least.  And as a friend noted, “You can just look recipes up on the internet.”  Blasphemy!   One of my favorite past times is browsing in a bookstore.  Not to say I haven’t pulled some recipes from the net, but I will ALWAYS love my cookbooks and books in general.  No Kindles’ in my house!

imageMy mom isn’t sure where this joy of cooking came from because she certainly never enjoyed cooking. She cooked because she had to… and honestly, she doesn’t enjoy eating.  I know… How can that be???  We had the staples growing up:  fish sticks, spaghetti (out of a can), hamburger steak, chicken pot pies… notice the trend of convenience?  Dad did like to cook and would do so on the weekends.  It would either be on the grill or a big pot of homemade something… vegetable soup, chicken and dumplings, beef stroganoff…yum … my mouth is watering thinking about it.  He liked to try new things.  Guessing I take after dad.

Mom’s question to me: Why do you like to cook?  I’ve had to think about that.  Other than I really like to eat, I enjoy the process.  Now let’s get this straight… I like to cook, NOT BAKE…. Baking is a whole other animal.  It takes precise measurements and times and I’m anything but precise. HA.  I’m a “little of this, little of that” kind of cook.  It’s interesting figuring out what goes well together, how some foods really bring out the flavors of other foods and trying all of those wonderful spices.cooking prep  The sauté pan is a blank canvas; the knives and cutting boards my brushes and beautiful vegetables, meats, pastas and spices my paints.  Unlike painting though, cooking delights all of the senses. Think of walking into someone’s home and they are cooking … the smell of garlic and onions wafting through the air or waking up in the morning to the rich aroma of bacon and hearing the sizzle and colorful mealcrackle of it cooking.  Being greeted at the table with a colorful plate full of summer squash, onions, tomatoes and shrimp invites you in to take a bite and savor all those wonderful flavors mingled together.

And the feeling and memories some meals can invoke.  I was excited this past summer when one of the guys at work brought me a bag of home-grown tomatoes, okra and cucumbers.  I knew what I was having that night; a good ol’ southern plate of tomatoes and cucumbers with fried okra and fish. summer meal 1 Reminds me of my childhood.  soup 1And soup is one of my favorite things to make-  any kind.. chicken noodle, chicken tortilla (my favorite), cabbage soup (just like stuffed cabbage!), zucchini noodle and chicken soup (when I’m trying to cut carbs) are just a few.  Soup just warms you up inside and out. What’s more, I can joyfully slurp it for lunch at work!

What’s especially gratifying for me is cooking for others. Watching others savor what I’ve prepared brings a huge smile to my face.  Makes me feel good; like receiving a huge hug from someone.  I got away from cooking for a while, blending up green drinks and smoothies, but now that I have someone to cook for, I’m truly alive and cooking again!  You know the saying… a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!

 

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BUSY BUSY BUSY…

Wow… can’t believe it’s already December 29. I’m flattered by those who’ve asked where the heck I’ve been.  Seems my brain has been suffering from some ADD lately.  Every time I sat down to write, I thought of something else I needed to do.  I’m sure I’m not alone in that!

The last month in a half have been quite interesting, a little weird and full of surprises. My Christmas decorating was completed by December 5, I actually finished all of my shopping and wrapping about a week or so before Christmas, mom and I survived another Christmas Eve and most of Christmas day together by ourselves, I think I got a little sun burnt on my balcony, the air conditioner has been on, the Carolina Panthers are 14-1, (no, I’m not going to discuss Sunday’s game)… and I have actually started dating someone!

Been trying to play it cool. I don’t want to jinx it, so I’ve not said too much about it.  How did we meet?  Online… seems to be the way these days.  A friend had been telling me to try Tinder.  TINDER????  What?? That’s for youngsters and hookups.  Ugh.  But boredom got the best of me one Sunday evening and I thought I would see what it was all about.  It’s free… what did I have to lose?.. other than my dignity.  I told myself I would give it 2 weeks.  I did A LOT of LEFT swiping… I was not going to be very compromising.  Chatted with a few.  Some just seem to want a pen pal. No thanks.  Then this guy popped up.  I’ll admit it was a little rocky at first… he has some issues with the ex… but the more we talked, the sillier we got and it was fun.  With how many people can you actually have a conversation  about Sigmond the Sea Monster, HR Puff and Stuff and Land of the Lost???  It was comfort right off the bat.  To top that, he actually lives in the apartment complex next to mine!  And to think we had to get online to meet.  Crazy.

So this year, I actually have a date for New Year’s Eve. Ok, I didn’t quite make it a year without dating (one of last year’s resolutions), but I did go 10 ½ months.  I am in such a different place this year versus last year. This time last year, dating was a like a circus and I kept meeting all of the clowns.  I was so done and I decided I was ok with that.  It turned into a fun and exciting year with new experiences, people and places without the stress of dating.  I think there’s something to be said that the right people can only come into your life if you are right with yourself.  Now, I’m not counting my chic’s yet, but I feel good about things.  I have not said that about dating in a very long time.  Only time will tell.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe New Year’s Celebration. I cannot wait to find out what next year has to offer!