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Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

From Gold to Green

I left the gold colored landscape of Northern California last week for the Green Mountain State. Summertime in Vermont is quite glorious if you can avoid the man eating mosquitos. Yesterday, my dad, mom, brother, and I headed out to a new adventure. We decided on AuSable Chasm- an attraction in New York’s Adirondack Mountains on the other side of Lake Champlain.

This was very, very special because I hadn’t spent a whole day with my brother since he left California back in September, and my time with my dad is limited when I visit because he works. When I was told they were taking the day off, I felt like I had won the lottery! What a treat.

We headed out across Lake Champlain on the Grand Isle ferry. It’s a quick trip, but the sun was shining and the views are lush and soothing.
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And then a wave comes and soaks you!!
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We drove south down routes 9 and 22 through gorgeous little towns filled with brick buildings, past old stone walls separating farms, and incredible limestone homes. These houses made me so jealous considering what we can buy in San Jose for the same amount of money.

I’ve only ever been in this area one other time, and Chris and I saw Rainbow Falls at AuSable Chasm from the road. Growing up, I had seen the photos and really wanted to check it out, but we got there after closing that day.
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The old bridge and pump house are majestic.
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Little did I know as we started down the trail that I’d soon feel like I was back West again!
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We hiked down along the trails and couldn’t believe we were in the Northeast.
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We then rafted lazily down the chasm eroded over time by the river.
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After our journey, we headed into Essex, NY for lunch right on the lake and a little bit of antiquing which is one of my favorite things ever!!

Then, back on the ferry.
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We were so beat! It was a great day exploring with some of my favorite people.

Almost There…

My students are facing finals, and I am soooo glad that I’m not in high school anymore.  While I’m working everyday, I’m dreaming of what’s to come!

Things that I am saving for the summer:

  • Organize recipes and cookbooks.  Make a binder of all the loose papers I have.
  • Try to go pescatarian for an anti-inflammatory diet.  See if back and overall health improve with the changes.  Come up with lots of great new recipes.
  • Buy a house.
  • Move into said house.
  • Study “good works” in the Bible.  Get over my anxiety about studying the Bible.
  • Cook at home more.
  • Make a website for my business and finalize my new business plan.
  • Learn how to stick to a budget.

Things I have been doing that will help my summer be totally rocking if I can keep them up:

  • Losing weight.  Legs and arms are already looking quite nice!
  • Not crowding every day full with stuff to do.
  • Being realistic about what I can accomplish, give, do, etc…
  • Staying conscious of where our money goes.
  • Praying that God will meet all of our needs even though I won’t be working as much.

What I’d like to do this summer:

  • Go on a long vacation to Dawn Ranch in Sonoma and swim in the Russian River all day long while sipping lightly chilled rose as Honey chases birds.
  • Not babysit every single day.

What I will actually be doing this summer:

  • Celebrating 5 year of marriage!
  • Going to the beach with my favorite dog as many times as possible.
  • Being outside as much as possible.
  • Going to Vermont for a family reunion.

I’m sorry. I really am!

I ruined strawberries for Chris.

He hasn’t eaten one in three years, thanks to my lazy ways.  I signed us up for the “Extra Fruit Option” with a CSA way back when, and it was WAY too much!  We were getting at least 6 pints of strawberries each week on top of all the other fruits and veggies in box.  As much as I love fruit, that is just too much for one girl who doesn’t know how to can and whose freezer was chock full. Plus, the berries weren’t even that great, so I wasn’t super motivated to maow down.

So the strawberries just sat on the counter and rotted.  Week after week.  I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you that that is gross.  And old, gunky strawberries smell really, really disgusting.  Chris is sensitive about food as it is, so this certainly didn’t help.

He’s refused to eat them since.

I stopped eating them for the most part, too, but that was because I was convinced that the fruit isn’t that great.  Really, I didn’t even like strawberries until I moved to California.  Growing up in Vermont, we couldn’t wait to go berry picking at Mazza’s Farm Stand on River Road, but the fruit was never very sweet or red, and they were really tiny.  That’s sort of what these CSA berries were.

U-pick berries at Mazza’s

But last summer, I bought a carton of berries on the corner.  I took them to fellowship to share, and they were awesome.  And I realized how perfect a great strawberry could be- sweet, juicy, vibrantly colored, and perfumed.

Street vendor selling fruit

Strawberries are now a go-to food for me, because on Weight Watchers, they are 0 points.  Hooray!  I eat them for breakfast or for a quick snack when I want something sweet.

I even accidentally introduced my niece to them back in March.  We were buying some at Whole Foods, and I let her hold one in her little hand and munch while I was shopping.  Little did I know that she had never tried one before!  Oops.  It all worked out, though, and she LOVED it!

Last week, Chris said, “I miss strawberries.”  I felt really, really badly and apologized for my past mistake.  I said that he should give them a try again and told him of the fruit I’ve been getting at Zanotto’s down the street.  Their berries are delightful.  My mission for this summer is to make it up to Chris.  Maybe this is a start:

Delish! And pretty too.

Not It!

I am not the best housekeeper.  I take forever to do things, because I want them done perfectly.  This comes back to bite me; I take too much time to clean, so I don’t clean, which then means it takes longer to clean when I do.  Ugh.

To add to the mayhem, we’re not very good at picking up and putting things away, so in order to even begin to clean, we first have to organize and de-clutter.  So basically, we have to clean to clean.  We work so hard on the organizing bit that we have no more energy or time to do the actual dusting, vacuuming, etc.

The cherry on the pile- Chris decided recently that he doesn’t want to do floors anymore, because he has been doing them for the last 4 years.  (Also, because, with a dog, there is hair everywhere, and I’d like him to move the furniture to get it all up.)  I can’t do floors because of my back; the motion just sends it all out of whack. So if we want a squeaky clean house, Chris has to take that part.  And over the years, chores get old!!

So, yeah, I have a lot of excuses….  and I’m not even writing them all down, because I’m starting to get embarrassed.

Nevertheless, a clean house is very important to us for many reasons, but especially for our own mental health, so we had to do something.  We decided to stop living in a mess and hired someone to clean for us.

This was actually a really, really hard decision.  Here’s why I felt I couldn’t have something this good:

  1. I haven’t earned it.  It’s like being the boss before I’m the administrative assistant.  You know, I haven’t worked my way up the ladder by getting good at it myself and then passing it off.
  2. I don’t deserve it.  Like I should make myself do it because we aren’t old enough, rich enough, etc…
  3. It’s being lazy/undedicated/some other lame word. We’re adults and should figure out how to do this ourselves and take care of our own you-know-what.
  4. We don’t have the money.

#4 is actually based mostly in reality, because we do not have a lot of disposable income.  But it came down to this…  Should I feel guilty all the time over not taking care of the house (which I did), or should I find a solution (which I did)? Learning what I have the capacity for and what to let go of will be a lifelong process, but something had to give NOW.

I did the math and, while my numbers might be fuzzy, figured it out!  I’ve had a babysitting job every Friday for the last year and a half that I’ve thinking of quitting so that I have a proper 2 day weekend.  I sat down one day and contemplated whether I would rather babysit and have my friend clean or stay home and clean it myself.  Instead of staying home and doing something that I really don’t like and am not good at, I now make $2 less per hour babysitting than I pay my friend to clean.

Let me tell you; it’s been life-altering!  For example:

  • When things are clean, it’s just easy to keep them clean!
  • We straighten the house at least once a week in preparation for cleaning, but more often than not, we do it every day for our own pleasure.  It is a joy to have a clean house to come home to- not just on Fridays but every day.
  • I even enjoy babysitting now WAY more than before because I know that my hard work is allowing me something really special when I get home.
  • We’ve also had people over more often (and spur of the moment!) because we don’t have to run around cleaning before everyone arrives.

Chris summed it up two weeks ago when he said, “I love having a cleaner.  The house looks amazing, and I’m not even tired.”

So, feel free to stop by any time…  The house will be spic and span!

Sultry Days of Summer

Sundresses, sunscreen, sunhats, and baseball. Sounds like summer to me! This week brought the first HOT temperatures of the year, and Chris and I celebrated tonight with friends- watching our friend, Matt, sing the National Anthem at the Oakland A’s game, drinking beer, eating hot dogs, and joining in all around merriment.

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Best Friday Nights EVER!

BALLS (Bay Area Loquacious Literary Society) celebrated its first anniversary tonight!

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Reining It In

Chris and I have decided to take control of our finances and tighten the reins a bit.  We live within our means, but that doesn’t equate to stewarding our money well.  This means we don’t have savings, wonder how we’re going to make car repairs when big things come up, can’t splurge on something really fabulous when we’d like, or…  the list goes on.

Though bills get paid and responsibilities are covered, I often end up regretting how I’ve spent my money the previous month.  Instead of looking back and feeling bad, it seems more logical to be a grown up, have some self-control, and kick butt with utilizing what we have!

We spend a horrific amount of money on eating out. In a normal week, we purchase at least these things:
Pho
Burgers
Sushi
Pizza or Sandwich
Coffee
Coffee
Coffee

I don’t get the pizza or sandwiches, and Chris doesn’t get pho all the time, but still…  I buy food or beverages out at least once a day.  That cost adds up really fast!

We are looking at buying our first house (Hooray!  Holy crap!), and we’d really like to get our finances shored up tightly before we add another responsibility to the list.  It will help us to be more financially stable and keep me from being anxious about moolah.

With the market the way it is, we have a few months (at least) before we have to make our first mortgage payment.  In that time, we’re going to try to establish some great new patterns so that we spend less and save more!  You know, to take care of the roof, dishwasher, or whatever repair is inevitable when owning a house.

The first step is to eat out less.  And while this may be the simplest thing we can do, it may actually be the hardest!

So I’m turning to you for advice and support.  I’d love to hear what you do to encourage cooking at home, spending less money on groceries, not wasting the groceries you buy, etc…

Please share.  Because I’m going to need all the help that I can get!

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