At least we're moving forward!

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!

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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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We Bought a Farm

My mom taught me about seasonal vegetables at a young age. One Thanksgiving, when shopping for the big meal, she decided that $7/lb for tomatoes was just too much for our big family. No kidding! Just one slice for all seven of us would total $8. Ouch… With that dent in the weekly grocery budget, it’s easy to tell what’s in season and what’s out.

In California, though, it’s a lot harder. Farms here can grow lettuce year round, and strawberries started up in February (which my niece, Annabel, enjoyed for the first time). At Whole Foods or the local markets, you can buy kale, corn, zucchini, or any other veggie at any time, because it’s imported from Mexico, Latin America, etc…

I’ve been told and have read that you get the most nutritional bang-for-your-buck if you buy produce that has a chance to ripen on the vine, tree, or stem. Logically, then, a fruit picked green in Mexico, pumped with gas to make it ripen, and transported here isn’t as nutritious as something grown closer and more naturally.

Going to the local farmer’s market would solve this issue, but I work during the times when they are running. Because I want to spend my hard earned cash on things that are healthy, I decided several years ago to join a CSA- Community Supported Agriculture; the community buys into the farm and, therefore, gets a share of the season’s produce. It takes the guessing out of what is seasonal and what’s imported! Around here, it’s also a way to get organic stuff at cheaper prices than the grocery store; plus, it’s often delivered to your neighborhood- so no shopping!!

When I first started, I tried Live Earth Farms. The produce was amazing- but way too bountiful! There was no way that I could keep up with the amount that I was getting each week, and, honestly, there were only so many weeks that I was willing to try to figure out how to cook all the new types of veggies. It was exhausting!

After taking a few years off, I started up again with a less daunting CSA, Eating with the Seasons. In this program, I pick which produce I’d like from what’s in season. For me, that’s been fun, because I can plan meals for the week ahead (because I know what’s coming), try a new item every so often, know how to use the rest, and am assured that what I’m getting is local and seasonal.

The extra options- like corn tortillas, local honey, rice, and preserves- make the CSA an even greater treat. With some CSAs, you have to pay in advance, but a lot of these now let you pay monthly. EWTS even lets you order more items and charges you each month for the extra.

Some weeks, things go bad, but that was one of the reasons I bought a juicer. If I know that I’m not going to eat something before it expires, I just stick it in the juicer and- voila!- a healthy snack.

This has taken some of the pressure off of me to grocery shop, because at least I always have some veggies around. Occasionally, I don’t even go to the grocery store, because I just order tons of vegetables. So I’m eating healthy AND saving money. Even in cold weather climates, there are CSAs at your disposal- not all are year round like ours, but many let you buy a share for produce, meat, milk, eggs, bread, and other amazing goodies.

Are you a part of a CSA? What have you found to be the benefits/drawbacks? If you aren’t a part, why not?

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!

Sky High

I try to keep a light heart when I fly, because- honestly- it really sucks almost all of the time.  No room in the overhead bins, bad snack options, seats reclining so that your laptop doesn’t fully open, stewardess who roll their eyes.  Oh my!  The good majority of my travels are cross-country, so at least one way (East) ends up being a red-eye, while the other is extra long (West).

Yesterday, I ended up sitting next to a super chatty guy, which I got excited about.  I really like friendly people to help pass the time.  If this were a movie, though, the creepy slasher movie would have started off low and plodding as soon as he approached the seat.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that he was a little bit off his rocker.  He told me all about the upgrades to his computer, why he wasn’t enrolled this semester in school, studying Microbiology, and- the biggest clue- getting teased because he know nothing about “that guy named Mick Romney.”

Skipping ahead several hours…

Before landing in San Jose, he wrote a long, long “to do list.”  The beginning has had me cracking up ever since…

1.  Call oceanographer/archeologist and offer to visit prebiblical sites.

2.  Apply for endowments to visit med schools in Pacifica, Monterey, and Jalisco. (Author’s note- He already told me that he was accepted to med school after not finishing college, knowing nothing about Anatomy/Physiology, and not taking the MCATs.)

3.  Renew MENSA membership.

Please read that last line again.  Or maybe the whole list.  Please.

I’m so sorry that I don’t have a photo of this to show you.  I racked my brain to find a subtle way of doing it, but I didn’t want to risk it.  Who knows what can of worms getting caught would have opened!?!?

Anyway, the flight definitely went faster thanks to my genius seatmate.  At least I had the aisle.

In related news, I’m not flying again until late July.  Thank goodness!

I tried something totally new on Wednesday.

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Aerial yoga.  No, that’s not a photo of me, but I did that move.  It’s called “Monkey Pose.”  I actually really wish I had photos or videos of me in the class, because it would be really amusing.  Anyway, this type of yoga seemed pretty fun to me, so I decided to give it a shot.

But here’s where the story comes in.  I don’t exercise these days, not in the way most people thing of exercise.  I’m active- walking to the store when I can, daily walks with Honey, moving around all day, but anything else gives me an exercise-induced migraine.  This is how bad it is…  Last fall, I did just three gentle, stress relieving yoga postures on the floor of my living room and ended up with a killer migraine.  I’ve tried many different types of exercising, but nothing’s worked.  Recently, though, my headaches have lessened overall and I have back-up prescription drugs if they start, so I thought I’d give exercise a try again.

Bad idea.  Because I haven’t worked my core muscles much, I keep throwing out my back.  Last month, an easy hike on a familiar trail had me limping around for days.  Today, “monkey pose” and “vampire” have me gingerly moving.  It’s the “Weekend Warrior” problem.  My body just isn’t ready for what I ask it to do, like this:

Shoulder stand

As I’ve written before, I thrive on trying new things.  This is important to me, so instead of doing new activities and then being laid up for days or weeks on end, I’m going to start doing core exercises on a regular basis.  That way, I’ll be able to try whatever I’d like and only get the sore muscles that go allow with that exercise.  One little step at a time, right?

At least I won’t be walking like a monkey- just hanging like one!

Cocoon

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