Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Around the house

When my sister acquired a new DSLR she generously gifted me with her old one. I've been itching to play with it, but I am not so inspired as to want to brave the negative wind chills. Not even with blue skies and sunshine, a rarity in this area during the winter. Instead I decided to try to find things INSIDE the house worth photographing.

It turns out that this is harder than you might think, especially when attempting to avoid the dust and cobwebs, without, you know, cleaning. My laziness knows no bounds.

These photos show glimpses into our dining room, family room, kitchen, and master bedroom. I know these are no photographic masterpieces, but I also know that the only way to get better is to take lots of pictures and just keep experimenting and playing.

But first... I better go do some dusting.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Five: Gratitude {2}

We're neck deep in another painfully cold stretch of weather. The kind that requires polypro long underwear and a Buff pulled up over your nose when you're outside for more than a few minutes. At least I need these things to feel even remotely comfortable. I'm trying not to think about how scary the next heat bill will be. So it seems like a good time to review a few things I'm grateful for right now:

1. Hot tea. I can't start my day without a big mug of English breakfast tea. I prefer it strong with a hint of sugar and a splash of milk.

2. Dog fence. Last spring we installed a fence around a small area of the backyard, accessible from the back door. For the first time since I brought my first dog home 14 years ago I don't have to bundle up and go outside every couple hours. I was thankful during rainstorms over the summer, but it really became obvious how the fence was worth every penny we paid when the temperatures fell below zero. Best. Thing. Ever.

3. My elliptical. A couple winters ago I was panicking about my inability to exercise because of the cold and snow. I obsessively monitored craigslist until I found a basic elliptical model for sale in our town for cheap. We nabbed it and set it up in the family room (a room we use only for storage of crap). I eventually discovered that I am able to read my Nook while using it, which has allowed me to use it for longer periods of time (and more frequently because, frankly, it's maddeningly dull without a novel to distract me).

4. My Subaru. I had lusted after Subarus for years. They were my dream cars, I kid you not. No Beemers or Corvettes for me. All I wanted was a Subaru. Well, a hatchback, manual transmission model to be more precise. Almost 4 years after buying my Impreza I still love it every day all year round, but when there is snow on the road I am especially grateful for its all-wheel drive. As long as I live in snow country I will never own another two-wheel drive vehicle. But really, I can't foresee any reason why I would ever buy anything but a Subaru ever again.

5. New opportunities. My husband recently partnered with a friend in a local business. It's a successful, established business that has been growing over the last several years with advice and assistance from my husband. Now he is a full partner in the business, and I will be working there. I gave my two weeks notice at my job (BRAVE) and worked my last day yesterday. To say that I'm excited would be an understatement. I will also be working part-time for another friend of ours. I start training at his office this coming Monday. The event I worked this past Monday was for his business as well. Leaving the security of my job was a little scary, but I am so thankful to be away from that stifling environment. The last two years there have been soul-killing and confidence stealing. I am ready to find myself again and rebuild my self-confidence.

What are you grateful for today?

You can read my last Friday Five: Gratitude here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Putting my word of the year to work




I'm a worrier. An over-thinker. Prone to anxiety.

I get anxious when I meet new people, when I drive places I've never been before.

I get cold, sweaty, shaky, and sick to my stomach.

So you can see why I chose brave as my word of the year for 2014. I can focus on that one word and it feels like I'm chanting "you can do this" over and over to myself.

Yesterday I had a chance to put my word to good use. I drove somewhere I'd never been before (and my GPS tried to mislead me, but I out-smarted her) to work with people I don't know very well, doing something I'd never done before.

It went better than I could've hoped. I definitely chose the right word for me right now. And to remind myself of the importance of this one word:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday

I am not a food blogger, nor am I interested in becoming one. However, I enjoyed having a peek at what Cassie ate when she posted a return to What I Ate Wednesday last week. As it turns out, it's a lot harder to remember to take pictures before chowing down than I expected. I bet that gets easier the more you do it, but my first attempt will not be as polished as some of the other participants.

Breakfast: English breakfast tea with a splash of milk and a tiny bit of sugar, plus a banana-mango-strawberry green smoothie.
Mid-morning snack: granola bar at the computer
Lunch: peanut butter & jelly on multi-grain bread

Lunch: chaser of saltines
Dinner: asparagus lasagna (oops, I ate what was on my plate before I had a chance to take a picture)

Dessert: two handfuls of milk chocolate chips (no semi-sweet for me!)
Not photographed: the few (8-12) tortilla chips I scarfed down with salsa when I got home from work before hopping on the elliptical.

Click over to Peas & Crayons to see what other people are eating.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Just Write {6}: On the Couch

I'm sitting on the couch, cross-legged with a corner of a queen-sized, medium weight, goose-down comforter over my legs and my laptop balanced on top of the puffiness. Law & Order: SVU  is on the TV, but it's an episode I've seen many times. I find the older episodes of Law & Order make nice white noise, whereas the new ones are too upsetting. I had to cancel the series recording on the DVR. The last thing I need is another TV show that contributes to poor sleep.

I'm enjoying a glass of moscato, even though I can't help but wish I was drinking one of our homemade wines. Unfortunately, our whites won't be ready until April and both of our reds went bad. The wasted juice makes me sad. I will strongly encourage my husband to stick with whites in the future. I prefer the taste and they are less likely to turn.

My husband isn't home yet. He's out dealing with a bad tire stud on his truck which will need to be replaced tomorrow. Like most people the expense and aggravation will make him unhappy and probably put him in a foul mood. I know I'm the weird one. I don't usually get angry about car problems, unless they were caused by my own stupidity or error. It's like railing against taxes. Getting upset won't change a thing. I prefer to waste my anger at things I feel I can control, like my job.

I used the elliptical when I got home from work, which helps me burn away some angst. The post-workout muscle looseness combines well with the wine and the warm blanket. I could curl up with my blanket and close my eyes...

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This is my sixth installment of Just Write, "an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments." You can read about this project at The Extraordinary Ordinary. You can read my first five installments by clicking on the Just Write tag.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jumping on the Green Smoothie Bandwagon

I tend to resist things that are extremely popular. I've never read or watched any of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or Twilight books/movies. I just bought my first pair of skinny jeans a few weeks ago, after years of mockery. And I don't get the whole kale thing.

But I've finally tried green smoothies and immediately added them to my daily menu. If you recall, two of the items I wanted to focus on for 2014 involved eating more fruits and vegetables. I didn't wait for January 1st to put this one into action. The day after Christmas I purchased a single serve drink blender and blended up my first smoothie based on Nicole's Ultimate Green Smoothie Formula.

My preferred combination is:
  • 8 oz coconut water
  • big handful of spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • some frozen mango (I just throw it in so, no measurements, oops)

I don't add any sweeteners, as the fruit is plenty sweet on its own. Nor do I serve it over ice. I don't like ice, plus it is winter!
adding ingredients
With experimenting I've found I don't care for including cinnamon or raspberries (seeds, ugh). The frozen peaches have almost no flavor, so I won't bother with them again.

Last week I was running low on spinach so I decided to try another smoothie variety with milk, a banana, peanut butter, and vanilla extract. I won't make that mistake again. For me, green is the only way to go.

I make one for breakfast every day. It keeps me full for just as long as anything else I've ever eaten for breakfast. 

This week I'll be trying strawberries and maybe next week I'll try including avocado. 

Final product - yummmm

Thursday, January 09, 2014

2014 Word of the Year: BRAVE

I've been tossing around words for weeks now.Trying them on for size. Seeing if any felt right.

I really liked "wildness," the word Liz chose. But I knew that no matter how important wildness and nature are to me, it was not the word I was looking for. I'm still digging the wild heart necklace though.

I also felt drawn to "change," the word Bronwyn picked. I am certainly hoping for changes in 2014. But after some reflection, I decided that while change may be the desired outcome, in order for me to be able to make the changes occur I will need to be brave.

So my word for 2014 (better late than never) is BRAVE.

I need to have more self-confidence. I need to recognize and do what's right for me. Put myself out there. Take risks. Not worry so much about embarrassment or doing it wrong.

I've been brave before. In 1998 I threw some stuff in the back of my pick-up truck and moved to Florida. I only knew one person in the whole state and didn't have a job lined up.

I avoid things because I don't like confrontation or feeling uncomfortable, but sometimes it's worth pushing past the edges of your comfort zone. So hopefully as the year progresses I will be able to share all the ways I am being brave. And it starts today.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Grey Day at the Marina

On Sunday afternoon we stopped at the marina. While my husband took care of some business in the ship's store, I wandered around taking pictures with my cell phone. Even though the day felt mild compared to the windchill of -27 degrees we'd experienced last week, I wasn't really dressed (or shod) for tramping around in the snow. Regardless, I did manage to snap a few photos I liked.

I'm ready for summer and sunshine and shorts and tank tops, but in the meantime I'm trying to make the best of these wintry days.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Friday Five: Gratitude

I've made the transition from thinking the snow is pretty and Christmas-y to just thinking winter sucks and being cold is miserable. This happens every year with the first dip in temperature after Christmas.

So in an attempt to focus on the good things in my life, here are five things I am grateful for today:

1. Sunshine. Although I was inside and couldn't absorb any benefits from the sunlight, I did glimpse blue sky out the window. I can't remember the last time I saw the sun. Welcome to winter in Central New York.

2. My cozy house and the heat it provides. No, the house is not my "house of dreams" and no, it doesn't even have central heat, but it is MY house. A house with a roof and walls and two full baths. Something many people the world over can only dream of.

3. New windows/doors downstairs. My husband has replaced the windows and doors on the main floor (living room, kitchen, and dining room), which has vastly improved the comfort level in the winter. NO drafts! I can't wait until he replaces the bedroom windows upstairs (next summer).

4. Chocolate. Particularly seashell-shaped Belgian chocolate truffles. My dad and step-mom used to give each of us girls a big box for Christmas, but they have cut back to small boxes the last two years. To compensate, my sister gave me one of the big boxes at our second celebration. She absolutely, totally rocks. I'm trying to ration them out in reasonable portions. It's harder than you'd think.

5. Stack of new books. Both my sister and my mom gifted me books for Christmas and it pleases me immensely to see the stack waiting for me to devour. It's always good to have something to look forward to.

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Goals: December & January & 2014

First, let's see how I did with my goals for December...

1. Continue to meet &/or surpass 10,000 steps a day. Nope. I lost another week of exercise due to sickness. Again. This is getting tiresome. According to Fitbit, my average steps per day for December was 7,248. This is the lowest monthly average since I started wearing my Fitbit in April. Boo.

2. Finish 4 books. Check! The last four books on my Year in Books list were finished in December.

3. Post 2 times per week on this blog. Check! I posted 12 times in December.

4. Walk/hike somewhere in nature twice. Check! I went for a slushy hike at Great Bear and climbed Rocky Mountain.

5. Use arm weights 10 times during December. Nope. I only used the arm weights seven times. But that's still a big improvement over the last attempt in October.

My goals for January are going to be a repeat of December:

1. Continue to meet &/or surpass 10,000 steps a day.

2. Finish 4 books.

3. Post 2 times per week on this blog.

4. Walk/hike somewhere in nature twice.

5. Use arm weights 10 times (days).

In addition, I would like to focus on a few things for 2014:

1. Pay bills sooner (don't wait until the last minute!)

2. Eat more veggies.

3. Eat more fruits.

4. Reduce clutter. Donate or throw out possessions that aren't being used. (Specific areas to focus attention on: small bedroom, family room, and basement.)

5. Read three classic novels.

I know that the first four items will be hard to assess, but I am intentionally refraining from posting more specific goals for 2014. I intend to continue with my monthly goals, but there are just too many unknowns in the coming year to try to say what I will want to focus on three or six or nine months from now. So we'll just have to play it by ear.

Do you set both monthly and yearly goals? Do you have any you want to share?