Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Coffee Chat - Back To Basics x 3
Come on in and have a cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea with me. There are a few Lemon Brownies left...Not sure why they are called brownies but they are lemon for sure and pretty good. It's a Pinterest recipe and is fairly inexpensive to make. John's not fond of sharply lemon-y treats so I took advantage of it being Mama's birthday dinner. I'll be making a chocolate cake here in the next day or two, with chocolate frosting, per his request. It's a recipe I've held on to years and have never made. We'll see how it turns out. I'd meant to make it Monday but I discovered I had only three eggs and I needed them for breakfast the next morning. John does like his breakfast eggs and I'd already skipped them that morning in favor of another breakfast protein.
Yes, I could have gone to town and bought more, but I had to go Tuesday, when the banks were open and I just don't like to make a single purpose trip when I can run multiple errands (I also had a hair appointment) and make the same amount of gasoline do extra duty. So I postponed making the cake on Monday and then again on Tuesday when I forgot how much my shoulder ached all day long and went out to pull weeds for a half hour/forty-five minutes, sigh, which made my shoulder ache all over again. I'm telling you, I don't know where my mind is at times but it's obvious I don't always take it with me!
I'd love to tell you I had the most productive time off. That first week was all about productivity. I nearly product-ed myself into exhaustion, lol. Housework and yard work and cleaning and shopping, oh my! I'd done so much one morning that I sat down for a breather at 10am and took a nap! I was never so glad to see a Friday evening as I was two weeks ago. If ever Shabat rest was welcome it was that week. I didn't begin to get through with all the tasks I set myself but I sure put a dint in the list which made me feel it had all been worthwhile. Doesn't sound like much of a vacation really does it? lol Well that week wasn't. But John made up for that through the weekend and week that followed.
We went to synagogue on Saturday, did some shopping and had a nice meal out. John said that was the start of our vacation and it felt like it. We came home to finish up our packing and prepared to leave Sunday morning. I don't think we really enjoyed the start of that trip very much. You see we fought leaks that wouldn't stop leaking and an AC that kept working less and less efficiently. Even though money was all set aside for the trip, we worried we oughtn't spend it, wondering what lay ahead of us. I think we both felt we were running away from our troubles when we left and that made us worry a bit more than we might have otherwise. We really weren't sure if we were going to be coming back home to a flood or an oven!
I won't share about the trip. We went away and tried to enjoy ourselves and did most of the time with a few bumps here and there. John determined we'd do certain things (a picnic at a lovely spot, a longer distance drive than we'd normally take, a couple of meals out at new to us places) and that and the dolphin that swam within view from our window each morning were real highlights. We came back home on Thursday. We could see evidence of rain and wind, but inside was nice and dry, if a tad warmer than when we left...and a bit warmer than outdoors, as well. We tried to keep our cool Thursday night but we were some glum folk. We agreed to call the AC repair folks Friday morning and prepared ourselves to face a 'toasty' weekend. What a blessing to hear the repairman say he'd be out before evening! We didn't expect that and yes, the AC was repaired toot sweet and has worked just as it ought. And just in time for the much warmer weather that is coming in this week. Best of all however, was the cost to repair. We'd set aside enough money for maintenance work on the AC to cover all but $13 of the repair. Whew, lol. We were just tired of getting caught without provision in that department so last year we determined we'd start setting a small sum aside each month.
We didn't plan anything for the holiday weekend, as John had to go back to work Saturday evening. We went to the annual EMS Week dinner Friday evening. Saturday Katie and her boyfriend came down to move her living room furniture. Then it was back to the normal workday routine which suited us just fine. The only problem was that I haven't gotten out of the vacation mode. Minimal housework, minimal yard-work, minimal exercise. I have been pushing myself to do a bit more each day. I expect to be back up to full normal by tomorrow.
I guess it's all the movies that have kept me sort of low key. I don't know about others but there are so many good war movies that I just plain like to watch. I watched four Monday. I think we watched less Sunday only because John had to go back to work for a few hours midday and I had to run to the grocery store. I just couldn't deny the need of that trip to the grocery any longer. Nevertheless we were right back at the TV that afternoon looking at another good old war film, lol. John and I both have such a history of military service in our families that watching these films reminds us of the duty they gave to our country.
I spent the weekend winding up the last Penny Ann Poundwise newsletter. I started the newsletter in late 2002 and have sent out a letter at least twice a month nearly every month since I began. In fact, the first three years or so of newsletters were weekly. In the beginning I put about 20-30 hours a week into research, writing and editing and yes, it was a part time job! It was a job I really loved. Along about the time Katie suggested I start blogging I cut newsletter production down to every other week. I tried to blog daily, work on the newsletter daily, started another newsletter that published on the opposing weeks, and do all the usual housework, sell items on eBay, etc. John, understandably, was a bit concerned at how hard I pushed myself, especially when my father and mother each needed care and I was clearing up my grandmother's house.
Yes, I do work hard. I talk about relaxing and resting but when I sit down to rest, as a rule, it's because I've been going at whatever my current project is rather hard. Writing is my 'time out' activity. Over the last few years, I stopped publishing the other newsletter. I shifted from one blog forum to another, tried to find a better balance between my old persona and the real self. I also found over the past five years that it was more and more of a necessity to renew my acquaintance with some of my older frugal habits in order to keep a balanced budget for our household. And gradually, I was spending more and more time working at homemaking and budget balancing and less and less able to concentrate on writing because our economy truly demanded I do so.
I enjoy writing. I can't imagine a life where I only think about writing as I did once upon a time and not write. But the truth is, I haven't had time to put into writing. I have a list of topics I've wanted to write about this year that I started in December of last year and I haven't had the time to address one of them yet. I want to write well. I want to put time and thought into it and here lately I've felt I was on auto pilot. Repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat.
Well leave it to a crisis moment to really bring home facts. A few weeks ago I had a head on crash with a scary possibility. I knew I needed to look closely at several areas of responsibility, but had avoided even consideration of changes I might make. Need meet crisis. Boom. It was time to really sort out the areas of my life and think long and hard about what I was doing and why and whether it was worth continuing and where my time spent was most productive. I realized that my current writing status was not up to par and I had to find more time to put into it or give it up. I just couldn't see how I could put more time into both venues. I knew it was time to decide where I wanted my focus to be. Crisis meet focus.
I'm not a big time blogger with advertisers and followers or income coming in courtesy the content. Truth is, my newsletter was far more popular with more consistent followers than I've ever had as a blogger. I've long since realized that when it comes to writing I'm a medium fish in a medium farm pond but I'm still a fish and I still need to swim about in the water. I believe that blogging is the present best venue. I connect with other bloggers who are writers and decorators and teachers sans the degrees. So after prayer and thinking and thinking and prayer, I decided it was time to close the newsletter down and devote myself to the blog.
I can breathe deep once more and actually THINK about writing. I figure I have about 10-12 hours a week to spare for blogging now there's no newsletter claiming my attentions. I hope that will allow me to produce some quality writing for the blog from now on, instead of just posts done automatically. That was the beginning of the decisions. There were more.
The need to work harder and produce for my household more frugally hasn't let up. On our vacation last week we noted there was more new construction and/or renovation going on than we'd seen in the past 8 years. That's a good sign, I think. Unemployment numbers overall remain pretty serious and I reckon until those start to drop harder we won't notice much change in our personal economy. I've opened my heart and mind to the possibility of returning to the work force. I'm not looking, but I'm open. I'll tell you truly that I've never looked for a job in my life. Jobs always found me one way and another even when I was practically a recluse at home and I've prayed about this a good long time. If God wants me to work outside my home He will provide. In the meantime, I'll continue to see what I can do to reduce our outgoing expenses and increase our savings.
I decided this past week, as I went through a particularly tough spot with anxiety that I need to have more balance in my personal life. I love my husband dearly, but spending time with him as he soaks in daily news programs is just too much for me. I can't handle the repeated debates and arguments and spiels and newscasts. They really do a number on me. I've been very keen to spend as much time with him as I could now he's working nights. I still want to do so but I'm going to be spending more time in a different room when he goes on these news-feasts of his. Thankfully, he's very aware that he spends too much time watching news and is trying hard to break himself of the habit. When he slips up, I'll excuse myself and find a task or project in another room that I can attend to.
I really want to re-establish a night time routine. I suffered with insomnia for years upon years and then I hit mid-life with it's own sleep disturbances. The move to night-shift work has only increased my sleep woes. I think it's because my night routine is so different during the off week and the work week. I'm forever complaining that I'm a rut-oriented sort of person in so many areas but this is one area where I really do want to be routine as clockwork and just as reliable. A decent night's sleep is the difference between being highly productive and almost getting things done.
So...I'm thinking I've made a goal or two to work on in June.
Today was Mama's birthday. I invited my niece to join us for a cook-out. John was worn out after last night at work so he lay down mid-morning and slept, something he normally doesn't do on Wednesday. I worked about the house and did all the grilling all by myself. I'd said I wanted to learn how and this was my third time, the first I've done it completely solo. I told John I think I'm going to try my hand at chicken next. I like that it's a fairly quick way to cook, the heat stays outdoors and it's really not as difficult as I supposed it was all these years.
Grilling was a big deal in my family growing up. There were two things we could count on in our household come the weekend: we were going to work hard all day Saturday and we were going to grill out at least once. Daddy used to make awesome rotisserie beef roasts, usually a rolled sirloin...I asked for a butcher to roll and tie a sirloin roast for me not too long ago and he looked positively puzzled. Not only did he look puzzled but he went to another butcher for help. Tsk tsk. Butcher2 tied the roast but it wasn't tied properly and it was most definitely not rolled. Well I don't have a rotisserie but I do have a desire to learn to grill foods. I consider it another cooking skill I very much want to master.
Well, I should really end now. I've got a half dozen tasks I could attend to and I'm thinking perhaps making that cake is one of them.