Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sorry, I'm on a siesta of sorts

Hello there. If you're still reading my blog, I am amazed since I haven't posted in months. I wanted to check in with you to let you know I'm alive and well. My separation from my husband has been hellish at times. There were many nights that I cried myself to sleep and I survived. The journey's not yet done. I figured I'm probably nearly the 1/2 point. But, that maybe a bit optimistic.

I've been spending most of my time on Facebook and Tagged. They are good distractions for me at this point. I will eventually return to blogging when the legal process is complete. I don't want to post anything here that can be later used as a weapon against me. Yes, it may get that ugly.

So, in the meantime enjoy life, create art, and love all.

Hugs and kisses.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's family movie night at the National Harbor with the children, 75 degrees, low humidity, and a light winds.

Friday, July 10, 2009

enjoying an outdoor jazz concert at the national harbor.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Letter to my daughter

Before I post a rather personal note I wrote to my teenage daughter, I wanted to set the stage from which this appeared. I'm currently separated from my husband of many years. We've been going through a tumultuous, emotional time which I've tried my best to shield from my children. But, I have not always been successful.

One of my daughters and I have started writing letters to one another as a way to communicate. This is the third letter in the series. This is what I wrote to her.


I'm so blessed to have you. You're my level-headed, strong, and super-tolerant child. I'm sorry for being so emotional around you lately. I'm going through a rough time right now and I want to be strength and support for you. That's what moms are about. But, being that this journey's not nearly done for me, you'll probably witness a more fragile and delicate side of me until I weather through the storms. After all, I am only human. :-)

I just want the best for you. I want you to be happy. I want you to grow up as a healthy, confident, fully-functional young lady who has a ton of gifts and goodness to share with this world.

I pray that you make better choices than I have along the way. Learn from my mistakes. Do better. Improve upon this "model" of a woman. Don't settle. Don't be disrespected. Demand that you be treated fairly and properly from the get, to lessen the chances of anguish and heartache in the future. (Although there will always be pain as it's part of life.)

I have found that life puts you through trials and tribulations to teach you lessons. If you don't learn it the first time, it repeats in a different form or manner. I am going through such a lesson. I have to go through the "fire" of experience in order to emerge as a Phoenix does, renewed and restored, as a new being. "This too will pass." Hang in there kiddo and know Mom has your back ALWAYS!

Love you eternally!

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's amazing what the early bird can do!

I was restless and didn't sleep well. I got up at 5:30 am and decided to catch up on some housework. Here's what I got done before my workday started:
  • Washed my face.
  • Washed and dried two loads of laundry.
  • Striped the bed of the linens. Cleaned up an accident on the mattress.
  • Folded four loads of laundry while watching Chef Class and Nick Cannon's Wild and Out.
  • Cooked two meals for my family (chili and ziti).
  • Spilled last night's leftovers all over the kitchen floor when I opened the refrigerator door.
  • Showed my oldest what happens when someone does not properly put away food in the refrigerator.
  • Cleaned up the spill and mopped the floor. Put the soiled laundry in the sorting cart.
  • Cleaned the inside of the toilet.
  • Rearranged the storage containers on my kitchen counter and on top of the refrigerator.
  • Got annoyed with my youngest for dragging her feet and not trying to get ready for school.
  • Took pictures of my flowers and cat.
  • Read my emails.
  • Searched for an empty spray bottle to use for a DIY green all-purpose cleaning spray. Didn't find one.
  • Thought about all of the cleanup work that needs to be done in my place.
  • Wrote and sent a long text message on my cell phone.
  • Fed the cat. Washed out her water dish and replenished it.
  • Washed and dried off the cat's place mat.
  • Got a yogurt out to eat. Put the yogurt back in the frig because I changed my mind. I wanted to eat chili instead.
  • Snipped fresh cilantro from my herb garden to stir into my chili.
  • Enjoyed the flowers and bird songs while on the PC.
  • Looked for jumbo binder clips. Didn't find them.
  • Put away some office supplies. Restocked my pen and pencil containers.
  • Organized my gravity-feed can dispenser in my pantry.
  • Refilled the cereal container in the pantry.
Whew! That's a lot of work before starting my 9 to 5.

a room with a view.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Standard footwear for female commuters who take public transportation in the Washington, DC metro area.
loving life

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Life's a b*tch and then you die

I used to subscribe to the philosophy that life's a b*tch and then you die. Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing this. I became optimistic, perpetually happy, and looked for the good in everyone or situation. Lately, my life has more closely matched my former outlook. But, I know that I will have to weather through these trials and emerge a stronger, better person.

I've read that Monarch butterflies go through a similar process. They must struggle to break through their cocoon. The struggling makes their wings strong. If they didn't have to struggle to break free (as if a human snipped open the cocoon to make the process easier) their wings don't develop properly and the butterflies die. I'm the Monarch in my cocoon.

The Great American Scrapbook Convention is coming to town. My friend E.V. and are sharing a two bedroom suite near the convention center. This will be the third year in a row that we've done this and it should be a lot of fun.

I'm looking forward to seeing some upcoming movies. I've got my eyes on Star Trek , X-men Origins Wolverine, and Angels & Demons. I'll throw in Night At The Museum 2 for the sake of my youngest. We loved the first movie.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Brightening my space

I had a great weekend. Some friends came over Saturday and we played Scrabble, ate smoked Gouda, crackers, fresh fruit, drank Palo Alto Reserve 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, and finished it off with coconut and chocolate cakes with vanilla and caramel ice creams. Hmmm.

I picked up the Palo Alto Reserve because it scored 88 points by The Wine Advocate and fit my budget of $15 and under. I'm not a wine connoisseur; the only red wine that I've come to enjoy has been [yellow tail] Shiraz. My friend Joy is looking for the perfect red wine. I'd like to expand my appreciation for reds as well. So, I decided to buy this wine for us to try.

Joann's is having a 50% off sale on home decor fabrics. I have a bunch of projects I want to complete like decorative pillows for my chairs and loveseat, seat cushions for the bistro set, drapes for all of the windows, a fitted cover for my DIY divan, a shower curtain, placemats, napkins, and a bed linen set for my son. When I gain confidence, I'd like to reupholster my side chairs and cover a storage trunk. Whew, that's a lot but I'm excited and anxious to get started. I started off buying these fabrics to make pillows and seat cushions.

I found some cute plastic planters at Dollar General for cheap. There was this polka dot one

and this striped one.

As I mentioned in my last post, I planted some herbs and flowers on my balcony. Outside I have Quinalt strawberries, impatiens, pansies, lavender, cilantro, and sweet basil. It's a challenge for growing things on my balcony because it doesn't get any direct sunlight. Many plants need at least six+ hours of direct sunlight in order to thrive. This planter holds my herbs and a few pansies.

Inside I have cilantro, sweet basil, and thyme in my kitchen under a flourescent light. A flourescent light can be a substitute for sunlight; however, a full spectrum light bulb provides a better light than a flourescent bulb. The cilantro (far right below) isn't doing well inside. I've read that it's difficult to grow inside.

I guess I can conduct an informal experiment to see which group of herbs grows better. The ones on the balcony which do not receive direct sunlight or the herbs inside under a flourescent light bulb. Somewhere I'd like to add flat leaf parsley somewhere.

Somewhere I found this site that offers pricey, designer goods at a discount price. Unfortunately, the discount isn't large enough for me. But, I find it's a good resource for ideas to find or create knock-offs that I can afford.
Need some easy, quick, inexpensive ideas to perk up your space? Nate Berkus gives some suggestions on updating your home.
I have trouble setting up a system for paying bills. I hope that maybe if I had a system, it would be easier to pay my bills. Julie Morgenstern offers these ideas.
I like these ideas for decluttering your kitchen.
I guess that's enough ideas to keep you busy until next time. I hope you have a fantastic week!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Focusing on making a happy place for me

I didn't realize that it's been a few weeks since I last posted. I've been immersed in home decorating and organization books and magazines. I just love the library.

Martha Stewart Living and Real Simple are two of my favorite resources. Both have free electronic newsletters that are filled with a ton of ideas. I also like Apartment Therapy as an online resource. It's a great site for people who live in 1,000 square feet or less. It's amazing what people can do with less than 500 square feet of living space! I'm inspired to continue decluttering.

I've been setting up my outdoor space. I enjoy spending time outside when the weather's nice. I've planted herbs, flowers, and strawberries and placed a cheery yellow bistro dining set on the balcony.

I wanted to add window boxes to my balcony rail. But, I ran into a few challenges. First, the only window boxes I found at the local big box home improvement stores were ones that needed to be secured by screws in the wood. I don't want to do that in a rental. Second, I found hook-on ones, but these were by mail order. Finally, I tried a hybrid version of a hook-on bracket on which you place a separate planter box. It did NOT work. In the end, I used the planter stand above which I was using for a different purpose. I got it from Jo-Ann's during a end-of-season clearance. I'll have to visit Jo-Ann's again during clearance time to see if I can get another one.
I've added some greenery inside as well. Indoor plants do much to clean your air, provide a calming, natural presence, and improve the chi in your home. I love cut flowers but I don't buy them often because of the expense. However, if I were to really examine my spending habits I would find that I waste a lot of money during the week buying snacks or eating fast food. In place of buying cut flowers each week, I decided to buy a flowering houseplant. I hope this will provide everlasting blooms. Gerbera daisies were 50% off at the home improvement store. I already have a peace lily, which I recently divided, to add more blossoms to my space. I might have to go back and buy another Gerbera daisy or two.
Here are some of my favorite finds from the Internet to help you improve your life.

That's it for this week. I hope you have a fabulous spring week!

Monday, March 23, 2009

There's nothing like free information

I'm a glutton for information. I love to learn new things to help me become a better person. The Internet makes it so easy to stumble across some useful, free resources, without adding a another piece of paper to my overwhelming stacks at home. Here are some links to information I found useful.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

what's for dinner? homemade whole wheat blueberry pancakes. yum!

Mom of three Ü

Sunday, March 15, 2009

DS Mania, Love, and Money

My son calls me a "cool" mom because I'm into technology. Currently, I've been obsessed with playing my Nintendo DS. For those who may not know, a Nintendo DS is a handheld video game system which happens to be the number one system in the world. One out of every two households in Japan owns a DS. At one time, our household owned three DSes. We are a bunch of techno-nerds who have a plethora of gaming systems and computers. I love my DS especially because there are a lot of edutainment games out there such as crosswords, anagrams, learning foreign languages, etc. It's funny to see young children googling at me whenever I play my DS. They display a mix of awe and confusion seeing a old-in-their-eyes woman playing a video game.

My latest addition to my green living is this. Mind you I didn't pay over $50 for it at Best Buy. According to this source, slow cookers use less than 1/2 the energy of a conventional electric oven for preparing the same meal. An added benefit is that your meal will be hot and ready for you when you get home after work. This model has sensor probe which will switch from the cooking mode to the warming mode once the optimal temperature has been reached. My next purchase will most likely be a convection toaster oven for baking cakes, cookies, casseroles, and such. A convection toaster oven uses a little less than half of the energy of a conventional electric oven and cooks a lot quicker.

I've been interested in the subject of finding a harmonious love connection such as the ones that are advertised by eHarmony and I find their TV ads to be quite compelling although I know they are putting their best side forward and this may not work for everyone. I don't believe that being loved should include abuse, neglect, complacency, or merely existing on earth. However, in order to get this type of love you really, really need to know who you are, what you want, and what you can and can not live with. You need to be truly self-aware which I find is not as simple as it sounds.

In my continuous quest of self-discovery, I have been browsing through relationship and love books at Borders. A friend recommended Steve Harvey's book Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment. I scanned through it last night and decided it wouldn't be one to add to my library but rather a book to borrow. It's a quick and easy read, written in a down-to-earth style. I got a few chuckles and flash backs to the days when I was heavily in the the dating scene back in college. One thing that really got a laugh out of me was the 90-day probation. Raise your hand if you remember that term? Keep your hands up if you lived by this philosophy. Are there any hands still raised?

One book I would consider buying is Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl-A Woman's Guide to Holding Her Own In a Relationship. I could relate to so much in this book as far as women giving away their power and sensibilities to get and be in a relationship. This is so foolish and most of us, I suspect, have played that fool at sometime in our life. I don't want my daughters to be that foolish if I can help educate them otherwise.

I'm a big coupon girl. One of my best savings stories is about getting $80 worth of gift cards just by using coupons when refilling prescriptions at pharmacies I normally don't patronize. I plan on getting $50 more dollars in gift cards for two more prescriptions that need to be refilled. I used to belong to an online coupon and sales site which would analyze the current sales prices of groceries at the stores of your choice, match up available coupons, determine if the sales prices are the best possible, and provide you with a report to help you make the best purchasing decisions. This service, which is available for a nominal fee, has saved me more than enough to pay for it. However, I've found sites that offer similar services for free, such as this one. I know some people don't like to bother with using coupons and matching up the sales. But, I find it entertaining-like a game-to do this every Sunday. My goal is to save at least 50% off of my grocery bill. I think the most I've saved was 40% which is damn good I must say. I get a thrill seeing the $$ subtracted off of my bill at the end of check out. Yes, I admit to having this cheap but financially rewarding thrill.

My personal economy is such that I'm considering obtaining a part time job to supplement my income. What a drag. I've been looking at places where I can get an employee discount that would boost my buying strength at my favorite stores such as Target, Food Lion, and Best Buy. My friends may find it curious that I didn't mention craft stores as potential employers.
Working at a craft store would be a BIG problem for me. That's like asking an alcoholic to be a bartender. It's just not a wise choice. I know I'd get paid no where nearly as much as I get at my day job. However, if I combine the additional pay, the employee discount, and coupons it may actually be worth some of my time. I've already applied at a couple of places. Wish me luck and pray really hard. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The year of green living.

I firmly embrace the concept of green living. I have, however, not completely converted to living green. But I'm working on it. I finally realized that living this way is one of my life's purposes and it's a culmination of a lifetime of experiences.

As a child I was interested in ecology. I dreamed of being a biologist, ecologist, or marine biologist. (Back then the term environmentalist wasn't being used yet.)

I used to chastise my father for littering. He would throw an apple core on the grass after eating it. When I would say something about it he would respond by saying that an apple tree will be growing there the following year. Even at the tender age of 8, I didn't believe him.

I collected aluminum cans and soda bottles on the street and take them to the mobile recycling center on Saturday to get a few cents in exchange.

My mother came from an extremely poor country and grew up in poverty. Although both of my parents worked outside of the home, our family had two cars, we lived in a three bedroom home, and I was the only child, my mother was extremely frugal. From her example I learned to shop at thrift stores, not to waste, eat simple foods, and to live on a minimum amount of homemade clothes and one pair of shoes. In her eyes, no matter how little we lived on, our relatives in her homeland considered us wealthy and fortunate compared to their impoverished situation.

Finally, my family teemed with creativity and the pursuit of knowledge. My father loved to eat and taught himself how to cook as a child. He would frequently experiment on us with new culinary concoctions. He went to college when he turned 40 and eventually earned his Masters degree. My mother was a talented seamstress who could make complicated apparel without using patterns. She would also crochet elaborate bed spreads, table runners, and doilies using thread instead of yarn. This environment fostered a love for being creative, to explore, and to constantly yearn to learn.

Fast forward 40 something years and a light bulb goes off in my head. All of these experiences have taught me to embrace frugality, creativity, reuse, appreciation, and improvement. Green living is the perfect way to live in sync with these core values. This year I have reignited my drive to convert to a more green life.

Do you remember the media focus on the dangers of BPA? That was enough to motivate me to purge my enormous stash of plastic containers and use glass and stainless steel instead. My favorite glass jar are canning jars. I also get the latching jars. Although you can buy them new and use them for generations, the best places to get them are at yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores for .10 - .40 each for the screw top jars. Buying used helps in so many ways by lowering the amount that goes into landfills, reducing the use of resources and energy required for producing new items, and eliminating the waste that's associated with packaging, delivering, and merchandising products. Converting to using glass containers also reduces the toxic load on your body.

I am converting to natural cleaners by using vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, borax, and essentials oils. These are safer for you and the environment and are cheaper than off the shelf household and laundry cleaners. Vinegar is a disinfectant, deodorizer, and stain remover. This site has 1,001 uses for vinegar. Baking soda is a deodorizer, scrubbing powder, medicine, toothpaste, and stain remover. Here are some uses for baking soda. More uses can be found at the Arm & Hammer web site. Washing soda is a household and laundry cleaner. Here are some ideas for using washing soda. Borax is another household and laundry cleaner. Finally, essentials oils make the powder cleaners smell nice, add more disinfectant properties to your natural cleaners, and have many more uses.

Using the naturals cleaners mentioned above, I made my own laundry powder. I only use about 1/4 cup, it works wonderfully removing odors and stains, and my clothes smell like they just came off of the clothes line. Here are some easy laundry liquid and powder recipes.

I still have many commercial cleaners in my cabinets. Once I use them up, I will replace them with natural, less toxic alternatives. More frugal, creative, and green tips will be posted later.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

This and that

I'm sorry I've missed posting every Sunday as planned. I've been having a lot of drama and changes in my life lately which has demanded my time and attention. However, today I had the urge to update my blog and share a little of this and that.

Donna Downey started a campaign for creativity. She believes, like I, that everyone is creative. Some of us need to nurture, coax, and develop creative confidence. I believe in my creative potential and yours.

If you're looking for some ideas to make your own Valentine's cards, check out Regina's blog, Bitten by the Bug or Martha Stewart's web site. There are some very cute ideas which I just might use.

Are you over run by clutter? I am constantly trying to declutter while I continue to unpack. Here's a wonderful site that can help motivate you to let go of it all. Thanks to Wendy Smedley for sharing this find.

My eyes have been fixed on home decorating shows. Some of my favorite are Myles of Style, Divine Design, and Deserving Design.

Do you feel like you're drowning in paperwork at home? Here's some easy advice on the Real Simple web site that solves the problem.

That's it for now. I have a favor to ask of you. Would you please pray for me as I struggle to have a simple (and drama-free) life.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I'm making calendar pages

I have an album which holds our family's monthly calendar. I keep the current and following month on my refrigerator to use as our working calendar. I keep the design simple and try to use up my scraps and stash to make these easy to make. Here are some of the pages for 2009.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

tonight's dinner is shrimp & broccoli pasta with a salad. done in 30 minutes. watch out rachel ray!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year!

Last year I've experienced some big changes. I downsized my home and moved into a smaller space which resulted in an excess of stuff that I need to let go. To help me in my ongoing effort to simplify, I subscribe to several online organizing newsletters. Today, I'm reading a newsletter written by Marcia Garcia in which she has an article entitled, Your Simple, Organized and Carefree Life. In Marcia's article she asks, "What would it be like if your life was simple, organized, and carefree?" That's where I want to be.

Are you planning on setting resolutions for the new year? I think I've given up on setting resolutions. Instead, I'm moving toward focus areas (which are resolutions without specific goals). Here are mine for 2009 (and forward):

  • Reach my ideal weight and stay there.

  • Be more active and maintain it.

  • Eat more healthy foods and drinks.

  • Be happy.

  • Love much, laugh often, and live more.

Here are some for my household:

  • Happy & Loving
  • Supportive
  • Orderly & Tidy
  • Live simply

What are yours?