Sunday, February 22, 2009

a quiet sunday, finally.

Hi, everyone.

well, i seem to have mostly climbed out of that little funk i was in for the last two weeks ... though i think my body is in the margins of what all the kids have been slammed with at school -- many of them have actual flu, mine is just a little stuffyness and dryness and headache and sore throat. i feel fine otherwise.

so ... last time i posted, i actually had written a full-blown post, but my computer kicked me off the Internet before I had the chance to at least "autosave" as blogger calls it (i normally love that feature!). i've had some problems with it lately, but i do now have it at home, yay! i'll have to see what i can do soon about the technical difficulties.

so, what to say about lately? i haven't been quite in the element i'd settled on for quite a while ... instead, loads of running around to the shops (a very nice two trips to the fair trade store here, and a local hardware store where they were very helpful, might i add, and i felt like i was a little kid in there again, as back in the 80's trips to these kinds of places were always made with dad) .... but also tons of money spending. i kept telling myself (and others at the shops, who i swear were wondering just how a young person like me was blowing money like this in the economy we're in) ... that i was spending money now so i wouldn't have to later. i mean, your home (okay, apartment in my case) needs to be outfitted well enough to be comfortable to be the place where you spend much of your time, if you're someone who lives frugally and simply. and mine just wasn't, entirely. now, with a new living room, pretty much (paint, furniture, lights, the works) and a new sofa upstairs and some creative rearranging of rugs, it's really got just about *everything* it needs to be warm and cozy and a place where not only i can hang out and craft/cook/read/do homework/relax .... it's also a place i can feel comfortable inviting people over too! i just felt that making an initial investment was a smart thing to do while i had the money .... still, i didn't like spending any of it. but i have plenty of money left over and will use it wisely (or almost not at all, hopefully!) in the future. if i'm going to be in this apartment two more years, or even one more, i want it to truly feel like home, not just a place to crash.

with all that said, i'm ready to stop the running now and settle back down into march, a month i want to make as quiet as possible for myself, mainly because i have lots of graduate work and reading to get done. February wasn't supposed to be crazy, but somehow it wound up that way.

things i currently have going (and i'll post some knitting pictures soon): knitting a surprise gift for a friend, knitting another hat or two, finishing a scarf, making a few dishcloths ... reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, which so far is fabulous ... luckily my freezer is pretty full of food that i managed to cook up toward the end of this crazy week, and my candle party was canceled, so i have a ton of food (today i'll make up hummus, guacamole, deviled eggs) already ... i may try to craft a menu plan, regardless, although it looks like i'll have to do less cooking this week due to the overflow. maybe this also means i can bake bread, which i haven't done in quite a while. Also, as of March 1, i am signed up in a monthly autodebit program at my yoga studio, which means i'll be trying to go at least twice a week. i went this past wednesday, on a much-needed mental health day from school, and it was very incredibly satisfying. all parts of me have really really missed and needed yoga. i am slightly disappointed in myself because i very much wanted to go this morning to a three-hour special meditation/kundalini yoga/chanting session there, but .... well, i just couldn't make my body get up at 4 a.m. so ... next time. but yoga will soon be a regular part of my life again, that and hopefully my walks ... i can't wait!

in order to continue being the healthiest i can be, i'm really focusing on taking the right vitamins. currently, i take a prenatal vitamin, an extra 100iu Vitamin E, 500mg extra/day of Vitamin C (until winter's over), and a Calcium/Magnesium supplement. For the Calcium, between the supp. and the prenatal i'm getting about 60 percent of my recommended daily value. i figure soy foods and leafies etc. make up the rest. i'm happy with that. i'm not sure how i like the prenatals yet, i've just switched over from a kids' vitamin to it, so ... we'll see. so far, no problems.

i'm also trying to have a diet that's loosely vegan. i'm not one of those people that wants to ask about ingredients in every single thing everywhere i go throughout life ... (i.e. stuff in breads, sauces, etc.) .... so what i do is just eat mainly fruits, veggies, whole grains, seeds, nuts, soy products, seitan, etc. .... i avoid buying cheese or getting it on my food when i'm out, but sometimes i can't resist the samples bins at Whole Foods -- i LOVE cheese ... but i know i'm better off without it. i truly think that, and not wanting to have to ask what's in my food everywhere i go out to eat (and we all do, from time to time), and sushi, which i occasionally imbibe in -- those are the only things that keep me from crossing the vegetarian into vegan line. ah. so be it! i know i eat a very healthy diet, though admittedly it is sometimes hard to cross over entirely to -- cooking from scratch requires foresight, energy, and determination, but how rewarding on a lazy/unwell day to open the freezer and have your very own insta-meal that wasn't made in a lab and won't be warmed in a microwave. It's a new paradigm, that's all. I think I've managed pretty well, overall.

I'm so happy i became a vegetarian. i never realized it until fairly well into it, but meat (AND processed foods) had been making my body lethargic, wobbly (i.e. cellulite, of which i virtually have none now, it disappeared!), my skin bad. i also ... and i swear this is because of diet ... had relatively conservative/narrow political/world views and well ... now i couldn't be more opposite of that! i feel, more than two years into this choice, like a veil has been lifted from my eyes, that now i can truly see what's around me. like i've woken up from a long, bad dream, and here i am ... able and willing to help fix these messes that we're in. i really believe, as the macrobiotic culture does, that food, like everything else, is comprised of yin and yang elements, and that we should strive to achieve balance with it always. food can also create "sludge" within both your body and mind ... this i also truly believe. so why create sludge when you can have clarity?

i can't think of too much else to blog about right now, so this might be a good point to insert my knitting projects. i hope you all have a very enjoyable and relaxing sunday ... it's certainly what i'm planning on!!

dropped some stitches at the bottom, but i can redo that by the next hat, hopefully!

secret projects?

here's me goofing off.

more pictures of my "new" living room ... and upstairs.

good Spanish vegetable dish i've cooked up lately, called tumbet. i need to get posting some of the stuff i've been cooking .... and the recipes!


karen <3

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

i'm a bit caught up here ...

i'm going through a really rough few weeks here and don't feel much like being all bloggy. i'm overly busy and eating badly (read: takeout) and there's just a lot going on internally that i need to process and work through.

i'll be back ....



Sunday, February 8, 2009

quick bits, in bytes.

a quick post ... too much to do still (weekly cooking! reading!), so maybe just some pictures for now. good news, a few bits: couches acquired this week: THREE!! i also picked up the paint (eco-friendly blend from local store, yay) so that will happen over next sunday ... someone bid $50 for my TV on ebay and wants to pick it up locally ... we'll see if she "wins" ... (but yay, i'm gonna make $$!!) ... i'm getting internet at my apt next saturday! happy valentine's to me. i start tutoring this week ... i gave someone special a book of poetry last night ... i have a new fundraising project for a good cause in the works ... i'm attending an Earthsave Louisville potluck on Vday and attending a taping of one of my favorite singers' (John Gage!) local radio show, Kentucky Homefront.... the author of Eat, Pray, Love is coming to LV and I bought a ticket today to hear her be interviewed (i'll be right there while it's happening) by public radio/have my book signed ... It feels like spring out here. Almost all the ice is gone. ... I've learned how to knit a hat, and soon will start a baby blanket. Things are pretty good.

Enjoy the pictures, and your week. Mine will be a busy one!! (Australian friends ... my thoughts go out to you ... i hope you are okay during this difficult time for your country.)

LOOK what they're capable of ... !!

it's from the 1940's ... used to sit in a men's club here in LV ...

my own version of Tom Yum soup: YUM. is right!

a hat in the works!


karen <3

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

pretty major simplicity update ... guess i'm on a roll here.

hey, everyone ...

i have so much to say i just had to pop my head in here again! when i posted the other day, i forgot to mention that someone is opening a "Zen" teahouse ... right in my neighborhood ... soon! i can't wait.

1. i've started making a weekly menu plan, as other bloggers i read have been doing, too (libby and lydia come immediately to mind). here's a sample, from this week: (the breakfast part also helps give me yet another reason to shove out of bed in the morning in that quest for morning-person-dom (i've been doing better with that, by the way, but results are widely varied, from waking up two hours before i need to leave the house to the more frequent average of 50 minutes and still finding i'm rushing somewhat the last 20 minutes, but it's a vast improvement over waking in a shocked stupor to see how late it is, dressing, and running, hitting the coffeeshop on the way and skipping breakfast entirely). oh yeah, the sample, which i'm actually trying to follow: (imagine plenty of water, various teas, and grape juice mixed in between these)

Monday (yesterday): breakfast -- coffee, smoothie with soymilk, blueberry soy yogurt, wheat germ, banana

lunch -- homemade pea soup with lowfat organic (okay let's just know for a fact that 99.999 percent of what i list here is homemade/organic, so i don't have to be repetitive) yogurt spooned on top. i also had a vegan salad with sesame seeds and homemade vegan dressing (olive oil, apple cider vinegar, spicy mustard and lemon juice)

dinner -- chickpea stew with Quinoa, large portion. Quinoa flavored with onion and spices.

snack -- chickpea stew (just 1/2 a bowl)

Tuesday: breakfast -- egg with mushrooms, banana, OJ, coffee, two of Rhonda's cranberry-walnut scones (even though my oven overcooked them! grr)

lunch -- leftover tempeh/veggie pizza, 2 slices, and a vegan salad with vegan dressing and sesame seeds

dinner -- veggie (masala) burger, refried beans with green salsa mixed in, and a 1/4 bowl of a soba noodle/edamame dish i made for later in the week. i'm stuffed.

snack -- decaf soy gingerbread latte (coffeehouse)

Wednesday (tomorrow): breakfast -- coffee, stove-cooked oatmeal with raisins, wheat germ, and honey drizzle

lunch -- chickpea stew

dinner -- cold soba noodles with edamame (smaller portion of the 2 i made), banana


Thursday: breakfast -- coffee, smoothie with lowfat yogurt, soymilk, banana, peanut butter

lunch -- pea soup with yogurt spooned on top, and a vegan salad with vegan dressing and sesame seeds

dinner -- eat at Ray's (coffeeshop where knitting club is held). For $3.99 I can get an AMAZING Vegan grilled cheese and avocado sandwich.

Friday: breakfast -- coffee, tofu stir-fry with spices and red pepper, scones, banana

lunch -- cold soba with edamame (bigger portion)

dinner -- tofu and coconut milk soup with canned mushrooms and scallions, and curry powder.

Saturday and Sunday: use up leftover tofu (or eat leftover soup!), cook for next week. recipes to try: sweet and sour seitan, and middle eastern lentils and spinach (courtesy of one of my new cookbooks, which you can see atop my shelf in previous pictures i posted)

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading (or at least skimming) ... moving on,

2. I've started a food/staples log, which so far looks like this:

Sunday, 2/1. Kroger, $11. OJ, TP (4 rolls), 1 can garbanzos, bananas, applesauce

Tuesday, 2/3. Rainbow Blossom, $7, toasted sesame oil

I'm hoping this will help keep my wild spending impulses in check once I see where that "stomach money" is actually going. Maybe I'll add bar/restaurant/takeout purchases to it, too? Not that I plan on that often ... but, you know, i live in a more urban area and well, sometimes that's life right now as a singleton.

3. My stockpiling is going well. It took a while, as many on here, such as Rhonda, have said will happen, but I'm fairly well stocked with all the kitchen essentials (scallions, soy sauce, lemon juice, sugars, flours, spices, etc.)Finally, I'm starting to be able to do most recipes I'm interested in ... without shopping much, if at all. That's nice. However, I do have the goal of simultaneously making recipes out of all the stuff i already have, rather than shopping for new stuff for new recipes (though i justify that by freezing, more on that in a minute) ... anyone know a good website for that? as in, plug in your ingredients and a corresponding recipe will pop up? gosh that would be fun! and convenient!

The freezing: I now have about seven meals stocked up in there -- one meal for each day of a week. and, a batch (uncooked) of rhonda's scones with raisins instead of cranberries. i love that thought, especially as there will be busy times i just don't want to cook, and i detest prepackaged foods (both for the health content and environmental rape and pillage, yes, even organic frozen foods are often lab-made or are veggies that come from CHINA) ... for those of you who are by choice microwave-less (as am I) .. how do you defrost food in a jiffy? I'm trying to get myself to write down freeze dates so nothing gets "burned" and nasty. i do need to pick up more glass storage containers, though ... i'm loving my Pyrex set. So. Freezing and stockpiling, GREAT progress on this.

4. I've blogged on this stuff earlier, but I came up with a pretty low-estimate plan of saving roughly $8,000 -- yes, EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS -- by May 2010 if all goes well. This money right now is for a house, but depending what happens in life it could take care of a new car, travel, whatever else I might need at that time. But I'll keep saying HOUSE. I love the sound of it, and the dessert word that accompanies it, GARDEN.

how will this be accomplished? by saving, NOW, all babysitting money, tutoring money, partylite money, and ebay money.

and by saving, next school year, the $80 plus MORE (than i make now) a week i'll be making doing morning child care and knitting club (this is not definite yet), partylite money, babysitting money.

I'll also be upping my 403B contribution (for friends abroad, this is retirement plan) by $30/month from what I currently invest monthly now (this is obviously NOT house money, though).

I was thinking about it on the walk to the coffeeshop tonight and realizing that if I really intend to still enjoy quality of life and home cooked meals and REAL quality time for my family, etc, by the time i have kids, I need to be able to be financially stable enough to only need to work part-time, instead of full ... if at all. (but let's say part time for now to be even more realistic). If I steady my ship now (and i fortunately can, "in this economy"), by the time i'm a head teacher I can use my doubled (hopefully?)-ish salary to really sock it away in the savings good.

alas ... we shall see!!

if you've made it ALL the way through this post, you are a saint!!

we'll talk soon, friends. be well.


wishlist: trips to four? ish of the international markets in my area ... and a SURIBACHI!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

updates on simplicity ways and means

Hi, everyone!

Well, nearly a whole week off, unplanned, due to ice storm damage and power outages (not where i live, thankfully!), and I'm somewhat downcast about returning to work tomorrow. But who knows, it's supposed to snow again Monday or Tuesday, so we'll see ...! It was a much-needed time for settling back into routine, which I hadn't a chance to do yet.

I'll put up some more pictures before I go so you can see what I've been up to ... this includes making plans to get to the "design" of my living room, which has been waiting patiently for many months. Over this weekend, I have fallen madly in love with two of them (one pictured here, the other I'll photograph when I buy it). At first, I was deeply regretful about the prices ($165 for the pink one, $150 for the leather couch in perfect condition I have yet to purchase, I'm going to have it held in my name tomorrow) ... then I remembered I had Christmas money from mom and dad to spend, so I'm only investing about $70 of my own money for these. Which is good, because the room still needs paint, a coffee table, etc. I *hate* spending, especially with my goals of simplicity in mind, but shouldn't one's home have good energy so more time can be spent there? I've already really done the kitchen and bedroom/upstairs living space well ... so this is the last place I really need to focus on. I'll try to buy antique/thrift as much as possible.

Also in the last few days, I scored a much-needed shelf for my bulk items ... at Goodwill for $15.

Regrets: dresses and a skirt in the same Goodwill trip ... ran me about $20 out of budget.

Finds: Local market that sells great organic produce. Pros: closer to home, less business given to organi-Giant Whole Foods. nice. Who cares if I was the youngest person (by at least 30 years...) in the store?

Per some of Frugal Trenches' suggestions, I've been freezing some portions of meals I've made. It's nice to know I currently have 4 meals in the freezer. I have a calendar I got from somewhere that's not wall-worthy, I'm thinking of using it to record when items like these go into the freezer so I can keep track of their shelf life.

Ways in my life to make extra money:

*I listed my first-ever item on ebay, a small tv/dvd player I no longer have use for. There is a fee for posting and selling an item, but those fees are small... if i make even $20 off this i'll consider it a success, and sell more items in the future! Pretty excited about that ... i have some clothes i can try and sell, too.

*babysitting (i usually find i can sit at least twice a month)

*tutoring (probably $40/week)

*changing (next school year) my two days of after school child care to being the morning person. i'll go from 4 hours/week of extra pay to 7.5!!!! plus i will likely take over the once-weekly after school knitting club (only an hour extra after school), also a paid job. This means I should be out by 3:30-3:45 four days out of five, instead of schlogging through 2 more hours after a long day. And the pay will be more than double what I make now. awesome! this will help my goals of becoming a morning person, for sure, i just don't know if i can commit myself to that challenge!! i keep telling myself, what will i lose by going to bed earlier? not much ... the latest i could go to bed and still get 7 hours would be 10:45 ... to get eight hours i'd need to be in bed by 9:45 ... wake up at 5:45 on the button each day and leave for work about an hour later. ideally i'd like an hour and a half in the morning to putter about, enjoy breakfast, shower, whatever ... but i bet i could make good use of an hour. i don't know ... this is still on the table. i'm not feeling responsible enough to handle that just yet ...

*partylite (my new home party candle business .. my first party is scheduled for feb. 22 ...) ... i'd like to aim (low) for $400/month in extra income ...

Tonight, I'm making a batch of Rhonda's amazing cranberry-walnut scones, and trying, for the first time, to freeze a batch of the same ones with raisins, as i currently have more raisins than cranberries stored. I'm also going to henna my hair dark auburn (so the jar says!), after watching reruns on dvd of my-so-called-life (GOD loved that show!) and being reinspired by angela's hair color.

anyone have good ideas for all the old egg cartons i've been saving up, other than putting cookies or candies into them and giving them as gifts? and for paint containers while crafting?

so here are those pictures .... of this past week, more or less. enjoy, and we'll catch up soon ... in fact, now i'm off to read *your* blogs!!!!

yes, i finally got a french press! just realized this morning it takes no electricity to use!!

nearly-vegan pizza, homemade with flax tempeh, mushroom, broccoli and cilantro and basil pesto (the pesto had some cheese in it)

check out how close my pea soup with yogurt and mint is to the original!! yay me, yay food processor!

and without further ado ...the shelf!!

another weekend find, from a local shop:

weekend lunch. that's my homemade cornbread in the bowl, with some blackberry preserves. the salad is all raw with homemade vegan dressing. and that's grape juice mixed into water. Did you know, grape juice provides MORE of the antioxidant benefits that red wine does? (they have the same compound or what-you-call it, revestrol or something like that) ... minus the alcohol, score!

this morning's breakfast: avocado, tomatoes, and an egg with mushrooms and a generous spicing of black pepper and chana masala powder. YUM.

i leave you with the absolute beauty of nature, at once fragile and dangerous:

i'm going to try and do some home-video restorative yoga later before bed. EARLY to bed ... .hopefully early to rise!

peace and happy week,