Sunday, November 29, 2009

tis the season

living room coffee table

this guy *insisted* on loading sideways ... sorry lol :-) soon that sleigh will be filled with a small holiday indulgence, lots of hershey's kisses! my parents have done it that way for years. i painted that sleigh that i once found at a craft store. fun ...

the new 'hood, fall

Hi, dear readers.

It's been so long since I've posted with pictures, but I have plenty that I just loaded onto my computer, so I'll try and illustrate some more :-) ... I guess it was just time for a break from all that, especially with my life in topsy-turvy mode over the last 2 months. All is moved in now, and things are more or less settled (there are a few small piles of junk to sift through...)

I wanted to share this very nice way to do laundry: my best friend got me these amazing soap nuts.

You stick a few of them into one of the 3 small canvas drawstring bags that comes with the nuts, and I like about 4 drops of peppermint essential oil. Your clothes will smell incredible! And it's all very eco-friendly ... no more plastic bottles for detergent. It also helps a second-world country (Brazil in this case, I believe). So I'd rather use these than make my own. The nuts can be reused several times, as well, and they compost, obviously. :-) Thank you, Sarah!!

I've been promising to let you in on my financial plans. Well ... basically, me being the non-type-A person I am .... it's very loosely organized, mainly in my head. And of course, being this horrible hole-in-pocket spender I've always been, I've stupidly plundered away most of my current student loan ... yep, the one I promised myself I'd save ... The good news is, I recently checked my credit score, and it had gone up 40 points!! My first goal is to have it get up 20 more points, then 50 more from there ... and then I'll be in GREAT shape. I'm not debt-free of credit cards at the moment, but that's due to moving and Christmas travel money I had to spend ... and for just a FEW christmas presents. I started an online savings account which has several hundred dollars in it. After the holidays, I'm going to put my holiday money and tax refund into it, too. And, now that I have my dream apartment and don't need any more furniture, paint, etc., I am going to squirrel away a few hundred dollars from each subsequent paycheck until my last one in May. I have this dream of buying a home in a few years ... but with all the current craziness and confusion surrounding homebuying I'm more than content to rent for now and let the nest egg build. Maybe it won't be for a home ... I have a few other lofty ideas, too ;-) ... But here I am, having just turned 30, with the squalor of my twenties behind me. If I don't begin to SERIOUSLY save now, I'm in big trouble even five years down the road.

It's taken me nearly two years to get to this point: living more simply by stockpiling foods in bulk and cooking everything in scratch (I still have the remnants of my bad restaurant-eating habit to deal with ...), learning how to knit and bake (and now, barely, to sew!) to offset the cost of gift-giving times, and being gentler on the earth (which also saves money at gift-giving times, such as using baskets from the goodwill, scrap yarn, and fabric instead of paper, these are just a handful of frugal ideas out of hundreds). I'm coming up on three years vegetarian, and am trying to eat mostly vegan. I'm in a good place, I've arrived where I'm feeling comfortable, now I just need to kick up my feet a bit more and reap the early rewards of this lifestyle.

Another thing I've decided to work on is my night-owl tendency. Mornings have NEVER been fun for me, I wake up 15 minutes before I need to dash from the house. I hate it, but I feel like my mind and body just can't get along when morning comes. Well, I read one guy's blog (he's some kind of lifestyle motivator person) and he suggested going to bed whenever you feel sleepy, whether that's 8 p.m. or 1 a.m. .... but ALWAYS waking up at the same time, no matter what. He adds up the extra time you'll get every day and it equals many many weeks a year ... or something like that. I've dreamed of being a morning person for years. While he says born night owls generally function on autopilot rather than being Mr./Ms. Cheerful as soon as they spring out of bed at 5 a.m., you WILL get used to getting up when the alarm is going off at the same time each day, and you won't just turn it off and go back to sleep. And your going-to-bed times will more or less even out. He suggests practicing getting up as soon as the alarm goes off during your waking hours by simulating your nighttime conditions ... doing this for a few days, twice a day, with 3 to 10 repetitions each so it becomes ingrained into your subconscious. Well, it's worth a try, I guess ....

With these things, finances and self-improvement, so much of it is literally sucking it up, setting your "best intentions" aside, and just finally, finally DOING what you know is going to make your life better. You have to supercede the mind, truly! Mind over matter...? Hm. We shall see where it brings me. I'm hoping a nice nest-egg buildup.

So this mini-break, as they say in Britain, has been absolutely wonderful. I've done much: walking, reading, knitting. Today I've made adzuki bean stew, oatmeal/raisin scones, and a simple dish of tofu, broccoli, and rice. I've seen a play, I've babysat, I've gotten (a little...grr) homework done, I've cleaned house. I've slept 8-9 hours a night. I've put up my Christmas decorations, and started packing to go home to New England in three weeks. It's a very busy, but good, time of year. Just 14more school days until vacation .... and a local performance of the Nutcracker ballet!

Hope you all are enjoying the start to the holiday season and not going too crazy at the shops. I plan on having a nice mix of locally bought presents/handmade, and being done with it. Christmas is about family and friends, and not much more than that, in my opinion.

Happy week, everyone. Here are some pictures of late:

hard at work, local "mighty kindness" festival

friend holly's sprouting demo

new vintage skirt, downtown coffeehouse with art on the walls and live music and specialty beer on tap

school leaf-raking

Peace and light,


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Peaceful posting.

Writing this on the first night of a five-day break from school. Spent most of the day organizing menu plans and my workspace for homework ... and eating (spaghetti with spinach, mushrooms and homemade vegan pesto..erm ... three bowlsful, but i only had lunch, not breakfast...) ... and watching movies and planning christmas presents and knitting.

on monday, celebrated turkey-free thanksgiving with a delicious meal cooked by a vegan chef trained by another chef friend of mine, and shared with like-minded vegetarian and vegan company. Did you know that I'm trying to convert to vegan? It's hard, but only sometimes. Most days I marvel at how much fruit/veg I consume. Your whole energy vibrates differently when you don't eat meat. Your whole outlook changes, your health changes. It's an incredibly powerful thing, and of course it's kind and gentle to both animals and our battered earth.

This year, I am thankful for my family and their health, for beginning a new decade of my life, for the best friends ever, for the ability to purchase and make from scratch delicious, organic, local, healthy food, for the ability to donate both food and money to those less fortunate, for my new AMAZING apartment (yes, there will eventually be pictures...), for my newfound determination to SAVE money for something good in my near future. I'm thankful to live in a vibrant, caring community of people. I'm very thankful for all of you ... your blogs continually inspire me to keep on keeping on with forging a path of voluntary simplicity, despite sometimes feeling like an island of eccentricity in an increasingly consumerist, suburban, cookie-cutter world. I'm thankful for a Democratic president, and health care reform (PLEASE please with a public option...). For an older car that still works beautifully. For yoga. For the higher energies that surround and sustain us. For the sacred feminine.

Have a wonderful, relaxing weekend. Mine will be spent entirely out of the shops. I'll be home, homeworking, knitting christmas gifts, going out to see a play, babysitting, and doing laundry. Perhaps taking a walk or a yoga class or two, we'll see.

Peace to you, and happy thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

i'm here, just been living it.

The moving dust has finally settled.

Recently, I haven't been around blog/camera land much. Hope I'm forgiven. I really needed to get out and really LIVE life for a while (despite the hit my bank account took, even). Something about turning 30, which I've done pretty seamlessly and successfully (and I feel 21!).

Things I've done:

yoga, three or four classes a week.

Monday night salsa dancing

local music shows

birthday/housewarming party (last night!)

new local restaurants/old favorites with friends

food demonstration for vegan pesto for an earthsave group

vegan thanksgiving (this will actually take place on monday)

upcoming: the nutcracker, as performed by the louisville ballet

I've been cooking again, too. Good, warming stuff. Homemade soups, chili, bean stews, yummy bars and bread and scones.

thanksgiving weekend: five-day montessori homework fest. after that, a small amount of christmas shopping and knitting of a couple dishcloths and scarves for said holiday. this year, i'm spending a weekend in chicago and riding the train home to connecticut.

i'm sure you all understand that sometimes, life just needs to be lived, computerland be damned. i love coming back to your blogs, though, and becoming inspired all over again.

promise to have a finances post soon.

love to you,


Friday, November 6, 2009

Regular posting to resume soon ... stay tuned!

::: this is the room that will be the sewing/TV room.

Hello dear readers,

Well, the movers finally arrived yesterday and the furniture has been moved in. I've been blessed with two days off from school plus a weekend, the majority of which has been/will be spent nesting into things here. Organizing, putting away the mess. . Nursing this cold? swine flu? sinus mess? .... reading ... knitting ... planning, always planning. menus, trips home to New England, a weekend in Chicago, train rides. I have to figure homework in there at some point. I really like that I'm looking forward to going to work these days. I am blessed to be working with a wonderful woman who heads the classroom. I am grateful to have a job as a teacher. It makes getting up early easier.

So the home doesn't quite feel like "home" yet .. there is furniture now, but it feels like I'm sleeping in someone else's home.

I've been too tired/overwhelmed/sickish to take or post many pictures, but I assure you I have a ton saved up. I've been making delicious meals lately ... an amazing pear/butternut squash/ginger soup, saag aloo (vegan creamed spinach, an Indian dish), pumpkin/chocolate chip bars, and zucchini chocolate chip bread. Up next: vegan enchiladas and thai-curry pumpkin soup. Soup is best this time of year.

It's looking like washcloths and scarves are the items I'm knitting up for Christmas this year. Easy peasy and not too time-consuming. I also scored a bunch of handcrafted/locally made gifts at the art fair a few weeks ago where I found my new apartment, too!

I realize I promised you a look at my finances/plans regarding that a while ago, but progress on it is slower than expected (but still good!). I am delighted that my credit has somehow vastly improved over the last couple of years, and it's jumped about 40 points ... and it's VERY close to being "good" credit on a scale of poor-fair-good-very good-excellent.

When I had my sewing lesson, I made a drawstring pouch!! I am excited because this is one of the materials I needed to make for my Montessori training materials-making assignment. However the sewing machine needs a repair so no playing around with it for a while. In the meantime, can you all (those of you that sew) enlighten me as to what kind of table/chair would be best for this work? And other basic supplies I'll want to be having around? That would be oh-so-helpful.

I hope you all are doing your best to stay healthy and not stressing too much about the holidays (remember it's not about that!!) and enjoying every moment of gratitude you find in your daily journey. I know I am.

Be well out there (and thanks in advance for any sewing advice you can give me!),