Tag Archives: life

Very Busy and Important

24 Aug


Me.  I am very busy and important.  Okay, maybe just busy…  This week goes down in history (I’m probably forgetting some weeks in history) as the Busiest Week Ever.  It’s kind of a funny story…

Normally, I work Tuesday-Saturday, as I mentioned in my last post.  This week, however, we were going to be closed on Saturday due to a work function in Chicago that did not involve me.  So I opted to work Monday-Friday for a free three-day weekend!  Plus, I’d have been home alone, so I was going to have a party in my basement.  At least one person said they’d come.  Then, however, I was asked to join on this Chicago thing.  Oh, and I need you to still work Monday.  Fiiiine.  Plans: canceled.  Fun: over.  It turns out that having a one-day weekend makes me a little, shall we say, testy.  So in my testy state, I did some quick math and figured I’m working 99 hours this week.  Including commute time… it sounds more pitiful.

Once I finished feeling sorry for myself, I started to panic.  First, I do need to sleep.  So, working around that and my 14-hour days, I need to get the basic things accomplished, and get my business-suited self off to Chicago for a long day and a black-tie evening.  *deep breaths start… NOW*

I’ve got some systems in place to get me through my busy weeks, but this week my systems are failing me.  Part of my week-prep involves making an egg bake for breakfast all week.  It’s the greatest thing, because you can change the ingredients around to suit your mood.  The base is a loaf of crusty bread, like a baguette, an egg mixture, and cheese.  But you can use goat cheese, or cheddar cheese, or swiss cheese, and so on.  You get the idea, right?  Sometimes a little goat cheese with spinach and bacon is nice.  Sometimes I like to use the Mexican cheddar and throw in some olives and chorizo and have myself some huevos for the week.  Life on the edge.  One of these days I’ll teach you all how to make it.  For now, though, I’ll just wish I had some.  One-day weekend system fail.

Another system failure: I set up the coffee pot each night… okay, I’m lying.  He sets the coffee up.  He also puts a mug of it on my bedside table in the morning, and that has become my alarm clock.  I know, spoiled.

Okay, he doesn’t put a picked flower with it, but I am NOT complaining.  (Even if the occasional flower would be nice…)
This coffee thing is a double time-saver, though.  First, I get coffee in my system ASAP so that I can function to get out the door ever.  I won’t say it happens quickly, because it doesn’t.  I am my mother.  I also take a mug of it with me, saving me a stop on the way to work.  I didn’t say these were innovations, just systems.  And this one won’t happen all week because I simply can’t drink a whole pot (i.e., I like to go to Caribou).
And did I say I was my mother?  Not quite.  I’ve got my own spin on it… She has to leave the house 6 times before she leaves the house, each door slam louder than the last.  I just cover all those trips in and out before I walk out the door.  Same amount of time, less obvious malfunction.  Always improving on the previous generation.

I’m working on a system to get the dishes and laundry done so that I don’t come home to a disaster zone, but I’m not sure where exactly that fits in.  I’m starting to wonder how other people get things done.

Sure…

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Weekbeginning

22 Aug


I have a strange “weekend” setup.  Usually it starts around 5 on Saturday, and ends with work on Tuesday morning.  The Saturday night bit feels like a weekend, but the rest of it feels like a weekbeginning, filled with preparations for my upcoming workweek.  Sometimes that means cooking, sometimes it means cleaning, and it always means laundry.  Usually I try to squeeze in a new recipe or thing I haven’t tried before, like learning to crochet or fixing something.

This weekend/beginning is different.  My normal schedule has been condensed into 1.3 days, which has a strange effect on me.  Something like… I have nothing to do!  I guess I didn’t completely slack off.  First, I discovered that I’m pretty great at grilling big juicy steaks.  A friend told me about a rub he makes that gave me a much simpler idea… on one of my steaks, I did a pretty good seasoning of salt and pepper, and then sprinkled some granulated sugar and a little cayenne pepper.  Amazing hot caramely sweet crust.

Next was the final shift of our amazing garage sale.  I got off to a Very Early Start this morning, even though our first customer didn’t show up for a few hours.

I popped my weekly breakfast egg bake into the oven when I got there, had some coffee, and the day began.  After all was said and done, the gang brought in over $500!  An episode worth repeating, I think.  We saw some interesting characters, got rid of almost enough junk, and made a little cash.  The only downer?  The lady who walked away with some of my junk without paying for it.  Wouldn’t have bothered me so much if it hadn’t been set aside with some things that another customer wanted to actually PAY for.

After I got home with my compact carload of ugly Christmas plates and mugs (had two carloads at the beginning!), I threw in some laundry and decided my time would be best spent lying in the grass and making a little progress on The Help.

I thought our glasses looked like they were on an adventure.
I nearly got to take a nap in the sun, but Someone decided he was hungry.  We thought we could treat ourselves a little as we’d made a killing selling our junk to people who collect junk, and got rid of lots of junk in the process.  Plus, the great part about a 1.3 day weekend is that you don’t have much time to accidentally spend money you don’t need to spend.  We thought we’d walk to a “nearby” establishment for some supper, promising each other we would aim towards the cheaper items on the menu.  I say “nearby” because when you live as far from civilization as we do, every establishment you walk past is an entire block.  Home Depot, Best Buy, etc.  We walked just under 3 miles to a seafood restaurant (in MN) where we discovered that it was a little overpriced, but also industry night, and they counted us among the working folk.  Also, everything had a bit of a southern/bayou twist, so we got to douse it all in hot sauce and Cajun seasoning!  So our $32 bill became $16 and we left stuffed.  Score!

I didn’t have much time for culinary adventures or creativity, and I’m not really optimistic about finding time for that in the next several days.  But I’m beginning this week with clean laundry and a little cash in my pocket.  I can’t move my legs right now because of my 6-mile trek to dinner, but we can’t have everything, can we.

The Opposite of Shopping

18 Aug


We’re having a garage sale.  No, not a two-for-one on garages, but a smorgasbord of discards.  There will be treasures ranging from absolute junk to stuff I just don’t need or use anymore.  Or ever.  It gets better… it’s not just my junk, but the junk of 3 other households as well!  The next few days will determine whether this is the best or the worst idea ever born of this group of ladies.  And it’s got competition in both directions, so it’s going to be a close race.

Donation is the way we usually get rid of stuff around here, but did you know that Goodwill won’t accept Christmas items in the summer?  When on earth do you think I go through my Christmas stuff??  So it’s important that these items sell this weekend.  It is not important that I take home a great profit (except on my vintage historical stereo with detachable speakers and double tape deck), it’s important that I NOT take home any Christmas stuff.  So, garage sale it is!

This forces me to look at my stuff and ask myself if I want to move it again.  There’s no telling how far the next move might be, so it’s an important question.  That cookie sheet?  Definitely not.  Not moving that guy again, he doesn’t pull his weight.  Cookies and frozen pizzas just stick, and stick, and stick.  But the stereo with detachable speakers – yes, detachable speakers! – that I bought in 9th grade?  With my own money, mind you.  VERY industrious at 14.  I flamed out early.  I’ll put that stereo in the sale pile.  But I’m definitely pricing it out of range so that I can continue to move it from house to house.  This way, though, he thinks I tried my best to get rid of it and it just wouldn’t sell.  It’s vintage!  A piece of history!  I’m sure you understand.

The trick will be to resist taking my fistful of cash (or pennies) and reinvesting it.  Garage sales are their own circle of life.  You buy something at a garage sale, and ultimately end up selling it at a garage sale.  You take the money handed to you in exchange for that item, and rush out to “reinvest” it in someone else’s vintage electronics.  Or whatever your thing is.  My most recent treasure?  A vintage ash tray.  I don’t smoke.

Isn’t she lovely?

With my recent vow of thriftiness, the idea here is to take my profits and invest them in an actual bank.  No shopping.  I’m pretty sure I can do it unless I run across new lampshades for my kitchen chandelier or a sewing machine that I just cannot pass up.  I’m sure you understand.  To help me stick to it, I’m counting this as a “revenue stream.”  Someone told me once that a household should have several revenue streams – ideally, 7 of them.  Did you know that?  Me either.  It’s interesting to think about, though, and I think it can’t be bad to shoot for.  We each have a job: check, check.  I think investments count: check…?  Once or twice a year, I sell some junk or some craftiness: check.  Still need three more streams, but I’m not sure I can be bothered about that just yet.  Someday, friends, enough people will read these ramblings that this very page could be a revenue stream… okay, maybe not.

When you’re cruising the sidewalks this weekend, snapping up other peoples’ junk (it’s probably an antique!  they don’t even know its value!), bid persistently.  Don’t let those ladies emotionally overprice their items out of purchaseland.  That’s their revenue stream and it’s our responsibility to make sure they end the day with cash, not a failed trip to Goodwill.  Go forth and garage sale!

The Gang’s All Here

8 Aug


Another success!  We had a great mix of folks over to our house yesterday for some amazing food and all around good times.  At times like these, it really pays to be friends with so many foodies/pastry chefs.

Aside from the opportunity to do something nice for people we love, the best reason to have a party is so that the house gets “cleaned.”  By “cleaned,” I mean the area of the house intended to be seen.  So, for those of you who went upstairs or downstairs for any reason, I apologize for whatever you may have seen or stepped in.

Saturday night involved a little stopover at a friend’s BBQ, some tacos, and a final trip to the store.  Then came home to whip up my famous (according to me) caramelized onion dip and a salsa that sounded good in my head: pineapples, cilantro, habanero, etc.  I had been warned about the habanero part, so I decided to save it for last.  I gave the onions a rough chop in the food processor, then went to work on the pineapple.

I tried doing the pineapple in the food processor, also, but it came out… frothy?  Like a pina colada.  Which made me wish I had some rum, not some tortilla chips.  So I decided to chop the rest up with a knife.  Enter some cilantro and red bell pepper and I was ready to approch Mr. H.  Here he is, double-bagged, and then being severed by a masked bandit.
I didn’t have any gloves, and I read something about how the oils on these suckers can burn your skin.  Forget rubbing your eyes!  So I thought I just wouldn’t take any chances and popped some Ziploc baggies on my mits.  And yes, that is my husbands Miller High Life t-shirt.  No, you can’t have it.  Some taste testing was necessary once it was done, and Husband thought it needed jalapeno Tabasco, so we tossed some of that in there, squeezed a little lime, and let it fridge overnight.  It tasted even better the next day, and got pretty good reviews!  Another recipe: invented.  We’re changing lives, people.

The highlights were the cheesecake with blueberry sauce, the blueberry pie still warm from the oven (I know), the guacamole, and the chocolate muffins with peanut butter frosting and sugared bacon.  Frisbees were caught in trees, marshmallows were intended for projectile use only, and a good time was had by me.

The evidence has all been hidden, and since the vacuum is still out of the closet, I may even make today THE DAY that the other floors of the house are introduced to it.  But no promises.  And lastly, may I recommend to you all, if you want to have a Sunday bash, don’t work on Monday.  It’s my new favorite day of the week.

 

Wa__sabi

6 Aug


My husband doesn’t understand these predicaments, either.

The aforementioned Friend K had a really cool post that has had me thinking for a couple weeks.  She said that her house is “wabi-sabi,” which not the same as my favorite green goo for sushi.

It’s not as tasty, and takes at least as long to get used to.  My favorite translation of it is Mess.  K says is “the acceptance of transience, of seeing the beauty in something that is imperfect, impermanent, or incomplete.”  I did a little wikihomework on the subject, and also liked how they summed it up… “[It] nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”

The house I live in is fine.  Not wabi-sabi in the slightest, and in fact it could use a little more of that.  It was built in 2001, the walls are straight enough, and the carpet is only lightly stained.  I think it’s my life that is wabi-sabi.  Discuss…

Nothing lasts?  I guess I don’t think of material things that way, it’s more that I always have this hourglass in the back of my mind… “Like sands through the hourglass…”  How many times did I hear THAT during pre-employment summers?  More times than my mom wants to know.  For me, time is what doesn’t last.  My favorite moments of gin and tonics on the patio seem very temporary.  Fleeting, even!  My inability to work efficiently could have something to do with it, but as it stands, I feel like days, especially the good ones, go by too quickly.

Nothing is finished?  SERIOUSLY.  Nothing, unless it’s a pizza or a cheeseburger, is ever finished.  I have a special collection of garments at the bottom of my laundry basket that do not get washed.  I don’t ever have the right load to throw them in with, nor do I ever feel it is a “good time” to do a load of hand-washing.

Nor am I good at line drying…
This gives me a little bit of a complex about some things, but this wabi-sabi thing wants me to just accept that the dusting might get done, but not the vacuuming.  Practical application: I’m having a sizeable party this weekend, and it’s just not possible to be “ready” for such a thing.  There’s a pretty constant back and forth in my head that goes a little like, “Agh!  Nothing is done!” and then, “Nobody will notice that you haven’t rotated the picture frames in… ever.”  And so on.

Nothing is perfect?  Well, I think we all KNOW that, but sometimes that doesn’t make it easy.  When Friend B first moved into the apartment that neither of us knew would define our relationship, it was white.  White walls, white carpet, white furniture.  I had spent about 30 seconds in Leiden and the house I stayed in had light wood and white everything else.  Very cool, I thought, so I tried to recreate it in my carpeted suburban apartment.  Fail.  Friend B took my concerned self down to the Home Depot, and we picked out a purple (called “Sassy Pants” or somesuch), a tomato red, and a blue and a green for her room and bathroom that she would later decide was sort of lurid.  Oh well.  The living room was purple, the kitchen was red, and they were connected so it was just a lot of stuff happening that disturbed my sensibilities.

See?  Disturbing.  Lurid.  I’m pretty used to it now.
Note: several years later, my parents would apply the first coat of colored paint their house had seen since 1986.  Good work, Friend B, you even got to the root of the problem.  Don’t even get me started on how she started on the arrangements of knick knacks that were not in a Straight Line or hanging pictures without Using A Level.

More on wabi-sabi… Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.  Generally, I like it.  I think it’s a great model for working with what you have, going with the flow, and not falling into the ginormous trap of the Crate & Barrel catalog of Things I Don’t Have But Totally Need.  I have everything I need, none of it is perfect, I am not finished, and time doesn’t last.  So I guess I’ll have a gin and tonic!

Busted.

15 Jul

Remember how I’m not buying things?  Right, me too.  This morning, I poured myself a tall mug of coffee and left for work with enough time to stop at my favorite place for squandering money, the Bead Monkey.  They rearranged!  There was a much better selection of Swarovski crystals, some new semi-precious stones that I hadn’t seen before (lemon jade is my new favorite!), and I played with some of the precious metals they keep behind the counter – I’m making a gift.  And maybe one for myself.

While I was talking to the super nice lady behind the counter, and we were holding chains up to links, some JERK started honking his horn.  And not just honking, really, but laying on it.  Pretty soon, we decided that it must be an alarm going off.  A lady came in and said it was coming from a nearby building, their security system must have been tripped.  Then another lady came in the door on the other side of the shop, and my stomach sank.  I got that feeling you get when you realize the woman in the distance – so far away, you can just barely make out her features – who is stomping towards you is Your Mother.  I recognized that “building alarm,” and the lady said that it was coming from a black Pathfinder.  I don’t drive a Pathfinder, but not everyone knows cars.

I put two and two together quickly enough and ran out to shut it up.  Not happening.  I started the car.  I stopped the car.  I locked the doors.  I unlocked the doors.  I hung my head, walked back into the store to grab my umbrella.  I mumbled an apology to the poor deaf people and high-tailed it outta there.  There’s a repair shop about 4 blocks from where I was, so I went in that direction.  I learned two things along the way: 1. If you seem to be reclining on your horn, people will pull over and let you pass them; 2. As you pass them, they will give you the dirtiest, most hateful look you can imagine.  The guys at the shop sprang to action and got it to stop.

The icing on this lovely cake was the record rainfall happening the whole time.  After I dropped my car off to be muzzled and muted, I walked 3.5 blocks to work.  I was dry when I started out, and 2 hours after I arrived at work, I was dry again.  Sigh.

We’re still in need of some detective work to uncover the cause of this whole horn problem, and then a solution.  The prevailing theory is that a remote trigger was installed by N, and that my proximity to a cash register is what set it off.