March 28th, 2010 | 5 Comments »
au naturel

au naturel

Posted in indulgences, me
November 18th, 2009 | No Comments »

I have been told, on countless occasion, that I am up tight about things. Especially money matters. Oh, I s’pose there’s some truth to that. What with growing up keenly aware of the value of a dollar and the need to make it stretch to feed, clothe, and shelter nine kids, and all. We never took handouts. No government cheese. No food stamps. My parents were too proud to accept assistance (which made absolutely no sense to me as a child, because, hey, it was free, and if we got food for free, then we could maybe buy clothes at the store, and not the neighborhood garage sales), so we made do. There are others who have real need, I was told. Little did I know I was learning an important life lesson, which was made all the more meaningful the Christmas that I volunteered for the Adopt-a-Family program and filled the Christmas list for an underprivileged family. I shopped happily, thinking of the joy I was bringing that family. It began to turn sour when I drove up to their home and realized that they lived in an apartment complex that I had considered, but decided against because it was too expensive. As I arrived, a very fashionably dressed woman stepped out of a new Toyota Camry, and I soon discovered she was the mother of my adopted family. I was driving a 1982 Subaru hatchback (which I bought for $300). Once in the apartment, I couldn’t help but notice the giant 50-some inch television and the black leather furniture. Honestly, I was sickened by it all. She was saying how glad she was to be able to put something for her boys under the tree. It was all I could do to maintain a cheerful face, leave the bags of gifts and groceries, and hightail it out of there. These are the kinds of people that take advantage of the system, the kind my mother did not want to be. Sure, maybe that woman needed to maintain a particular image in her line of work, but it certainly seemed that she could have been able to do better for her children if she’d cut back a little on herself. But that’s just me. (And I’ve digressed, again.)

I was raised to make do. It was the respectable thing. So it’s been ingrained for a very long time. Sure, there were the teenage years where I would have loved to have something name-branded like the cool kids wore, but I survived. Then came the age of acquisition, my twenties and thirties in which I over-compensated the poverty of youth with all manner of tchotchkies –I finally found that word spelled in a book I’m trying to read. If nothing else, I have the until-now-elusive spelling to show for the effort. Now in my forties, it’s time to purge and simplify. I feel so burdened by clutter and belongings. I want only things that have form, fit, and function. Plus, perhaps, a handful of frivolous items that I absolutely love or that have historic and/or sentimental value. Apart from that, I want to be free of it all. That is where I am now.

So it has been somewhat irksome to notice how intently Mr. Gadget has been perusing the Dell web site and ads, looking at laptops, going so far as walking through the web site configuration wizard. A laptop purchase, at this time, seems frivolous to me, since he has a fairly new, over the top computer already. He does no hard core computing. No graphics, no programming. No blogging. A little emailing. A little surfing. It just seems unnecessary. It’s just another toy. And the acquisition of toys? Annoys me. He came from a large family, and I think they possibly did take some assistance, and they got to wear new clothes, rather than rummage-sale finds, yet, it seems that he remains firmly embedded in the age of acquisition. Perhaps it’s because of his first marriage. I’ve heard tales of how the wife (certainly not he) charged up their credit cards to the limit so the kids could have a good Christmas. They could only afford to pay the minimum so of course the interest charges racked up, and up, and up. Eventually things fell into a state of collection. WTH, I say. So irresponsible. That’s my big thing. Don’t spend money that you don’t have. If you don’t have it, find a way to make do, do without, or save up. However long it takes. Okay, so it may look like the pot is calling the kettle black, because I put nearly all my purchases on my credit card, but I pay it off every month. Never, ever, do I buy something that I can’t pay for at once (well, except real estate, but c’mon… …not many people can buy that outright… …so that’s a reasonable exception). If I say anything, he will always say, “It’s easy for you. You make a lot. You have a lot. You can buy whatever you want.” Apart from the fact that I made a conscious effort to obtain credentials with which to make a good living, whereas he did not, he doesn’t seem to get that one of the reasons I might have more is that I don’t buy every single thing that I might fancy, and that I no longer carry the attitude that I’m missing out on anything and need to keep up with the latest trends. Perhaps he feels like he had to do without for so long (due to trying to keep up with the ex’es spending habits) that he’s still trying to compensate. I get that. I just don’t like it. If he does decide to buy something that requires a loan… Oh my goodness, all hell will break loose. (If I find out about it, that is.)

We’ve kept our accounts separate, and that suits me fine. He had a joint account with his ex which she controlled, and it got out of hand. I had a joint account with an ex that I controlled, and it was fine, but we both maintained our own individual accounts, and also, we never actually married. I wouldn’t mind having a joint account for the common expenses, but it would be one more set of books for me to keep, so our current arrangement works well enough.

It’s just wearisome, that he continues to want things. Expensive things. On many, I cave. We have a large screen tv. We have a 3-car garage. We have a hot tub. We have a 4-wheel drive truck. It’s the act of wanting that I find wearisome. I wish he could be content with simplicity. Where I might like to paddle a canoe or a rowboat, he would want to drive a speedboat with a wakeboard. Where I might like to go sledding and build snow men, he’d want to go snow-mobiling. The faster the better. Where I’m happy to camp in a tent, he dreams of an RV, or at least a camper trailer. All these material things. They suffocate me. And if I ever do find something that I want, I feel guilty about it. As though I shouldn’t have anything, because I don’t want him to have anything. And it’s not that I don’t want him to have anything. I just don’t want him to want what he can’t afford. (And I certainly don’t want to be buying all this crappe!)

Meanwhile, I realized that my old desktop hasn’t, in fact, given up the ghost, and has behaved quite well for the last several months. I hardly use the laptop at all. It’s not convenient to sit outside and blog, because the screen brightness is lacking in daylight. It’s hazardous to sit with it on the couch, what with a rambunctious two year old leaping about. So. I wrapped it up in Christmas wrap and gave it to Mr. Gadget. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday (and please don’t you dare ask or suggest anything of any monetary value when Christmas and birthday time rolls around, and you’d better give me something really REALLY nice). Now Mr. Gadget is happy, with his almost new top of the line whiz bang $2000 reduced to $1400 with employee discount laptop. Until the next gadget catches his fancy.

November 6th, 2009 | No Comments »

I like ‘mid-century modern’ things, as far as architecture and some furniture goes.  I found a set of 4 chairs on craigslist for $20 (for the set) and have been meaning to update the color and fabric for some time.  When Gadget left, it was the perfect opportunity to seize the day and consume ourselves in the project.  The boys were very good in the fabric store, and BB and I played I Spy, which was a great way to keep him happy while spending altogether too much time in one shop.  He was busy looking for turtles and frogs and pirates and whatever else I could spy, while I looked for the perfect seat fabric.  When it came time to decide, BB made the final choice.  He did well!

20091027_210fabric20091027_209chairfabric

He even helped sand the chairs.  I wouldn’t let  him use the staple gun, to his chagrin, but he was pleased that he got to have a part in the transformation.

20091027_209chairsI am happy with the way they turned out.  I like the way they wrap around, like captain’s chairs.

In other news, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect cappuccino cup.  I want bone china, but I just can’t find what I’m looking for.  To be fair, there are some that I like, but the price is unacceptable.  Who pays $37 for a cup?  I want a specific half-moon shape, like the classic English teacup, and I want a specific volume, in the range of 5-7oz.  So far, I’ve settled on some 5oz porcelain from Sur la Table, 7oz porcelain from Ikea, and bought a few Bodum-style double walled numbers to try out as well.

20091027_222cups

The Bodum (actually, they are Teavana) cups are very pretty, especially with clear drinks like herbal tea, cranberry juice or ginger ale.  I still want bone china, though.

20091027_223cupThe double wall is a pretty effect.

So the quest continues.  It seems like everyday bone china in a plain, classic look is readily available at very reasonable prices in England, and maybe Australia.  Just not here.  Hrumph.

Posted in indulgences, projects
December 14th, 2008 | 2 Comments »

Now, I realize that an exhaustive (and exhausting) whinge is self-indulgent, but it got me through another pumping session, and for that it was well worth it.

That is all.

July 8th, 2008 | 2 Comments »
  • Shopping may be in order.  For something very expensive.  Like furniture.  Or diamonds.  (Not really)
  • Or a vacation.  A nice room in a quiet place.  By myself.
  • Maybe just a day in the city.  A hair appointment.  A coffee.  A walk along the water.  By myself.
  • Maybe an art or craft project.
  • Wine would be nice.  So very nice.  Alas.
  • One thing I will begin this day is a freshening of the home.  Open all the windows, strip all the bedclothes, wash all the pillows, sheets, towels and throws.  Scrub away all traces.
  • I need to get back into a good head space.  Back to my old self.  That nice person with an easy smile.  She who I can barely remember.  I hope it doesn’t take too long to find her.

I didn’t go to the airport. And I really did have meetings. Three of them. Honest! (Seriously. I really did.)

April 18th, 2008 | 1 Comment »

Having had the recent pleasure of spending some very high quality time in the House of Soup, I came away with some yearnings and inspirations. That wondrous home is often filled with the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked bread. And by often, I mean several times a week. Seriously!

It’s heaven.

Not the best temptation for a diabetic, however. I didn’t exercise any nearly enough self-restraint, and gobbled slice after delicious slice of that fabulous bread.

And so it was that I pined to fill my own home with such delicious smells. As luck would have it, I discovered a handful of low-carb bread recipes on the web. Armed with these, I justified the acquisition of this beauty. It’s a Zojirushi, and it bakes a horizontal loaf. A full-fledged, horizontal loaf!

Unfortunately, my first two attempts have been less than admirable. The very first loaf was a recipe for a 1lb loaf, and this is a 2lb machine. Not that I know the ramifications of either, but it did seem that the liquids at the bottom of the pan were not well covered with the dry ingredients, and possibly the yeast came in contact too early. Possibly. Also, the paddles stuck terribly in that loaf. It was exciting to have home-baked bread, though, and at only 3gm carb/slice!

I bravely tried again. This time with a 2lb recipe. The liquids were better covered, but the loaf came out quite lopsided. I don’t know if this has anything to do with me peeking at it during the second and third rise cycles. Even so, it’s exciting to have fresh, very low carb bread! The paddles came right out with this loaf.  Now I’m drooling over the thoughts of french toast, panini, and all manner of bready delights.

The texture of this bread is somewhat rubbery. It’s made with vital wheat gluten and soy flour. I think traditional flours would produce traditional textures. But I can grow accustomed to the texture. Especially since it means I can indulge in toast with a spot of jam. Imagine it! Jam! Or marmalade! How I love marmalade!

I am pleased.

Posted in food, indulgences
March 31st, 2008 | 2 Comments »

So, I had an eventful and productive weekend, if one counts a feeding frenzy as eventful. As if Friday’s blood-sugar-elevating Chinese food was not enough, we had a surprise party dinner meet on Saturday at the local Outback Steakhouse (surprise party for another friend who shares the same birthday). Bona fide Australians would probably laugh. I didn’t even notice one steakhouse while I was in AU. But then again, I might not have been paying very close attention. It was a great get-together, because the attendees were people I used to work with, when I first came to this company. I sort of feel as though I grew up with these people. I’ve since changed jobs, within the company, and many of the people with whom I currently work are refugees from that previous organization. In many ways I count myself very blessed to have a close family of people with whom I’ve shared the better part of my life.

Then, to continue the feeding frenzy, we attended a celebration of life memorial for the wife of a coworker, again, someone I’ve known for over twenty years. It was a lovely get-together as well, with loads of food and drink. My little wild man, although not the worst behaved child at the party, did manage to run away, and climb on stage while my friend was in the middle of his memorial speech. Once I was able to retrieve the little busy-body, I tripped on the way back to our seat, and fell over him (but not on him, thank goodness). Nothing like a grand exit for an already embarrassing situation. I eventually took him out to another room, and soon all the other young ones joined, and the energetic youths ran circles around each other and had a great time together. I, of course, missed the memorial speeches and anecdotes. Mr. Gadget could have taken over the wild-child watch, but said wild-child would have simply followed me back into the auditorium. It was nice to see so many people again, in a social environment. Wild-child was so outgoing, and ran up to greet people he recognized (having met them the night before at dinner). He really surprises me. Both Gadget and I are a bit shy or reserved when it comes to crowds of people. Gadget opens up with drink and family, of course. And I open up with Zoloft!

It was a very busy weekend for a three-year old. In between the feeding frenzies, we also went to the accountant to have our taxes done. I used to do them myself, but find it’s very liberating to have someone else do them. Yes, it costs more, but for the amount of stress it relieves on my part, it’s well worth it. When I do my own, I get all paranoid about whether I’ve done things right, missed anything, or made mistakes. Then I spin into the ‘what if I get audited’ scenario, which sends me further down the slippery slope of stress and impending madness. So. We now see an accountant. Many miles away. But he came on recommendation from a friend, and I’m happy with him, and we only need to journey there once a year. Many miles away is okay.

And, finally, I also managed to make a case for my laptop. Yep, I treated myself to a new Macbook for my birthday. It’s gorgeous, but I have to say, having been a Windows person for over twenty years, I don’t find the Mac with Leopard all that fantabulous, over, say, a Dell. I have a Dell laptop for work, and it’s been incredibly stable and reliable. Now, I’m not going to trash Apple. I actually shared the original Mac with my boyfriend, all those years ago, in college. Okay. The early 80s. I’ve not tried to hide my age!!

I’ve been in a tech world for many years in which Windows and all the MS Office business applications are widely used, so a Mac would be a completely frivolous addition. Hence, I’ve not had one. Until now. The new laptop is my play book. I use it for email, photos, and blogging. All my other stuff remains in Windows. Sadly, I have other stuff. Some day, perhaps I will only have play stuff on the technology front. Not for a while, though.

So. Back to the crafty tale, after having digressed to the point of exhaustion. I scanned Etsy for inspiration, and decided to design my own case. Not that I go anywhere with my laptop, but if ever the need should arise, I’m ready. I don’t have access to Michael Miller’s ‘Zephyr’ line of fabrics, which I love. On short notice, anyway. I just went to JoAnn’s and found something acceptable. I used some thick polar fleece for padding, as well as 3mm craft foam. The zipper extends a couple of inches down on either side, for easy access. A straight zipper at the top, or a zipper all around would have been easier. Lesson learned.

I even made a matching mouse pad. Because I like to coordinate my accessories, you know. Don’t look too close, because it’s not quite finished. I see a rogue thread hanging out.

I put a pocket on each side to hold the accessories. Voila!

In general, I like the way it turned out. It’s a bit snug, but it fits. And my zipper technique leaves much to be desired. It would help if I had a proper zipper foot. Someday I might be able to produce clean lines when stitching, but I sew so infrequently, and lack some of the tools (and abilities) necessary to produce impeccable work.

For now, I’m pleased with my weekend’s efforts.

November 28th, 2007 | No Comments »

Good Things.

  • Doritos
  • Autumn leaves
  • Cookies

Not So Good Things.

  • Bugs
  • My left calf muscle, 20 seconds into my DDR exercise routine.

Ouch. Suffice it to say, there will be no dancing for a while. Which entitles me to work on my rock and roll legend status. Did I not mention that, according to Guitar Hero III, I am a rock and roll legend (on medium)? I’m working my way through the next level (hard). And having a blast. Yes, that’s me. Sueeeeus Maximus. Mild mannered desk jockey by day, rock and roll legend by night.

Tags: ,
Posted in health, indulgences
November 5th, 2007 | 2 Comments »

If you were, oh, say, a two and three fourths year old boy who has had some scary nights now and again, and you came home to find this in your room, what would you think?

You might think that your mother was a magical genie who could, in the span of a lunch break, and with the help of Craig’s List, a fortuitous recent trip to the ATM, and a gallon of gas in the minivan, manage to find, buy, load, unload, sanitize, and assemble THIS!

Yes, it’s plastic. Which means it’s easy to clean. I know, I know. Carbon footprint, and all that. But it’s recycled. There’s no telling how many parents have encouraged their little ones to make it through the night in their own room with this particular bait. When the novelty fades or he outgrows it, whichever comes first, this item will find its way to another home, to hopefully make another child’s life just a wee bit more magical.

And my precious little boy child will have to manage some impressive somnolent contortions to fall out of this contraption. I’m only a bit concerned that he’s already too big for it. Nevertheless, I think he will be delighted, if only for a moment.

September 4th, 2007 | 1 Comment »

Summer is turning to fall, children are returning to school, and I?  I am waiting for my shows to return.  Yes, I know.  Television is a drug, and I need a fix (hangs her head in shame) .

I need to drool over House, as he viciously scorns and spurns one and all.  How can anyone be so delicious?  I want to see what happens to Hiro and the un-special Ando.  Will they be back?  What about my beautiful Michael Scofield and his yummy brother Lincoln Burrows?  I want to see forensic anthropology at its finest with Bones, the ever-so-yummy Seeley Booth and the rest of that super-smart Jeffersonian team.  I’ll take a side of CSI while I’m at it, because I love me some dry, erudite and nerdy Gil Grissom.  And a weekly dose of Denny Crane and Alan Shore I cannot do without.  I want to cringe at Michael Scott’s latest inappropriateness, and laugh out loud at Dwight’s antics.  I love tv.  It soothes me.  (How I hate to admit both of those things, the love, and the solace.)

I am not quite ready for the 12-step program.  Because it’s not all mindless drivel.  There are lessons to be learned.  Illuminations.  Life lessons.

For instance.

We watched some of the American Idol auditions last year.  The contestants came in all shapes and sizes, and so many had a remarkable lack of musical ability, yet nearly all of these fine people have something I admire.  They believe in themselves and their abilities with a fierce and defiant passion.  They put themselves out there on national tv, and they told the world face on that they believed they have what it takes to be the next American Idol.  And then they began to sing.  As painful and entertaining as it was to see these people humiliate themselves in global proportions, I couldn’t help but stand in awe at the level of self-esteem and self-confidence they flaunted.  And they weren’t alone.  They had people.  People who believed in them. People who supported them. It was a beautiful thing. I was envious.

Once in a while we watched Beauty and the Geek. I love the geeks! Of course.  I mean, come on, these are my people!  Those beauties, though? I assume they find the most vacuous people they can, in order to maximize the benefit of the show.  The general lesson that comes to light is that the beauties get a lesson in the beauty of true character, of which the geeks are rich, and the geeks get a lesson in self-confidence, of which the beauties are rich.  How great it is to see those geeks grow in confidence.  I cheer them on.  They are my people.

Mostly, though, I love the diversion that tv provides.  The humor.  The antics.  The laughs.  So yes, I am ready for my shows to return.  It’s been a long summer of prohibition, and I’m ready to whet my whistle, jump off the wagon and start my fall/winter bender.

Posted in indulgences