Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day 6...

Still a one lane goat path down the middle of our road. No plows in sight. 10"-17" of snow predicted for tomorrow. This is going to get interesting! I'm glad to be born and bred New Englander!

I wish we lived on a hill because our road would be an amazing luge run!

Note how far back the mailboxes are from the snow line. We predict June to be the next time we receive mail. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Good neighbors...

In Blizzard Juno, we got at least two feet of snow. It blew so hard for so long that it's hard to tell where the snow in the 3, 4, 5 foot drifts would have ended up without the wind. We were completely blocked in the house except for one door from the kitchen that Mother Nature kept clear with a raging wind tunnel. 

By the time the wind settled down and the snow stopped falling, it was Wednesday morning - almost 36 hours of storming!

A had had to work all day Tuesday and it took him almost three hours to get home on a drive that usually takes him about 35 minutes. A few miles from our house, a woman in a sedan, a car with NO business being on the road, high-centered in a drift near the airport and because crews had only managed to keep one lane sort of open, the 15-20 vehicles behind her were stuck with no option of turning around. After an hour or so, the town's front end loader came and cleared the way and A picked his way home only to get high-centered at the end of our driveway in his truck. It was DEEP! We shoveled him in so he could get off the road. 

The view of him trying to get in the driveway.  

Wednesday morning arrived bright and clear so he headed out with a shovel to get started. About 20 minutes into shoveling, our neighbor told him he had an extra snowblower that just needed a shear pin and we were welcome to use it if we could find a pin. A quick (considering the roads) trip to the store and we were in business!

We spent the next five hours clearing our driveway, a path in the yard for the dogs, a path to our wood shed, finishing off cleaning up a friend's driveway down the street, and then clearing the driveway of an older couple two doors down. I had walked by their house a few times and saw that they were attempting to shovel the whole thing by hand and by the time we knocked on the door, they had given up for the day. At first they refused the offer (we've only met these neighbors once in the 7 years we've lived here so they didn't recognize me) but when I insisted on at least getting some of the driveway open for them, he relented. In the end, we did the whole driveway and they were SO grateful. We know he's got a bad back from years as a stone mason and she weighs about 84lbs (but is pretty feisty!) so we were happy to help!

As we were doing that, the neighbor we borrowed the machine from cleared some of the road and all around the fire hydrant. We had already had a visit from the fire department during the peak of the storm due to a carbon monoxide issue at another neighbor's house. 

Many people are complaining that their roads haven't been plowed but this was a HUGE storm to handle so we did what we could to take care of ourselves and our neighbors. 

This was a low spot they could get around in. 

The best part, as far as the dogs were concerned that with no vehicles coming or going, the road was theirs to romps on! One of my neighbors can't seem to sit still at home so he went out a couple of times during the storm which at least put down some tracks for the dogs to run in. Otherwise the snow was over their shoulders and hard to play or do business in!

Not outdoor shower season!

 Approaching the front door. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Makeover day...

I didn't INTEND for it to be "makeover day" for me. I had hoped at best to get my insanely out of control hair somewhat tamed. The rest just happened. 

I'm on a clandestine weekend with one of my besties and once the hair was done, I mentioned wanting to learn how to apply a little makeup. I just want the ability and knowledge to put on a little something for special events... Certainly nothing garish and certainly NOT every day!

So my dear friend helped me play with some of her makeup before we headed off to Ulta to buy some of my own. 

Poor Cory. Cory is the male manager who got stuck with me and my dry, sensitive, chemical-free, organic-only skin plus my cheapskate budget. He patiently helped me with a couple of options and then when I gasped at the price of a tiny tube of foundation (which I didn't really want because it makes me feel smothered), he politely (and I suspect, fictitiously) excused himself to help an employee with a question. But he didn't scoot away before strongly suggesting that I get my eyebrows waxed. Game point, Cory. 

I wasn't opposed to getting them waxed. I now (after today's searing, painful reminder) do remember at least one other home-waxing-gone-wrong of my eyebrows but I was willing to give a professional a shot at it. 

One question scrolled through my mind during the whole experience (which is done at a booth in the middle of the sales floor - presumably so I can screech with each yank!)... "HOW ON EARTH does ANYONE allow a person with hot wax and the rip strips ANYwhere south of their chin?!?!?!?!?!?!"

Anyway... With my new items and my new, sleeker and slightly uneven eyebrows, we came back to the hotel where I tried to employ my new skills. B says it looked great. A says he liked it but NOT for every day, just special occasions. (I love that man!) The jury is still out for me as it's SUCH a foreign concept and look for me in the mirror. 

I did snap this picture that I liked but it's because I finally see clearly why people have thought that my niece Anna is my daughter. It's a grand compliment when they say that because she is so beautiful!

So... It was a fun day. I learned some new things. And B and I had fun running around in the snow with our silly little errands and no rush to be anywhere and just generally enjoying each other's company. 

The other upside is that the salon where I got my hair cut is also a beautiful Moroccan spa and will be a perfect place to go with the girls during our March getaway!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Holy Mary Mother of Pearl!

Today I got my eyebrows waxed. 

Good. God. That. Hurts. 

She says I have to do it every three weeks. 

Um. No. 

I did get a haircut that I love though. So that's good. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hallelujah for pickle juice!

After my recent post about pickle juice, I found this article which lists all of the reasons one SHOULD drink pickle juice! 

I might now keep a second jar of juice onion-free for drinking! I love validating what I once thought were just weirdo habits!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gatsby photos...

Me and one of my dearest friends who I have the privilege of working with - makes holiday parties much more fun when you know at least one other couple is fun! Turns out there are a LOT of fun people that we work with. 

Me and some adorable, shadow-faced guy celebrating the holiday party AND 11 years together!

The full outfits. Not bad! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Slightly improved attitude toward my theme party...

I arrived in NH and had some time to kill so I found Party City and purchased two blingy 20's era head bands (one for my friend), some looooong strands of "pearls", and a white feather boa. What the heck! Might as well go for it! I did also find a "one size fits most" flapper dress but I pulled that thing out of the package and held it up to me. Apparently the "most" people that dress might fit must be 5'zip" and 82lbs or less with sand in their pockets. At 5'9" (weight never published but it's more than 82lbs, I assure you!), I was not and never will be in the "most" category. I'm pretty sure I could've worn that "dress" as a blouse with some jeans! I sure as heck couldn't/wouldn't leave my house in it without SOMEthing covering the lower half of my body as the fringe hung to about my underpant line... And not the lower one!

I was considering "going big!" and had called the costume rental shop to inquire about rentals (which supposedly come in "varied sizes") and it turns out that those things cost anywhere from $50 to $135 to rent! Yikes! No way THAT was happening!

So after my successful procurement at Party City (a rather oooooverwhelming experience if you ask me. I mean... If you want to see where a significant portion of the world's toxic plastic crap is sold, swing on down to ANY party store!), I had 20 minutes to kill before a student call so I popped into the Dressbarn across the road. Lo and behold... I found a party dress with a poofy/flippy skirt with sparkly Art Deco shapes on it. I figure with my other items, it's as convincing as I'm gonna get! The best part is that it was marked down by 60% and I can see myself wearing it to an evening event another time. Perfecto!

So my mood is improving about the party which is a reallllly good thing since A is using both of his days off to come up for it! Aiding in the mood improvement is that I also got some intel from one of my team members who works in the office and has been polling people about if they are going to dress up or not - so far it's about evenly split between "probably not" and "yes but not a big deal". Only one guy from the tech team (who, I might suggestively add for your consideration, sent out the poll to begin with!) is going "full Gatsby" and, according to my office spy, is "kind of giddy about it". I think I just discovered why my Wild Wild West dreams got squashed. Friggin' tech guys have so much power! Grrrr! (Just kidding!)

IF we get a decent picture of our costumes, I'll try to include it in my next post. Fair warning... It's freezing here and this pseudo-flapper WILL be wearing leggings and a sweater!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Theme parties. Ugh!

I don't have the deepest, girliest, most creative closet nor the flashiest sense of style so when the poll went out at work asking which of the following themes for our post-holiday party we would like, I'll bet you can guess which one I voted for...

A) The Great Gatsby
B) Wild, Wild West
C) Old Hollywood

Yeah. You probably guessed it. I voted for B - Wild, Wild West. I can walk into my closet right now and pull out everything I need this side of a pearl-buttoned shirt! I've got the boots.  The hat. The denim jacket. The kerchief. I can chick it up or dude it down or go outlaw with it. Heck, I've even got holsters and sidearms!

What I do NOT have is ANYthing remotely "Gatsby". Nothing. Not a stitch of my clothing can even come close to passing for that era. So... I'm left with three options...

1) Be totally lame and just wear my office attire since the party starts at 4pm on Thursday. 
2) Be pseudo-lame and swing into Party City and buy a cheesy flapper headpiece that, according to their website, they sell for $6. 
3) Go for it and swing into the costume store across the bridge as I head up to NH tomorrow because their website says they rent "flapper wear". 

Unfortunately I haven't made a decision as to which option I'll choose... 

In an odd turn of events, A has the PERFECT thing to wear. His tuxedo. Yes, my husband OWNS a tuxedo. He wears it for his Masonic Lodge events (required attire) and it was easier and less expensive to just buy it. So. There's that. He will look dapper. Uuuuuuuuugh!

So, as usual, it's the night before I have to leave and live out of a hotel for the next six days and I don't have a costume. I also haven't wrapped my head around how to pack in general for all of the varied aspects of this particular trip as I'm tagging on a weekend with my girlfriend for the last two days of it. Who KNOWS what I'll need for that!

Office attire (stresses me out every time because I have exponentially more pairs of 'work pajamas' than I do office-appropriate clothes).
Workout gear (I WILL use the hotel gym or go for a walk!)
Gatsby costume (did I say "ugh!" about this yet?!?!)
Casual clothes
Don't even get me started on the shoes AND the temperature swing that it appears I'll be dealing with throughout the week. UGH!!!

That's it... I've just realized that I'm going to need to rent a uhaul for this trip. 


Maybe I'll pretend I missed the memo and go as an outlaw anyway! Brilliant!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Three full boxes...

Since the turn of the new year, I have filled THREE big boxes with items that were just cluttering up our house. Things that I've kept for a variety of reasons but none that passed the 'Is it important to me? Do I want to move it again?' test. 

Today I cleared off the top of the refrigerator (and wiped it down - ick!), the top of the bookshelf, and the items that have taken up residence on the end of the kitchen island for lack of a better place to put them (like the KitchenAid mixer). 

I was pleased that despite coming home exhausted from another overnight double, A spotted the changes immediately and liked it! He didn't even see what I took out of the guest room closet but that's another story. 

I've now got a shelving system set up in the basement that holds only items to be donated or sold. When it gets full, out it all goes! 

I feel lighter already! Ahhhhhh.......

Onion recycling...

Several weeks ago, I had a yellow onion I didn't want to waste and we finished a jar of Claussen pickles. I hate pouring pickle juice out. When I was a kid, my sister and I used to argue over who got the last pickle and who got to drink the pickle juice at the end of the jar. I've matured and now realize that drinking the pickle juice, particularly from the EXTRA HUGE jars of pickles we get from the warehouse  club, is probably a tad too much sodium for one serving... so, despite a sip or two now and then, I just weep a little as I pour it down the drain. 

But not the last jar we finished! The coordination of the onion ripening plus the polishing off of the last pickles gave me a brilliant idea! So, when A wasn't looking, I sliced up the onion and tossed it in the pickle juice jar and pushed it waaaaay back in the refrigerator. I point out that he wasn't looking when I did this because a few days later, he reached waaaaay back in the fridge and grabbed the pickle jar. He then hollered to me in my office (just off the kitchen), "Uh, Love? Did you put ONIONS in the pickle jar?!?!" To which I responded with my long-winded explanation of waste etc. He's a good sport so he just pushed it waaaaaay waaaaay back in the fridge and opened a new jar of pickles. (I should mention that my dear husband quite despises onions in any form.)

Fast forward to today. I am back on my healthy eating plan (we will just gloss right over the last two months of a myriad of poor choices...) which means that I eat three meals and one snack a day plus unlimited veggie snacks. Having already had a "dirt smoothie" earlier in the day, I wasn't really into making another one. (Afterall, how much kale, cabbage, spinach, and fresh ginger can one be expected to consume in one day?) Not wanting to undo the last few days of healthy eating by pulling out the almond butter and a spoon but trying to satisfy the major after dinner snacking urge, I buried myself shoulders-deep in the refrigerator hoping the answer would be hiding in there. "Ah Ha. Onions!" I pulled them out and dished some into a bowl. They are amazing! The onions retained their crunch but lost their oniony bite and absorbed the garlicky goodness of the pickle juice. Crunchy, tasty, delicious!

I must point out that there are many other pickles out there but in my book, none rival Claussen pickles with their big chunks of garlic, peppercorns and other magical tasty spices in their divine pickle juice! Other pickles just won't do at our house anymore!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dirt smoothie. Yum.

I got a NutriBullet for Christmas. I've had a MagicBullet for a few years... well... about ten years. However, it spent a few years among the missing. I was convinced that I had given it away and didn't bother to look for it. Then during a kitchen purge about two years ago, I found it buried waaaaaay in the deep recesses of the black hole in the lower corner cabinet. (Don't get me started on the total lack of efficiency with that cabinet!) Since then, I've used it pretty regularly and it's been great but it's too small. Once I get a scoop of protein powder and enough water in it, it barely has room to add in fruits and veggies so I asked Santa for the much larger NutriBullet... and remarkably, I got it! (He's so good and knows me so well! He also seems to have found the coupon and flier cutout that I left as a hint.)

Anyway... I've been playing with some recipes that I found. Because low carb works well for my body, I'm toying with some low carb smoothie recipes. 

Yesterday, during a day of pure slugdom where neither A nor I got out of our jammies alllllllll day, I made a low carb smoothie. It included kale, unsweetened almond milk, raw almond butter, cacao powder, and strawberries. I took a sip of it in the kitchen and immediately knew A wasn't going to like it. (Truth be told, if I smelled it while taking a sip, I wouldn't have drank it either!) When I returned to the living room, I passed it to A to put on the end table. On the way by, he snitched a sip and immediately got a horrified look and grabbed for the low carb toast on my plate to rid himself of the taste in his mouth. On a good day, I'm pretty sure he would have spit out the toast too but compared to the smoothie, he savored it like a delectable dessert. 

He had to work outside at a detail at work all day today and had to leave home at 5am so I offered to make him a smoothie for the morning. Oddly, he said no. Why? Because it tastes like dirt. Huh. Oh well. More for me. Lucky me. (Why can't honey be low carb?!?!)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Giving myself permission...

I was having a conversation with my mom the other day while sitting in my pajamas at noon with no intention to put on real clothes any time soon and I said "Gardening doesn't appeal to me because it's never finished. I prefer projects that have a point at which you know you are finished." I had been feeling something along these lines for a long time but had never found the words to go with it. And I didn't have the permission to back it up. Now I do. 

I realized, after saying  that out loud to my mom, that I've been beating myself up for my crappy looking gardens for a few years. I've wanted to be a gardener and at one point fancied myself a gardener but after returning to the same damned weeds year after year, I realize that this constant argument with the same weeds doesn't actually bring me pleasure. It brings me stress. It makes me feel like I'm letting down my neighbors by not having a tidier yard. It makes me feel like I'm letting down myself for not following through and for being lazy about the weeds. But then I look around... Give me an outdoor shower project or a new fence project or a patio-building project and I can throw myself into it and enjoy it (overall - maybe not in the moment of hauling patio bricks but overall...). Being able to put away the tools and know that it's DONE brings me the type of satisfaction that lasts for me. I don't feel defeated because three days later, I don't need to go back and fix the shower again. I feel the same way about cleaning my house. I'll organize all day long but cleaning just irritates me!

So I now realize that it's OKAY for me to have this preference! How freeing it is to recognize this and honor it! 

So far so good 2015!

New Year!

It's a new year. Here's what I've realized. New Year's "resolutions" aren't exactly my specialty. To-do lists of things I'm going to do or change etc tend to get derailed by that little thing called "life". So... here's my 2015 plan...

I want to feel good. Inside and out. That means that I will exercise when I can and forgive myself when I can't. I'll eat in a way that makes me feel good and when I don't, I'll give myself a break and get back to it as soon as I can. I want to feel productive and I will try to recognize that productivity comes in many forms. And I will make space in my life to just do nothing. Nothing is something when the rest of my life is so full and busy. 

The only "to-do" that I want to add to my list is to pare down what's in our home. There is too much stuff and if we plan to live in a smaller house some day, the stuff needs to go some time and now is as good as any to help it find another home. It might take all year but I really want to have far less stuff in our house by this time next year.