2018–A Year in Review

(All figures approximate)

# of hours I worked–2500 hrs

# of hours my spouse worked–2500 hrs

# of meals I made– 720 meals

# of lunches I packed–500 lunches

# of loads of wash–1440 loads

# of times I vacuumed and dusted–104 times

miles hiked-50 miles

miles biked-80 miles

miles in a car– 20,000 miles

# of books read–55 books

# podcasts listened–100 podcasts

# theater movies watched–24 movies in our local theater 

# new customers I served in my business Living Simply-30 new customers

# hours volunteered–120 hours

# of times I hosted a dinner party/meal/gathering–6 times

Thinking about things like this really puts into perspective how I spend my time and how much of my time I spend doing certain tasks or daily things in my life. In a perfect world I would volunteer more and work less–this I know. Perhaps when I retire that will be an option. This year my husband and I are going to be looking at changing a lot of things we do in our day to day to cut down on how much wash I do, and whether or not I need to cook every day & perhaps try freezing meals ahead? Those are two of several things we are looking at because whether I want to believe it or not I am 1/2 way to 60 years old. I work way, way too hard and sleep or rest way, way too little.  Ideally, I would like to retire from accounting when my business Living Simply is closer to being a full-time business. I would still do some form of accounting and for certain would take care of all business/admin aspects of my business.

I think jotting down information like this is very crucial to good time management–at least it gives you a starting point. The hours don’t have to be exact but should be fairly close to as accurate as possible.

A social media detox is something I am willing to try this year! I don’t have any issues with my phone but I do check IG more than a couple of times a day.

 

Well, that’s a wrap for 2018–I hope you’ve all had a good year and here’s hoping that 2019 brings you and yours good health and lots of happiness!!

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from my family to yours and Thank you for stopping by my blog this past year!

An Old Fashioned Christmas–All the Things!

The first old-fashioned thing we did this year was to attend a Christmas parade in a town about 40 minutes away from us. At the end of the parade, the entire town gathered to watch Santa light up the Christmas tree above the Al Ringling Theatre.

My YouTube channel with Santa lighting the Christmas tree video is here

The second thing we did was gather to watch the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train stop and perform, gather food contributions for the local food pantry, and then go on their way towards their next stop. We try and catch this festive treat every year because we both love trains and we love that they collect food for local food pantries.

My YouTube channel with CP Holiday Train video is here

The third thing we did together was travel to La Crosse WI and see the Rotary Lights–which are an annual thing for us and enjoyed thoroughly!

My YouTube channel with the Rotary Lights video is here

The fourth thing I did was by special request by a local library and that was to read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to a group of children one afternoon shortly before Christmas.

My YouTube channel with my practice run video is here

And finally, the fifth thing we did was to buy tickets to see an afternoon viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Al Ringling Theatre in Baraboo WI.

We work extremely hard all year long to get work, projects, shopping, and plans set in stone as much as possible so that we have the whole month of December to volunteer during our free time and enjoy Christmas. There’s no last minute shopping or wrapping or unexpected this and that. Baking is done at a leisurely pace and any dish I need to make for a work potluck or get together is handled quickly. This has worked out really well for us for a number of years and has helped us to enjoy Christmas without stress and live each day throughout the holiday season with much more intention.

Next up>>That’s a wrap–A Look Back at 2018.

Change is a good thing-twenty-five things in twenty-five years!

Random post here that I felt the need to document for safekeeping for the days I’m not feeling positive about change.

  • I’ve quit every single thing I’ve ever been addicted to in the last twenty-five years.
  • I got married almost 25 years ago and I’m still married.
  • I learned how to say I’m sorry and mean it.
  • I discovered, for the most part, my purpose in life.
  • I found my best friend.
  • I grew up.
  • I became ultra-responsible.
  • I learned humility.
  • I also learned I don’t know everything.
  • I admitted to myself and others that I’ve made some really bad choices, decisions, and mistakes.
  • I haven’t had a traffic ticket in 31 years and knock on wood. I’ve never been in an accident where I was driving, but when I was a teenager I was in a couple of car accidents (minor) while someone else was driving.
  • I’m a foodie. I went from being someone that was not that into food, except as a means of survival, to someone who LOVES food and spends an awful lot of time writing about it.
  • I’m a business owner.
  • I finally went to college (eight years– three degrees)
  • I advise people on their taxes, estate planning, finances and work as a CPA.
  • I speak two languages and I’m working on a third.
  • 75% of what I watch is international television and film with subtitles.
  •  I’ve had a savings account for fifteen years that I actually deposit money into.
  • I’ve managed to not have to take any prescription medication of any kind and I’m almost 55.
  • I’ve discovered that I’ve spent my entire life in a reactive state vs. responsive state (I’m working on it).
  • I laugh a lot.
  • I take care of myself–the biggest change>> I eat 3 healthy meals a day.
  • I spend less time being angry.
  • I’m not scared of confrontation.
  • Quitting isn’t an option.

This list may seem quite random/all over the place concerning things I’ve accomplished or overcome or even skills that I have developed. And for the most part that is true–though the list doesn’t quite tell the whole story. You see twenty-seven/ twenty- eight years ago I was homeless, working as a CNA, in a relationship with an abusive drug addict, and really so close at any given time to become another statistic. I had an eating disorder brought on by years of not eating properly, I was constantly injured at my job and on pain medications, and I survived on 40 oz bottles of beer, cigarettes, and mountain dew. I owned nothing. A few years before that I was in another really bad relationship and was being emotionally and sexually abused regularly. I didn’t own anything then either not even a decent car (even though I had 3 jobs). Mainly because I was helping the person I was with to pay his bills. I also had a spending problem–buying things I didn’t need and lending money to “friends” all the time. I was angry all the time and had been since I was a teenager. I was immature even though I often did very mature things in my life. I was irresponsible even though I took some of my responsibilities seriously. I quit a lot of jobs–and in some cases never even collected my last check because I was scared of confrontations. I refused to go to college, instead opting to get into healthcare. I loved working in healthcare but I never made more than $6.00 an hour until I worked in healthcare management. I suffered six serious back/neck injuries from working in nursing homes that were short-staffed.  I refused to commit in either of my relationships and I am so happy about that. I never believed I would ever get married and didn’t until I was 30 years old. I lived like a rock star for twelve years straight. I suffered from severe depression from the time I was 13/14 until my mid-thirties. Learning a new language seemed impossible to me and subtitles really annoyed me twenty years ago. I was once a very reckless person and was often given “passes” when caught driving recklessly or acting irresponsibly, even driving under the influence when I was in my twenties. Not proud of this at all. Twenty-eight years ago I was arrested for writing 3 bad checks for groceries and to help pay my rent. I spent thirty days in jail and I was on probation for two years. Almost ten years ago now I stood in front of a Governor’s board and asked to be pardoned for that crime. If you’ve never had to look into the pardoning process I will sum it up in two words—really hard. I wrote several essays and was able to prove to the Governor’s board I hadn’t had so much as a traffic ticket for over twenty years. I was granted a pardon after I stood up in front of a whole room of people and made my case. I learned true humility and I grew exponentially from that experience ( from arrest-pardon).

So, in closing. Change is good. No matter how much we fear it. Some of the things I changed about myself were really really hard and at times seemed impossible. Some of the things that changed over the years saved me. There are other things that have changed in the last twenty-five years that are not so profound and not entirely positive. But, the good definitely outweighs the bad and that is where I am at today.

Many blessings to all making changes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Source

Before we get to the holiday baking, I thought I would take full advantage of all the pumpkins and make some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I bake cookies every week for my husband’s lunch and use Martha Stewart’s Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. The recipe for the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies is from Delish.com and they are/were delish. At the present time, they are almost gone—just two left for the hubby’s lunch through Friday! Hence why no picture, but I do have a lovely photo of my Martha Stewart Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies on my IG feed.

The last few weeks of autumn have been busy as usual. There is always a lot of planning of my time. Thankfully my health has been great though I cannot say the same for my husband. Every year he gets allergies from ragweed–which is what we thought he had six weeks ago. Turns out he had something like a bad allergy, but not quite the flu, and it has really held on. It really is impossible not to get sick when your co-workers come to work full of sick. He has now been given a large bottle of sanitizer and a can of Lysol because neither one of us want him sick for his vacation–he takes 10 days every November and a week in December and that’s all the time he takes off from work–no sick or personal days in over 20 years. We’ve got a lot planned for his vacation time. This year we are going to be having an old-fashioned Christmas which I will be blogging about soon. I will also be blogging what products I use to stay healthy and keep a strong immune system going. Until then enjoy your family, Thanksgiving week and weekend if you celebrate it, and be well.

What I wish I could have told my younger self—and other birthday ramblings

The day has come– I’m turning 54 and I know it’s cliche to say it, but I sure don’t feel like 54 is supposed to feel. Though how do I know what 54 is supposed to feel like? Growing up 54 was close to your grandparent’s age, edging up on social security. Gosh at 55 I’ll be able to get free coffee at certain restaurants and 10% discounts on other retail stuff. I think at fifty-four I should feel accomplished. I think I should feel comfortable in my life, perhaps at ease with all the decisions I’ve made. No doubt I should have a regret or two and maybe aches and pains and pills on the nightstand. Thoughts should be toward retirement, travel, and life insurance policies.

I laugh sometimes at the sheer craziness of being in my fifties. The other day my husband and I traveled to Madison Wisconsin to start my birthday week with a nice meal and some light shopping. We visited a beautiful neighborhood in Madison that I could definitely see us retiring in. A couple of times I pointed toward people I thought were interesting and suddenly I thought–OMG, those people are my age. One was having a hard time with their walker and so my husband stepped up and lent quick assistance and all was well. Another person was having a hard time with an elevator and so we stepped up and held the elevator door open until she could wheel into the elevator. We are often handy like that having both worked, side by side, in a nursing home. It didn’t hit me at the time, but seconds later I said out loud “I’m the new old” and my husband nodded. Which of course to me meant that the people I was helping were in my age range. Either one of them could have been me. Now I know 54 isn’t that old, but consider this–out of all the people I’ve known in my life—friends, boyfriends, co-workers, and acquaintances, over 1/2 of them have passed away. My childhood/teen/young adult friend passed away over a decade ago, and several friends of mine who were younger than me have passed away, along with many co-workers I’ve had over the years. I’ve lost three “best friends” over the past thirty years. All gone way too soon. There isn’t a year that goes by that I don’t wonder what any one of them would look like or how their life would look had they been given more time on this earth.

So, what would I have told my younger self if I could? Here’s what I would have told her– stop worrying because in one week or one month everything is going to change again. Listen when someone tells you everything will look better in the morning because, perhaps it’s magic, but it does. Don’t give all of yourself to people who are just in your life for a minute–when they walk away seemingly without a care they leave a great big void in your heart and soul. If it doesn’t feel right don’t do it. Respond don’t react and don’t let emotions control important decisions. Use your head not your heart sometimes. Don’t believe for one-minute material possessions can fill a void. Unconditional love fills you up not things you buy or think you need.  Be frugal. Moderation in all things no matter what things we’re talking about. Stay away from people who don’t want the best for you. Stay away from people who hold grudges, or don’t appreciate you, or judge you without knowing you.  Accept you will be rejected by people simply to be rejected but it’s not the end of the world. Be yourself and when people walk away from you because of who you really are–consider that a blessing because you wouldn’t want people in your life who don’t want to be a part of the real you anyway, right? Take better care of yourself and try as hard as you can to see a future for yourself. Don’t give up. Don’t stop trying. Believe in yourself even when no one else does. Take risks. Travel everywhere you can afford to travel. Choose jobs or a career that makes you happy and that you enjoy doing every day. Thrive vs. survive.  Surround yourself with good people and walk away from bad.  Don’t leave the door open even a slight crack for toxic people to crawl back into your life. Sometimes you have to walk away from someone in your life in order to protect them from the truth. Learn how to say no. Learn when to walk away. Learn when to stay.

Some things I’ve learned over the years that I often share with those at the shelters I volunteer at are–don’t fear failure rather fear never making an attempt to try something. Throughout my life, I kind of sat around waiting for the right time, the right place, the right this or that. There is no right time -there’s now.  Do it now. Try it now. Even if you fall flat on your face you will have tried which is so much better than waiting because you’re afraid. I let emotions control me just about my whole life. I had a lot of issues growing up that I kept quiet about. I grew up in a household where you didn’t talk about personal stuff. My step-father often said “children should be seen and not heard.” And he lived by it–no giggling, or laughing, or roughhousing allowed. My mother didn’t believe anyone ever had any problems as bad as the problems she had.

I have learned so much in the last fifteen years–way more than I could ever put into words. One thing that I definitely want to express to anyone reading is–be careful about what you do to your body, the people you surround yourself with, the jobs you take just for the money, and the things in your life that stress you out. All of this has a direct effect on your health. My body is full of scars and wounds of a not so well lived life. Thankfully twenty-five years of smoking haven’t given me any surprises -yet, but I’m so glad I quit 15 years ago. Choosing to work in healthcare and stay working in facilities that always worked short destroyed my back. Working in group homes where I was often thrown around or hit trying to restrain/keep patients safe has caused me years of pain from broken fingers, toes, and a neck injury. Not knowing that there was always something wrong with me due to childhood trauma caused me to live a life of bad decisions, choices, and mistakes most of which were made from a place of fear rather than a place of love. I’ve spent the last 10 years trying to heal my body and mind after discovering that I’ve been living with PTSD for most of my life.

So as I approach the wonderful day of my birth I must say–I am glad I made it here. I am sad that those I was close to as a young adult are no longer here to share old age with. We spoke often of how we would all look in our fifties and what we’d be up to. The things that make me the happiest are the simplest things in life. Ironically as a teen, I wanted nothing more than to get away from country/farm life and travel the world. Yet for most of the last twenty years I have lived in or near farmland. It’s impossible for me to think I could ever live anywhere else except a place where there are fields of hay and cows a mooing. Have I ever mentioned on this blog how much I love cows? I do. Being humble is a good thing and every now and again eating humble pie is also a good thing. Saying no works. I fully admit at 54 that there are a few things I should have done better. I regret that when I made choices I didn’t consider myself in the choice. So many things in my life would have been different. I regret that throughout my life I may have helped and been far to generous to people that wouldn’t have even given me a glass of water if I was dying of thirst. I regret spending so much time listening to family members lie and allowing them to use me. Thankfully that chapter has come to a close. I regret not being good at the things that should have come naturally to me like motherhood. It took me until I was in my forties to see that what I’d needed most in my twenties was love, support, and maturity. Becoming a mom wasn’t my magic pill or fix. Everyone wants you to believe being a mom is a natural thing you get once you deliver your baby. It’s just not true for every mom. Well, it just wasn’t true for me. I wish that my parents would have believed I could be a better person almost twenty nine years ago now–but they didn’t and honestly neither did I. They simply believed I was acting up and behaving immaturely and not responsible enough to do the right thing. I was some of those things, but I was also an addict and had recently been diagnosed with depression, and was suffering from heartbreak and abandonment. I wish they could have seen my need for their love and support.

Most of all what I’ve learned and would tell my younger self is that you ultimately as an adult make your own bed–so you need to be careful how you go about doing that. Your parents are responsible only up to a certain point for how things turn out in your life. There comes a point where you must figure out who you are and what you want in life. Sometimes you make mistakes but then you know you’ve got to own those mistakes. Last but never least in all things have a plan b because life is unpredictable.

Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween!!

Perfect Pumpkin

Now while pumpkins are plentiful is the time to start buying and baking–because pumpkin has so many health benefits not known to the general public.

About 10 years ago now my husband and I were in the middle of trying to adopt a greyhound. Our love and desire to have a greyhound become part of our family was huge. After most tracks in this country stopped racing greyhounds, local agencies formed to help people/families adopt the retired greyhounds. The one we were trying to get had really bad teeth (potential of hundreds of dollars of care) and she also had problems with her stomach also due to the poor diet given to racing dogs. Time and again at meetings we heard stories of how the foster families and forever families were always using pumpkin with their greyhounds. Pumpkin will bulk up their stool, settle their tummies, and boost nutrition. Unfortunately, because of where we were living at the time, which lacked the appropriate space for this particular greyhound, we did not adopt her.

I’ve never forgotten how much I learned about pumpkin–here’s what I know:

  • It’s rich in vitamin A
  • One cup of cooked pumpkin is 49 calories
  • High in antioxidants that may reduce your risk of chronic disease
  • It’s high in beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C–boosts immunity
  • The nutrients in pumpkin are good for your eyesight
  • Nutrient dense, low calorie, may produce weight loss
  • Antioxidants lower risk of cancer
  • Is packed with fiber
  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Versatile foodstuff that you can add to anything–wraps, salads(cooked) veggies, stews, soups and more

Some people may not know this but pumpkins are a type of squash. Pumpkins and squash belong to the same family called Cucurbitaceae.  Every year I bake up two dozen squash and pumpkin, then let cool, place in freezer bags and freeze. We then are able to eat squash every single month, almost, until the next year’s season. If one or both of us is feeling ill I will make up a pumpkin risotto. Pumpkin risotto does the trick every time. Here is the recipe–Pumpkin Risotto

I also roast all my pumpkin seeds for snacks and to add to bird food.

When you’re done with your pumpkins instead of throwing them into the garbage, where they’ll just clutter up a landfill, choose to break them up and set them out in a place where the birds and other small animals can get to them.

As we head into the season of sickness I would also like to add this article that has natural health remedies such as pumpkin, ginger, rice, and sweet potatoes that help manage diarrhea, nausea, and flu-like symptoms.

Until next time– stay healthy and happy!

Putting the container garden to bed & more!

Some of my container garden is going to try to overwinter in our apartment again–

My evergreen will be kept on our deck and wrapped in a wool blanket to protect its root ball. This has proved to be a very successful way for me to keep my evergreen tree alive. I’m hoping the ornamental grass, which I think is Variegated Japanese Sedge ( unfortunately I threw away the care instructions/plant ID), will survive too. Most of the birds I’ve been feeding have migrated south for the winter. The last time I saw a hummingbird at the feeder was the first week of October. The Orioles left first and then the finches followed. I set out peanuts and other assorted nuts for about a month and the nuthatches, several chickadees, and some tufted titmouse were able to get their winter stores set up. Now they too are gone and I’ve stopped feeding until sometime early spring when a few early birds will arrive back in this area.

What’s next in gardening?

Well, I planted a packet of tulips and narcissus and those along with my hens and chicks will be overwintering in the garage–insulated with newspaper and burlap. I’ve also got three boxes of paperwhites to start sometime around the holidays.

I lost the battle with my first fiddle leaf fig because it wasn’t properly draining. Truthfully I think it was dead when I bought it as the leaves were quite pale green. This past Saturday I was in a local greenhouse discussing my luck or lack of with a local gardener concerning fiddle leaf figs. She had one that isn’t doing great but isn’t dead yet either and she gave it to me to see what I could do with it. I’m hoping to nurse this one back to full health. I’m learning every day new things about plants and flowers that I will gladly share as time goes by.

The cute blue, orange and green solar lights are something my husband picked up at Shopko when they went on sale for $5.00 and we love them. They definitely brightened up our deck all summer long.

Here is what my container garden looks like today–

Until next spring this post concludes container gardening 2018. Happy fall and winter everyone.

Looking forward to future posts, I will be posting about taking care of fiddle leaf figs, fall food storing, fall/winter food recipes, and at least one post soon on supplements I’ve been using for low-iron, seasonal depression, and also chewable vitamins and are they doing anything for me?