Saturday, March 14, 2009

Okay, that's gross

Tessa's bug has grown to include vomiting.

I'll spare you the details, but nobody is happy about it. Our poor girl!

Back to the doctor

Yesterday at about 4pm Tessa started saying "Mommy, I don't feel well." She fell asleep at dinner.

She's asleep right now, actually.

We went to the doctor again today and she got an influenze test - negative. The doctor (this is twice in one week) said that she's caught yet another bug, despite the fact that she was on antibiotics. Since the azithromycin (sp?) stays in her system for 10 days (today is day 5) the doc didn't want to double we're in wait and see mode. If she worsens, or is still feverish on Monday, back to the doc we go.

No hanging out with friends. No church tomorrow. Sad!

I hate it when she's sick and I'm powerless to help her feel better. I can buy her a treat from Bakery Nouveau, I can take her to the doctor, I can read her stories, I can clean her room (quite a project!) while she rests in bed and watches me....but I can't make her feel better.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I am not happy with my care of self these days. When I catch a glimpse of myself in a reflection, I think "is that me?" because I had gotten used to a slender self. These days, lumps and bumps are back. I can get into my pants....but it hurts. Things are hard to zip. I'm limited to a much smaller section of my wardrobe. And I'm not happy about it.

I'm having horrible, horrible hot flashes at night these days, too, and I wonder if it's related. And I have such low energy....and I'm so tired.

And yet, I just don't feel up to doing Weight Watchers. It doesn't feel right - or is that an excuse? I don't want to be food-centric, and I don't want to feel like I'm dieting. (I know, it's a lifestyle, not a diet. But it felt like dieting.)

So I've come up with a plan; one that has been fermenting in my mind for a while, and this is it:
6 fruits or vegetables per day
6am alarm
1 treat per day
1 outdoor activity per day

Here's my logic. If I eat fruits and vegetables in quantity, I'll be filling up on them instead of filling up on other (less healthy) items. And I get a treat - but just one, because some days I've had more than one and I can see where that got me. So, a piece of chocolate, or a dessert, or a glass of treat per day. And I must get up earlier, despite the fact that it's harder than just about anything, because if I start my day caught-up rather than rushing, I think I'll have a head start. Plus, that will give me some time to occassionally do a workout video or walk Shep before the day really gets going. And the outdoor activity? Well, the more time I spend outdoors the more active I am, and the better I feel.

So that's it: 6, 6, 1, 1. I'll have to pay attention to what I eat, but hopefully I won't have to obsess to see results. Time will tell, but today I tried and it was successful: just to get in veggies, I made a late afternoon snack (which I always end up eating anyway) of hummus and carrots. I put the snack dish on the island in the kitchen, and I found Tessa happily snacking away, too....for which I am glad. So, I had berries in my oatmeal, double portion of veggies in vegetable soup, apple, carrots, and green beans. I walked Shep at Alki. I'm about to have a chocolate dessert and enjoy every bite.

The 6am thing I'll try tomorrow, and dread it.....but I like the idea of being less rushed in the morning.

(Tessa went back to school today; she's feeling much better. Hallelujah antibiotics!)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not romantic

I have romantic versions of things. (No surprise to those who know me.)

I read a book by Alexandra Stoddard years ago that said that if you felt yourself coming down with a bug, it would be a good idea to stop at the store and pick up your favorite magazines, tea, and fresh flowers for yourself. Before you crawled into bed, you should change your sheets and put on your favorite pajamas, put out the flowers, and make the tea. Then, revel in the downtime. Take care of yourself, and enjoy yourself despite the illness.

I like this. I liked it then, and I like it now. It doesn't fix things, and it doesn't cure illness, but it does help in general.

Today Tessa is feeling crummy, and tonight she's feeling even crummier. She took a nap this afternoon, and we know that really means something for our active girl. She is beside herself, she feels so blue. It's not romantic, not at all. I can soothe her, give her medicine, read to her (not enough....sigh), watch Mamma Mia with her, snuggle with her, play with her bear with her....but it's not enough. She just wants to feel better.

Even though this is just a little illness - probably a sinus infection - and not life threatening, I feel so protective of my sweet daughter. I did enjoy our time together today, and the slowness of it all....but it's not enough. I want her well, and I want her well NOW.


Okay, I have one tip that falls into the frugal, healthy, AND green categories....and this one doesn't require excess time or patience.

Home made stock (broth).

Anyone who cooks with fresh vegetables knows that there are lots of 'unusable' bits - the top of the carrot, the bottom of the celery, the stems of the herbs, vegetable peel (potato, sweet potato, squash, carrot, etc.) In the past, I've put these items solely into my worm bin or compost....which is good, but I can go one better.

Now I have a bag in my freezer that I save scraps for, including chicken bones. I peel carrots and put vegetable scraps into a bowl on the counter, and then when I'm done, I dump it into my freezer bag. When the bag is full, I'm ready to make stock.

So - next time you're making soup....

To make this easy-peasy stock, you simply saute an onion and maybe some carrots in olive oil. Then, while they're cooking, begin making your soup. You'll probably end up with some vegetable scraps as you prep the soup, so save them, too. When the onion is sauteed, add your vegetable scraps and saute a little more (maybe five minutes). As they saute, keep prepping your soup.

Add water to cover, and a liberal dose of salt, and a handful of whatever fresh herbs you have around that suit you (parsley is good in just about everything, but not the dry flakes that add little specks of color but not much else). Keep this simmering for about 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, use a slotted spoon or a colander to remove the veggies and chicken bones. The liquid that is left is your broth - voila!

No waste. Healthy. Prevents another container from going into a landfill. And all from ingredients on hand!

YES it's easy. I promise. (If you are a cook. If you eat at McDonald's most nights, then I agree, this isn't for you.)

Can it last?

I've read a few articles lately about the frugality brought about by the recent economic downturn that have said, basically, that as soon as people have money back in their pockets, they will return to their old ways.

It does bear asking, of course. As a nation, I truly wonder where we're headed...but as an individual, I wonder even more so.

I make no mistake: frugal living is hard, often boring, and a LOT of hard work. Think that I don't know how much easier it is to just buy the tub of hummus instead of soaking beans overnight, then using them the next day, peeling garlic, squeezing lemons, etc? It takes twice as long on the bus to get downtown - but then you don't have to pay for parking (or wear and tear on the car, etc.). Getting movies and books and CDs from the library means that I have to wait until my turn, and that I have to return them sometimes before I'm done, and I can't keep them for later reference. It is a lot easier to go to an expensive resturant for a nice date than to come up with some creative low cost option; it is much simpler to shop for the perfect pair of pants at stores that carry one of everything in each size (instead of a "take it or leave it" that you get at thrift stores).

And I really wish I could spend more money on gifts for people. I'd really like to be able to do that, more than I can say.

And travel. I do love travel, even budget travel, but right now travel is completely off the table.

But here is the thing....

I actually believe that I can keep this up. Of course, it would be nice to not be SO frugal, but I still want to take what I'm learning and keep applying it. I think that my life is better for frugality, and I am grateful for that.

For instance?

I am living according to my values, and that is such a burden lifted. I don't feel guilt over woulda-shoulda-coulda for financial stuff, because I'm on a path and I'm staying there (imperfectly, but still...).

Time I used to spend shopping with girlfriends is now spent just talking to girlfriends.

I'm eating healthier food: junk food is out, resturants are out, I'm eating more grains and less meat.

I'm learning the difference between wants and needs.

But I just want to maintain the stability that frugality gives. I want to live below my means so that I can sleep at night.

I want to focus on what matters in my life. I want to focus on family, friends, health. I want to read, I want to spend time outdoors. I want to work hard at my spirituality, making it a central part of my life and not something peripheral.

Sure, you can do all of these things and spend a ton of money....but I think that spending beyond ones means ultimately leads people away from their "real" goals, not towards them.

I'm learning.

Frugality on the NYT

Frugality is all the rage now, of course, and the NYT says so. I found the comments following the article as interesting as the article itself - why not check it out and add your own $0.02?

(I'm #209.)

Alternate plans

At about 1am, that cough that has followed Tessa for weeks caught up with her. It came with hacking, a fever, aches and a headache. Poor kid! We soothed her, gave her coughdrops, brought her into our bed....

I am exhausted. Tessa is faring better today - at home, of course - but Ryan and I are only alive due to the miracle of coffee.

I brought Tessa to the doctor today, and she agreed that it was time for antibiotics. Tessa took her first dose today, and we should have a full recovery by Monday. If not, back to the doc we go.

So now we're home, and Mamma Mia is on (Tessa loves it as much as I do), we're drinking peppermint tea (milk and sugar for Tessa; plain for me), we've stocked up on Ricola cough drops and tissues (in the pink floral box, of course), and all is well for the moment.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Frugality and Ohhhh I want that!

So, some days, being frugal is easy. I am smug as I soak my beans overnight in preparation for use the next day; I smile to myself as I smell bread baking. I carpool, and I enjoy the conversation it provides. I go to the library and I don't have to limit myself, not even a little bit, and I just read books, books, and more books. I sit in my comfortable home, and I soak up the beauty of candles, books, sunlight (or, in the case of today, a snowstorm) through the windows, and I think "how lucky I am."

And some days, I think 'blah blah blah ENOUGH already!'

Guess which kind of day today is?

Today, I've had enough of reminding myself that I have enough. I don't want to be a creative cook, I want to go out for dinner (made it through that hurdle, and I did feed the family a home cooked meal). I do not want to save money to build a porch in a frugal way, I want to hire someone to do it NOW and just the way I want it, not cutting corners. And the list goes on, and on, and on.

Today, the frugal plan looks like it's going to take a very, very long time, and I'm sick and tired of it.

I promised you honesty, didn't I? Well, this is as honest as it gets.

I will get through it. I will shift my mindset. I will hunker down and do what needs doing.

But just for today, I say "bah humbug!"

Monday musings

First, in the news:
I really wish that all news was more like this. A portrait of Shakespeare painted in his lifetime? Now that's something I can get excited about. I find it significantly harder to get excited about bail-outs, crime, unemployment, and the like. We live in interesting times.

We did have a good weekend, though it was perhaps too busy. Time was spent with friends, I did some cooking, Tessa had playdates, and we even got some chores done around the house.

It's funny to me how the little chores just make my life so much more pleasant. Ryan hung a cabinet (removed from the kitchenette downstairs) in the laundry room, and the whole laundry room is brighter as a result. I cleaned up the attic, and we're creating a meditation room up there....and I just love it.

Sometimes, physical housecleaning leads to mental housecleaning, and that is the best part. A friend was in need, and so I sent off a giant box of prosthetic breasts and bras with pockets in them. I did it to help her, but suddenly I feel a burden lifted from myself, as well. Why was I holding on to them? Was I just waiting to need them again? Well, whatever the reason, I am so grateful to have them OUT OF MY LIFE. I'm enjoying putting my house in order, both because I enjoy the orderliness of the aesthetics, but mostly because it clears my mind.

Today I'm feeling cluttered and disjointed, but I'm working through it. I received a number of materials on Hunts Point to go through, and I'm doing that. I've got laundry going. I'm working on the book instead of finishing up the attic project.....

Speaking of disjointed, this blog post is disjointed. I'll sign off, then, and blog for real some other time.

Happy Monday, everyone!