Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Life Changing Experience

Recently my life was changed. It was a simple change, but a glorious change. We purchased a Keurig for the office. This simple act really changed my life. Now I wish I could go into work over the weekend, just to have another perfect cup of coffee. I get to work early so I can have the perfect cup of coffee. It is as if the Keurig is a silent cheerleader encouraging me to get through my list of to dos. I get more done in 30 seconds after a cup from the Keurig than I ever did in an entire day with a regular cup of coffee. The corporate world, focused on its micromanagement, should really jump on the Keurig bandwagon. There is one drawback, which I hate to admit. The Keurig makes me bluntly, frankly, and maybe even obnoxiously honest. In fact, I would go as far as to call it a truth machine. With that said, I may have to cut back once school starts. My frankness could get me in trouble.

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's Cheaper to Work

Recently, our July electric bill arrived. Let me just say that it was for an obscene amount. Obscene as in the most obscene thing you can think of. This led me on a journey to figure out how to drastically reduce our electric bill for the pending August bill, which is typically the highest bill of the summer months. I have become the meanest of the mean electricity monitors. I unplugged every item in our house with a plug that is not used on a regular basis. I no longer leave my computer plugged in unless it is charging and as soon as it is done, I unplug it. I only charge my phone every other day. I don't dry my hair, but let it dry naturally. I even have a powerstrip that is supposed to save me energy for my entertainment center. And, I started reading instead of watching TV. This does not seem to be enough. I am already on target to have an electric bill that could potentially be significantly more than July.

Here is my conclusion:
1. It is cheaper to eat out because eating out does not require the use of the stove.
2. Buy new clothes. The washer and dryer use too much electricity. New clothes on clearance or sale may be cheaper than paying for kWh.
3. Work more. I can sit in my cool office, brew my coffee there, and warm up my leftovers from eating out at work. All of these tasks seem to be milking my wallet dry. Less dry if I do them at work though. If only I could do all of my laundry at work. Seriously, I may start sleeping under my desk.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sleep

Is it over-rated or under-rated? I guess it depends on your stage in life. When I was in high school and college, I could sleep for what my mom probably thought was forever. I recall her banging pots and pouring water on me just to prompt me to respond to her failed attempts at waking me. She would deny this. When you are a teenager, you could care less about family breakfast on a Saturday morning. Now I would give anything for someone else to make me breakfast. And the clean-up.

Nevertheless, my college years were spent sleeping as well. I am naturally a night owl, which works well with the college lifestyle. I was wise enough to never schedule a class too early in the morning. Yet, there were those occasions when I had to rise early. Early was before 7AM. I remember staying up so late that when I woke up, I literally felt sick to my stomach. The biggest transition for me after college was waking up in the morning. Taxes, health insurance, FICA, being completely reliant on myself financially, none of those mattered as much as having to get up early. I worked less than 1/2 a mile from my apartment and I think I spent most mornings putting my make-up on at work. The truth is, no matter how many years I spend trying to perfect the art of getting ready for work in 20 minutes, I am not capable of such a task.

Old age has set in though. Now that I have been through the grief cycle in regards to the fact that our society only runs on and respects morning people schedules, I am surviving a morning person's world. It comes at a cost though. Going to sleep is a process for me. I need at least an hour to unwind before I actually fall asleep. This is a long process. Not really efficient considering I value efficiency. Once I get to sleep, I still have the ability to sleep forever. Although, my body has hit it's natural adult rhythm. I am able to get up and function in a morning person's world, to a certain degree.

Life is full of transitions. As an adult, I think sleep is under-rated. We don't seem to appreciate the function sleep serves in our life. Our minds seem to take over and just go into auto-drive. We rarely rest and napping seems to be for the lazy. We have to set goals at work each year, so my goal will be to nap on my lunch break. A nice nap full of dreams and drool. The best kind of sleep.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Working Out

I have been working out lately. Go ahead and pause for a moment so that you can process that statement. I have been working out lately, yes, you did read that statement correctly. It has been rather exciting. I don't have regrets, but if I were to choose one, then it would be my lack of discipline in this area. I didn't develop good habits as a teenager. During my younger days, I was blessed with a fantastic metabolism. I literally just had to think the work "skinny" and I would drop five pounds. Times have changed. I breathe and gain five pounds these days. Or at least in my mind. I can't complain, I am by no means overweight, but I am definitely out of shape.

The real question is, what prompted me to work out? I can't fit into my bridesmaid's dress for a wedding on August 5. At first I thought I would just eat healthier, but I really don't eat that poorly. I guess I could cut some creamer in my coffee, but that seems slightly excessive. I like my coffee the color of my skin, and I could use a tan. My new plan is just to work out to lose weight so that I can fit into my dress. I actually find this to be a huge gift. I have enjoyed working out. I am lifting weights to tone my arms, which as a teacher, I do have a fear of flabby arms. And, I am running/walking on the treadmill. Plus, Erik and I take the dogs on a walk most evenings. If only it was considered exercise sitting at your desk. Maybe I need to take some cues from Inception and use my mind to work out. I will talk to Leo about that.

My strategy for the treadmill varies. When I was in college, I would walk/run on the treadmill and watch at least one episode of Friends. Now I watch one episode Cupcake Wars on the Food Network. Seems contradictory, I know. Of course I want to reach out and grab a cupcake, but the show is an hour. By time I finish, all I want is a large glass of water. It is rather genius! I watch food shows for an hour while working out. I think I may be on to something.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bathtub Miracle

There is nothing I dread more than cleaning the bathtub. Bending over. The smell of cleaning supplies. Bending over. Shadows. Putting muscles into it. The fact that most of the harsh chemicals never seem to work the way I had hoped, probably because I wait too long to wash the dreaded tub. I stumbled upon my favorite bathtub cleaning supply when my parents were coming out to visit and I knew I had to clean the tub. My mom is a stickler for a spotless and clean house. I am not her child. I like things to be neat and I hate a mess, but the cleaning part is where I tend to drag my feet. Usually most people are the opposite, and I wish I was!

I was trying to clean my tub with one of those bristle brushes to no avail. It was pointless. I was tired of spraying chemicals that I had to breathe. I looked under the sink to see what other tools I could locate. Don't ask me why but I found a kitchen sponge under my bathroom sink. The kind that attaches to one of those wands full of soap. The sponge did not have the wand, but I started to use it to scrub the tub. It scrubbed away all of the water spots and grime that had collected. It was my new miracle bathtub scrubber. I remember in college scrubbing a tub for hours and hours with one of those bristle brushes and a regular sponge. Nothing happened. It was all in vain. If only I had gone into the kitchen to get the magic sponge.

Tonight I cleaned the tub with my magic kitchen sponge. Spotless and clean. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I almost enjoy cleaning the bathtub. Now, I won't go that far, but it seems like a less tedious job.

My miracle sponge.

Rose Bowl Flea Market

Flea markets are my favorite weekend activity. You never know what kind of treasures you will find at a flea market. I find it is the thrill of the hunt. One booth charges $100 for an item and then three rows over another booth asks for $10.

The Rose Bowl Flea Market is the 2nd Sunday of each month. I highly recommend it if you are ever in Pasadena on that weekend. I developed some strategies to flea marketing, but I won't share those.
This mirror is made from a window salvaged form an old building. Erik found the sweetest old man who goes around the LA area and gathers old doors, windows, wood pieces, etc. and then cuts mirrors and puts them into the pieces. He had the most beautiful mirrors. We could have easily missed him because he just had his old pick-up truck with piles and piles of wooden treasures waiting to be created. When we found this piece, we didn't have enough cash left. We gave the guy our down payment and headed for the ATM. After getting the necessary cash, Erik returned and paid the gentleman the rest of the cash. He told Erik how several people stopped by and asked to pay double in order to buy the mirror. I was reminded that some people still do have integrity. He saved the mirror for us!

Here is the funky table we purchased. I have no idea where to put this piece. It was buried under some junk and stole my heart. It was the old pink paint. Right now it lives in the garage until I find it the perfect home.

We purchased some old bottles and a few pieces for a friend. If you make it to the Rose Bowl Flea Market, definitely bring $3 for the hot dog and soda. Get the grilled peppers and onions on the hot dog. It made the day! The best part was the fact that it was three times as large as I had hoped. Save thousands of dollars to take with you!

Burk Has Some Moves

Burk is not your average dog. He thinks he is smaller than he actually is. He likes to hug by putting his front legs around your neck. And he seems to enjoy peeing on Denton. Yet, he still has some common dog tendencies. Tonight I had to give Denton a bath because he threw up on himself, so I thought I would throw Burk and for a little scrub-a-dub-dub. Surprisingly, he stood in the bathtub for the duration of his bath and only tried to jump out once. The insanity began when he tried to dry himself off by using the carpet.

Here is a video of Burk drying himself off.

video

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Knight Rider

My husband and I went on a bike ride tonight in the park next to our house. There is a pretty big bike path. It was already dark, but we had lights on our bikes. About half-way through our ride, my light died. We enjoyed riding around and getting a little exercise after our desserts. Considering I need to shed some pounds so I can fit back into my bridesmaid's dress, the bike ride needs to become routine. As we were riding back, it was so dark that we couldn't really see where the path led. We thought we were taking the path when we realized we were riding down a grass hill. Not my idea of a wise biking decision. Once we walked our bikes back up the other side of the hill to reach the path, we were on our way. We were comfortably riding on the path when I saw a bike light up ahead. I eased in behind my husband just in time as the other biker rode past. After the biker breezed past, my husband said, "I'm glad I was with you because that guy did not look kosher." If you know my husband, endearing comments are not his typical m.o. At that moment, I realized deep down inside there may be an actual knight. (I know, I know. Some of you may think this is a little sappy for me. But if my husband can be sappy for a moment, I guess I can humble myself and be sappy too!)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Books

Surprise, surprise! My books arrived a day early! Imagine how excited I was to open the package from Amazon and start perusing the beautiful pages of my new books. I have almost read the entire Downtown Chic. As I was reading, I felt like Cortney Novogratz was telling my story, minus all of the children, the setting - New York, and the large spaces. Oh, and the country house in Massachusetts and trips to flea markets in France. But, nonetheless, my story. After looking at the book, I felt inspired and motivated. Although I don't renovate homes/buildings, I love buying anything that can be used to decorate. Especially pieces that be used in unconventional ways. I love the thrill of the hunt. I almost failed 5th grade art. My teacher basically had to draw my chalk porcupine for me. I know, I know, a porcupine. Well, I thought with all of those crazy needles as hair it would be easy. I was wrong. Funny thing, tonight a friend emailed me and put me on the hunt for an armoire. Am I excited or what?!?! She sent me pics of armoires in the styles that she likes and now I get to find the piece. I love a challenge and this should be a fun challenge.

Well, I also got Domino: The Book of Decorating. Domino was my favorite magazine before its untimely ax. I wish I kept all of my issues. They are selling for $30-50 an issue on eBay. I looked for them at a used bookstore to no avail. The book is great, but there is something about a magazine. Either way, I hope to get more inspiration and one day my house will be wall to wall and floor to ceiling stuff!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Good Friends

I have the greatest friends! They are pretty fantastic. Two of my oldest friends (not in age, but in number of years of friendship) are getting married in August. Then, my brother-in-law will get married right after that. No one has ever described me as sentimental, but I am looking forward to these exciting occasions.

I bought my bride's maid's dress for one of the weddings in March or April. I am so thankful because it is the most adorable dress. I love friends that pick cute clothes and Sof is just the cutest. Her invitation arrived in the mail today and it is so adorable. Yesterday I went on the hunt for the perfect shoes. I was prepared to lay down some heavy cash for the shoes because the shoes need to do the dress justice. I didn't know it, but yesterday was my lucky day. I've had my eye on a pair of shoes at Nordstrom Rack. Needless to say, they were 50% off yesterday, so I snatched them home to try on with my dress. I slipped on the shoes and then the dress. I ran into one small issue. I have outgrown the dress! At this point all I can do is diet and lose weight. The dress is sold out and I definitely can't add material to make it bigger. Haha! Nonetheless, I will lose the weight. I have one month. I can do this. Nothing like pressure. Too bad I don't have the same metabolism that I had in my teen years. Here are my shoes.I have been rather worried that I am turning into a Martha Stewart-esque person. I think my friend Jess may beat me. First she had us over for dinner and cooked. Sure she cheated on a few items, but she did cook. Then, she made me a wreath. I absolutely love it! It is one of my favorite things in my house now.
My husband is another of my best friends. I love him because he loses bets. I know, that sounds bizarre. One day we were in World Market and got to talking about the glassware that we have. He was emphatic that they were from Ikea. I bought them at World Market, so I knew they were from World Market. I saw this as a great opportunity to get new glassware. I bet him that if he was wrong, he had to buy new glassware for the house. I didn't even say what I would do if I was wrong because it wasn't worth wasting my breath. Here is one of my new glasses. They come in multiple colors, so I got an assortment.I even went hiking this summer. I use that term lightly. We walked around a third of the lake and stumbled upon a fort. Someone was inspired, not me, the fort builder. Don't worry, just as good friends should do, they already made fun of me for wearing flip flops and a shirt with ruffles.
I even ventured out with some good friends and helped one pick out an outfit for her first professional interview post-college. Of course, that is one of my favorite stages in life! Sharing in life changes, whether they are my own or someone else's change, is exciting. Sometimes I think we constantly try to get to the next big stage, that we don't cherish the one we are in. It is a privilege to share those stages with others.

I love spending time with friends. It usually makes for good conversation, lots of laughs, and friends even mark various stages in your life. Some stages are less desirable than others, but growth is always a positive. Friends can remind us of where we were and celebrate with us for where we are in the present.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Passion

Passion. It is such a fascinating word. For many it has to do with their love relationships. For some it relates to their anger. For me it is impossible to narrow down. For some reason I have many passions. Passions is the word I use to describe all of my interests. I don't see myself as a talented person. I am not gifted in music, sports, or really artistic abilities. I am not the smartest person I know and thankfully, not the dumbest either. Sometimes you meet a person and their gift or passion just strikes you. You automatically know what that person is great at or they describe their passion. At my age your passion should become your career. Don't get me wrong, I love my career. There is nothing to complain about it. Choosing a major in college was next to impossible for me. Why? Because I enjoyed so many subjects. Here is a list of my declared majors: business (haha!), English, psychology, human development & family studies, and I thought about many others. What did I think about? Counseling, sociology, communications, merchandising, political science, education, and who knows what else. Graduating in four years is actually a miracle. I think any profession, besides the world's oldest profession, I have researched and checked into my options.

Commitment is an issue for me as well. I am honestly shocked that I have been a teacher the past 5 years. Even though I love my job, I still wonder what my passion actually is. I read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and wanted to know even more what it is that I am going to spend 10,000 hours completing and eventually become great at doing. If only my mind were reality. Sometimes I tell my husband, "I want to do blah, blah, blah." He responds with, " You know you would be bored with that in 5 minutes." But the question remains, What is my passion? Is it right under my nose? Or am I trying to make hobbies my passion. Does you passion even have to be your career? Where did that idea even originate? Is it because I am an American that I feel the need to be "accomplished?" How do we even define accomplished? All of these questions lead to "Why do I even care?"

Sometimes my conclusion is simply that I appreciate many avenues, disciplines, and subjects in the world. I love literature. I love clothes. I love decorating. I love dogs. I love flea markets and anything vintage. I love ideas. I love food, but not fastfood. I love art and architecture. I secretly love reality shows and pop culture. I am not an expert on any of these topics. Most of the time I have not felt comfortable enough in my own skin to cultivate my passion. I care too much about what others think and what they expect from me. Expectations either motivate us or destroy us. I can look back on my life and see where some expectations started to peel back my layers. Some more layers than others. Some just ripped the layers away much more quickly than others. Yet, I realize that our passions add the layers. They are like aloe on the wounds. They bring joy whether they are professional passions or novice passions. Passions are passions. Simply strong and exciting.