Dec 30, 2009

Wrapping up 2009

Well 2009 is on it's way out the door and 2010 is promising to be filled with BIG adventures.  After spending a few days in (not so) sunny Florida, I'm relaxing (and job/apartment hunting) over in the Big Easy.  My parents dropped in on grandparents and greeted lots of DRAMA.  My mother made a fool out of herself getting piss ass drunk on her first night.  At least the family down here got to see it first hand and know how much my brother, sister and I weren't blowing it out of proportion.  Today I rented a moped and went looking at apartments.  Everything went well, despite the rain and my wipe out.  I'm still bruising at the moments, but only got minor raspberries on my knee and some scratches on my thigh.

Before heading off to the airport I did finally run out of deodorant and made my own solid using coconut oil.  The jury is still out on it's effectiveness, some days good, some days not so good.

I got a text from one of the waiters at the cafe and they're interested in renting out my master bedroom.  Hopefully this doesn't fall through, cause I could really use the help.

Sadly my dad has yet to come pick up the dresser out of my living room.  I did corner him and get him to commit to doing it some time in the near future.  I'll just have to harass him until it gets done.

On Monday I got a call for an interview.  So next Friday I'll be re-interviewing for a new position with Customs and Border Protection.  It's not really what I want to be doing, but I need some money until I get out of Virginia.

Dec 19, 2009

Bye Bye Baby Car

Well, it's official.  Baby Car is sold, and just as it decides to snow.  At least the guys at the cafe are looking out for me and making sure I have a ride to and from working this the horrid snow.  I can't wait to leave Virginia and all this sticky slippery white stuff behind me.  And to make everything else ok, my paper got approved so all I have to do to finish my masters is a power point presentation.  Life is good.

Dec 15, 2009

Moped/Scooter Purchased!

Well I did it.  I've got me a shiny new (to me) scooter.  Ok, technically Zoe is a motorcycle, but only cause she's got a 150 cc engine.

I've paid down Baby Car and am just waiting for the payment to clear (by Thursday) and then Baby Car is going to CarMax.

Dec 8, 2009

I Got a Job!!!

I got hired on the spot today at a local bar/restaurant/pool hall.  I start work tomorrow.  I'm so excited to have a job that will not force me to sit behind a desk all day.  I loved waitressing in college because I get to interact with so many different people.  As shy as I may come off at first in person, I really love being around people.  I still need a second job, but I've got lots of applications out there and I'll continue to stalk apply for retail jobs locally.

In the mean time, I did the very scary thing of cashing out my 401k. 0.o  Considering I'm still waiting on money from my unemployment claims and my bank account was to the point where I could pay any bills this month something had to be done.  So as soon as the check comes, the car will be sold and the moped purchased.  I've got the moped all scoped out and am anxiously checking the mail already for the cash so I can put my plan into action.

In paper news, I'm currently at 39 pages.  Just one page short of the 40 page minimum and I've still got three and roughly a quarter chapters left to finish editing/expanding.

So today is definitely a day for celebration.  Things are going good.  I'm gonna survive!

Dec 6, 2009

December Challenges

Alight, so I'm actually getting to posting my December Challenges in a timely manager this month. So without much futher ado, here they are:
→Clear out unused furniture
→Eat three meals a day
→Make own solid deodorant
→Reduce beauty routine (make the minimal used now even less)
→Sale baby car
→Use up pre-packaged items in apartment

First up is getting the bed frame and dresser that are no longer in use out of the apartment. Currently they are both sitting in my living room as a painful reminder to harass my dad to come pick them up or to ask one of the ladies from my women's group to help me take them to my parents house.

Next up is one of my new lifestyle/health changes.  The focus is on simply stopping and eating something three times a day.  I'm not worried about what exactly I'm eating or if it's enough, the focus is simple to get my body used to eating three times a day.

Next, I'll be making my own solid deodorant from coconut oil, provided I use up the last tube of deodorant that I still have hanging around the apartment

Then, it's on to my beauty routine.  I've finally found a no 'poo shampoo that my scalp likes and an amazing vinegar rinse that got my locks manageable.  Make up is down to chap-stick when my lips are dry or a touch of lip-gloss and eye-shadow when I want to feel like I'm glammed up.  I've forgone any extra moisturizer for my face, I just don't need it.  Now I'm still trying to find the perfect face wash: honey or LUSH's Baby Face solid.  Once I settle on this I can check this off my list.

The next big lifestyle change for me is selling baby car.  Now I can't go without any transportation, public transportation just isn't reliable enough and I'm not able to handle the hills on a bike (nor am I in any type of physical shape to manage biking locally...just not there yet).  So I've decided on a moped.  Much more economical (for the environment and my wallet) than baby car.  I've actually looked at one last week at a little mom and pop shop and will own it as soon as I've sold my car (will definitely have it in the next two weeks!!!!!!!!!).

And as always I'll continue using up the pre-packaged items in the apartment and replacing them with either homemade or Earth-friendly alternatives.

Dec 3, 2009

November Wrap Up (a little late)

November was a bit of an off month, to say the least.  The November Challenges that finally made there way up to the leader-board were:
→Make own solid deodorant
→Use up pre-packaged items in apartment
✔Cut my own hair and bangs
✔Make tooth powder instead of using tooth paste
✔Tolerate Green Smoothies

I'm going to give myself a pass for not completing four challenges since November turned into the "get Hope out of her depressed state" month and "get Hope working on her final paper" month.  Let's just say thank goddess for antidepressants, cause if you were depressed and had to pay for antidepressants without insurance it sure would make you depressed (nearly $400 0.o).  Towards the end of the month I began feeling like my old self and then completely freaked about my paper.  Though I'm happy to report that I'm currently at 34 pages of the 40 page requirement.  Alright, before I ramble on too much more lets get to the challenges that I attempted:
→Make own solid deodorant So this one didn't happen yet, only because I found more deodorant when I went on a middle of the night cleaning spree (more to come on this later), but I did finally find and acquire all the ingredients for this, so it's only a matter of time for this one.
→Use up pre-packaged items in apartment Still an on-going battle, but I am down to my last roll of paper towels and finally on the absolute last tube of deodorant.
✔Cut my own hair and bangs 
There were lots of hair trims this month, still not great but better than nothing
✔Make tooth powder instead of using tooth paste 
I definitely succeeded in this endeavor, though I had to add an extra 10 drops of peppermint oil and it's still a little on the icky side but I can definitely handle it better now.
✔Tolerate Green Smoothies 
nuff said about this already

I'm still struggling with my insomnia, and let me tell you depression and insomnia are not a fun combo.  But I'm back to my old ways of handling my insomnia: massive cleaning sprees.  Ok, so we all know how I've moved out of the master bedroom in my two bedroom apartment and into the smaller bedroom.  Well, I still had quiet a bit of stuff just hanging out in the master bedroom.  So since I still don't have a job I'm trying to rent out the master bedroom (still no luck there), which meant that I needed to finish cleaning out that room.  The biggest culprit of stuff still hanging out in there was the bathroom.  Remember when I said I thought I had successfully decluttered the majority of the bulk from the apartment?  Well apparently I was wrong when it came to the bathroom.  I found all sorts of stuff I had no idea was even in the bathroom, like a unopened back of cat litter. Well after three days of purging I'm happy to say everything fits in the one half bath without the counters and cabinets overflowing.  There are still somethings I could probably toss, like my caboodle and my make up that I only were once in a blue moon but I did empty the caboodle and only kept my green eye shadows and favorite lip glosses/chapsticks.

Nov 25, 2009

No, My Paper Hasn't Killed Me Yet...

but there were definitely a few days/weeks that I felt like the pressure was going to.  I've finally gotten my spirits up, have some motivations, and have a plan.  So after my one day pass not to work on my paper turned into a four day pass I've got to crank out two chapter this weekend and then I won't be technically behind.

Other than that I've had to take a hard look at my finances and see where I can make cuts, so I will be trading in my car before the month is out to get my car payment down. I've already cut out Netflix and reduce my cell phone bill by $40. I'm trying to sell one of my time shares, and will be talking with the time share company for my other about selling it back.

But in other more exciting new I've made a big decision: I will be moving out of Virginia when my lease is up (May 25). I have decided to really overhaul my life which has started with getting me eating three times a day (like I should be) and getting me active again.

After New Years I will be looking for the first retail job that I can find that will hire me (I no retail experience). My current dream job is to work in the Apple Store (and eventual get enough training to become a Genius Bar Genius, but I'm willing to working my way up through the retail bitch food chain and put in some long hard hours) and to bartend at night to make up the difference in pay/for extra cash on hand.

So where will I be moving? New Orleans. Which means while I'm there for New Years I will be making my housing arrangements, a studio apartment. Why New Orleans (besides the obvious, they have a Apple Store)? Because it's about three hours from my grandparents and aunt: close enough I can go visit but far enough to deter them from constantly being in my business.

I'm also very excited to being having a Florida Christmas this year. I used some of my school money for plan tickets to Pensacola for Christmas and then I'll get dropped off in New Orleans for New Years and fly back from there.

Well, I've got two of the nephews here so I'm gonna run.

Nov 18, 2009

Middle of the Night Hair Adventures

Well, I'm constantly doing something to my hair.  Be it adventures with hair henna or grocery store aisle hair dye I'm not afraid to try it (and make a royal mess in the process).  So the rebel in me decided to try and dye a few purple streaks in the week leading up to Halloween as I was also "too conservative" to give wild colors a try in college.

After trying some purple gel I determined I'd need to add some blonde highlights for the purple to show up.  Off to Target I went in search of some blonde hair dye and what did I find?  Clairol Frost and Tip!  I thought, Sweet! This will be easy.  Not!  The first attempts to get the hook to pull at a few strands of hair either resulted in knots of huge chunks of hair escaping from the cap.  Off came the cap and I have my hair a good coming through with the smallest toothed comb I had in the apartment (actually I had to go out to the car to fetch it).  Back on went the cap and the tie broke.  Finally I somehow managed to get my hair to start cooperating and then another huge chunk (or two) decided to escape.  At this point I went whatever since the chunks thankfully weren't in my bangs and on went the frosting solution.  My roots looked nice and frosted, but the longer/chunker section went from blonde to green! o.0  On went the purple hair dye.  After the maximum time I prayed the highlights would turn out purple.  No such luck; they were blue/green.

So now that I've had blue/green hair for a few weeks I decided (in my all infinite wisdom while procrastinating) earlier this week to throw on another coat of purple to see what would happen.  Well, my bangs were purple for a day or two and the rest were more blue.  Now, after another wash, I'm just blue all over.

Since I've given away my blow dryer, curlers, curling irons and flat iron I've been experimenting with rag curls.  After making a batch of rags that were too short, I produced a batch that were a little too long (but better that than the previous).  Sunday night, after my shower I decided to do my hair up in rag curls while watching a movie before heading to bed.  Extra time is required both for putting in and taking out rag curls.  But the end result is crazy fun curls with no need for product.  My curls where still intake after two days thanks to sleeping with a messy bun which preserved the curls for yesterday.  Sadly the curls washed away in the shower.

Last night I tried to give my hair a trim, but it just wouldn't even up.  After cutting a large inverted v in one side of my hair I gave up and tried to go to bed.  But as insomnia would have it, sleep was not in my future.  Now while I don't advocate cutting your own hair if you're an insomniac, it seemed like a perfectly good idea for me.  Amazingly I managed to cut the bottom half of my hair (as in the hair left down after pulling my hair half up) perfectly straight at the exact length I was going for.  I attempted to go for the gold a second time only to be foiled, but luckily it doesn't look too terrible and there are no inverted v's missing from what I could tell.

Nov 17, 2009

Another Thing Checked Off...

Well, I finally added some November challenges to the right hand column:
→Make own solid deodorant
→Make tooth powder instead of using tooth paste

I also finally used up the last of the paper plates that were hanging out in my cabinet.

Still avoiding working on my paper today so I'll leave you with my new no 'poo shampoo recipe:

  • 1 ounce of peppermint castle soap
  • 1 2/3 cups of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of thyme

Directions: Boil water and thyme for 10 minutes, strain and combine with peppermint castle soap in desired bottle.

Nov 15, 2009

Tooth powder

Alright, I've been MIA for a few weeks while I tried to cope with everything that's going on.  I was hoping that a few weekend trips to see friends and be around people would be enough to pull me out of it, but it just made going back home that much harder.  After spending the last couple of days in bed until late in the afternoon, I convinced myself that I need to have another trip and work on my paper at the same time.

On a happier note, I finally finished all my tooth paste so I've finally made some tooth powder.  Here's the recipe I used:

  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 drops of peppermint oil

Oct 30, 2009

October's Wrapping Up While I've Been in Da Funk

I've been in a bit of funk thus the lack of posts.  But I'm down in the 'Noke for a few days with good friends to bring me back out of da funk that's taken over.  With da funk the challenges didn't go as well as I'd plan, but I still have quite a few to check off.  And what better time to go over all this than when I'm supposed to working on my Literature Review that's not going to write itself?  So here's a run down of the remaining challenges for October:
→Ban fast food
→Begin a daily meditation
→Declutter apartment room by room
→DivaCup Mastery
→Eliminate meat from my diet
→Introduce Green Smoothies into my diet
→Use up pre-packaged items in apartment

1) As hard as it was, I managed to ban fast food well anything with a drive thru. My only concessions where for some Five Guys and Baskin Robins.
2) I'm slowly learning to slow down.  I had a bit of trouble doing the meditation first things in the morning because it just made me want to crawl back into bed.  So now I do a meditation at night.
3) I'm happy to finally be checking this one off.  I feel comfortable saying that my apartment is decluttered.  Clean is another story, but decluttered yes.
4) Me and the DivaCup just weren't meant to be a happy couple.  If in a pinch I could deal, but I'm much happier with my lovely LunaPads.
5) Surprisingly I've done very well at eliminating meat from my diet (mostly because I don't cook meat any more).  I only caved twice since I left work.  OK so that's twice in three weeks, but I was in need of quick protein when I caved.
6) I think I'm going to hold this one over.  I can managed to drink the green smoothie, but it's not really a regular part of my diet.  So I'm gonna work on that.  I'm still working out the best recipe but the only one I couldn't drink was one with eight spinach leaves; I'll just be sticking to four for now.  A little progress is better than no progress, right?
7) Using up those pre-packed items is a slow a tedious process.  Now major break through this month.  I'll keep on keeping at it.

Thanks to da funk I haven't even thought of Challenges for November.  It might be a few days into November before I get them up.  As soon as I  get them up I'll post.

Oct 20, 2009

Sleep is what evades me

I'm still alive, and still fighting with my alarm clock.  But that's probably because I'm having a difficult time getting to sleep so out comes the artillery of alternative medicine since I've long given up on sleeping medication (I'd rather be a little tired vs. feeling like I've got a hangover every morning).  First up was jasmine tea a few nights a week.  Then I moved my meditation to night to try and help calm my brain (that and meditating in the morning was just making me want to crawl right back into bed).  Then I moved up the time I take my vitamins from applied kinesiology in the mornings.  Then a trip to the chiropractor was in store to help with the literal pain in my neck.  As all these has yet to help bring on the sleep (and shut my brain off) I'm off to see a hypnotist tonight.

In other wacky news for the day, I'm in the middle of adding some purple streaks to my hair.  I'm not sure how they'll turn out, the goal is a subtle high/lowlight effect.  Also speaking of hair I'm giving a new no 'poo recipe a whirl this time with peppermint castle soap.

Oct 15, 2009

The half way more for October

I'm back among the living, mostly.  The sudden drop in temperature cause a small leak in my nasal cavity.  Apparently four days of rest of not enough as my body hasn't wanted to get out of bed all week, but that could be do to the fact that even when I'm dog tired I can't fall asleep.  I must be more nocturnal than I thought.

So the month is half over, how are my challenges going?
→Ban fast food -- I've only eaten fast food once in the last 15 days, and I'm mighty proud
→Begin a daily meditation -- the meditations are going slowly but surely, but I haven't managed to slow down too much yet (ergo my nearly running people over in Wegman's yesterday)
→Declutter apartment room by room -- The clutter in the apartment is substantially down.  I don't quiet feel ready to check this off just yet as I'm still setting up things in the newly reorganized living room, but this will definitely be checked off by the end of the month.
→DivaCup Mastery -- more to come on this later.
→Eliminate meat from my diet  -- I'm doing pretty well on this with the exception of eating out, until I can handle more veggies that may not change, but otherwise I'm cooking meat-free at home
→Introduce Green Smoothies into my diet -- week one was a success, week two was hit and miss literally-one smoothie went down just fine but the second did not due to too much spinach.  I've restocked the smoothie essentials and will try for three smoothies in the next six days.
→Use up pre-packaged items in apartment  
-- this is still going a little at a time.

Oct 12, 2009

Exciting News from my class

I logged in for my first day of my class and to my excitement I found the following message:  

Final DRP document should be a minimum of 40 pages, excluding appendices. This page reduction calls for a maximum of 2 to 3 sub-research questions.
Makes the next ten weeks a little less scary.

First up on my cleaning list is laundry.  Tomorrow the kitchen is getting a scrub down that it's been in need of for quite some time now.

I attempted to up the green in my green smoothie today and it was a little too green for my taste.  So I'll keep at it slow and steady before I attempt to up the spinach again.

I still feel like I'm a behind on my sleep, but I actually got a full eight hours of sleep last night.  Hopefully the rest will added up soon.

Oct 10, 2009

I'm a free woman, so to speak

I made it through the last days in the office and officially signed my termination release from my company. I'm a free woman, so to speak.  On Monday the fun and joys of my Directed Research Project begins, so I've given myself a few days to slack off and catch up on that much needed sleep that I just haven't had the luxury of having.  I met with my on campus adviser on Thursday and have a plan of attack for my DRP.  Today I hit the grocery store and got some more green smoothie supplies.  And I even managed to handle a little more spinach in my last one!  I've moved into the second bedroom and have just a few things left in the master bedroom and closet.  I'm slowly working on moving the remainder of my things from the master bedroom half bath to the hall half bath.  The decluttering effort is almost complete.  I'm extremely happy that I'm living in one less room and not tripping over crap.  I'm confident by the end of the month I'll be able to confidently check off "declutter apartment".

Oct 5, 2009

Green Smoothie, Take 1

Step 1. ingredients:  Banana, frozen blackberries, spinach
Step 2. mix mix mix baby
Step 3. pour
Step 4. enjoy

As obvious from my pictures, my green smoothie was rather purple and not so green.  I do admit I only put the tiniest bit of spinach inthere, but it was four whole leaves!  The banana overpowered any other taste, but the blackberries provided a nice color.  So lesson learned:  I can put more spinach in next time cause it didn't kill me (or taste like metal unlike my previsous spinach attempts which have).  The verdict:  I'll definately be trying it again and had I actually woken up early enough this morning I would have had another one for breakfast.

Oct 3, 2009

Check: Sale oversized desk in living room

It's day three and I'm still going strong! I've just completed the sale for my oversized L shaped desk in the living room, and at the first asking price! I'm so ecstatic. For the moment the living room looks bare, but I'm hoping to tackle the carpet with a good cleaning (and hopefully removal of stains) before I start moving things into the living room once again.

I've also so far kept my fast food ban and no meat challenges, though I had to get a little inventive when I had to go to a doctor's appointment yesterday during my lunch break. But I managed. The fast food ban is the one that really tempts me, though finding something healthy on the run did challenge my creativity. I now have to lunches out next week, so finding meatless options will definitely keep me on my toes.

Now that I have a little money in my pocket I'll be hitting the grocery store for some green smoothie ingredients.

Oct 1, 2009

Check In from Day 1 of October challenges

Today is the 274th day of 2009 and according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac there are 81 Days until Winter on this 1st day of October. And I have progress on the decluttering the apartment front! I have officially moved into the spare bedroom and am working on clearing out the master bedroom. And out goes the mattress tonight and in comes some $$. So far the futon couch has turned out to be very comfy and not bother my back even when insomnia sticks (like last night, which lead to a middle of the night bathroom cleaning spree). I’ve also got a potential buyer for my desk at my first asking price! I thought I may have to come down on the price. Hopefully this comes through and out the door it can go. One day in and I haven’t caved on the fast food ban, it will be harder next week when I have work, chiro appointment and then meditation with only about 1 hour total in between after traffic. But it will also be my last day of work as the funding issue is going to be ongoing for at least a couple of months. So I’m gonna work on my last paper for my masters and see what happens. I’m actually relieved that I can focus on that and getting me healthy. Reiki here I come.

Sep 30, 2009

October Challenges

Well, tomorrow starts a new day and it’s time for a new set of challenges to add to my 52 Weeks collection. First up will be the on-going challenges and my one carryover challenge:

→Declutter apartment room by room – Here I should probably differentiate between clutter and cleanliness. The two are not mutually exclusive, like I would consider my apartment to be clean but cluttered. So the goal here is to move to that more is less mind frame and actually reduce the amount of stuff I have. It’s about evaluating what I have into what I need and use or what I want but don’t use.
→DivaCup Mastery – October will be my second month of my DivaCup challenge. A recap is that I want to use my DivaCup for two full days of my cycle for two months before I make a decision to incorporate the DivaCup into my monthly routine or just break it out on occasion. I’ll give a full report on this either the end of October or early November.
→Give away/sale oversized desk in living room – This is my one carryover from last month that I was hoping to have completed by October 1. I have finally cleared away everything on the desk and posted the desk for sale, now it’s just a matter of getting a buyer. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will be sold quickly.
→Use up pre-packaged items in apartment – Slowly but surely the pre-packaged, chemical filled items are being used up. I’ll continue to post on the bigger items that are replaced by eco-friendly alternatives.

On to the October specific challenges! This month it’s all about getting me healthy.
→Ban fast food – I have a fast food problem. It’s easy and convenient, but oh so bad for me and that’s why I have to declare a fast food ban.
→Begin a daily meditation – I do a guided meditation once a month and love how relaxed I feel even on the days that have been crazy. A daily meditation will force me to stop and slow down from the fast pace I tend to live at.
→Eliminate meat from my diet – This should be fairly easy since I have stopped preparing meat at home and with the fast food ban I will be enforcing. The only temptation will be when I eat at a restaurant (which I already know I will have to on the 7th) but should not be all that often.
→Introduce Green Smoothies into my diet – This will by far be my hardest challenge of the month as I do not like vegetables. Lettuce you can forget me even trying that one again, but I will give metallicy spinach another try with lots of berries to try to cover the taste and hide the color. My goal for this challenge is to do a 1-2-3-4 approach; 1 green smoothie in the first week, 2 green smoothies in the second week, etc. and hopefully by week 4 I’ll have changed my mind on spinach (as least in a smoothie).

Sep 29, 2009

September Wrap Up

Well, September is finally winding down. It feels like an incredibly long month with all the uncertainty and emotional ups and downs with the job situation. But I have survived, and I’m actually looking forward to an extended break from work to finish my masters and work on getting me healthy (which is the theme for October’s challenges). So on with the recap of how I’m doing with my challenges.

✔Get that body moving -- I have worked the Five Tibetan Rites in about 15 days this month. The idea was more, but I’m happy to have made progress. I will continue to try and work them into my new daily routine.
✔Shut down and unplug electronics -- I’m happy to report that this challenge turned out to be one of the easiest of the month with the exception of my desktop. This week the shut down script gets modified with an earlier time and I will be removing the desktop from my sleeping quarters at some point this week.
✔Switch to eco-friendly dish detergent -- This again was easy as I don’t use my dishwasher very often. I have noticed that I need to be more careful and pre rinse some items. But I am other wise happy with the switch and will continue to use it.
✔Turn down the AC and keep it down -- The positive effect this had on my electricity bill has proved that the heat is well worth the cost. I’m just hoping as the cold weather sets in I’ll be able to keep it up, maybe the down stairs neighbors will keep their heat up high and that will help. And I have my down comforter back and that will definitely keep me toast.
→Declutter apartment room by room -- Progress is still slow on the home front of decluttering, but I did finally manage to clean off the desk in the living room which was a huge feat. This one remains open but with the amount of time I will be spending at home starting in October I suspect this will quickly be managed. I also managed to sell a few things on Craig’s List that either I no longer needed (the TV stand) and items that had never been opened.
→DivaCup Mastery -- I’ll let you know how this goes after the two month experiment is over.
→Give away/sale oversized desk in living room -- The desk is going up on Craig’s List tonight. I can’t believe that it’s finally cleared off. That was probably the biggest battle in completing this challenged.
→Use up pre-packaged items in apartment -- Slowly but surely the prepackaged items are making their way out of my apartment. This morning I finished my mouth wash and my never ending supply of tooth paste is dwindling (though I actually got a travel size tube in the mail last month..crazy!).

I thought I’d also give an update on how I’ve progressed with my challenges from August.
✔Give away TV -- I have no regrets about this one. My desktop functions perfectly as my movie station and I didn’t have cable before so I’m not loosing access to anything.
✔Give up using handicap parking spaces -- I still struggle with this one as I try to use other spaces, but when pressed for time or just feeling lazy when there is a crowd I have used the handicap parking. I’m aware now and will double my efforts even on the crappies of days to look a little harder.
✔Switch to eco-friendly laundry detergent -- I love the smell of the laundry detergent. It last a good while and my clothes seem to be holding up with no new issues.
✔Take unused items to the Salvation Army -- I have a few boxes in the need to take now mode, but over all I’ve been doing good with continuing to donate to the Salvation Army.
✔Unplug and Freecycle flat iron -- The only times I miss the flat iron is on days I’m lazy and don’t feel like taking the time to do my hair. But I do enjoy the slight lessening of clutter in the bathroom.
✔Use Freecycle and Craig's List to declutter apartment -- See above, I’m making progress and I’m pleased as punch with myself for the effort.

Sep 28, 2009

An Extra Week

Well, that burning question for me finally has an answer. So "Will Hope have a job on Oct. 1st?" Why, yes for exactly seven more days in fact. My contract was extended seven days, though it doesn't look like it will be extended any further than that. But I'm still awaiting confirmation on that.

After having 40+ applications in and two dead-end interviews I have come to terms with the fact that I'm supposed to finish my masters. I'm one scary 80 paper away from it, so I'm gonna take the plunge, cross my fingers and hope come January I've received at least an interview or two that has lead to a job offer. Really with only 11 even weeks to write 80 pages for someone who doesn't write fluff I would be hard pressed to managed with a full time job so I'm going to look at it as a blessing. Even when I thought the class was going to start is a week later so tagging on an extra seven days will leave me with exactly four days to relax before jumping into the scary world of my Directed Research Project.

Sep 24, 2009

Status on the AC

Well the AC has been off for 24 days and I haven’t died from heat exhaustion or frozen in my sleep. There have only been a handful of days when I was even tempted to turn on the AC due to the heat, but I have persevered and the proof of the saving is in black and white on my bill. The difference from last month’s bill to this month’s bill is over $20, and from this month and the month before that was over $35. The previous month I ran the AC only on the weekends and the occasional evening. I don’t ever recall my electricity bill for a full month being this low.

Going back and checking my bills since being at this apartment (Apr. 2008), this month’s bill is lower than my first partial month. The difference from 1 year ago is over $20 for September. I’d like to see my bills become more consistent over the next three months instead of jumping around as they have in the past from month to month. I know this past month was made easier for me to keep the AC off because I spent 8 hours a day five days a week in a cube directly under the AC vent on full blast and freezing my buns off, so the heat of the apartment was actually a welcomed retreat at the end of the day. The electricity bill history has been significantly higher during months in which I spent a great deal at home. Hopefully since I am now more conscious of it, I won’t be tempted to us abuse the AC.

The real challenge will come as it gets cooler and I will be at the apartment more. Thankfully my down comforter is being rescued from the cleaners and I can once again wrap myself up in my blanket of warmth as I piddle about the apartment. And I’m sure my sweatpants will see plenty of use in the coming months.

Sep 21, 2009

Good Bye TV Stand

Though I would have loved to have spent the entire weekend decluttering my apartment, I have to say I did not. Instead I had a movie feast in bed most of the weekend with a major headache and then insomnia.

I did however manage to wash a load of dishes, and do three loads of laundry. And I managed to sell my empty TV stand. I also pulled a few things out of the spare bedroom for the living room. The cat tree is finally in use again by the cats (much to their excitement) and I pulled out my rocking chair. This opened up a bit more space in the over crowded second bedroom and allowed me to be able to open the closets in there.

I applied for a government job on Friday, and discovered that I needed a copy of the transcripts and spend most of Friday running around trying to get a fax of the transcript sent in, but no such luck apparently transcripts aren’t fax by any school which kinda sucks because the transcript had to be faxed in for the application and they wouldn’t except a mailed copy. The announcement closes today so I’m hoping an unofficial copy of the transcript will be ok and I can fax the official transcript when it arrives later this week.

One of my former co-works is looking for a mattress and box spring set, and I’m thinking of selling mine and just sleeping on the futon sofa. I had been planning on getting rid of the mattress anyway when I move (be in overseas or when my lease is up). I have until the end of the month to make the decisions. I’d like to get some more cleaning/decluttering done before I make that final decision.

Sep 17, 2009

It's that time again...

As the month creeps on, I figured it was time for another “Is Hope gonna have a job come Oct. 1?” updates. The short answer is I don’t know. But here’s the shorter version of the long version: My boss doesn’t know. The bean counters don’t know. The contractor doesn’t know. It all comes down to $$ and like all government run programs everyone is point their fingers at each other to place the blame. Come on people all I want is a job and the client (who happens to be my current boss) want me to continue working for her. This should be a no brainer. Her team requires so many people; she wants me to fill one of those slots. It’s not like she’s asking for a new spot that they had no idea about. *cough*my old boss*cough cough*

The end result: a lot of frustration on all parts.

ETA on budget blunder resolution: Last week, it was last week; this week is ummmm…errrr…can I get back to you?

So my stress levels are through the roof, and I can’t seem to quiet my brain to sleep so I’m still staying up watching movies on my iMac until all hours of the night. Even when I’m dead tired, I don’t want to stop the movies because that little nagging voice that goes “you’re not gonna be able to survive” “you’ll be forced into bankruptcy” etc. sets in and my anxiety gets even worse. Damn you Netflix and your Watch Instantly selections. So I’m gonna have to dig my heals in a little harder and be more persistent with when the script starts, the computers is shut down end of story no matter where I am in the movie or episode. If I manage to fail at this by next Friday, the script gets edited to go off an hour earlier. Sleep is important. I must have sleep in order to be a polite functioning human and not a grumpy holograph of a humanoid.

In lighter news I managed to remove the cat pee soaked sofa (sorry Aizawa but Oscar ruined it beyond repair even by the amazing Nature’s Miracle Odor Remove Oxy-stuff) all by myself. Considering it took my best friend, her dad, sister and then boyfriend (did I forget anyone?) to get the couch into the apartment it’s a minor miracle that I was able to remove by myself. I might just need to borrow some paint from maintenance to fix the wall. It was quiet a feat and there were many points along the way where I thought there was no way I was going to be able to get it out the door, but with my stubbornness I was able to conquer the challenge.

With the couch and TV gone (and the TV stand on the way out) the living room is looking empty, but that just means that I need to drag out stuff from the over stuffed spare bedroom. When it comes time to bring out the futon, I’m not sure how I’m going to manage that one: it came in pieces and I didn’t put it together. Hopefully the manual is helpful?

Sep 14, 2009

The Power of Postive Thinking

So I was feeling a little down for myself with this whole "woe is me, I might not have a job at the end of the month" blues I can't kick and I was reminded of the power of positive thinking last week. I'm a complete believer in the power of positive thinking, but I had subcomed to the negative impact the human species tends to have on thinking. Positive thinking is not an easy task when I'm freaking out (however big or small) about how I'm going to manage until my next paycheck, then realize that I may be a month out before I have any cash on hand for staples like groceries (granted my pantry isn't barren yet). So commence positive thinking. Here on in it's not if I have a new job or when I have a new job, it's my new job.

One of the things that really help propel me with my positive thinking is working with my less is more mantra. Apparently the universe was trying to give me a sign as one the blogs I read regularly had a link to the following article at Mindful Mama. Ok, before you go "but you don't have kids Hope!" just click the link.

Did ya?

Sometimes I need a little reminder that less is more, especially when I'm feeling the financial crunch like so many other Americans.

First step in getting me out of my funk is re-instituting the script on my iMac that forces it to shut down at a certain time. Why you may ask. Because if I'm sleeping I can't be freaking out and it will give my body the much needed rest to try and heal from it's everyday abuses or this nagging sinus infection that three weeks on.

Next step reduce. I'll be going back to the kitchen and see where I can reduce in there as I can't seem to get my sink empty for trying these days. Then it's on to complete the declutter of the living room. Then off to the spare bedroom, which wasn't looking too shabby the last time I dared to look when I opened the door. Then it's off to the bathroom which is looking better, but there is always room for improvement. And finally back to by bedroom and closet.

Third step, make sure I'm not cooped up in the apartment when I'm not freezing my buns off at work. I'm actually doing pretty good at this one, I just got to balance running like a mad woman during the week and refusing to leave my bedroom on the weekends.

Sep 11, 2009

100 Hits!

I hit 100 yesterday on my counter!

In other news, I'm exhausted and dead tired from a roller coaster week. Thank goodness it was a short week and I had given myself an extra-long long weekend. The sinus infection is still raging war giving me a lovely sinus headache.

However, I am doing my best to keep my spirits up, and was kindly reminded last night at my women's circle to keep thinking in the positive. Set my intention that the job is mine and let the universe catch up to that kind of thinking.

So far I feel I'm doing good on my September challenges 10 days in. The AC at the apartment has not been touched since August 30th, and I haven't died from heat exhaustion yet, but that's probably because it seems the heat has finally given way to the beginnings of autumn (at least this week anyway). Lamps are now officially the only items continuously plugged in that are not on surge protectors, but do happen to be in the plugs connected to the light switches; everything else is unplugged until needed. I've also got a few things listed on Craig's List to help declutter the apartment, but after the initial posting buzz I haven't find a buyer (that actually shows up). I'll give them a couple more days before I give way to Freecycle. My goal for this weekend is to finally finish clearing off the desk in the living room. It's no where near as bad as it was originally, but it's still not cleared off so it can be sold. I did fantastic my first week doing the Five Tibetan Rites, but my long weekend saw me skip a few days and getting back in the habit felt a little off kilter. But I persisted and increase my reps and feeling good about my body moving.

My War on Junk Mail is still going strong, I'm taking one day a week to contact all the junk mail perpetrators. It's still a few weeks before my mailbox will see the benefits but it feels good to be contacting various offenders and telling them to cut it out.

Sep 9, 2009

Shut down and unplug electronics

I can officially say that the only thing that isn't plugged into a powerstrip or on a switch is my alarm clock. Everything else has been unplugged until it's needed and the computers are turned off while I'm away from the apartment with the exception of the kitchen appliances. I wasn't sure if this was going to be an easy change, but the reality is that most things were plugged in for convince but rarely used. New perspective. I'm happy to have made this change.

Sep 8, 2009

Back at things

I’m back after a glorious four-day weekend, yes I said four-day weekend thanks to taking Friday off. After getting some much-needed rest, my apartment finally got some much-needed attention/cleaning. For once the laundry got done before the workweek started and I managed to find the kitchen counters again. I finally finished the dishwasher detergent and replaced is with Seventh Generation’s lemon liquid dishwasher detergent. So far I like it, but I’ve really cut down on my dishwasher use so it may take some time to really form an opinion. The highlight of my weekend was getting to spend the day with my best friend and her family at the Maryland Renaissance Faire. Be proud everyone, I didn't purchase anything at the Faire other than some fries.

The “interview” was today, but it was like the project manager chatting with me to find out what I was doing on the team and claiming he didn’t know I’d been added to the team and saying he’d have to check the budget before he could tell me whether or not they would be able to find me a place. I didn’t leave it with warm fuzzy, he basically told me that I was too expensive for his budget plus he was completely unprepared to interview me. It was not an interview it was a chat with a current employee.

Sep 5, 2009

Cat Litter Hunt

I’ve been shopping around for the perfect cat litter for some time now. Last month I tried Yesterday’s News. It was difficult and in the end I couldn’t wait for the bag to be empty. The ammonia smell was terrible, and it couldn’t be scooped. Two big negatives. I had previous used Feline Pine clumping. Feline Pine didn’t smell, but it tracked all over the apartment. I was out of littler last week and grab some Arm n’ Hammer litter. After several months without perfumed cat litter, the perfume from the Arm n’ Hammer is killing me. I can’t wait to get through this litter and try another one.

Sep 4, 2009

Still sneezy, but rested

I’m alive, still stuffy, but enjoyed the start to my holiday weekend. After a night a sneezing, I was thankful not to have to go into work today. Instead I started catching up on my much-needed sleep. And that’s the plan for the rest of the weekend, with some apartment cleaning.

I finally got the interview set up with the new contractor at work. It’s for Tuesday. I was supposed to have it before the week was out, but they took their time in getting back to me with a date and time. I also got some face time in with my current bosses and they gave me a create project to work on with the possibility to take on some more technical web admin type work. Hopefully the new contractor will make me a nice offer and I can give my notice. It’s not really the job I want, but at this point my job is up at the end of the month and I have to pay my bills until I get my dream job or what I really want is just a job away from the area. It’s one step at a time, a little job security while I’m waiting is a nice advantage.

Sep 2, 2009

New Month, Feels Like New Beginnings

It’s only day two, but I’ve got a good feeling about this month’s challenges. Despite having a sever sinus infection (I finally went to the doctor yesterday), I feel like things are going well. I’ve been doing the Five Tibetan Rites every morning this week, even though I really would have loved to stay in bed for a few more minutes. I also moved my iMac off the desk in the living room so that I can resume clearing it off in preparation to sale/get rid of it. I also shut down and unplugged my iBook last night, and turned off the iMac before heading off to work this morning (I went to bed watching a movie).

And the biggest news from the 1st day of this new month is that I finally got a call from the new contractor taking over the contract at work. It’s not what I want, but will definitely hold over until I get the call from overseas. I’ve got to pay bills until I get that call, so I’ll take this. An interview will be set up for sometime before the week is out and then in two weeks I can officially start working for the new company, which really means the only change will be from where my pay check comes and possibly new insurance (which means that hopefully I can get my new bridge within a few months…stupid dental insurance now won’t pay for it because they gave me a new one last year even though that one broke my tooth when it feel out).

Aug 31, 2009

September Challenges

Alright, it’s time for September’s challenges for my 52 Weeks Challenge. Some of my challenges from last month will be carried over, but I will be adding four new ones to balance it all out. First up the carried over challenges:
→Declutter apartment room by room
→Give away TV
→Give away/sale oversized desk in living room
→Use up pre-packaged items in apartment
These are now my “on-going” challenges. Declutter the apartment speaks for itself. Remember the motto is “less is more” and I’m gonna learn this lesson if it kills me. The only thing that I’ve gotten rid of and actually gone looking for are my herbal heat wraps. In truth they are too heavy when I’m in pain, so I’m looking into finding some hot water bottles via Freecycle to help with my cramps and when I’m cold. The TV is still earmarked for my sister to come get, though I may put it up on Craig’s List if she doesn’t get it in the next two weeks. I can use my desktop as my movie playing station. The desk will go up on Craig’s List once I finish cleaning it off. And finally pre-packaged items are slowly disappearing, the end of the dish washing soap is in sight, I just keep using the dish washer less and less.

EDIT: Just as I was typing this all up my sister called me out of the blue and wanted to pick up the TV. She just happened to be in the area (which never happens) and I drove home for my lunch break and let her and her boyfriend, with five kids in toe, pick it up. Yeah! Another one down. Although I had to explain to her way I had no toilet paper as the kids where asking for it and she wanted some too. She thought it was weird, but shrugged it off as me just being her weird little sister.

Now for the new challenges. Challenge #1 this month is to turn down the AC and keep it down. I’ve been getting better about this one, but when it’s 90+ degrees in my apartment I cave after 1 day. So hopefully the cool weather is moving in, and I can keep the AC down all weekend (which is really the only time it gets turned up, unless I forget to turn it back down).

Challenge #2 this month is to get my body moving. I’ve been feeling a bit blah lately and haven’t been doing much of anything. For this I’m going to start doing the Five Tibetan Rites every morning. It will only take me a few minutes to do, and it will give me a (hopefully) burst of energy in the mornings.

Challenge #3 is DivaCup mastery, or at the very least an attempt. This will be a two-month challenge where I will use my DivaCup for at least 48-hours of my cycle.

Challenge #4 shutting down the desktop and laptop when not in use and unplugging any electric appliances not on switches or power strips when not in use.

I think these are good challenges for September. And hey, it’s already off to a good start with my sister picking up the TV right?

Aug 30, 2009

August update for 52 Weeks

Well August is almost up so I'd thought I'd give an update on my August challenges.

I have given up using handicap parking spaces about 90% of the time (including at work).  If I can find another park I'm using that instead of the handicap park.  My only concessions has been at the movies last night, only once at the grocery store, once on my Fast and Furious Road Trip when there were no other parks.  At work I try not to park in the handicap spaces and I've even had someone ask me about it.  They thought I might have lost the handicap privilege because I hadn't been using it, but once I explained I was trying to save the spaces for other people on days I was feeling up to it.  At least people are noticing this change.

I switched to an eco-friendly laundry detergent and I'm loving it.  It smells wonderful and the little bottle is still going strong.  I'm definitely happy about this change.

I've made several trips to the Salvation Army, and my decluttering has slowed down tremendously because I've done the bulk of it.  There is still a good bit left to do, but it's no where near as much as when I started off at the beginning of the summer.  Freecycle and Craig's list seem to be a little more difficult to get results from, but I haven't completely counted them out.  I give them a go and no luck they go to the Salvation Army.

The flat iron is gone, and this week was the first time that I wanted it back.  But that was only because I was sick and didn't want to mess with my hair.  I wanted to quick and easy solution of straightening my bangs one more when I didn't wake up in time to shower before work.

Now for the challenges I didn't complete this month:
→Declutter apartment room by room
→Give away TV
→Give away/sale oversized desk in living room
→Use up pre-packaged items in apartment
→Walk or bike to cafe to use WiFi

The decluttering is still on going.  I hit a down period where I felt like I just wasn't accomplishing anything, but since I've finally (after a month of badgering) gotten my dad to come take my hutch and chest of drawers away I feel like some breathe has been breathed into my efforts.

My sister has get to come get my TV.  Her car broke down, so they've been trying to get that fixed and find time when she and her boyfriend are off work. Hopefully she will be able to come pick it up soon.

I've still got to finish cleaning off my desk in the living room before I can give it away.  I'm hoping that I can finish it some time in September.  I've got to do some rearranging in order to get this one done.  But again with the illness and stalling in the decluttering effort I don't feel too bad that it hasn't be completed because I did make a huge dent in the massive piles of junk that once lived on my desk.

I'm slowly using up the prepackaged items in the apartment.  This is going to be an on going project, but progress is progress and I'm feeling happy about this one.

As for as biking or walking to the VRE station to use the WiFi didn't happen.  I'm going to blame the heat on this one and then my health.  I will put this one the back burner for now and make a smaller exercise commitment for September.

This week...

I'm alive, but haven't been feeling too grand lately. I'm still not feeling too good today, but I finally got some much needed sleep last night which will hopefully help me kick whatever has infected my body. Due to my illness I feel like I've fallen off the Buy Nothing Challenge bandwagon with my over consumption of fast food this week.  I had manage to go the entire Buy Nothing Challenge without my beloved fast food breakfast, but said illness made me crumble and I bought breakfast two or three times this week, plus fast food for diner/lunch at least another three times, and then there was my pizza extravaganza on Friday night.  The only non food purchase I made this week was a trip to the movie theatre last night after I gave my cat Oscar to my parents for good.  I was very upset because Oscar is my first cat, but since the last time he spent a week at my parents' house he's been peeing on my furniture.  So he is the first of my cats to be rehomed before I hear about a new job.  I am confident that I'm going to hear something soon, it just sucks not hearing.  I really would like to hear soon, but I've got around 40 applications in so something got to come up sooner or later.

Aug 25, 2009

I Declare War on Junk Mail

How many people dread going to the mailbox and finding it full of junk mail? I know junk mail has become as evil as bills. The amount of junk mail received in one week via my mailbox is ridiculous and I am declaring ware on it. Every piece of unsolicited mail will have the sender contacted to remove me from their mailing list! My first victim today was the nasty mailer that’s got all the store ads but no coupons from Valassis (I only found this after I looked where the address was and found the name in tiny print). I located their website and discovered they have an opt-in/opt-out request form located here. Lets see how this works.

Aug 24, 2009

Neti Pot

I have had some major congestion for the last week or so. My poor sinus ache and I’ve got a hacking cough thanks to that lovely post nasal drip. After a week of suffering, I finally plucked up the courage to purchase a neti pot on my grocery run yesterday. The neti pot is used to clean the nasal passages by rinsing them out with warm salt water. It’s like saline nose spays except that it runs out the other nostril instead of just wetting everything to drip down the back of your throat. My first attempt wasn’t the greatest, and I quickly had to add more water to keep it from burning. Hopefully after a few more days I’ll become a little more adept at the process and start to reap the benefits of clear nasal passages.

Five Tibetan Rites

Once a month my women’s group does guided meditations. Aside from never being able to find a completely comfortable position to sit in and occasionally shifting to find that relaxed pose, I usually have no problem following the meditation. There are usually one of two cases that happen, 1) I follow along with the group or 2) I start out following along and then hit theta state. However, last week at meditation I did something rather odd. I started out following along, then I bounced to complete consciousness, then bounced back to following along, and then bounced to a theta state. I continued to bounce between the three states for the entire hour meditation. To me it’s a sign that I need more discipline in my life. One of the ladies suggested I take up the Five Tibetan Rites to see if that might help with my concentration and give me a sense of order. The idea behind the Five Tibetans is that there are five exercises that you perform a maximum of 21 times a day. So here is a breakdown of the Five Tibetan Rites:

Rite #1 Sufi Whirling, Whirling Dervish
Stand upright, extend your arms at shoulder level away from your body and spin clockwise. Keep your eyes looking immediately in front of you, do not focus on any one point, let your vision blur as you spin.

Rite #2 Leg Raises
Lay down on your back with your arms to your side, palms up, keep your legs straight, begin your inhalation, raise your legs off the ground until as high as possible and pick your head off the ground, bending your neck with your chin falling toward your chest. Begin your exhalation and return to laying flat on the ground.

Rite #3 Camel Asana in Yoga
Kneel with your legs together, arms extended, palms of your hands on the side of your thighs, drop your chin to your chest, begin your inhalation, raise your head and lean back, move your hands to the back of your thighs and let them drop lower and support your weight, crane your head and neck backward, relax your lower spine. Begin your exhalation, start to come forward back to kneeling position with your head back up in the straight position.

Rite #4 Table Posture
Sit on the floor, legs a little less than shoulder length apart, arms to your sides with hands extended flat on the ground and fingers pointed forward, drop your head toward your chest, begin your inhalation, raise your butt off the ground while bending your knees, shift your weight to your arms/hands and legs/feet, continue to raise your butt until your back and thighs are parallel to the ground, let your head fall back. Begin your exhalation and return to sitting position with your head dropped forward.

Rite #5 Yoga Cobra to Downward Dog
Get down on the floor on your hands and knees (in push-up position) with hands and legs a little less than shoulder's width apart. Begin your inhalation, come up on your toes with weight in your arms, straighten your legs, arch your back, lean your head back, do not let any of your body touch the ground except for your toes and hands (Cobra in Yoga). Begin your exhalation, bend at the waist, bend your knees, push your butt up into the air, make an inverted V shape with your legs and arms straight, tuck your chin toward your chest (Downward Dog in Yoga), try to put your feet flat on the ground.

Aug 20, 2009

My Gluten Binge

I’ve been on a gluten binge lately and I’m paying for it. I know what happens when I eat gluten or carbonated drinks, but what did I partake in while on my Fast and Furious Road Trip? The carbonated drinks are easy to cut out, except for my favorite energy drink which I really only drink on long distance drives. Gluten I could cut out, and am usually pretty good at cutting out when I make the effort, but happens to be in most convince foods and foods within my budget. I will make a bigger effort to ovoid gluten, like today even though I was at a team function I made sure to get a gluten-free (and pepper-free) meal although it meant I had to make some substitutions.

Aug 19, 2009

Still getting over my road trip fatigue, but not regretting the trip one bit. My apartment probably wishes I’d been home to clean it. It’s not nearly as bad as it could be, and my bedroom remains remarkably clean and clutter free (which is saying a lot).

I can’t believe how fast the month is going. I’m already picking out challenges for next month. There are definitely challenges I wish I’d done better at, and a few that got thrown on the completed list without even expecting to get to them this month.

It’s storming outside my window at work. Makes me want to cuddle up and go to sleep. Hey, I’m already under a blanket since thanks to its sub-artic temperatures. The drive home’s gonna be fun.

Aug 18, 2009

I'm Back

I’m alive and survived my marathon road trip! I’ll try and recap as quick and short as possible.

Finished up work and picked up Five Guys for dinner
At apartment I packed, had my dinner and took care of the cats
Left apartment and headed for Richmond to pickup my crutches
Mini-adventure in Richmond to find out who had my crutches
Located and retrieved crutches
Received at least four calls from my sister
Passed through Greensboro, NC sometime around midnight/1 am

Passed through Greenville, SC
Had to stop for dramamine…apparently I get car sick driving long distances
Received call from my sister demanding I take a nap before driving through Atlanta
Stopped about 30 minutes outside of Atlanta at an Exxon and Huddle House to nap
Woke up 2 hrs. later
Missed Bypass so drove through Atlanta at 9 am
Finally made it out of Georgia and into Alabama
Stopped in Auburn to pick up a present for my sister
Eventually made it my grandmother’s around 2 pm EST
Of course, MaMa isn’t home when I arrive
My cousin Tori let me in and we waited for MaMa to return home
Surprised MaMa, Pops and Aunt Vickie

Sleep in
Lunch with MaMa, Aunt Vickie and Tori at O’Charlie’s
Hung out and spent time with everyone

MaMa made me breakfast and we got to talk to just the two of us
Sadly headed back home
Made it through Alabama and into Georgia with no major problems
Made the Bypass for Atlanta around 5 pm
South Carolina was a blur
Made it into “Construction Zone North Carolina” around 9
Made it into Virginia around midnight

Finally made it home around 2 am

I would have slept all day yesterday if I didn’t have two doctor’s appointments. So five hours after dragging my butt to bed I had to drag it out again and go to the Neurologist and the Dentist. Needless to say I was still dragging and took the rest of the day off to sleep on the couch with the cats lying on top of me.

On the trip down the only thing I bought (besides gas) was dramamine somewhere north of Greenville, SC, and a razor, bandana, and the present for my sister in Auburn, AL. I had packed enough snacks and drinks so I was ok food wise.

On the trip back, I had to stop for energy drinks and snacks, and some more dramamine and Advil.

Overall not bad, other than being completely exhausted.

Aug 12, 2009

Road Trip: Fast and Furious Style

Well, after conferring with my sister, I've mapped out my Fast and Furious Road Trip back home to see my grandparents. After conferring with several maps, I picked my stops along the 16 hour route. And five pages of directions later I hopefully won't get lost seeing as I've never actually driven from Virginia to Florida (ever...only been a passenger). South Carolina is the farthest that I've ever driven, but I know my limitations.
  • I've got stops planned at least every three hours.
  • Starting tonight my water consumption stops except for medication (other wise I will have to stop every hour to pee, and that's not an over exaggeration).
  • I've got cheese snacks and cereal to fill my lunch box with and will stock up on RockStar energy drinks tonight.
  • I've got my iPhone chalk full of audio books and my iPod filled with my entire library of music.
  • Washed my hair this morning so I can snag every possible minute of extra sleep in the morning and not have to worry about it all weekend.
  • I'll be throwing a change of outfits and my iPhone charge in my book bag and some blankets and a pillow in my car.
  • Just grab my toothbrush and toothpaste and I'm good to go (a hairbrush and endless supply of rubber bands live in my car).
Now I just have to make it the last hour of work today and then work all day tomorrow.

Aug 11, 2009

It's Official...

I gave away the last of my "hair appliances". My flat iron was picked up last night by a grateful Freecycler. Giving away my hair dryer was no sweat, I don't think I'd used it in the last six months, but my beloved flat iron was a totally different story.

I've been growing my hair out, well, for forever. But I had the nasty habit of cutting it on a whim to try and even out the layers that hairdressers these days just can't seem to stay way from. But despite the bad, uneven layers I decided to cut bangs back in April to give me something else to obsess over while I gave my hair a real chance to grow. But since I hadn't had bangs since I can't remember, I didn't know what to do to make them submit to my will so I turned to my trusty flat iron. It worked to some degree.

About a two months ago I gave up using any products in my hair, partly because they always seemed to gunk up my hair but mostly because I've just become too lazy in the mornings. Last month I unplugged the flat iron for good and just hoped my bangs would behave. A month on and they have, so I listed my flat iron on Freecycle and it was claimed within 20 minutes.

In the vain of my less is more mantra I've paired down my entire beauty routine to the following:
  • Baking Soda (BS) wash
  • Vinegar and rosemary rinse
  • face wash (if I remember) (soon to be honey)
  • LUSH tea tree face spritz for toner (again if I remember)
  • whatever LUSH soap happens to be in the shower
  • brush my teeth
  • honey and sugar scrub (if I want to treat myself)
  • lavender water hair and body mist (if I remember)
  • lavender deodorant
As far as makeup goes, I'm lucky if I get chapstick most days and when I get "glamed up" that usually just means eyeshadow and lipgloss.

Aug 10, 2009

Day 10: I have a good feeling about this week...

Well today work has gone surprisingly fast. Even though I got a late start this morning, I still managed to snag a non-hollywood parking spot. However I must admit that I used the hollywood parking (aka my handicap parking hanger) when I went to see my nephews' basketball game as there were no other parks available.

I finally have a picture of my cleaned off desk in my bedroom. It's been hard not to put anything back onto the desk, but I'm managed to keep it clear for over a week! That's got to be some kind of record for me. However, my dresser is getting the brunt of the clutter, but that's because I've got my 14 pairs of socks from Sock Dreams out so I can cut the tags off as I wear them. Yes you read that right. No that was not a typo. 14 pairs of socks. Not just any socks, warm socks! Why 14...well when I do go overseas I'll need two weeks worth of everything and I definitely didn't have enough warm socks prior to this purchase at the end of last month.

Once I get finished running around this evening, chiro appointment and grocery shopping for tomorrow, I think I'll tuck in with my newly arrived Numb3rs disk from Netflix and crank out some more produce bags as Ms. Juliet say I'm not allowed to knit.

Aug 9, 2009

Day 9: finished laundry detergent

I finished up my chemical filled laundry detergent and replaced it with Ecoever Delicate Wash. That was my most expensive spend today at the grocery store, quickly followed by some sore throat tea (which I found out has black pepper in it >.< after I got home), the rest was a $0.90 sample of lavendar loose leaf tea, a peach, a necturine, two bananas, and a potato. The lavendar tea is lovely and the potato made a tasty dinner.

I completed three more boxes worth of decluttering today. I know I still have a lot to due, but it's getting harder since I've done the big obvious clutters. Hopefully getting the big furniture that's leaving out will help me find the smaller clutters.

I've got a lot of crafting planned for this week. Produce bags are number one followed by another attempt at a beret. I ripped out the oversized beret today so I can use the same yarn again.

Aug 8, 2009

Day 8: I will not fizzle out

The decluttering has slowed down, but I'm not detured. I've made great progress, hopefully it will keep going in the right direction.

However, I'm makng great stides in using up my prepackaged items. The dish detergent and laundry detergent are getting low (finally). The end of my face soap is slowly gettng closer, and I can't wait to use honey as my full time face wash.

Today I made it to my two oldest nephews basketball game. The oldest is really into it and even made a basket! The other one is most likely still a little too young as he looks bored on the court. My sister is also signing the oldest three up for football this fall. The third is too young to play so he'll be in the flag football team. He's mad that he's too little to play "real" football.

My sister hasn't made it up to get my TV yet and my dad still has to get the hutch and chest of drawers. Of course this weekend is probably a bust since it's half over already and next weekend too as I have to drive down to Florida and convince my grandma (MaMa) that I have not gone crazy. It will be an experience as I've never actually driven from Virgnia to Florida. MaMa didn't sound convienced on the phone so I've decided to drive down and let her see me in person. Up this week is more bike riding. Hopefully I can start to stretch my endurance a little at a time and make it that much further on my bike. I will make it to the train station to use the wifi by the end if the month (even if I have to walk the bike up the huge hills).

Aug 6, 2009

Day 6 and Food is Going to be the Problem

Alright, so it's day 6 and I've caved three times already for fast food. I see a pattern and I'm gonna try to tackle it. I can do this. I will do this. Yes food is important, but fast food is not. I knew this was going to be challenging, I just didn't realize how challenging. One idea for tackling this that I'm going to start implementing next week, is to go to the grocery store and buy just what I need for the next day. (I have, lets just call them, food issues.) This challenge is highlighting where I need to work a little harder than I have been.

In other news, the universe must be aligning in preparation for me to hear about a job as my mother and grandma are both in full on freak out about me possibly working overseas. I'm calm and waaay more collected than I ever thought possible about the opportunity to go and learn (and grow). I have arrangements for my car if I can't sale it before I leave, I'm desperately trying to find foster homes for my kitties, and I'm feeling good about the decluttering and lightening efforts (even though I keep finding more stuff...I think it's multiplying while I sleep).

I got compliments on my hair today, so the no 'poo must not look as bad as it feels to me. My hair is oilier than when I was using the LUSH shampoo bar. But the ends have a cute little curl/wave to them that I could get used to if the top didn't look so oily to me.

I also finally finished my beret I have been working on for a few weeks. It of course is way to big, but that's what I get for attempting to adjust a pattern for size 10 and 12 needles for a size 13 needle. The pattern was supposed to be a super easy beginner's pattern, but it totally baffled me. I am proud that I got something that looks close to a beret, even if it doesn't really fit. I've learned a valuable lesson and got to work on my purling in the process.

I started a few cloth produce bag tonight as well from some fabric that I had been saving. I cut a bunch more out, so once I have the collection a picture will follow.

Aug 5, 2009

I was ready to give up my Buy Nothing Challenge...

...and go pay for a drop-in yoga class, but it seems I thwarted myself. I hopped in the car and started driving to the yoga studio that Fatty and I found on our walk around Occoquan a few weekends ago. I was half way there before I realized I didn't have my wallet! I had moved my wallet to my book bag and failed to remember this, thus not grabbing the book bag as I headed out the door completely prepaired to give myself a pass for spending on a yoga class.

So while I was completely ready to give up my challenge on day four, a simple change in my routine prevented me. Instead of doing yoga I went and did some window shopping and price comparisons. And you know what, leaving the stores empty handed felt pretty good ('cause I know if I had my wallet I would have found something that I would have wanted to buy and then I would have had to drag it out to the car and then eventually into the apartment).

Even though I came really close to failing at my challenge four days in, I found other way to entertain myself and not spend any money too. It's pretty easy to say no to buying things when you don't have your wallet, so I could look at everything and not have to drag it all around.

Aug 4, 2009

Day 3 and Going Strong

The last of my Freecycle claims where successfully picked up last night! I'll wait until next week to relist my rolling duffel that everyone seemed to forget (all my other items had multiple replies) and maybe I'll find a few more things to list along the way.

I feel really good about the decluttering process in my bedroom and the living room/kitchen. They aren't 100% decluttered, but a huge dent has been made in the clutter. My next two big decluttering challenges are my filing cabinet and my craft room.

I'm definitely using my handicap parking less, and finding it way less stressful. Now I just pick an aisle and drive down until I see an open parking space. Depending on what time I make it to work I can either find an open parking space or I'm stuck using the handicap parking space unless I want to park outside the compound. I'm talking about a 30 minute time difference, not a two hour time difference.

My dad's supposed to come up this weekend and get the hutch and chest of drawers that I managed to empty. Once he does that I can move my desktop computer from the living room to my bedroom and finish cleaning off the desk out there. And then I can sale that desk. The cats will be very sad as it's become their new lounging place (well it was always Bubbles' lounging place even when it was covered with crap).

As for as my Buy Nothing Challenge goes, I'm doing pretty good after the initial laps. The only thing bought yesterday was some much needed groceries, and I only spent $16. The loot wasn't huge: milk, two boxes of fiber filled cereal, low acid orange juice, sugared ginger from the bulk bins, a gluten free (as far as I could tell) granola from the bulk bins, and a peach and nectarine (my only impulse buy and my fruit salad lunch today). I restrained from buying tea (a weakness of mine) and borax and washing soda (I want to make my own laundry and dish detergent....but I gotta use up what I got first).

Aug 3, 2009

I finally caved and gave up on the tea rinse...

But I didn’t go running for a new conditioner bottle. Instead I took some advise from Life Less Plastic and gave vinegar a try.

For the first time in weeks I was able to comb my hair in under 5 minutes and not have the now norm fight with tangles. I still have some work to go on the no ‘poo ‘venture, but being able to comb my hair and not have tears in the process is a big step in the right direction. It’ was so easy I wanted to keep running my fingers through my hair last night. I fear I may smell of the vinegar, but that’s just me being paranoid.

More updates to come as the ‘venture continues.

I Survived Day Two

Well, I survived day two of my challenges. The Freecyling went much better. After getting swamped by responses for my stuff, everything but one item was claimed before I went to bed Saturday night. Everyone picked up this stuff with the exception of one person, who had car trouble and is coming by tonight. Yeah for no no-shows! The amount of responses I received this time helped me realize that I need to be a little more organized in keeping track of who got what (since I can’t seem to only offer one thing at a time).

I also made another Salvation Army run. It’s so interesting to debate with myself over whether or not I need an item. For example, I picked up some discount floral arrangements a while back (cause my cats like to eat real flowers). I think they are very pretty and add a great touch of color to the apartment. However, the cats like to knock them over, and once my sister takes the TV I won’t have a “safe” place to put them on. And if I go overseas, I’d much rather someone else enjoy the flowers than have them sit in storage for a year. So in the end they went to the Salvation Army to brighten up someone else’s life.

The progress on my desk is amazing. I was able to really pair down junk that was taking up so much space. All the storage containers got a good going through and I managed to fit all my supplies into a little three drawer containers (compared to the little three drawer container, the tall five drawer containers, two large drawer containers, plus everything else spread around my desk). There are still several things that I need to reduce, like the old CD’s sitting on my desk but I need to add the music to my computer first. I also have several old back ups that I’ve been hanging onto. I’m hoping that I can get those cleaned up as well in the coming weeks and create a new “master” back up since I’ve been going through all my music and files.

Aug 1, 2009

Day 1 of Challenges

Well I survived day one.

Did pretty good on my 52 Weeks challenge. Today I had to go take a one hour class about my Directed Research Project (ugh. 80 page min.) and run a few other errands. I did really good and didn't park in the handicap spaces once, even when one was more readily available than a general parking space at one stop. Also made a huge dent in the clutter on my main computing stations out in the living room. Had a few pick ups scheduled through Freecycle. While none of them went without a hitch, and I had several no shows I gave it a good try and will try again and be more specific with the people who are picking up to hopefully avoid any more no shows. I even listed a bunch more things this evening. So I haven't given up hope for Freecycle.

I didn't do as well on the Buy Nothing Challenge as I had to buy lunch before my class, poor planning on my part. But I'll be more prepared next time. My only other purchase today was some B-2 for my migraines (per my nuero) and gas for my hungry car and both are within the rules.

Jul 31, 2009

Working on that Decluttering Thing...

Alright, so you already know I’m a hoarder, but I also come from a family of hoarders. It’s positively in my genes. It’s not just my parents, but my entire family: my grandparents on both sides, my sister, my brother, my aunts and uncles, great aunts and uncles, cousins…you get the picture. For someone wanting to improve their life and the environment I’ve been dealt one heck of a hand: I come from a family where they literally place their value on the amount of “stuff” they have. It’s like the stuff they have makes them who they are.

So this past weekend I had one of my nephews, Fatty, and had to drive down to my parents to pick him up after work due to various events that occurred. As I had a “cleaning fit” earlier in the week I asked my sister if she would like my behind the toilet shelving unit thingie that I had finally managed to completely clean off, and brought it down to my parents to get it out of the middle of my bedroom floor and for them to take to her when their Explorer gets out of the shop. The first words out of my mother’s mouth when she see’s this is “Don’t you need that?” My response was I cleaned it off and found stuff on there that I wasn’t using so I gave it away, repurposed it, or chucked it in some other way. The look on her face was priceless, pure horror.

Taking it one step further and revealed I was trying to declutter and learn to live by a “less is more” type of motto. My dad, being dad, simply goes “It’s not in your genes, it will never happen.” My mom on the other hand, I think her head started to spin at this point, sputters out “But that’s your stuff you can’t get rid of your stuff.” I didn’t argue back, instead I inwardly gloated for causing such a ruckus.

Growing up in Florida our house was twice the size (if not more) than the house that we moved into when we moved to Virginia in ’98. But we kept the same amount of junk (crap?) that we had in Florida. My room in Florida was huge! Instead of downsizing our oversized furniture, my mother insisted on cramming it all into (what seemed like) these tiny Virginia rooms. For many years, I thought that Virginia homes were so small and that I wanted to go back to the large stately home I grew up in. In my high school days I was definitely a snob (at least inwardly) about it. Yes part of it is my childhood perception, and the houses/rooms aren’t nearly as big as I remember them. On my last visit “back home” in July ’07 I drove past my old house and it did look smaller, but all the rooms in my grandma and Aunt’s houses still looked huge compared to the Virginia rooms.

It took me until within the last year to really realized that living with more crap than you need is no way to live, and only in the last three-four months have I really gotten brave (emotionally sound) enough to really push back on these concepts that have been forced on me my whole life and say “Hey there’s something wrong with what we’re doing.”

So the moral of my long winded story (if you're still reading) is that I’m gonna keep pushing forward on my “less is more” attempt at life (and watch my mother’s head spin in the process), and maybe just maybe one day soon I’ll be able to actually live in a smaller space and not feel like I’ve got crap overflowing from every possible crevice. I’m definitely motivated by the knowledge that overseas I’ll most likely have to share a room in a trailer. I’m definitely evaluating what stuff I use, what stuff has good memories/emotions connected with it that I want to keep (like Buddy’s—my dad’s aunt who raised him—table and box), and what stuff will be useful to have when I return from overseas (like basic kitchenware—and I mean basic: 1 bowl, 1 plate, 3 cups/mugs, etc.). Hey, at least I’m managing to still downsize. That’s the point right?

August Challenges for 52 Weeks

I have a couple of “on going” goals that I really want to work on this month.
  • Declutter apartment room by room
  • Use up pre-packaged items in apartment (to be replace with sustainable/homemade alternatives)

Some of my other goals are directly tied into the first goal
  • Give away TV (waiting for my sister to pick up)
  • Take unused items to the Salvation Army (it just happens to be closer to my apartment than Goodwill)
  • Use Freecycle and Craig's List to help declutter apartment
  • Give away/Sale oversized desk in living room (that's after I clean off it's contents and actually find the desk again)

The new changes that I’m pulling from the queue are
  • Give up using handicap parking spaces (except at work where I might not get a space at all otherwise)
  • Walk or bike to cafe to use WiFi

And I did go ahead and get the Craig’s List bike yesterday, so I’m going to count that as one of my challenges for August to jump start me, but everything else is an in progress or new challenge. It's not a fantastic bike, but it will definitely serve the purpose of getting me out and exercising while I try to patiently wait for a call about the job overseas.

And in preparation for the Buy Nothing Challenge I returned the rolling book back I bought last summer from LLBean and took advantage of their 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and was able to get the duffel I'll need to pack in when I go overseas, a lunch box and a stainless steal water bottle and cozy. After the monogramming on the duffel, I only owed $15. Pretty good considering I would have just given away the back pack and had to pay upfront for everything if I did use the 100% Satisfaction Guarantee that I had forgotten about. Much better deal for my wallet this way. ^_^

Jul 30, 2009

Socks...and a Bike!

Hi! My name is Hope and I'm addicted to socks. Not just any socks but warm socks. And hand warmers. Cute colors are a bonus, but aren't required. They must keep me warm and can't be scratchy. Hi, Hope!

In comes Sock Dreams. I've picked up their Long Cuffable Scrunchable Socks, O Wollies, Plaid Arm Warmers, and Microfiber Chenille Arm Warmers (just to name a few) over the last year and a half.

I was bad and found out they were had a promo code for 20% off (promo code: 9yearsonline). So what did I do? I order lots and lots of socks and more of the Chenille Arm Warmers in the colors I didn't have. But this wasn't just a frivolous spending spree (in preparation for Crunchy Chicken's Buy Nothing Challenge that starts on Saturday) but also practical planning for that hopeful job overseas...I definitely don't have enough socks to make it two weeks.

Ok, so I may have gone overboard with lots of socks, but hey they are practical and I promise not one pair of them where knee highs or over the knee socks (because even though I love these types of socks my dancer's calfs and monstrous thighs just don't make them comfortable). And, and the hand warmers will now match (instead of clash) with my outfits at work since my cube is in the sub-arctic region of the room (two cubes up it's feels like heaven to me, but they are sweating). So the hand warmers aren't made from recycled cotton, but the socks are. ^_^

And I'm going to look at a bike tonight. I've been wanting to get a bike for a couple of months but couldn't afford a new one. I tried Freecycle, but there are at least three other women looking for bikes there. And of course stupid me forgot all about Craig's List where there is an entire section devoted to bikes. So I weeded out the expensive bikes and eventually found an $80 bike. A little more than I want to spend, but still a heck of a lot better than $380 for the bike I covet at Olde Town Bike, one day it will be mine but for now the important thing is not fluffy features and is to get me out exercising.

If I can learn to tackle the hills around my apartment I can bike to the local coffee shop and steal use their free wifi instead of driving there (it's only a mile, I can totally do it...even with the monstrous hills that will attempt to defeat me).