Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End of year purge

Now that the end of the year has arrived, it is time for that final household purge. I have boxes of items in my garage that have been tagged for removal, but either they have not been taken, or I never had time for that yard sale! So, they have been posted on Freecycle for a 'come and get it' opportunity.

During 2010, I purged many pounds of items from my house: fabric (some scraps, some yardage), baby bibs, quilts (small ones that I sold, gifted or gave to charity), tablecloths, glassware, dishes, clothing, Barbies, toys, puzzles, games, videos, DVDs, computer games, books, a TV, DVD player, hospital bed, wheelchair, entertainment center, tables, board games, as well as assorted household knick-knacks, in addition to recycling glass, cans, paper, and plastics.

I was just reading Katie's blog "Making this home" and she has wonderful thoughts that mirror my own: "I think we introduce a lot of unnecessaries into our lives. It makes everything more complicated than it needs to be. Our lives are overwhelmed and cluttered. Somehow, we find ourselves decluttering again and again. Criminy! This is a cycle I don’t want to be a part of. Now I am the only person on earth who can control how I live my life. You are the only person who can control yours.

Be true to yourself, not your stuff." (Katie at Making this Home)

At the start of 2010, I had a list of 10 tasks to accomplish in 2010. While I did not make all of them every month, and in fact I stopped blogging about them somewhere around the time school started, I did make progress overall. One of the items on that list was to "reduce my personal belongings"; that was the one that I know I managed to accomplish!

No, I am not going to make another list or resolution for 2011. I would like to keep track of what I purge from my life in 2011 though and how I accomplish that.

I often talk to people about my lifestyle and they ask how I managed to get to the point where I have very little, if any, junk mail. Or they ask how I manage to remember to bring reusable bags with me shopping.

My answer is always the same. One step at a time. It takes days, weeks, months to accomplish a change in behavior and attitude. It does not happen overnight and a lot of people get frustrated with themselves when change does not happen immediately.

So, slow down, take one day at a time and think about one change you want to make.

I am already in a mindset of reducing my personal belongings so this will be a manageable task.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Break, Day 11

Yes, I know I skipped days 9 and 10, but I was busy!

Day 9 was Christmas Day. Vince and I spent a wonderfully quiet day together. We exchanged our 'under the tree' gifts and had many laughs.

For a little background information:

For our anniversary this year, Vince and I redid the main bathroom. We retiled the floor, painted the walls, replaced the curtains and rearranged the art work. The 'curtains' are actually crocheted runners that my great grandmother made. I washed and bleached them, then stitched them end to end to create a long piece that I looped over the existing curtain rod. The walls use to be a mustardy yellow and are now grey. It looks very clean!

For Christmas, we painted the outside of our house (completed during Fall Break),
upgraded our alarm system,
and purchased a new water heater.

So we agreed to go easy on the actual presents under the tree this year.

Apparently I finally dropped enough hints and Vince purchased an automatic car starter for me!
I know that some of you Northerners may be thinking "What does she need that for?" Well, it does get cold here and it does get hot here, so heating or cooling my vehicle before I get into it is a wonderful idea!

Of course, Vince has to install this for me.

Then I received two rather interesting items: a light fixture identical to the one already installed in my studio and a package of ceiling tiles.

Vince and I have discussed plans to create a more functional space for me but it is always delayed because of more pressing matters.

Before the end of next year, we do plan to have the deck painted, the garage repainted to match the house, the utility room finished (which includes the installation of the new water heater), the master bedroom ceiling repaired and the pantry finished.

Then Vince is supposed to work on the restoration of his 1957 Chevy.

My in-laws arrived yesterday so we spent the day in preparation for their arrival.

We had dinner and then opened our presents to and from my in-laws! Mom actually bought me a full set of stainless steel cookware! Not what I was expecting. I am thrilled! They are washed and ready for tonight's meal.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Break, Day 8

“Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Was singing! Without any presents at all!

He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!


Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?

It came without ribbons! It came without tags!

It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.

“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

(Seuss, page 44-46)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Break, Day 7

After a day spent at home yesterday, I was ready for an outing today. I started off with a home cooked breakfast with Vince when he arrived home from work.

Then I was off to the bank. I had checks to deposit! They are usually few and far between thanks to direct deposit, but we had 4 of them this time. Must be the end of year check issuing situation! No complaints here though.

After the bank, I went to McDonald's to hand off some Freecycle items to Valerie. There were even a few extras in there that I knew she and her girls would enjoy.

Miller's Big Star had a few of the items on my shopping list, but not all. I had to check at Fred's and Piggly Wiggly and still left with NO Thomas' English Muffins for Vince. I did manage to pick up everything else.

I was off to lunch at Southern Oaks with my friends there. We had a great time over lunch of Turkey, dressing and green beans. Michelle even gave me a fancy dish of Ice cream to eat!

Home is always a welcome place to come back to, especially when it is clean! I finished a baby gift for a friend:

Then Vince and I put up the Christmas tree. I laughed over many of the ornaments on the tree, especially the ones that Robert made as a child.

I know that I tell the same stories each year as we decorate the tree, but my wonderful Vince puts up with me!

There are some ornaments that have strong childhood memories attached to them, like the red bells and the owl.

I remember putting these on the tree as a child and my mother making a big deal over her 'red bells'. Yes, they are pretty and they are very special to me now. As a child, they were just another ornament. How times change.

I hope you all are having a great holiday season, however you celebrate.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Break, Day 6

First order of business today was to disconnect my land-line. I called AT&T and spoke to Miss Cooper. She was very pleasant and very helpful. When all was said and done, I received a lower rate on my monthly charges for the land-line, and the internet services. My bill is half what it was before and lower than if I had canceled the land-line and just had the internet service. So, while we are not going to use the land-line any longer, it was cheaper to leave it connected!

I am happy with that!

Since the end of the calendar year is upon me, I went in search of a project on that I could donate to. I remember the thrill of receiving the email from DonorsChoose that informed me that a project of mine had been funded. I wanted to give that thrill to another teacher this year.

If you check out my Giving Page, you will see a number of projects from Tennessee that have just a few days left to be funded before they expire. Some of the projects only require a small amount.

Bing has joined up with DonorsChoose again to help fund projects. If you go HERE you will be able to request a $$5.00 code from Bing that can help fund a project. One per email address!!
I used my $30 in codes and a little of my own money to fund a project in Knoxville TN!
( I think my own heart skipped a beat when I funded the project-just knowing how the teacher will feel!).

With my in-laws arriving tomorrow, house cleaning was accomplished. I dusted, washed, wiped, sorted, picked up items, took out compost, took out recycling, took out freecycling and vacuumed (although that was after Vince woke up!)

I also made a set of cotton produce bags! These were 4 simple fat quarters this morning. A friend had brought them back from Hawaii for me and while I loved them, I had no idea what to do with them. So, here they are in their new life! There are two large ones, each is a fat quarter folded in half. There are 4 smaller bags, those are fat eighths folded in half. (Or half of a fat quarter folded in half!!) I used cotton twine that I had left over from another project to make the draw string ties. The tare weight on the big bags is 1 ounce, while the smaller ones vary from 0.5 of an ounce to 0.6 of an ounce. The heavier ones are the black batik bags. I like them and now can use these for my produce instead of my small tote bags that don't close nicely! As a bonus, they all fold up and fit inside one of the smaller bags.

The final crafty activity for tonight was putting the bells on the evergreen wreath that I purchased earlier this week at Duncan's Christmas Tree Farm.

Until tomorrow, have a good night!

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it. Groucho Marx

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Break, Day 5

Today was a Gleaner's House day. It has been several months since I worked there, and I was missing the place. I had three items that I was bringing in to donate, which is good, since I did bring home a few items!

One was a one cup coffee maker...I broke the last one and really did not want to buy a new one. I am not sure if it works, but we will see in the morning! I also brought home a large box of paper and damaged books for a Jackson High School Senior who is saving papers for their Project Graduation fund raising.

I also brought home this item to test and make sure it all works.All is well with this LeapPad! Back to Gleaner's it goes next week.

We had a great lunch at Jack's, full of fun and laughter.

Then it was off to visit with Mom for a while, stopping at Ada's country store on the way back for a few herbs.

I spent part of my evening so far finishing these puzzles! It was wonderful to declare them done, but a bit sad to see a few pieces missing. Nevertheless, here they are!

Now, they are back in their individual bags, ready for the next owner!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Break, Day 4

Well, plans for Clarksville were canceled due to illness (not mine!).

Since I had errands to carry out in Jackson, I was off early to begin.

There was surprisingly little traffic and the stores were not very crowded! YAY for that.

I managed to return one item at Bed, Bath and Beyond, give the Grinch and Max a new home, ship my 7 boxes of trash to New Jersey, complete all of my grocery shopping, and arrive back home by 1:00!

My Christmas activity for today was to make cookies! A few months ago, while visiting my MIL in Alabama, I purchased this cookie press for $1.25. Since I make these cookies only at Christmas, I had to wait until now to use it. Here is what I started with...several new cookies shape choices!

I made my cookie dough...not using my mother's recipe, but one that I found that I like the consistency of better. I also use almond extract to make it taste a bit more interesting!

As a child, I remember spending what seemed like hours decorating cookies with all sorts of decorations: sprinkles, M&M's, chocolate chips, red hots, probably more.

I typically use M&M's and colored sugars.
Mostly because they make the cookies look pretty. I don't like a lot of sugary candies on my cookies. They don't take long to bake, so by the time the first tray is finished baking, I have the other tray ready to enter the oven.

Each recipe takes TWO sticks of butter, so they are very rich. I make a double batch each time, and I manage to get 4 trays of cookies, about 8 dozen cookies.

One of my favorite traditions as a child was that if any of the cookies broke when we took them off the tray, we could eat them. I think my father may have started that one!

Of course, there were a few breaks this year (as always), so I had a chance to test the cookies! YUM.

I also remember my mother baking numerous batches of cookies in the weeks before Christmas. She would always 'hide' them from my father. They were always stored in the old Tupperware cake container (upside down like a bowl with a lid). It was Dad's mission to find the cookies and eat them before Christmas!

Christmas Break, Day Three

"Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Man"

We have all heard this sentiment especially at this time of the year. What does it mean?

Yes, it is a wish that everyone wants to come true.

Is Peace the end of all wars, murders, thefts, lying, cheating, and hatred? Do we have to wait for Peace?

Peace on Earth would be wonderful, but one person cannot do it alone. However, Peace on Earth starts with one person. Is that person you or me? Perhaps.

I alone cannot stop violence on a widespread basis all at once. I can, however, show kindness to everyone I meet. A smile; a wish for a Merry Christmas; holding the door; giving an item that is needed; wanted or that will bring a smile; a phone call or a card. There are many ways to be kind, but is that Peace?

Peace starts within. If I am at Peace with myself, then I can spread Peace to others. This has been a year of reflective thought for me. I think because I take an hours drive each Sunday after church. All of that alone time causes me to think! In the past, I never allowed myself that luxury. Even now, that is the only time when I am not multitasking.

Take some time, sit and think or meditate or pray, whichever suites you.

Find your Peace. Share it with others. We may not be able to bring about Peace on Earth worldwide, but we can bring about Peace to our little corner of the world.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Break, Day 2

Even on my 'days off', I am up early. Today it was 5:30 AM. At least I was able to accomplish something productive!

I wandered downstairs to where I have the jigsaw puzzles set up. Yes, I did mean to say PUZZLES in the plural.

This was my mother's puzzle set, as you can see, there are three puzzles in one box. When she finished with them, she put ALL of the pieces together in the box. Without bags to separate the puzzles.

So, I have been working to separate the puzzles and that requires me to put them together. Over the summer, I did this with 4 puzzles that she had mixed up. Those, at least, were very different puzzles so it was not as difficult! Here is my progress so far on one: So, that was my early morning wake up activity. After Vince arrived home, I left for school. Whitney and I scheduled today to get our grades in the system, plan our lessons and finish cleaning up our rooms so that we would not have to do much over break.

So, Whitney and I sat and worked for about 3 hours on school matters. I boxed up all of my Terracycle items and labeled them. Those are in my truck for drop off on Monday.
I finished putting all of my grades in the system. Averages are pretty good. I also laminated the posters for my next series of bulletin board activities and decided to follow Whitney's lead and do my lesson planning with the form that our principal wants us to eventually start using. Her theory is that she will have the lessons in her computer in an electronic format and it will be easier to change and update next year. Good idea. So, I started with that and will finish tonight.

We had lunch at El Ranchitos and then I went to McDonalds to drop off some items to Valerie and pick up more Terracycle recycling. I also dropped off a box of items at Susan's house for her future use. Then I brought Frito and Burrito home with me for the break (Whitney's class pets).

I made my (grocery) list and checked it twice. That is Monday's activity at the commissary on Ft. Campbell.

Lisa came by and picked up her freecycle items {glasses, plastic Christmas goodie bags, a large plastic dog treat container (great for storing small toys!) and 8 refillable plastic/metal ornaments}. Her friend looked at the 4 ceramic crocks that were in front of my garage and asked if I was interested in selling them. I have been for a while and said "YES! $5.00 each." and those left as well and I am richer in many ways.

Now, I get to watch a little TV since dinner is over and the kitchen is clean.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Break. Day 1

Well, it is official.

School is out. I had a partial day today. The annual Christmas Party was held. We ate breakfast in class as I work hard to make sure we are not eating tons of sweets and other junk foods. At least there was fruit and sausage balls to balance the diet.

The kids were great and fun and we all had a great time. I was out of there by 11:00.

I then proceeded to the post office to mail off my Christmas Cards for the Angel Card Project, my son's and his fiancee's Christmas Gifts (only some!), and a package for my sister.

Southern Oaks was next on the list of places to visit. I rarely get there anymore with my hectic schedule. I visited for a while with Debra and had a few laughs.

Upon arrival at home, I unpacked my haul of gifts from my students (a reasonable amount and nice items too!) along with the mail from two days.

Our new water heater was delivered today, I woke Vince up to handle those arrangements. We purchased a GE GeoSpring water heater, which will save us money yearly on heating water, plus we get a tax savings for this year. It looks rather futuristic. We have named it R2.

I also cleaned out one kitchen cabinet and posted some glasses on Freecycle, along with several other items. I did post ads on Craigslist as well for some Barbies, and a decorative Christmas plate we no longer want.

Now that my studio has been rearranged to facilitate the delivery of R2, I really need to get in there and clean it up.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Drunken Santa??

Many years ago, my brother and I were shopping for a Christmas gift for our Nana. We spotted this great little Santa figurine and decided that it was perfect for Nana because Santa was holding a bottle and appeared drunk.

I am not sure how Santa eventually ended up back in our house, but he did.

I am not even sure when Jim and I finally figured out that Santa was holding a BELL and not a BOTTLE!

Of course, we never looked on the bottom of the figure to see that the title of this piece is "Ringing in Good Cheer"!

Drunken Santa now resides with me and every year when I take him out I reflect back on when Jim and I first purchased him and what our thoughts are and chuckle to myself.

In honor of Jim's recent request for a new photo of Drunken Santa, we gave him a few more bottles for his holiday cheer:

Merry Christmas Nana and Jim and all of my friends and family!