The Crap of Life – State of Emergency

The last few days quickly turned from riding along in a train of naive, selfish regularity to rather suddenly floating in a shaky, slow boat of uncertainty and heartache for those around me. Nevertheless, the boat isn’t leaking. I can’t say the same for friends and family.

Central New York has had plenty of rain lately. It was actually not enough for me to really think much other than the fact that I wasn’t getting out of the house much. But, apparently the daily drizzles here and there were starting to wreak havoc on small tributaries, creeks, and rivers in the area. Strangely, when I woke up throughout the night Thursday, I didn’t notice once that it was raining outside, let alone that anything was amiss.

So, as I was putting the baby back in his crib after his 5:30 feeding, I heard my phone receive a text. A former student was wondering how to get in contact with Dave’s news station to report damage from flooding.

Wait, what?!

I felt badly that I had little information for her, knowing that a) the place would be bare-bones, b) Dave was off for the day (that didn’t last) and c) unfortunately, the news folks couldn’t do much to help; they’re not the support services, they’re the ones who report what’s going on.

Regardless, I realized that something serious was happening. The weather wasn’t at all serious; I almost think there was zero rain by this point. It was calm outside our windows, and birds were going about their noisy business. As I turned on the morning news and the seriousness of the flooding started to hit me, I found myself walking around the house quickly, turning around, texting, turning back upstairs, pacing, going back to the TV…aimless. From the tiny city in which my brother and his family lives to my sister’s Utica suburb, from my hometown to the tiny rural hamlets of a school I used to love working for, from my current town to where my current school is, from my grandmother and uncle’s town and further east, things were insane.

We. Were. So. Lucky. Minimal to no water in my siblings’ basements (we were bone dry, thanks to some new drain gutters and the insane idea that we’re some of the very few neighborhoods completely untouched by the upward-moving water), my mom was on top of her water situation (though without power), and everyone seemed to be accounted for. But then the pictures, video and first-hand accounts started pouring in (no pun intended).

A sweet couple from the theater would have their power and gas turned off and basement pumped twice (and counting?), in a terrible area. My uncle’s basement was filled, along with his 100+ year old church’s basement (the large area for wedding receptions, baptism shindigs (it’s where we had Hadley’s) and other church get-togethers, the library and gym for students, his office, the large kitchen area and appliances, and I believe the boiler, etc). That 5:30 texting student’s house would be deemed unlivable.   


We would later find that two women went missing in separate incidents (one is presumed dead; the other is still being searched for, so fingers crossed!), so everyone seemed to be counting their blessings. It always impresses me how the majority of the people in the area are able to joke or at least shrug and “keep calm and carry on” (maybe “keep calm and pump on” or “keep calm and shovel (mud) on” would be more appropriate) in the depths of adversity. Of course, reports of folks being charged for picking through garbage on the streets and looting open homes is beyond sickening, but for the most part the positives outweigh the morons.

That being said, we’re expecting buckets of rain today/tonight/Wednesday/etc. I’ve been in our basement moving stuff around in case we do get some water, but ultimately have realized that we’ve got lots to do down there. We’ve got a lot of stuff and I pretty much will need someone to watch the Hadman while Dave and I shuffle stuff around (same goes for our garage). That’s my lesson in this situation. Sure, we’ve wanted to simplify and purge for awhile, but seeing so many years of people’s memories and lives on the street curb covered in god-knows-what brings it home (literally). I’ve gotta learn from this situation. Sure, it may be a 100-year-flood…but we had a comparable one in 2006…so, who’s to say when it’ll hit again?

We’re just hoping and praying that the next flooding takes years, not days (or hours) to return. Our tears and hearts go out to all of the victims! The Mohawk Valley has earned its wings this year.

They’re Aliiiiive!!!

About a week and a half ago, I *finally* got around to planting my seeds for the year. Yes, I’m starting from seed — what can I say, 2013 must be the year of bravery. (Or stupidity. Anyone’s guess.) And, unfortunately, between the craziness of life and the craziness of our weather, I was much later than I would’ve liked. Oh, well! If it doesn’t work, there’s always next year.

So, going into it with a can-do attitude, yet not expecting too much, imagine my delight when I saw these little babies spurting up in less than a week —

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The rows look crooked, but it’s the angle…I should’ve rotated the pic. Just turn your head to the right.
See? Straighter. And raise your hand if you actually tilted your head.
Hey, there’s no shame! I’m doing it right now!

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We’ve got several herbs in planters on the back deck (which I have yet to “deck out” for summer, mostly because I’m hoping to scrape, sand and paint the floor…with what time, I have no idea), and both raised boxes are full. If things don’t work out in the boxes, I’m considering trying for some late season veggies. 

Oh, and my mom was kind enough to give me a hanging planter (with dirt, wahoo!) to transplant my crazy strawberries. I know it’s a tad late (or early, depending on your zone) to transplant, but I’ll try it out. We’ve got crazy chipmunks and other little creatures who like to steal the berries before I get to them, so it might be worthwhile to hang ’em out of reach.

We were also gifted a Meyer lemon tree by Dave’s parents. We all ooooed and aaaahhhhhed over it when we saw it in a local nursery, but Dave and I decided not to purchase it after hearing (from a man who works there) that it’s a bit of a scam since they’re not meant to be grown in our area. Oops. Oh, well! Like with the rest of the plants, we’ll give it a try! I hate to say that the fruit is already shriveling in comparison to this picture (they ship them from Florida when the fruit’s starting to grow…man, what a racket), while all of the other plants seem to be thriving with our TONS of moisture followed by a random hot, sunny day or two, back to rain again.

It’ll be neat to see if it can handle our wackadoo weather patterns! And, I’m not gonna lie, I’d use the heck outta those lemons.

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Oh, and one simple “note to self” (and any other newbies out there) when it comes to planting: WRITE $%&# DOWN!!! I planted after school one day and was only about 3/4 done before Dave came sauntering out back holding our little munchkin, so while I did get to finish, I then had to go into Mommy Mode, washing us up (the kid eats dirt — I’m one proud mama!), making dinner, and going through the rest of the motions. This meant that I, of course, totally forgot what I planted and where. Whoops. Doy.

I swear my intentions were there! I brought out my “handy-dandy…note-book!” (I miss Steve…the pre-I’ve-gotta-shed-my-squeaky-clean-image-Steve), ready to jot it down and everything. All I know is that I planted a few rows of radishes in the front box, between a few other vegetables, because they’re good for the soil (and I fondly remember eating them right out of my grandfather’s garden as a child). Now that I’m getting more sprouts (way more than the above photo), I’ll start figuring out what’s what and matching them to my packaging and my prior note-taking on what plants go with which other plants. And at least I have a pretty good eye for identifying seedlings. Whew!

So, once school is over and I’m able to breathe again, out to thin-thin-thin I go! And I was wicked relieved when Dave recently told me that, during a conversation with my stepdad (who’s pretty into his garden, along with my mom…we’re lucky, though, they get deer up the wazoo), he seemed genuinely, kindly impressed that we were starting by seed. I always thought they’d think, “That crazy daughter of mine…” Oh, and they had a friend who started his late and it was the best crop he’d ever had. Fingers crossed that it’s one of those kinds of summers.

And for those of you who haven’t already seen my favorite picture (as of late) plastered on Instagram and Facebook, here’s a shot of that night o’ digging (yes, I garden barefoot/with flip flops) —
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Aaaaand proof of dirt-eating. That’s my boy.

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Is it just me, or is that the cutest. Picture. EVER!?! Eh, I’m biased.

Anyone else hard at work trying to grow something — anything?! Do tell!

Getting Smart

I’ve done it. Ohhhh, I’ve gone and done it. I finally bit the bullet and got smart.

Smartphone, that is. The iPhone 4, to be specific. (I can’t get hip all at once, can I? It’d be the iPhone 5, if that’s the case. And if you’re reading this post in a couple of years, it’d be the iPhone 79b.)

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After lots of hemming and hawing, I looked at my Verizon Wireless options and saw that I could get one for free, with free activation and shipping. I then Googled whether the lowest data plan should cover me (we’ve got wifi at home, and I won’t be using the thing for anything more than texting at work), and it seems that it’ll do.

Then, I played a game of badminton in my brain.


“Is this thing really going to simplify my life?”

“Actually, yeah. You’ll be able to keep pictures in one place, upload them to your blog a zillion times easier, and the millions of tiny annoyances that your current dinosaur give you will *poof* disappear.”

“Learning curve?”

“Every time you get a new phone, you’ve gotta learn something new. Try it again. Change is good.”

“It’s $30 more a month.”

“Eat out one less time per month.” (At which point I did math and realized that if we stopped eating out one time a month, we’d save around $360 a year…give or take. DUDE!)

“But! Soooo! Faaaancy!!!”

“You’re a grown-up. You’ll adjust.”

For once, I didn’t have that feeling of the guillotine hanging over my head, so I figured it was time. I took the plunge, and it’s on its way. I’m nervous but OHHHHH so excited.

Instagram, here I come. Woohoo!

Now, it’s your turn. Any good apps? And where do I get accessories cheaply? I know there are cheaper options than what they were trying to sell alongside the thing on Verizon, so do tell — car adapter and covers, inexpensively but stylish (the cover…can also just be white) — go!

Guilty Pleasures

We’re still living quite happily with our decision to downsize to basic cable. (Basic is almost as low as you can go — 12 channels.) Every once in awhile, I yearn for an episode of Barefoot Contessa or a great documentary or a fun British hotel-takeover or a DIY disaster show. And 31 Days of Oscar was agonizing — no TCM?! But, for the most part, it’s a non-issue.

In the process, however, my addictive personality has reached out for some pretty guilty pleasures to fill those voids. Get ready for a B-list of embarrassment…

– QVC. Particularly David Venable. This channel got me through the holidays, and I’m STILL watching. It’s mindless. People are stupid happy. It harkens back to my infomercial obsession as a child (I kid you not). And, guess what. I still haven’t purchased one darn thing. Willpower! I do think we found my brother-in-law’s Christmas idea for 2013, though.

– Canadians. I dunno, is this just an upstate NY thing? We have the CBC (specifically CKWS as their local channel) and especially on days off from school, it’s my partner-in-crime. There are a few design shows in the morning (Candace Olsen, hollah!), and the afternoon brings Steven and Chris (cutest couple ever! Apparently there’s a gay theme to my guilty pleasures) and a couple of great cooking shows. Not to mention, the hubs is into Dragons’ Den (not sure why it’s better than ABC’s Shark Tank, it just is). Don’t waste your time on Murdock Mysteries, though. The acting is downright laughable and the writing is unbelievably ridiculous. Harsh, I know, but watch 30 seconds of it and you’ll get what I mean.

– Food for Thought. Does anyone else notice how crappy Saturday morning TV has gotten since we were kids? Okay, maybe it was crappy back then — PeeWee Herman much? Cartoon Alf? But it was crappy in an awesome way. Well, we find the occasional gem, but they’re for tweens/teens moreso than the youngins. That’s okay! By the time the kid’s sleeping in my arms for his first nap of the day, Claire Thomas’ show “Food for Thought” is underway and I’m getting a cooking show fix. Yessss. I can’t tell whether she’s a teen or in her 20s, but it doesn’t matter. I just feel like watching it with my niece. Great, not-over-simplified recipes and a lovely personality.

– PBS. What’s not to love? The occasional old movie, This Old House, Antiques Roadshow, Independent Lens documentaries, Oh, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (yes, a spinoff from Fred Rogers…*sigh*), The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Thomas the Train, and the occasional Sid the Science Kid are pretty much the only thing Hadley’s allowed to watch…with the occasional Andy Hardy or Shirley Temple movie thrown in for good luck.

Actually, PBS has gotten me through plenty of brain-dead 3:30am feedings (which Hadley has reverted to…again). I feel guilty trying to fight Dave to stay up (at least ONE of us should be well-rested, right?) but can’t feed the monkey without getting restless leg syndrome. Must. Have. Distraction. And, I gotta tell ya, the best stuff is on at 3:30am. How many times Dave has abruptly woken up to me crying, though, I can’t count. There was an incredible documentary about Jewish inmates at the concentration camp in Terezin performing Verdi’s Requiem…well, you can see for yourself…

I still get shivers. So, yeah. PBS, you’re my BFF.

– DVDs. We have some tried-and-true DVDs that scratch the entertainment itch. Our old movies, our documentaries, our TV shows (we used to watch our set of Frasier, but our stand-by is Arrested Development…I’ve gotta break out my M*A*S*H, though). There’s almost always something to suit our moods, and when there isn’t, we turn to…

– Netflix streaming. Talk about obscure! I haven’t tracked down many good shows here, but the occasional movie or documentaries (or 1950s show) is a good time-killer.

I don’t want you to think that we actually have time for this stuff. The baby is a time-sucker, and most nights we listen to Pandora or old radio shows on Dave’s iPhone, TV untouched. But, over the…holy crap, almost 2 years (!!) off of cable, we have become less dependent on the tube. Now, if only I could feel that way about the interwebs. 😉

Get Smart?

I need to hitch a ride on the Dinosaur Train. (Yes, that’s a thing. Watch PBS much? Clearly, we do.) Here’s the sitch: I’ve got a regular ol’ cell phone. The hubs has an iPhone5, but because his contract is through his job, we can’t link up for a good, old-fashioned friends-and-family-fest. We only have a certain coverage in our area, and Verizon seems to be the only choice.

Here’s the offending monstrosity. (Yup, my plan’s up in March.)

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It’s a flip phone riddled with dings and scrapes. I’ve been proud of the fact that I don’t have a data plan, but have started to wonder whether I’m missing out on the world of smartphones. Am I making my life more challenging by NOT having one, or would it just be one more worldly distraction I don’t need? We want to simplify our lives, so I hate adding any monthly costs (as it is, I hate the almost $60 a month…which I’m sure is peanuts) but with how little the phone does for me, is it really a value?

I’ve also heard about a prepaid option, but I’m pretty ignorant about it and think that the smartphone available through such a plan are limited.

So, I guess what I’m putting out there is — what do YOU think? What do you use? What works for you? And, if you’re willing to share, how much do you pay monthly? Everyone has a completely different lifestyle and experience here, so any thoughts are very much welcome; criticism, not s’much. 😉 Thank you, in advance!

Num-Nums

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With a name like “The Baby Bullet,” how can you NOT be on board? (But, seriously. I know the original machine was “The Magic Bullet,” but WHO comes up with this stuff?!)

Well, I always thought that we could just use our regular blender when it came time to make the little man’s baby food. After all, who has room for one more gadget? Apparently, WE DO!! Especially when it’s lovingly passed back and forth between sisters (and was originally a gift from our parents).

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So, I tried out the sucker last night. I cooked a couple of small sweet potatoes (buddy’s favorite) until they were soft — you can steam, too, but I didn’t have much time. C’mon, we hadn’t eaten dinner yet and Dr. Spaceman was making his *final* appearance on 30 Rock!! (My favorite line of the night: “That’s a wrap on Leo Spaceman. Out.” Or something to that effect. Genius! And who totally thinks Jim and Pam are going to separate at the end of “The Office”???)

After some initial issues (the durn thing wasn’t turnin’ off!!! The look on both my men’s faces was priceless. My bad, had to tighten the blade), we got it whirring and, after adding some filtered water, actually came up with a product that I deemed both texturally equal and flavor-wise BETTER than the Earth’s Best stuff we’ve been giving him. And, yes, I have tasted his. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really seem to taste that much like the food it’s supposed to be. This stuff actually tasted like a dang sweet potato. Imagine that.

Unfortunately, we didn’t use organic sweet potatoes, so this is the first thing he’s ever had that hasn’t been organic, but they’re on the clean list so I’m not losing sleep. Er, I am, but not because of this. #sleepdeprivedmama (First. Hashtag. Ever.)

We used the accompanying BPA-free containers to store the stuff; bottom silicone container in the freezer, plastic ones on top for fridge. You can even turn that little ring around to select the date you made the stuff. ‘Cuz, y’know. My memory su-hucks. I appreciate that little reminder.

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I fed the monkey (how many nicknames is that now?) some of the excess from the blender and he deemed it delicious. As much as an almost-6-month-old can. Heck, he might’ve hated it, but he didn’t give me “squinty face”, so I’m calling it a success.

I was going to do bananas (said in Elephant and Piggie voice “BA-NAH-NAAAAAAS” in our house) but they’re neither on the clean list nor the dirty list, so I consider them still pretty dirty. Not XXX-tina dirrty but not baby-friendly. I can’t believe I’ve been eating nanners in an ignorant, non-organic haze. Der. Lesson learned!

But, regardless, I’m looking forward to playing around and making more nummies, especially thanks to the cost difference. Considering that the blender was free (yay!) and his lil’ Earth’s Best containers (which hold less than these) cost around .75 each (depending on where we find them), and we bought a bag o’ sweet taters for (I think!) around $3 (could’ve been less than that, with maybe 10 in the bag…could’ve been more, I don’t recall) 8 servings cost us…get this…about $.04. No, not 40 cents — FOUR CENTS. I suck at math, but even if it was 40 cents, I’d be stoked. Dude. This is crazy cheap.

It makes me feel okay about getting him only organic in the future, since SURE it’ll be more expensive, but when it comes down to the math…wowsa.

Oh, and as far as the monkey’s eating habits, he’s currently doing — “regular” feedings every 3+ hours (more time goes by when he has some extra food) with a jar of veggies in the morning with the sitter and some oatmeal mixed with a bit of applesauce for “dinner.” Next week, we’re going to have the sitter give some plain ol’ oatmeal, maybe veggies for lunch and dinner will still be oatmeal ‘n applesaaaaaauce. (Get it? Brady Bunch? No?) Yes, he eats a lot. Yes, if he eats more “real” food during the day he’ll want to feed less. I’m kind of okay with that, mostly because I’m going to pump the same amount at school and am hoping to stock-pile some more in the freezer; I’m down to ONE pouch, which will be used tonight while I go to a family wake. That will not do.

So, that’s the latest in our baby adventuring. A happy Friday to all, and to all some delicious num-nums.

Easy

With an impending blogiversary coming up here at MAO (yes, that’s a real word), I get to thinking about the direction of my blog. I’m sure I’ll get into that more when the time comes (April 22nd!), but for the time being, I can’t help but think: What the heck AM I writing?

I enjoy blogging, of course, but when I’ve asked in the past what my readers would like me to do, I get one of those crickets chirping, glazed-eyed-students responses (believe me, I’m quite used to THOSE responses at school *winky wink*). Then, I ask, “No, really!” Finally, a few kind-hearted souls pat me on the back and tell me to just keep doing what I’m doing, that it’s fun to read, blah-dee-blah-dee-blah. And, believe me, I do GREATLY appreciate that feedback. It’s helpful in its own confidence-building way. Really! (And a low self-esteem girl like myself needs all the help she can get.)

But, when I sit back and look objectively at the whole thing, it makes me scratch my head. Mind you, the general lack of organization and all-over-the-placeness of MAO reflects the person writing it to a tee. I’m pretty hard to pin down, and my interests hop all over the place (and often change in a second…a little ADD when it comes to some stuff). It’s a curse that often bums me out. Heck, 9 times out of 10 Dave and I experience a challenge trying to figure out where to go out for dinner.

And, yet, a big goal in our household is the oh so easier-said-than-done concept of “simplification.” It’s a noble challenge. We’re actually getting closer and closer to this in the physical sense, although we’ve still got a way to go yet. But, mentally (ie what I’m thinking for my little chunk of the blogosphere), I’m still cluttered to the hilt.

So, surrounded by my mental pea soup, a quite simple thought presented itself, as if by internal dialogue: Easy.

Hmm. Easy, huh? Isn’t that the thing that I’ve grown up to see as “evil”? Isn’t nothing in life ever truly easy? Doesn’t easy equal lazy? Yes, perhaps, maybe.

For example, growing up, we (meaning my siblings and I – but for the most part, my sister and I) performed a lot of chores on a weekly basis. Let’s just say that pretty much every week, the house was newly clean. I admire my mother that her standards were/are so high. I also love the concept that “It doesn’t matter how much or little money you have; your belongings can always be taken care of and clean.” So, the guilt sinks in when I realize that my house hasn’t been vacuumed in weeks, or that I’d never be ready for a surprise visitor at any given moment. I just can’t keep up with it – so, am I being lazy? Perhaps. Can I find an easier way to clean everything (and with a more realistic timeline) so that I’m happy with the state of array AND the little time I need to spend doing it? There MUST be! Yes! There’s nothing wrong with finding an “easier” way.

So, linking simplification with my new-found admiration of “easy,” I’m able to at least look at the direction of the blog with a tad more clarity. Sure, I’m sure I’ll still be writing all over the place (what the heck do I use for a label? Personal blog? Green living? Family life? DIY? It’s none of those things…and a little piece of each of them, too), but a philosophy of not letting life whack us over the head with the HARDEST solution time after time while attempting to live a simpler life sounds like a nice starting point.

After all, one of the biggest challenges is coming down the road…and who wants to make it harder than it HAS to be? (Yes, I’m still planning on cloth diapering…why do you ask? ;-))

Current Menu and Future Plans

The Crap of Life - State of Emergency - image c8f0e-pickyeater on http://megactsout.comI recently wrote about my attempt at “recharging” myself, food-wise. While I’m proud to be able to say I’ve stuck to the new diet completely, I can also say that I’ve learned a lot about myself in the less-than-one-week I’ve been eating differently. I’ve also determined some of what seems to works well out of the “diet”.

I have been eating puffed brown rice cereal (only one ingredient!) with almond milk, except for yesterday when I gave into a craving for “diet approved” fruit. I have been putting lots of time into my meal prep, which, at times, throws my schedule off (but only by about 15 minutes or so) – so, for the most part, I’ve been eating regularly, four or five times a day. My lunches have consisted of a minimalist vegetable chicken stir fry with brown rice and black beans with veggies and quinoa. Dinners have varied, from a huge salad with some sliced chicken to rice pasta with sauce (that…was…interesting) to salmon with quinoa and veggies. My snacks have been rice crackers with local fig goat cheese (my new addiction), carrots and hummus, and celery with almond butter (my other new addiction). I’ve mostly been drinking water, massive amounts of water, since tea sweetened with honey is a tad too “bee puke” for my taste.

And, y’know what? I’m starting to lose weight, already. Y’know what else? My mood isn’t better, and I’m feeling deprived. Shit.

My ultimate goal is to be happier and healthier. Mind you, I haven’t been able to get in as much exercise as I’d like, which will supposedly contribute to the happy factor. However, it’s a challenge to think to myself, “Wait. It took me how long last year to find whole-grain, no-HFCS hamburger buns to use with my free-range beef…and now I can’t have a hamburger all summer?” The wheat thing, I think, is pretty much the worst part.

That being said, I’m going to stick with the diet at least until the end of the weekend, to be able to say that it was accomplished to term (for a full week). What I will take forward with me on my journey of edibles is the following:

– The “4-5 small meals” thing works for me. That, I keep.
– The snacks have to be HEALTHY and portion-controlled. Luckily, I’ve landed upon some mighty tasty alternatives that I’d gladly gobble every day.
– Take time to enjoy your food preparation. There were times that I was thinking, “This is going to be crap”, so I didn’t enjoy the process OR the food in the end. When I know I’m cooking something I’ll enjoy, I enjoy the experience all the more. So, while I won’t be cooking crap
– I want my kids to be raised with organic (when possible), always hormone-free cow’s milk. One day, when I’m complaining about the price of it, I’ll remember the time that I looked at the price for a quart of goat’s milk only to remind myself that there’s always water to drink. I’ve got osteoporosis in my lineage, so let’s just say, I’m going back to the moo.
– I survived without sugar. Need to buy more agave, but it will suffice in the future. And, hey, I can even have cereal without sweetener! Get that! So, yeah.
– Caffeine. Hmm. I’ve lived without it, for the most part, in the past. But, this week I realized that we had recently purchased a stash of awesome Twinings (Dave’s favorite brand) green teas with various natural flavors…only to determine that they aren’t caffeine-free. So, guess what this means for my rules. No, I’m not throwing them out (this whole “wasting food to start a diet” thing freaks me out); it means that I’m doing caffeine in only very small doses, such as green tea. No coffee. No soda. (This also cuts out the sugar.)
– Speaking of beverages, water is my friend! It’s always at my side now, and I’d like to keep it that way.
– Again, with the beverage thing…dude. There are some nights that you just need wine. Or a Woodchuck hard apple cider. Or friends are coming over. While I was no alcoholic by any means before, I will go back to the *rare* alcoholic beverage. What’s the point of living life if you can’t enjoy it?
– Fruits and veggies are our friends! I’m not necessarily down with the fact that this diet shunned fruits to, essentially, the top of the food pyramid. I know they have more sugars in them, but they have so many other nutritional benefits (and if, when I have a sweet tooth, I reach for fruit, isn’t it better than reaching for a brownie?). So, while I’m definitely going to continue eating lots o’ veggies, fruits will be a bigger part of the equation that it was this past week.
– Wheat. Aaaahhhh, wheat. I didn’t have a sandwich. I didn’t eat toast. My pasta was made of rice (and had a weird consistency and after taste, in my opinion). It was kind of brutal. So, while I will cut back on how much of my diet is wheat-based, and will concentrate on whole-grain and healthier wraps, it will be back in my diet. Again, I’m quite sure I don’t have celiac’s, so it’s not doing me much harm to have it.

And, I know what you’re saying; “Meg, you didn’t even give it a full week! You can’t judge it yet!” And, yes, I feel a bit like a failure. But, if I’m going to write this blog (which I do enjoy doing), I’d rather tell the truth and talk about my mistakes along the way – and how I learn from them – than continue very unhappily going from a borderline foodie to someone who altogether hated food.

I’ve learned a lot from this experience; most importantly, the fact that I need structure in order to control myself and what I eat. I’m thinking of starting to construct weekly menus, whenever possible, to not only rein in our spending, but to know exactly what I’m eating and when. This will be helpful especially when school starts back up, and will hopefully keep us healthy while we direct our show next season.

Thanks for reading, and for, I hope, understanding that I’m at least trying to fix my ways (learning along the way) to achieve a happier, healthier life.

Unplugged Update

The Crap of Life - State of Emergency - image 0b57c-tv2 on http://megactsout.comWe’ve been living on basic cable, down from the “But, Wait! There’s MORE!” plan, since mid-May (You’ll see I first wrote about it here, and first whined about it here). So, now that summer vacation, in a sense, has hit, I thought I’d give a more complete update.

This week marks my only true “vacation” from school, since I’m a glutton for punishment and have a sweet tooth for money-making, hence my signing up for another year of summer school. It’s a half-day gig, so that’s not too bad, but it definitely takes the “vacation” out of “summer vacation.” Eh, it’s a living, and I’m here to complain about not having TV, not about occupations.

Just kidding. I’ve actually adjusted (finally) to not having cable. This week, it’s been a little weird because the daytime TV shows that I would watch have been usurped by Wimbledon. I may be a former tennis player from a past life (*cough*highschool*cough*) and enjoy playing when I can drag my oh-so-willing husband along, but watching it is another thing altogether. I can follow for a little while, thinking “Oh, that was some nice topspin” or “Ouch, killer lob”, before I suddenly find myself awakening hours later with drool running down my cheek.

So, what have I done? Well, you’re looking at it. Yeah, instead of being altogether productive (hey, the laundry’s done…almost), I’ve blogged. I also fit in some reading and a viewing of the Winona Ryder version of “Little Women” (which happens numerous times a year, mind you), and am currently holding down the fort while our tree out front comes down. I’ve also been focusing on my current diet in hopes of squelching my bad moods and laziness.

As originally written, Dave has handled the transition to basic cable admirably, and almost sickeningly. Sometimes I handle change better than he does; other times, he’s the one with the grace and flexibility. I caught up…eventually.

The facts that Monday nights is “Antiques Roadshow” night, Tuesday is “The Office” reruns night, Thursday is “NBC actually can do comedy” night, and that I’ve got a stack of books that I’m actually interested in reading this summer, all help. In general, I’ve made it through just fine…although none of those Internet-to-Wii-to-TV ideas ever panned out, which would make things all the more bearable.

It just goes to show you, though, what we can do without when we simply take the scary leap.

Cutting the Cord

The Crap of Life - State of Emergency - image  on http://megactsout.comIs it strange that I often leave the bathroom door open when I’m about to do my business since I know that one of the cats (98% of the time, Mr. I-Do-What-I-Want Winston) will join me for the adventure, anyway. If only he knew how to close it behind him, we’d be all set.
Don’t you hate when you email someone only to discover that you never attached the important document in the first place? This is, somehow, even more embarrassing when it’s your husband (rather than, say, your boss), who usually has a glowing opinion of how intelligent you are. He has no idea what he’s gotten into. Hee hee.
I suppose there is a purpose to this post, after all! So, last Friday evening while awaiting the hub’s return and fooling around with Photoshop, I also found myself wasting time searching the Internet. I do this way more than I probably should. Email, email, email. The occasional FB look-in (while I have tried to swear it off, I’ve won perhaps 85% of that battle). Reading up on Sherry/John, Kate & Layla – they’re my virtual friends, they just don’t know it. Reading random Yahoo articles. Then, it occurred to me that I really haven’t been watching that much TV lately.
Sure, we’re up to date on the latest non-Michael “The Office” (sniffle, sniffle), which had us both slack-jawed at the end last night. We peruse the higher-up channels when there’s “nothing on”. But, honestly, if I’m going to waste time and feel badly about it…I can do it just as easily sitting here at good ol’ lappy.

After skimming through a Yahoo article about cost cutting, the thought of cutting down our cable to the “basics” ran through my mind for the zillionth time. Dave and I have discussed it lots. And lots and lots and lots. ‘N lots ‘n lots. I’ll get upset over Time Warner’s ability to charge both and arm AND a leg while providing a crappy cuts-in-and-out signal. Yet, the comfort of flipping to Food Network and Planet Green have overtaken us. On Demand has consumed Dave. And don’t get me started on the random Katharine Hepburn interview TCM gifted me recently. We’re trapped…in strange phases. At times, it’s a regular part of our daily lives. At other times, we’ve escaped without even realizing it.

But, after receiving my latest Time Warner bill as well as a “friendly reminder, you were overdrawn” notice from my bank (even though I had the $ in the account…apparently the computer just thought it was too close for comfort and decided to transfer funds FOR me), I thought, “Well, this is ridiculous.” I called Time Warner Cable and downgraded – same Internet (still costly, but in my opinion, NECESSARY), basic cable.

After hanging up with the rather shocked customer service rep, I immediately came to my senses. Several minutes later, I got up off the floor (just kidding) with a heavy heart (not kidding). “This will be good for us. This will force me to be a better housekeeper. This will force me to pay attention to my garden more this year. This will strengthen our relationship. This will help us to be creative. This will give us more time with our friends and family, and each other.” I’m still coming up with positive affirmations to try and convince myself that this was right. And, hey, if it wasn’t, I can always get it back…but I’d like to at least try.

Besides, we have streaming Netflix and the “Internet Channel” on Wii. Maybe I’ll just have to learn how to use that thing, after all, for something other than Wii Fit (which, sorry to say, I haven’t been paying much attention to lately — another for the “Cable-Less To-Do List”).

So, are any of you trying to simplify your lives a bit, either for financial, environmental or other personal reasons? Any advice for the newly cableless?

P.S. A special message to you, my favorites…my stand-out stations in a rash of crappy reality series and immature comedies. The channels that lifted me up, that taught me, that inspired me, and that transported me to other times. I will miss you, Food Network and Cooking Channel, for your sweet personalities and attainable recipes. HGTV and DIY Network, for your design gods (like Genevieve, Sarah and Candace), DIY handymen and house-selling gurus, I thank and will miss you, too. But, mostly, to Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz, and your cast of a thousand timeless stars – I will cry silently over losing my TCM. As my family taught me, even if you have the movie on recording (back then, VHS; now, DVD), there’s nothing like the excitement of seeing it “live” on TV, knowing that thousands of other people are enjoying it at that moment just as much. Let’s hope the separation is bearable and that I can overcome it with eventual grace.