Tuesday, June 29, 2010

3rd Quarter Goals

This year seems to be zipping by.  The third quarter is already here so it's time for me to reflect on last quarter's goals and set some new ones.  Last quarter my goals were specific, one-time goals, most of which I achieved.  This time around most of my goals will be more involved and will run the entire quarter.  One areal I'm going to focus on is health and fitness.  I'm a list maker and journaler (as well as a bloger), so to keep track of my progress, I've purchased these adorable journals at a local office supply store.  

I've done a bit of research on successful goal setting and achievement and several times have run across the SMART system.  SMART is an acronym for the elements of a good, achievable goal:  specific; measurable; achievable; realistic; and time bound.  Oftentimes, we set goals for ourselves that are unrealistic and we set ourselves up for failure.  Think about New Year's Eve resolutions to quick smoking or trying to lose 25 pounds just before a class reunion.  More times than not, these attempts result in failure and disappointment.  Why?  Because they're vague and not well thought out.  

Successful goal planning requires a plan and it should be written down.  Start with a specific goal.  Make sure that your success can be measured.  Saying that you want to be more organized cannot be measured; however, saying you will clean our your pantry, consolidate duplicates, discard expired food, group similar items, and label your containers and shelves are all measurable goals.  A goal should be achievable.  You aren't likely to lose 25 pounds in one month; 2 pounds a week is achievable.  Keep realistic about your goals.  You might want to run a marathon, but if you've never taken a lap around a track, it's not likely you'll be achieving this goal without setting intermediate goals.  Finally, set specific dates for completion of both the steps to take and the completion of your goal.  Without setting completion times, it's easy to procrastinate and think that you'll get started on that tomorrow that never arrives.  Careful planning and following the SMART system should lead to successful goal achievement and a feeling of accomplishment.  

Monday, June 28, 2010

Plans for the Week

We've just finished picking the last of the blackberries - it's so hot here they're just withering on the canes.  I've frozen several pint bags to use for cobblers throughout the year and will be using the rest to make freezer jam.  The cucumbers are coming fast and furious so I'm going to make some refrigerator pickles.  I'm not big on canning.  A couple of years ago I spent a lot of time canning dill pickles and spaghetti sauce.  To tell the truth, it just didn't seem worth all the time and effort.  I know that by freezing everything, I'm at the mercy of continuous power in the wintertime but I'll just take my chances.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Quote for the Day

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you are."

~e. e. cummings

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Farm Happenings

It's that time of year when we have food in abundance.  In April we had asparagus, in May our green peas came in (what they call English peas around here).  Now, it seems everything is coming in - garlic, cucumbers, green beans, blackberries, yellow squash.  This morning I picked about two pounds of wild blackberries from the patch on the other side of our driveway in front of our house and this afternoon hubby and I picked another four pounds on the other side of our pond.  Hubby picked the green beans (what they call "snaps" here) this morning.  I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.  While I appreciate all the fresh, good food, it means a lot of work.  We not only have to pick it, but I also try to freeze enough to get us through the year.  And that all is hard work.  One blessing?  It doesn't all come in at once.  We still have tomatoes, eggplants, pumpkins, watermelons, and black beans yet to come.  

I've realized I'm someone who lives in the moment and later realizes I haven't taken any photos.  I'm going to try to change that so I can post photos of the farm.  Hubby takes some great photos but I don't want to keep stealing borrowing from him.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Putting Things on Hold

I've just returned from a trip back to Tampa.  While I love to go back home, this trip was a bit different than most.  We had a minor disaster at our condominium.  There was a serious plumbing issue that affected three condominiums, including ours.  My husband's job is based out of Tampa so he frequently travels back and fourth between our home and our condo.  He hadn't been to the condo for a couple of weeks and returned late one night to a virtually destroyed kitchen.  Now I'm in the process of having our kitchen countertops, cabinets, and flooring replaced.  It's a bit complicated as I'm not there full-time and the renovation involves removal of the existing cabinets and flooring and the installation of the new.  Of course, this all requires the involvement of several trades.  So, over the next couple of months I'll be back and forth, coordinating everything.  

This might cause a slight delay in my much anticipated creation of "a room of my own."  On a bright note, I ordered and received the fabrics to reupholster my furniture:  a crimson and white toile and a crimson and white check, both by Waverly Fabrics.  My plan is to get the chair and ottoman to the reupholsterer next week so at least I'll be moving forward with the project.  In the meantime, I just need to push my grown children out of that room...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Quote for the Day

Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.
~Albert Einstein

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Know I Shouldn't...

...but I love some of the chain restaurants like Panera Bread, Bruegger's Bagels, and Einstein Brothers Bagels.  Why?  Because I know I can get consistently good, inexpensive, healthy, and quickly-prepared vegetarian meals at those places.  Fast food restaurants rarely offer anything vegetarian and healthy.  And with independently owned places, I'm not likely to find vegetarian fare.  Often, they serve BBQ or typical red meat diet fare.  So, now my dirty secret is out.  I know I should be anti- big corporation, but I just can't help myself.  A girl has to eat.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Big Project Finished

For the past few weeks, I've been on an organizing/decluttering rampage.  One project that has been hanging over my head for over a year is transferring the music on my CDs to my iPod.  I'm happy to report that the task is finally finished!  I have an iPod nano, which I adore.  It's slim and light and fits into any of my handbags so it can go everywhere I do.  It's like a little miracle to me as I can have my entire music library with me at all times, as well as a variety of podcasts that I download for free from iTunes.  What's even better, is the iPod is eco-friendly - no more plastic discs or jewel cases.  Now when I want music, I can just download it to my computer.  No plastic, no packaging, just an electronic transfer of music and monies.  How green is that?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Dual Life

Yesterday evening I had to laugh at myself for leading such a dual life.  A friend said I must sometimes feel schizophrenic!  Here's what I'm talking about:

I was in the big city of Greensboro for a good part of yesterday.  I had a lot of errands to run and purchases to make.  Our closest *city,* Danville, leaves a lot to be desired as far as shopping is concerned.  (We don't even have a bookstore!)  Since some of my furniture has gotten a bit shabby, I went to a decorator fabric store called Printer's Alley where I browsed the isles for a while, trying to find just the right fabric.  Another thing I needed was new drinking glasses and, after an internet search, decided that Williams Sonoma carried just the right ones.  (By the way, that store makes me want to be a better cook.)  So, I headed over to Friendly Center, an upscale shopping area in Greensboro.  While there, I also stopped by Sheree's Natural Cosmetics to pick up a couple of items.  They ended up giving me a makeover!  One of my last stops was Earth Fare, where I did a bit of natural/organic grocery shopping before heading home. 

Now for the flip side of my life:  After having dinner, my son and I headed out to the barn pasture to do some goat wrangling.  One of our more skittish goats, Suzie,  gave birth to twins on Wednesday and I needed to get them all into a stall in the barn.  After much maneuvering and use of goat psychology, we got them all into the stall.  Another task was to make sure the babies were nursing properly as Suzie's milk bag is lopsided.  That involved milking her to decrease the size of one side.  It took a bit more goat psychology to catch her.  Then, while my son was holding her head, I was busy milking her down.  All the while, her babies were corralled in a large bucket, calling for their mama.

So, this is what a city girl does when she lives in the country.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Decorating Idea

As I work on my room, I'm trying to think of how I'll use the space and how to get the most bang for my buck.  I'm trying to think through the layout and use of the room before I make any purchases or major decisions.  This project table from Potter Barn (or similar) is a piece of furniture I've had my eye on for quite some time:

It's very versatile as it has a large work area and two bookshelves with removable dividers.  I can see pairing this with a desk for my computer and/or sewing machine.  It would give me room to cut fabric or work on other projects and has plenty of space for my crafting and other creative books and magazines and some of my tools.  

I'll keep this on the back burner for the time being and focus on getting fabric to reupholster the sofa and chair.  Once I have that taken care of, I'll be ready to move to the next step of acquiring just the right work area.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Quote for the Day

"To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive."

~Robert Lewis Stevenson

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Transformation Begins

Today I begin the process of turning the room previously known as "The Bonus Room" and used as my kids' recreation area into a room of my own.  Here are a few before photos:

I've cleaned it up a bit since taking the photos.  It has been a multi-purpose room lately and a lot of odds and ends have accumulated.  As you can see, there's a mattress and box springs temporarily housed in the room, but they will soon find a home in my son's room.  At 6'1" he has outgrown his twin beds.  

It's a very nice room - big, spacious, has two dormer windows with seats, cheery yellow walls, and beige berber carpet.  The upholstered furniture is old and has seen better days, so I'm going to have it recovered.  I'm thinking a cranberry and cream toile for the sofa 

and cranberry and cream mini-checks for the chair and ottoman,

along with some coordinating pillows on the furniture and in the window seats.   I'm working on putting together a nice work area, with a desk for working on the computer and studying, and a work area for crafts and sewing.  I'm also gathering my favorite craft, homemaking, and personal books to put on a bookshelf.  I also have some exercise equipment and DVDs that are scattered throughout the house.  I'm looking forward to having one room for all of my things and a place where projects don't need to be put away each day.  

I'll try to post photos as I make progress.  Please feel free to offer any suggestions!

Friday, June 11, 2010


A recent study revealed that those who think they're avoiding the dangers of suntanning by using tanning beds are actually increasing their odds of getting cancer.  I've lived in sunshine states most of my life but, for the most part, avoided the typical sun worshiping that goes on in those areas thanks to a mother who insisted her children wear sunscreen way before it was popular.  For those of you who still think it's a good idea to get a summer tan, read  Style on a String's expose on suntanning myths.  Some of the photos alone are enough to make one swear off sun bathing FOREVER.  

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Something to Think About

As strange as it may seem,  visiting Asheville made me realize how the Christian Church (I mean the entire church, not just a particular denomination) is failing a large group of Americans. During my visit, I noticed the abundance of new age books and shops.  Bookstores had large sections devoted to wiccan and eastern religions and many shops had crystals and other new age paraphernalia.  There was a dearth of books on Christianity.  Obviously, the presence of the new age materials means many people in the community are seekers, looking to connect with God.  However, they seem to have dismissed the possibility of finding God in Christianity.  And I don't blame them.

I took the above photo in a community not far from Asheville.  There's a lot wrong with what seems to be going on in this particular church and highlights why I believe people in Asheville (and other communities) dismiss Christianity.  I enlarged the photo to show that it says "using only the King James Bible."  Obviously, the members of this church believe that the King James version is the one authorized by God himself.  Any other translation is wrong, wrong, wrong.  Further, the bible verse chosen for the sign is only part of the story.   Roman 6:22-23 says:  "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Oops, I didn't use the King James version.)   Again, these people want to emphasize sin rather than the love, mercy, and forgiveness found within the Church.  

Asheville is a very progressive community and the area is home to a number of colleges.  An academic community means there are lots of thoughtful, intelligent people in the area.  Being a Christian doesn't mean checking your brains at the church door, but lots of churches seem to encourage that.  Intelligent, educated people know when they're being deceived or lied to.  They know that science has proven the earth is more than 6,000 years old and that any reading of the Bible is subject to personal interpretation.   Further, those who care for the environment and understand the science behind global climate change are turned off by the conservative Christians who seem to think it's okay to damage the earth.  It is the stubbornness of many churches that is keeping a large number of people away.  Those churches need to be reminded of Galileo and the Church's insistence that he was wrong when he pointed out that the earth is not the center of the universe.  Why so insistent on ideas that have nothing to do with faith?

As someone who was not raised in the Church but became a Christian as an adult, I understand those who are turned off by Christianity, or at least the way many churches "package" it.  By dumbing down the faith and twisting it to suit a particular agenda, the Church is failing large numbers of people.   It's no wonder so many in areas like Asheville have outright rejected Christianity. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

More on Asheville

Again, Asheville was fabulous.  And is a great place to sit outside at a cafe and people watch.  While hubby and I were enjoying dinner one night, we observed the following:  a police officer pulling up and parking, obviously looking for "trouble."  He found it as he spied a man drinking a beer on public property.  This poor gentleman was within 50 feet of the restaurant's outside dining area where it is perfectly legal to drink alcohol.  In addition to receiving a ticket (which seemed to take forever to be written up), the man had the privilege of having his duffel bag  searched.  (Can someone say "probable cause"?).  The police officer was later joined by another buddy, and they continued to scan the crowd, looking for more evil doers.  As that excitement was wrapping up, I saw a beautiful, black Smart car zip by - I love Smart cars and so rarely see them!  (Obviously, it doesn't take much to excite me.)  A few minutes later, a woman whom I dubbed "skater girl" strolled by.  She had her skateboard tucked under her arm and was wearing 1) a lacy black bra and 2) shredded, footless tights.  That's it.   The night before, there was a art gallery event, where all the galleries were open later than usual and serving refreshments.  In one of the galleries, an individual (couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman) strolled past us wearing what appeared to be a bird costume, complete with mask.  Another gallery was hosting a "fairy party" and many of the guests were dressed as, you guessed it, fairies.  Earlier in the day, I saw a man wearing a khaki skirt.  We saw so many interesting things and people and I really cannot do them justice; you just had to have been there.

One thing that amazed me about Asheville is that it's really a small city, about 80,000 residents, and yet it's such a progressive community, with all the green living and artistic expression.  By comparison, we live about an hour away from a similarly-sized city.  That city has one farmers' market and one small health food store.  And I'm sure it doesn't have the vibrant arts community that is found in Asheville.  

After we left Asheville, we took advantage of the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and found a nice hiking trail to follow before we headed home.  I had done a bit of research but some locals told us about a less-touristy hike that has recently been opened to the public.  Catawba Falls was a fairly moderate three hour round trip hike.  As you can see from the photo, it was well worth it.  

Now I've got the bug - I can't wait to get back to Asheville.  I'm thinking another visit in the fall would be good....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Our Trip

This past weekend in Asheville was amazing.  It had been about 15 years since we had been and our children were very young so we didn't get the full experience.  We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel - very appropriate for this blogger! - which turned out to be next door to Thomas Wolfe's house and very convenient to the rest of the downtown area.  

One of the best things about Asheville is the abundance of great restaurants that serve vegetarian fare.  In fact, one restaurant made it a point to describe dishes as "non-veg."  It's nirvana to a vegetarian.  And there's such a variety, from casual to formal, from Southern-style to Indian.  Asheville is very conscious of organics and eating local as well.  Almost all the restaurants have signs indicating they purchase meat and produce from local farms.  In addition to the amazing restaurants, the downtown area has two food co-ops and the small health food chain Earth Fare is headquartered there.  We also visited the downtown farmers market where everything sold there was authentic - locally grown and produced.  Not a resaler in sight as we've seen at other farmers markets.

The people of Asheville are very committed to living lightly on the earth.  Everywhere we went, we saw signs touting green living and recycling.  I saw several women with compact reusable bags attached to their handbags.  One of the shops we visited sold reusable shopping bags made from recycled material that said, "Recycle or Die."

There's so much more to share so I'll have to do another post - and get a few photos up as well.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I ♥ Asheville

Just got back from a fabulous weekend in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina.  Today I'm busy doing catchup work at home - some things don't go away when you're away - but will be posting all about my visit later this week.


(Photo from www.exitrealtyofashevillenc.com)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Quote for the Day

Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity, 
Reduce selfishness,
Have few desires.


(Photo taken off our back deck at sunset.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fun Blog

Last week I had the privilege of being featured in La Bella Figura's Chic Friends Spring Edition.  It was fun (and intimidating) to be allowed to participate.  Kristi has a great blog that emphasizes living well without living wastefully.  She embraces a rich but simple lifestyle of thrifting, making do, being selective, and enjoying the things we do have.  If you strive for this kind of life, I recommend you check out her blog and her new book, also titled "La Bella Figura." 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A New Recycling Resource

While I was reading a new blog I discovered, Greenhab, I learned about this program for recycling glue sticks and glue bottles:  http://www.elmersgluecrew.com/.  I'm always up for any new idea to keep items out of landfill.

What Is Sustainable?

Yesterday I continued my total house purge in the basement and this morning I spent a little time in the attic.  I'm neither a hoarder nor a shopper but I've managed to accumulate quite a bit of junk!  As I sort, organize, and discard, I'm making mental notes of things that need to be repaired or replaced.  The living room sofas and the furniture in our "bonus" room are in desperate need of reupholstering.  My son's computer desk and chair need to be discarded and replaced.  I don't have a suitable desk or office chair so I'll be needing those items.  

Going thought this top to bottom purge has got me thinking - are the changes/improvements to my home sustainable?  Granted, I plan to reupholster some furniture rather than buy new, but is doing that truly sustainable?  When I consider the millions of families in the United States who want to do the same thing and then think about available resources, it really gets me thinking:  what level of living the American dream is truly sustainable, i.e., could the rest of the world do the same thing given the limited resources on earth?  Something to think about...