Saturday, July 31, 2010

More Decluttering

Just when I thought I was finished with part of my decluttering program, I discovered more useless stuff.  Yesterday I started cleaning my bathroom and, as I cleared off the countertop to wipe it down, I realized that I really didn't use a couple of the items, so I discarded them.  This led me to the vanity drawers.  With an eye towards efficiency and usage, I organized the items I used on a daily basis into one drawer and gave careful consideration to everything else.  I'm not one to purchase a lot of toiletries, however, I still found items that seemed like a good idea when I bought them but rarely or never got used.  Out they went.  I filled a small plastic bag with odds and ends that had accumulated.  Now, when I wake in the morning or get ready for bed at night, I can easily find exactly what I need without a lot of fuss.  To paraphrase Martha Stewart, decluttering - it's a good thing.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Zelda Home

Today I picked up my cat Zelda at the vet after her having spent two days there.  The vet warned me to brace myself for how she looks:  all her beautiful grey fur clipped; round, scabby bald spots everywhere; and, to top it all off, the cone of shame around her neck to keep her from chewing on herself.  She's too sad looking to post a photo.

The good news is she's not terminal; the bad news is she has a severe case of ringworm. Daily medication and baths should restore her health although it will take a while for her fur to grow back. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Story of Cosmetics (2010)

My friend Lisa at brought this excellent presentation to my attention. For those of you who were concerned about BPA in plastic bottles, this is well worth the time to watch.

More on Zelda

I ended up leaving my poor sweet Zelda at the vet's office for a couple of days.  They were going to clip her fur and bathe her several times with some antifungal shampoo because initial tests show it  to be a fungal infection.  Once again, I've been a bad kitty mommy as I didn't notice that she has also lost a lot of weight.  Who knew with all that beautiful grey, fluffy fur?  I'm hoping her weight loss is associated with a lack of appetite from not feeling well and not a symptom of something else.  I plan to pick her up tomorrow, poor skinny, bald little thing, and lavish lots of love and affection on her.  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Zelda Update

I found Zelda yesterday when she finally came up to the house.  Of course, I immediately grabbed her (gently, of course) and put her in our basement so she can't pull a disappearing act again.  She can't come into the house as my house cat Dixie is queen over everything and doesn't take well to interlopers. 

 Unfortunately, Zelda's skin condition has worsened and I can tell she's extremely miserable.  It has gotten so bad that I began worrying that it's terminal.  However, I pulled myself out of that funk and decided it couldn't be that dire.  I went ahead with some practical steps to help the poor creature, which included bathing her with the medicated shampoo provided by the vet.  I was nervous about doing that as I felt it would be akin to me trying to commit suicide what with her sharp claws and fangs.  Although she didn't like it, she was fairly cooperative for a cat.  I think she sensed that I was trying to make her feel better.  

We have a vet appointment this morning, so I'll be doing another follow up post.  I'm hoping and praying for the best.   I'm looking forward to Zelda's beautiful grey coat being restored to it's previous splendor.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Quote for the Day

"It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end."
~Ursula K. LeGuin

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I've been a bad kitty mommy, mainly to one of our barn cats, Zelda.  Zelda was a stray cat that came to us years ago when we first moved to Virginia.  At first, she was a shadowy creature, coming to our house at night to eat the dog and cat food left on our porch.  Soon, we saw more and more of her and one day I finally was able to coax her to me so I could pet her.  One of the kids discovered that she was a mother cat and had three kittens hidden in a building on the property we were renting at the time.  The kittens were the spitting image of their father, the tom cat we had recently taken in.  (And that's another story.)  The kids named her Zelda and she joined our family's rapidly growing menagerie.  Over the years, Zelda has become extremely attached to our black lab Ginny, much to the annoyance of Ginny.  Zelda is a very shy cat, but she's very sweet and I enjoy her company.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a crusty patch on Zelda's back.  I assumed it was a hot spot and was going to keep an eye on it.  Well, I got busy and didn't think to check her.  One day I realized I hadn't seen her for several days so I went in search of her.  Zelda has two places that she likes to spend time - in our barn and in our equipment shed.  I found her perched on the stack of hay in the equipment shed and she came down to me.  That's when I saw the crud that had taken over her body.  It covered a large portion of her back and tail, plus was on one of her ears.  I was going out of town that afternoon so I rushed her to the vet for treatment.  I was told the crust could be due to a variety of things:  allergies, fungus, even cancer; only time and treatment would tell.  I left Zelda at the vet overnight to be partially shaved and bathed and my daughter picked her up the next day, with instructions to give her a liquid antibiotic twice a day.

Well, Zelda seems to not like her treatment and has disappeared.  My wish is that she's just hiding, that her skin is healing just fine without her medicine, and that she'll show up when she's good and ready.  Zelda, please come home; we miss you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Brief Hiatus

Well, I'm off to work on my condo project again.  The kitchen cabinets are being delivered tomorrow and I'm seeing a contractor about a little problem - lack of drywall in my kitchen.  My internet access will be spotty.  Being the cheap frugal person I am, I don't have internet access on my phone and have to use the library's computer or WiFi when available.

I can't believe I have two home improvement projects going at the same time...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Quote for the Day

"Women are most fascinating between the ages of 35 and 40 after they have won a few races and know how to pace themselves.  Since few women ever pass 40, maximum fascination can continue indefinitely."

~Christian Dior

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Magnet Changed My Life

Well, it wasn't that dramatic, but it did make a big difference.  Lately, because we are now four adults living in the same household, I've been tutoring my family in the art of loading the dishwasher rather than piling the dishes in the sink.  I know, I should have started this when my children were young, but since I was a stay-at-home mom, I didn't mind doing it myself.  (Plus, I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to housekeeping.)  But lately, with four people eating several meals and snacks at different times of day, I decided I needed a little assistance.  

The problem I ran into was the family not being able to tell when the dishes were clean or dirty.  Here's where the magnet comes into play:  I remembered seeing magnets that go on the dishwasher door and say clean and dirty.  A quick internet search revealed exactly what I was looking for:

Now I no longer have to answer the question, "are they clean or dirty?" nor do I come home to a sink full of dirty dishes.  Such a simple solution to a major headache.

(Image from

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Sneak Peak

Yesterday I had a very nice surprise.  I called the upholsterer to see if I could bring in my sofa.  He already had my chair and ottoman and I was trying to get all the upholstering done before summer's end.  The main reason, besides the fact that I want my room finished, is because I need my son home from college to help with all the moving up and down the stairs.  Turns out, not only could I bring in my sofa, but the other pieces were done!  Hallelujah! 

Here's the fabric that I used - a nice cream and cranberry toile:

It's a Waverly fabric that I got for a fantastic price.  Originally, I wanted to do my sofa in this fabric but turned out I didn't have enough.  So, I went to plan B, swapped the fabrics (and ordered extra of the small check as I didn't have nearly enough of that for the sofa).  

The upholsterer had my chair and ottoman right by the front door when I arrived.  He said he had gotten lots of comments on how great the pieces turned out.  I, personally, was elated with the outcome.  I told my hubby that I planned on living in the chair for the next few weeks.   It's so comfortable and feminine.  What do you think?

In a couple of weeks, I'll have the sofa reveal.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kicking It

In kickboxing, that is.  Have never done it before.  Tried it today.  It kicked my tail feathers.  What a great workout - and not stressful like aerobics used to be to me.  I'm not at all coordinated.  Some people might say I have two left feet, but being a southpaw I find that a bit offensive.  In the class I took today, the routines weren't very complicated and the instructor slowly led us up to and through the most involved ones.  And we all laughed at ourselves when we didn't quite get it.  Plus the class really pushed me beyond where I'd take myself so I should show results faster.   I might not be saying this tomorrow, when the true "benefits" of the class take effect, but I think I'll go back.  

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Attending Meeting

Not long ago my husband and I were out of town and were able to attend a Quaker meeting.  Although I consider myself a Quaker, it was the first time I had actually attended a meeting.  The meeting house we visited had both unprogrammed and semi-programmed meetings.  Unprogrammed meetings are completely silent, whereas in semi-programmed meetings, someone delivers a message.  Being a novice, I decided the semi-programed would be best for us.  And I was right.  

It's funny attending a house of worship where you're not sure of the protocol.  For the most part, the semi-programmed meeting was similar to the order of worship found in mainline Protestant churches.   Announcements were delivered, hymns were sung, a collection was received, and there was a reading prior to the message.  However, after the message, there was a long period of silence during which time we were to pray and seek God's guidance.  

Towards the end of the silence, several people rose to speak.  As the message had focused on the Quaker peace ethic, one woman spoke about doing a Google search of military involvement by the United States since independence.  The number was staggering and she pointed out that in almost all interventions, the U.S. was the aggressor.  Another woman spoke about an interfaith conference she had attended and that the most important thing she brought from that event was a book entitled The Peace Book, that was handed out to attendees.  She suggested it as a book for a discussion group, perhaps in conjunction with another house of worship.  A third individual rose and suggested we sing a hymn, which we did.  After the members spoke, I noticed an air of expectancy rather than prayerfulness.  Then the pastoral leader shook hands with an elder, thus concluding the meeting.

There is a lot of diversity among Quakers, from very the very liberal to the extremely conservative evangelical.  The meeting I attended was a very liberal one, since I lean in that direction.  Therefore, my experience at meeting might not be the same as that of someone attending a different meeting.  Attending a meeting was one of my goals from last quarter and I was finally in a position to fulfill that goal.  

(Photo of George Fox, founder of the Quakers, from

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Be Cherie

While I was out of town and waiting around for appointments, I finished a great book.  It's The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  Although self-described as happy, the author spent a year examining what it means to be happy and trying to make herself even happier.  Reading this book gave me many "ah-ha" moments.  

One of the key things she talked about was her list of resolutions, the number one of which was "Be Gretchen."  As obvious as that seems, I realized I, and many other people I'm sure, need to follow this principle.  To "Be Cherie" means to do things that really make me happy, not things that I believe I should do or might eventually make me happy. An example given was music.  As much as the author said she wanted to appreciate music more, but it just didn't make her happy.  I do appreciate and enjoy music, but I'm just not obsessively into it.  Seven years of violin lessons showed me that I wasn't a true musician.  I like listening to my iPod, but I don't always remember the names of the artists or the songs.  I do have my favorites, but even then, I don't always know the song titles or even know all the lyrics by heart.  My hubby, on the other hand, really enjoys the minutia of music and is virtually a walking encyclopedia when it comes to music history.  But, either way, it's okay, because we are being ourselves and doing what truly makes us happy.

One thing that occurred to me  while reading this book was that the idea of concentrating on one's happiness is shallow and selfish.  Rubin addresses this when she describes a conversation with someone who felt that very way when he learned what her project was about.  He was concerned with all the problems in the world and felt it was wrong to focus on one's own happiness.  Rubin questioned this by asking, when we help others, what is our goal?  Ultimately, we want them to be happy.  If we want happiness for others, surely we should want it for ourselves.  

Seeking happiness does not necessarily mean accumulating things or going into debt.   Often it's the small things that make a big difference.  Throughout the book, Rubin discovered a myriad of free or inexpensive actions or items that made a big difference in her pursuit of happiness.  It seems the key is to start one's own happiness project and learn to "be" oneself.  Here's a link to the Happiness Project Toolbox to help get you started.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Quote for the Day

"It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich."

~Sarah Bernhardt

(Photo source:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Back at It

This past winter, what with the blizzards and the animal medical emergencies on the farm, I pretty much dropped out of yoga and exercise.  With the exception of my regular Friday morning yoga practice with some friends and an evening stroll several times a week, I've been doing zip.  However, that is starting to change.  Recently, I pulled out my Namaste Yoga DVDs and dusted them off.  I've taken steps to revive my almost daily practice.  I'm also been a stereotypical gym member - purchasing a membership, faithfully visiting several times a week for a workout, and then dropping out.  One thing I need to do is treat my workout time like a job.  If I had a job, neither rain nor snow nor...well, you get the picture.

(Photo source:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Unplanned Renovations

I just returned from a working trip to Tampa.  My kitchen is in shambles and I'm trying to work with contractors and insurance companies.  Since it's a condominium, it gets complicated as some things are owned by us and other things are owned by the condo association.  All of our lower cabinets have been removed and I'm now trying to coordinate having the moldy drywall removed and replaced.  It's hard doing these things long distance.

The bright side is that, when everything is done, we will have a brand new kitchen (minus the appliances).  We're replacing the original cabinets - white laminate -  that were installed over 20 years ago so it will be a nice change.  At the time the condominiums were built, these cabinets were popular, but now they are very dated.  I've tried to select materials that are current but not too pricey, both because the insurance wouldn't pay for expensive upgrades and because it's not a luxury condo.  Since the kitchen is torn up, I decided to go ahead and replace the flooring, as well.  I never liked it, but because it's not my residence I decided to just live with it.  Now, with so much other work being done, I've decided to incur the additional expense.

I'll try to share photos as we make progress.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Getting Things Done

Finally - I seem to be making some headway on my house.  We finally moved my son's old bedroom furniture out of my soon-to-be "room of my own" and donated it  to a thrift store.  This morning I delivered my overstuffed chair and ottoman to the upholsterer, along with the fabric I purchased.  Unfortunately, I misjudged on how much fabric I needed for each piece of furniture, so rather than panicking, I decided to put the toile on the chair and ottoman and then ordered more of the check fabric for the sofa.  As we say in our family, it's all good.  The chair should be ready in a couple of weeks and then I'll be taking the sofa in for reupholstering (the extra fabric should be here by then).  Now, the problem of getting the sofa down the steps...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Quote for the Day

Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without.”  ~William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

Today,  let us all be thankful to God for the many freedoms we have been given in this nation.  Let us recognize that we all worship the same deity, whatever name we use to describe God, and to remember that our personal and cultural experiences have shaped how we experience God.  And let us remember that many of the early settlers and founders of this nation suffered religious persecution.  Therefore, to prevent religious tyranny, the first amendment to the Constitution grants us freedom of religion.

Let freedom ring!

(Photo source:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Media Drop Out

After my media fast during Lent of 2009, I went back to following the news on television and on the internet.  Fortunately, my fast helped me break my obsession so I didn't spend as much time on the news.  Recently, I realized I haven't turned on the news in weeks and I don't feel like I'm missing anything.  I'm not copping out and saying that I can't do anything about the tragedies and problems of the world.  What I'm doing is being selective.  

Earlier this week, hubby and I were guests at a regional Rotary Club meeting (we were there representing Danita's Children).  The guest speaker was Tracy Fitzsimmons, the president of Shenandoah University in Winchester,  Virginia.  At one point, she addressed the issue of being an effective citizen.  She pointed out how the Rotary Club has been focused on eradicating polio in the world.  The organization has stuck to their goal and now there are only three - three! - countries where polio is still found.  Although Rotarians participate in a variety of projects, this particular one has had their intense focus and they are now about to see their goal realized.  By keeping their eyes on the prize, they have made a difference in the world.  

There are a number of issues that I'm passionate about - and watching or reading the news really gets my dander up sometimes - but keeping my blinders on at times allows me to focus on one or two things where I can make a real difference.