Three Ways to Spring Clean

The words “spring cleaning” can seem a bit daunting coming in May when so many other things are competing for your time. Here are three suggestions to consider:

Pick a room—decide to spring clean your bedroom, family room, or a child’s room.

Pick a particular task—washing, dusting, decluttering, donating, painting, patching, shampooing—you get the gist. If spring cleaning your entire home isn’t in the cards for you, try tackling spot painting, shampooing carpets, decluttering a zone, dusting all wood, washing rugs and curtains, putting away fall and winter clothing, and taking dry-cleaning items to the dry cleaner. There is so much more depending on your situation, but tackling one task can make it seem like spring cleaning came to your home.

Hire someone to do it for you. When my husband and I were cleaning and organizing for clients, we charged by the room or by the hour. Overall, our fee was generally $18.00 an hour, which is very competitive for the area (most cleaners are charging $22-25.00, or have cleaning minimums). Even at $25.00/hr, it may take just 4-5 hours for a cleaner to do basic spring cleaning–and then you’re done for another year. Time to enjoy summer!

Until next time 🐝safe and 🐝well.

Asparagus

asparagus

There’s been a bit of asparagus grilling going on here as of late. This past two weeks or so, we’ve been attending the Dane County Farmer’s Market, and we picked up some fresh asparagus. You know, when I was growing up, you couldn’t pay me to eat it. But about three years ago, I tried grilling it, after just slightly blanching it, and it turned out delicious. Ever since then, my husband and I both look forward to early spring when it becomes available. Here’s a great recipe for grilling asparagus that I guarantee will convert you to eating it too! Because I blanch my asparagus for approx. 3 minutes, I only roast for 3-4 minutes and only on one side. You’ll need asparagus, olive oil, salt, fresh pepper, lemon wedges, and 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Seven Years Ago Today!

This last week has been really hectic. I’ve had end of school term finals, a pre-commencement party, work, gardening, and then commencement this past Saturday. I was a bit overwhelmed by it all because I hadn’t thought about the fact that I would be wearing an honor medallion and that the ceremony would last so long. That said, it sure was nice to share in the excitement of the day with everyone that attended. My husband looked so proud of me that it made me a little teary-eyed. I was certainly humbled by the day. Sunday was spent relaxing all day and binging on Grace & Frankie, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. I sure hope there is a season two! Until next time, I pray warmer weather is on the way. I have tomato, radish, and lettuce starters all waiting to get hardened off in the sun before transplanting..

I’m all done with college. Yay! I graduated.

Spring Cleaning–let’s prioritize!

First and foremost, give yourself some grace. Do not go into spring cleaning feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or tired. Let’s start with you!

  1. First things first, let’s prioritize. What needs to be done in the next eight hours? What will happen in the next 24 hours?By mid-week, week’s end, mid-month, and month’s end? Take your time and prioritize each task within one of these time frames.
  1. So by now, you have written down what needs to be done in the next 8 hours–so let’s prioritize those things.
  1. Let’s get started!

Remember–focus, allow time for things that come up, unexpected surprises, etc., and allow for the possibility that you may not get everything done in 8 hours. If this is a possibility, sit back down and reprioritize.

Fact-#1 cause of anxiety-there are actually several causes, but the environment and stress are the #1!

Calming Exercises:

  • Sit comfortably.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Take a deep, long breath and then exhale.
  • Take ten natural breaths.
  • Take notice of the tension in your body, breathe, and let it go.

#2 Clear Out Your Mind

Where to start? 

  • Stop Multi-tasking—one task at a time and done well. Then move on to the next.
  • Pick a day a week or 30 minutes a day to address email.
  • Limit your social media time to blocks of time–maybe use social media time as a reward after a task or daily project is completed.
  • Write things down: keep track of hourly tasks, reminders, priorities, etc.
  • Meal planning a day or more before grocery shopping–you have your meals set and you know what you need to buy.
  • At day’s end, have something in place to help you wind down–meditation, reading, podcasts, TV programs, movies, quiet time, gardening, or a relaxing massage or walk.

My belief for many years, after many years of worrying and loads of anxiety, is that stress doesn’t necessarily come from the decisions that we make or our day-to-day life, but rather from our unreal expectations of ourselves—there are limits (ahem) and decisions that we haven’t made or things that are on our mind that we can’t shake or clear our mind of. How do we deal with this? This has helped me:

  • Clear the decks (I don’t waste precious time half in or half out of anything). I make decisions and I move on. If I can’t make a decision, I try to weigh out the pros and cons. If that doesn’t help, I mentally place it in a box for later–no obsessing or dwelling.
  • Live in the middle (this takes practice). I don’t expect a lot from myself on a daily basis, or even a little. I anticipate a moderate.Some days I do better, other days I do less. Either way, stuff gets done, and I end my days without being disappointed in myself.

Happy Spring, everyone!

Next up—Three ways to Spring Clean!

Hello May!

May Day is here. May Day is a European tradition that celebrates the historic struggles and gains made by workers during the labour movement. In France, on May 1st, they celebrate Fête du Travail (Labor Day), and almost every shop, restaurant, and tourist attraction is closed for the day. People in France give friends and family bouquets of muguet (lily of the valley). In America, from the 1800’s through the early 1900’s, May baskets were hung on friends, family, and often love interests’ doors on May 1st. Now in the U.S., not much if anything is done to celebrate this wonderful day anymore. I order a rosemary plant for close friends, and I also buy each of them a bar of Muguet soap off of Etsy. 

Friends, start planning your summer vacation now because things will move quickly from May 1st to Labor Day. We’re getting ready to go on our first trip in three years to France in late spring. Once we’re back home, I have my container garden, lots of hikes, lots of sunsets, writing, antiquing, and farmer’s markets to keep me busy.

Enjoy May,🐝safe &🐝well.

I’m not paid to inspire you

I think the story behind my inspiration for this post is actually more interesting than the post itself. Let me explain. I’m in a group on Facebook that is for women of all ages and statuses that love hiking, nature, and outdoor activities. Recently, I was reading a day’s worth of posts and noticed something that was odd to me. First, I am generally not an active participant in groups, and second, this is the second group I’ve joined in maybe 40 years. I’m trying something new, and so far it has been eye-opening. So, I apologize up front if things like what I’m about to tell you have been going on for ages. Okay, the post was a 30 something female asking if anyone around her area would like to get together and walk with her. The responses to that post are the story here and the inspiration for this blog post. She received, within one hour, close to 350 responses. If I’m being honest most of those responses were made within 20 minutes.

She received responses from women who were not close to her area, not even in the same state; women young and old, married, divorced, single, and every last response (just about) was looking to go walking and wanting to make friends for this reason—“they are all trying to find themselves.” This expression is not new to me, as I said the same thing almost 18 years ago and was, after three long years, successful. However, when I talked about it or wrote about it back then, people called me a hippie. The common question I got was, “isn’t that what hippies did in the 60’s and 70’s?”

Yes, it probably was. I had read that to find oneself, you needed, above all things, peace, quiet, and introspection. Perhaps all these years later, women are finally finding it together. As the weekend progressed, more women responded to the post, and many gave their own reasons as to why they wish to do more “solo” things and/or find themselves by way of group activities etc. With close to 1000 responses and my time quite stretched this weekend, I read approximately 250 of the responses, and at least 90% of them were looking to get away from the internet in general, and social media in particular, and find a way to permanently replace IG and Facebook. The overwhelming majority of responses indicated that there was far too much pressure on women, particularly on Instagram, and the resounding majority felt much of what they read and saw was fake. Women stated that they felt a disconnect with most of those they follow. 

One woman who had built a small business on IG asked, “Do any of you have businesses that are run through IG or Facebook?” From the responses I read, there were very few. Many were hesitant to quit social media for fear of “missing out” or “offending” friends, “losing touch”, or being thought of as a “failure.” Many, when they made their minds up to leave, felt they would be looked at as addicts of social media that had to “quit” it. There were even a few that admitted to saying they were leaving to see if anyone would ask them to stay. Apparently, because it was brought up, I wasn’t aware of it, that people use the statement of “leaving social media” as a way to “look better than” the many who do not. The old “I can because I have better things to do with my life than hang out here.” At the end of the weekend, the woman who had previously asked if anyone ran a business via IG exclaimed, “If I didn’t run a successful business on IG, I definitely wouldn’t be online everyday because I’m certainly not being paid enough to inspire or influence anybody.”

And there it is. If it isn’t your business, then why is it so hard to quit? It’s for all the reasons above and more, isn’t it? But mostly, it’s that you don’t want to become irrelevant or miss out on something. On IG, there are pretty things all the time, and 30 soap operas or more a day that are done in great lighting. The thing is, once you go offline and start doing the things you used to do, you start seeing, feeling, and behaving just like you used to. You start enjoying yourself, your home, and your life just like you used to and stop living in comparison with others. You never want to go back to social media again. The real beauty of it is that you don’t have to because you know “you’re not being paid to inspire others.”

All of these women trying to find themselves have a choice. They can continue to be lost in other people’s lives, or they can make the choice to consume less of it, or they can delete their accounts and get back to living their best-intentioned lives. You can too.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: I write because I’m a writer. If I was being paid, I’d probably have writer’s block all the time. Many people get addicted to other people’s perceptions of them—they lose themselves through the perceptions of others. These same people also believe they are someone else’s inspiration, and they just can’t let go of that feeling. It’s like a high. Just know that soon after you go, your IG friends will find other friends to inspire them, and you, well, you’ll find yourself.

I’ve got a mountain of magazines and books crying for me to read them and pass them on to friends. I spend very little time on social media, yet I still fall behind in making time for the things I really want to do. So, in May, I am forfeiting all my IG time to read, read, and read some more. 

Until next time, be safe and be well.

For the love of escape

Are these David Austin roses not the most gorgeous roses you’ve ever seen? I ordered two bare root roses from David Austin UK that will be shipped to me in the next two weeks.

Looking at these makes me want to escape to an English garden.

Speaking of English gardens, has anyone ever taken an Enneagram test? You can find them on the internet. Sometimes they are free (you have to look around). I can’t find the link to the last one I took, but I remember my number–it’s one, the idealist and reformer. I think I consistently get this one because I am a rule follower. I just am. I haven’t always followed the rules, but when I do, I feel secure, stable, and safe. I don’t pretend to know why these things are so vitally important to me, but I know that everyone probably wants to feel secure and safe; some just don’t prioritize those things the way I do. I don’t think that I realized how strong my feelings were about ethics, leading an ethical life, ethical choices, thoughts, decisions, and lifestyle until I took an ethics class that really challenged me in 2006.

Speaking of enneagram’s, have you taken this cute test that features all of the houses in Nancy Meyer’s movies?

If I go by my enneagram test results (1), I would be matched up with the perfectionist, Amanda Woods, in The Holiday. That’s so not true in this case. Since I’ve watched all of them many times (I own them too), I know where my heart lies and it’s in this one:

Iris Simpkin’s House

Because when it comes to my home, clothing, and style, it’s always been about being an individualist for me.

Doesn’t Iris’s living room make you want to book a week in a cozy English cottage in Shere?

I am so there after the last two months that I’ve had, but yet, here I am on my blog. Because when life is difficult, busy, frustrating, happy, overwhelming, exceptional, where else would I be? I’m a writer. I write.

I’ve been busy with a lot of things since January, but things have been really crazy these past two weeks. I’ve transitioned from remote 3rd shift work to remote 1/2 time/office 1/2 time 1st shift work. I have transitioned from corporate taxes while working during a very busy tax season to non-profit setup and business taxes. We have celebrated our cat’s 14th birthday and are delighted to still have him with us. I would be lost without him. He has had a life of poor health, but despite that, he remains quite healthy, if that makes sense, because he’s always been well taken care of by me. I continue to feed him 6-7 hand-fed meals a day. He’s energetic, not too forgetful, can still see and hear pretty well, and is still using the litter box. Our busy schedule has included helping friends with painting and deck-building, I’ve started working on our container garden (because even though we rent, we still have a garden), cleaning, organizing (professionally again), caring for a sick friend, now caring for hubby who is sick (not c–we’ve tested him 3x), car issues (finally resolved, it’s time for a new one), budget re-do, FB hack (finally gotten around to starting a new account), hours of working with an IT security friend to make sure I’m secure (all is well), a blog re-do, selling, selling (my eBay store is doing well), training for work, and did I say spring cleaning? This past weekend was Easter for eight people, two of whom were our house guests for three days.

Did I say escape? We will be escaping our busy schedules for two weeks later this spring in SE France in the Provence region. Thankfully we have a house sitter who has sat before for us and will again in the fall when we travel to Western Canada.

The three most frequently asked questions I’ve received in email lately are:

How do you find time for social media? The short answer to that is, I don’t. Social media is almost last on my list of priorities. Even though I’ve always enjoyed the pretty pictures on IG and the networking and connecting on Facebook, I am not a proponent of social media. I am more than grateful that I don’t have to try and make a living from my presence on it, and I am also grateful that social media in and of itself doesn’t really interest me at all. I’ve compared it often to high school, cliques, popularity, bullying, and all the things many of us felt in school and were thrilled to leave behind. Every post, story, and reel I make for IG is for me and my husband period. I routinely download my transcript to save for our old age. If it works out and it’s available to look at when I’m in my 70’s, I’ll be thrilled. I love taking photos, making stories, and making reels. My account is often private, I don’t allow like counts on my posts and most of the time I don’t allow comments. It’s not me being antisocial—I’ve actually found a few really, really good friends through IG. I just don’t like all the requests I get, or the spam, or the bots I have to deal with when my account isn’t private.

The second most frequently asked question is, “Where did all your blog posts go?”After WordPress alerted me of suspicious activity on a few posts, I made all my blog posts private. I have left those posts with the WordPress Admin and I will soon, after careful scrutiny, make my posts public again.

Last question–was it weird or hard to start a YT channel? Yes. It was nerve-wracking. The pandemic caused me to become more focused on capturing our life for us to view in later years. I have two YT channels. I also have five blogs. Three active blogs and two inactive at this time. My oldest blog is 15 years old and is a private blog with everything I’ve written over the past 25+ years in one place. One YT channel is for hubby and me to look back on things we did during the pandemic, our lives in 2020, and so on. The other YT is public and has videos about a lot of stuff–travel, shopping hauls, fun, organizing projects, and home life. I’ve got 50 followers so far, and that’s about right for me. I’ve enjoyed getting to know new people and have loved hearing their take on some of the things my videos are about. I have enjoyed learning how to film and the editing process immensely.

My favorite recipe I tried this month: Marble and Vanilla Crepes here

with fillings here

Favorite book this month: Living the Lord’s Prayer

Best self -care item I’ve bought recently–if you love lemons, I’m just saying. Young Living’s Lemon Starter Kit. I’ve been using YL oils for six years now, but unfortunately let my account expire during Covid. I started it back up with this lovely starter kit. *You can find YL products here   including the Lemon Starter Kit under shop bundles.

One last thing: I’ve noticed a lot of people I’ve been following on IG have stopped posting. I’ve also received three notices from bloggers that I follow, letting me know they’re taking a break from blogging and all social media. There seems to be a lot of this going on. Much of this has to do with what most of us have been dealing with these past two trying years. In addition, the war in Ukraine, financial issues ticking up (inflation), greater competition, and the moods and attitudes of many, hanging out on social media and finding the will to blog is getting harder for some people. I’ve avoided this kind of fatigue by not really prioritizing social media in my life and also by always keeping my blog a safe place for me to come and write. I think if you are someone who loves social media but hates the stress of competition, always feeling like you have to post, and the DM’s, I would set up a personal account and use that to scroll through feeds and keep in touch with friends. When I think of successful bloggers and a reason to have and keep hold of a blog for business, I think of people like Liz Marie Galvan, who uses her blog to post links, make posts of social interactions, answer questions, and offer her own professional opinions and advice. She also sells things—lots of things from her blog. There are many, many successful bloggers out there, but those people also tend to have help. If you’re trying to make online blogging a full-time business, then I would suggest taking classes in business/social media/internet etc. or turning to bloggers like Lisa Bass from Farmhouse Boone, who offer blogging masterclasses on making money from blogging. Blogging as a business takes a lot of work, dedication, and perseverance and is usually supported by a product you are selling. Anything less than this and you have a hobby. Just my 2 cents and opinion.

*my referral link for YL. I am a customer of YL, not a distributor. Using my link to the shop will not cost you anything, nor will I earn anything. 

Until next time, be well and stay safe!

Easter breakfast and sandwiches from leftovers

Good Housekeeping

Easter is almost here, if you celebrate it, and so is leftover ham (if you can afford it). We bought ours at $1.69 a pound a couple of months ago. Last weekend, I noticed they were at $2.69 a pound. Our meat consumption, though low for years, has grown considerably lower in the past two years. We now look at most meat as a luxury and try to cook an extra vegetable to make up for it. Alas, we did buy a ham and there will be leftovers.

Easter breakfast is going to be this

Sausage and Cheese Pancake Breakfast

Here are three different kinds of sandwiches I’m going to make with leftover’s-

Chopped (ground) ham spread

deviled ham sandwich>

The recipe I use is here. I skip the hard-boiled eggs and use Miracle Whip salad dressing for this sandwich. If you want a less sweet taste, stick with the mayonnaise. I loved going to church events as a kid because these sandwiches were always served on bakery fresh buns or rolls. I have a great food grinder attachment for my KitchenAid and I use it to grind my ham extra smooth. I’m not fond of chunks of ham in this sandwich.

ham and cheese>

The recipe for the ham and cheese sliders on Hawaiian rolls is here

cuban sandwich

The recipe I follow for the Cuban sandwiches are here

Nothing goes to waste when we pay $1.69 a pound for ham. Here’s the recipe I use for Split Pea with Ham soup. This soup freezes well in case you want to make a double batch.

Until next time, be safe and be well and have a lovely weekend!

Resilience

Sometimes I think the only reason I make it out the other side of hardship is my resilience and my belief/knowledge that so many other people in the world have it way worse.

Last week at work was brutal. The weather was even more brutal. Someone I knew, cared about, and was inspired by committed suicide. One of several friends/people I’ve known who have taken their lives in the last 2-3 years.

It was a sad, stressful, full of tears and pain kind of week.

At the start of our weekend, my Facebook account got hacked. Which was far less serious, of course, than what had happened during the week. My husband was like, “I can understand, but can’t understand, because it was “just an account.” I should mention he doesn’t participate at all, even a little bit, on social media. It wasn’t the account being hacked that bothered me the most.

It was despite everything I’d done over the years to keep it “safe”, it wasn’t safe and now it is gone. A common theme in my life these past 20 years.

After the initial pain of losing something that was mine, then came anger, frustration, a sense of being betrayed, being lied to, and finally submitting to the reality that my account was gone for good. Not only had they hacked my account, they had also hacked an old bank account that we kept around with just a few dollars in it. It was an account I had in school and used when I had a business page on Facebook. I’d used it to pay for ads. All of that information was supposed to be deleted when that page was deleted. It wasn’t. I was lied to. For everything you hear about safety, authentication, or service—it’s all a lie. When you are hacked, there is no help. You’re on your own, and even when it’s not your fault and the fault lies totally with the entity, you’re out of everything. I was truly humbled by sending emails to Facebook “customer service” (there is none) only to report things to bots. While being humbled, I had an epiphany. It was—no more wasting my time, in some cases time I couldn’t afford, trying to protect myself from things or people over which I had no control.

Ten years ago, I taught internet security at a local college to help pay for my schooling. For over a year, three times a week, I taught people how to protect their identities and surf online safely. Internet safety is a topic I find very interesting and whenever there is a documentary or I have a friend or colleague talking about it, I’m all ears. I did all I could to protect myself. My downfall was believing I was protected.

For most of my life, I’ve had issues with reacting vs. responding. In 2019, I was diagnosed with complex PTSD and with that came answers to a lot of issues I’d experienced in my lifetime. Hypervigilance is one of the things I deal with the most. It’s exhausting. I could write books on this subject. Instead, I’ll give a quick example. It’s a very real feeling of fear, of being intruded upon, excessive worry, and constant assessing of threats. In my case, I constantly try to control how everything, and I mean everything, plays out in my life. I will go to great lengths to safeguard myself, my home, my husband, our lives, our cat, our car, our bills–everything. It exhausts me. It drains me of every last drop of energy I have. At times, it steals my happiness. Often, many times it is done for naught, as in the case of hacked Facebook accounts. 

So, I started my week last week refreshed, ready to battle Monday, and later learned I’d lost a friend to suicide. By Wednesday, for various reasons, I felt like crap. Thursday brought me a hacked account, banks that wouldn’t cooperate and act according to my wishes (does anyone take hacked accounts seriously anymore? ), and by Friday, I was locked out of my voice mail because USCellular says my new PIN isn’t recognized. I spent 25 hours this past weekend hypervigilant, exhausted on Sunday, and on Monday putting it all back together again. Today, a funeral, which in comparison to everything else, is so much more important. 

I started a new Facebook because it’s the only way I can keep up with distant friends, businesses, local events, and causes. I’ll miss my old profile. I’ll always be sad seeing it out there. I can never again read the messages my now deceased uncle sent me via messenger. It took me 50 years to find him, and after he died, I vowed to download his messages, but never did. I’m always “too busy” to take care of these things. I vow to be more attentive going forward.

It’s funny (not really) all these “things” that we have in our lives nowadays to “keep in touch”, entrust our memories to, stay together, never lose touch, and share in each other’s lives. It almost seems sometimes that these are the only things we have anymore, besides the memories, to prove somehow that we were here. It’s exhausting, keeping up.

It’s also funny (this time it is) how freeing it feels when you realize how little real control you have over anything in life.

Be well until the next time.