Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentines Day... and Other Couple Gifts...

Paul and I usually don't "do" Valentines Day. I think it's just  a stupid commercialized holiday hell- bent on profit through guilt.
ie: The more you love someone- the more you will spend on them. And the one-upmanship grows and grows and grows. Prices are  inflated, and the pressure is applied.

No thank you. I prefer to take myself out of that particular equation.

For me, if I have to depend on Valentines Day Gifts to guage someones love- they can keep it. Give me nothing on Valentines Day. Unless it's your time. Gift me with cuddling on the couch. Or a walk in the woods(not to murder me tho). Or cook me dinner and play a board game with me.  Chess is good. I'd much rather have someone remember my birthday or our wedding anniversary than Valentine Day.

Hubby and I walked to Tesco for lunch together on Valentines Day with a group of his friends. As we walked out the door, he turned to me and said " Your Flowers aren't going to be a surprise now." (The past two years for some odd reason he did get me flowers and chocolates and a card- I think due to peer pressure.... or maybe just to shake things up a bit- who knows....) Anyway, I told him I really didn't want flowers... nor a card....and especially not chocolates with me trying to lose weight. It was a lovely thought- and I told him so- but we are buying a new car hopefully in the next couple of weeks- and there is a lovely set of glass front display shelves I want for our living room to house hubby's fabulous collection of Star trek Star-ships which are on open shelving now and are the biggest dust magnets ever and are so delicate they break if you barely look at them the wrong way (not me-that was hubby), so I would rather save our money for those expenses next month.

One year early in our marriage we were Christmas shopping and when he asked what I wanted I pointed out a set of cookware I was simply dying to have.  Up to that time I had never owned a brand new set of cookware, it was all bits and pieces given me by relatives and friends. He looked at me as if I had grown two heads and said "I'm not buying you cookware for a Christmas present." The look on my face must have told him how much I wanted the set tho- because he ended up telling me not to cry, if that's what I REALLY wanted, then cookery things I would get.

Over the years we have quite often bought some new gadget for the house instead of more personal gifts for each other. There have been more personal gifts too- but the way we look at it is, we are making an investment and commitment in US and our relationship every time we choose something for our home that we can use to make our lives easier or more relaxing and enjoyable together.

As it should be.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Following My Interests... Again

When I was a teen I belonged to a hiking club. Every couple of weekends we would ride up to the State park and go on 5-10-15 mile hikes together. There was a Hike-Master who kept us teens out of trouble, we took a packed lunch and plenty of water and a small first aid kit with us. And always a spare pair of socks.

When I  became a parent, I, as many young parents do, had to give up my hiking days for diaper changing, extra laundry, and all the extra expenses that go with a growing family. And I did it with joy in my heart because raising my babies was much more important than  going on hikes with my friends.

Well, now my babies are all grown, I live in a different country- and I am seriously out of shape. I want to explore the country I've moved to, but  hubby doesn't like to drive and in the shape I am now- I couldn't walk  to work(a 7 minute drive and 2 miles away), let alone do a 5-10-15 mile hike.

So I was watching a TV show the other night about Britain's Best Walks with Julia Bradbury and I saw episode 4 & 5. The 6 mile Countryside Walk, and the 6 mile Riverside Walk- (that one is also a coastal walk.).
I haven't been able to stop thinking about it and I've become obsessed with taking it up again.
So, I did some research- I'm buying a pair of new hiking boots for my birthday end of the month- and I'm already training for my first hike by upping my Fit-Bit goals and changing my eating plan up. I think I will be ready for one of the 6 miles hikes mentioned above for late summer or early autumn.

My Bezzie in the UK, Lisa, has agreed to do these walks with me, (and hubby and his dad, if they choose to join me). I'm so glad because we seriously don't get to spend enough time together anymore.  My ultimate goal is to someday hike the entire 32/34/36 miles of the Sandstone Trail. I'm going to say that's my 5 Year Plan Goal.  But for now- it's going to be a daily walk- short ones to begin with then adding to the distance every day, until I can walk to and from work every weekday during the summer months. Then I know I will be ready to tackle a full fledged actual hiking trip. I dont want these to be rush trips. I want to be able to take it at a nice easy pace and be able to enjoy being in The Great Outdoors again.

Oh the joy of being out and about in nature again is making me smile!!!

If anyone has any suggestions as to a good waterproof medium weight hiking boot with good ankle support, please let me know. (Or notwaterproof- I can waterproof them myself) I'm looking for quality that will last at least three years, but I really don't want to go over £100 for them. (That's my "pocket money" for the month). I did think maybe Military Jungle boots might work well too. Thoughts? I just want to go ahead and get the hiking boots so I can get them nicely broken in and used to wearing them.
I have a good sturdy suitable backpack already.  And a First Aid Kit as well.

So that's me. Deciding to do something I want to do. Like it or not- here I come.


Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Repost- May 10, 2005....Changing The Rules

Every relationship has a point where it happens. Some of us try it when we're still dating- some of us wait until we've been married a few weeks, some have the idiot idea to change the rules after a half-century. But we all do it. Don't we?

My husband and I are approaching our first anniversary this weekend and I am happy to report that we have made it thus far without a single serious argument. Quite an achievement considering the fact that we actually had been in each others company for approximately 3 months before getting married.

We met over the internet and became pen pals- different countries- an ocean apart. Pen pals for more than two years before we actually met face to face. During that two years, we became best friends. We e-mailed each other, we chatted on the phone an hour every day, (Bell South and AT&T loved us and sent us B-day and Christmas cards each year), we spend his 6 week holiday making trips to different states along the eastern seaboard. We discussed everything under the sun and debated everything as well. We knew where each other stood on almost every possible subject.

And so far "The Rules", as we defined them, haven't changed for us.

But other couples have their own set of rules. You know the ones-What they consider cheating, what they consider flirting, where the defining lines are not to cross. And the rules do change with each new phase of the relationship. When they get in trouble is when they make the big commitment-no matter what phase that happens to be- and then decide to start changing the rules. Usually without discussing the changing of them with the significant other.

All of the sudden, things that were a big no-no aren't quite so cut and dried when a cute co-worker seems to be hanging around becoming more of a friend than they were 6 months before. Suddenly having a drink or two doesn't seem like such a big deal before heading home. And then the following week, or month, it doesn't seem like such a big deal to go to their house instead of the local bar & grill for that drink. Pretty soon having a swim in the pool there isn't such a big thing either. Neither is skinny dipping the following month. And then things aren't so fun at home anymore. Because the rules have changed. There is now another more seamy set of rules that apply to the relationships between the committed couple and the new friends couple. YUK!
Too much.

On the less serious side there are also the simpler rules that change. The unspoken but understood rules, like bathroom time is private time. The first time you're both late for work that one goes completely out the window and it is HARD to go back to PBT, (Private Bathroom Time) , once that happens.

One of my personal favorites is when the female says not a word about the male putting the "seat" down while they are dating. Then after they are committed it becomes a huge point of contention.

Excuse me- But WE don't put the seat UP for them- why should they have to put it DOWN for us? And why doesn't the female bring it up before the "commitment"??

Why is it that most people think that just because they love someone they have to do everything together?

Or the exact opposite- why do some people begin to think that they don't want to do anything together? One or the other of the couple begins to want to do things separately? Go out with "their" friends. Go for trips or vacations by themselves. I even know one couple who have been married forever and they go out and go to separate spots for dinner because they can't stop thinking of themselves long enough to compromise on a place to eat! What the heck kind of a relationship is that? When did they change the rules? More importantly- why did they change or why did they LET them change?

If the rules of the relationship change at some point- will the relationship change? Will it change and make the relationship stronger- or will it ultimately destroy it?

Or worse than either- will it just stagnate?

This is in no way a reflection of how I personally feel in MY relationship- I am still the clingy one in ours to be honest. I WANT to do everything together- The shopping, whether it's at the Dress Barn for me a dress or at the local Home Depot to look at power tools for my husband, or at Toys-R-Us shopping for a new toy or game for us. (Yes we actually DO). I want to ride to the mountains together and have picnics, pay the bills together, snuggle on the couch together, cook and clean together, fish and shoot together. I have had enough of doing things on my own and I adore spending time with my hubby.

BUT- on the other hand, I don't mind the occasional time spent apart when he is target shooting and I am reading a book- or whether I am off fishing while he is catching 40 winks before dinner.

I don't think anything will change for us because we discuss everything together- and that's OUR set of rules.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Week 3 & 4 Dining Room & Command Center Complete.

Not much to write about this week, I'm afraid.  These two ares stay neat and tidy, mainly because I  have to look at it in front of me and it drives me nuts if anything is out of place.
 I did scrub the table and chairs down and then after they dried, polished them with Mr. Sheen so they positively shine!!! 

  I also wiped down the window-sills and hoovered the floor. And that was the dining room done. It's part of the living room which is the next room I'll tackle, so it's an area- not a full room.

Then there's the "Command Center/Launch Pad" as the trendy people call it. 
It's actually a basket that assorted nuts came in as a Christmas Selection from the local food shop Christmas 2015. After the nuts were gone instead of tossing the basket in the bin, I had set it on the top of the bookshelf, and when hubby came in he set his keys in it and his spare change and a lighter he had in his pocket- so it became  our "Command Center". Our phones sit on each side of it if they aren't on the charger.

 The open binder is the 2017 Home Organization Checklist and Schedule. If it isn't there, it's in my hands. That thing is a BLESSING!!!

On to  Week 5- The Living Room!!!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

2017 Home Organization Challenge- Week 1 & 2 : Kitchen & Pantry

Well, I did it!! Week 1 & 2 The Kitchen & Pantry are done!

Everything was pulled out, wiped down, sorted and re-organized. I got rid of a lot of unused things.... and a few things I used but during the clear out I found things that I liked more to replace the them.

So it was a LOT of work, but well worth the piece of mind I'm enjoying after the clear out-or "purge" as they call it in organization-land.
Below is the overall BEFORE photo and then the AFTERS of all the areas of my  postage stamp sized kitchen. (Don't mind the BEFORE mess- it's not always that bad- it was particularly bad that day because I had made lasagna and fresh baked bread and everything was out of place and before I cleaned up after eating.-I promise, I'm not that nasty.)
This floor- I detest it. That's it after 3 hours with bleach and a scrub brush and washcloth on my hands and knees. Upside- it hides actual dirty spots. Downside- it NEVER EVER looks CLEAN!

All Tidy.

This is my "Pantry".

Small appliance storage and hot and cold cereals.

New Fridge/Freezer. Just  a quick wipe-out and tidy for this.

I'm still looking for a storage solution for the K-cups. I did find one just thinking how to implement it.

The kitchen needs some serious upgrades and repairs. I'm not big on renting.

Our new beverage station. The canisters are from hubby's childhood kitchen and we treasure them.
I have moved the magnetic schedule to the side of the  fridge so it looks neater...... and as an added bonus we bought hubby a new computer station for his office and set it up, too.
It was tough!! It took  3 days longer than I thought it would, but as I did two weeks challenge it didn't take as long as it should have.

So- next weeks challenge room is the dining room. Another shared space as this is our Dining room/Living room and Launch Pad. Probably the tidiest room in the entire house most of the time.
So I'll have 3 weeks time to complete those 3 areas/one room. I figure it will take an entire week. Photos will follow

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2017 Home Organization Challenge

Last week I joined a group called the 2017 Home Organization Challenge.

I actually got started on it Friday after work. There is a schedule outlined- 14 weeks- one week for each room/area. And there are checklists for each room/area as well.

Week 1 is the Kitchen... I didn't find the Challenge until it was almost over for Week 1 so was getting a late start, but since I have a postage stamp sized kitchen I thought it would take Friday evening to do- at the absolute worst- I'd have to finish it up on Saturday morning before heading out to run errands. Ermmmmmm.... not.

I'm still working on it. This is called a Challenge for a reason- it's certainly not a hit and miss quick clean. This is a PURGE and Deep Clean Challenge. All I have left to do is:
1) One small cabinet to clear out and organize.(this will be done Monday after work.)
2) My cabinet I keep my pots and pans in is always organized, but needs everything taking out and the shelves wiped down. (Tuesday after work.)
3) The wall behind the rubbish bin and the baseboards wiped down and the floor mopped.(Wednesday after work.)

Kitchen/Pantry will be done. I'll post before and after photos when each is completed.

The pantry was supposed to be Week 2 but as I dont have one and store all food in the kitchen I actually had two weeks to complete my kitchen.
I had some issues... Like cleaning between the spaces on each side of my cooker/stove and the cabinetry on each side. I have an apartment sized cooker in a full size cooker space. I ordered some silicone gap covers thinking that would solve the problem. It took me 3 hours to clean those aforementioned sides of cooker and cabinets, gas stove that cant me moved more than 2 inches to either side... it was a real challenge for sure. Then the gap fillers.... No matter how the  cooker was positioned, the fillers came up short. so now I have to figure it out. And I will....

On the bright side (if there IS one)- some of the positions I had to pretzel into trying to get to the hard to reach places to purge and clean made me glad I have been doing a bit of yoga in the past few weeks (albeit a minimum) and had made me think if I ever leave my job, there's a possibility of a career as a contortionist in the circus.
Then, on one of my breaks between chores, I learned that Barnum and Bailey is closing the act after 160+ years.
Well, damnation...there goes THAT idea.

Monday, January 02, 2017

The Holiday Tale.....Part 4 The End

Well, when I got home 3 days later,  I decided I was going to go to the website to see about re-compensation for the delayed flights.

Let me offer up a piece of advice for you.... When you go on a trip take out your phone and take photos of each and every Boarding pass you are given. There is vital info on it that you will need in order to get said re-comp for delayed flights. My mistake was that I didn't take said photos of the boarding passes- and at each and every delay was given a new one and the old one was handed back to them.
Now the re-comp dept is asking for "more documentation to support my claim" and do I have it? I most certainly do not.
Lesson learned.


Okay, so back to the story.
The wildfires back home certainly gave us all a bit of a cough. I was sick just before going back home- as I wrote on here... and at first I thought that's what the cough was about- but it wasn't. The smoky air irritated my throat and lungs badly. And now- I'm just now getting over it. The cough, that is.
I still feel like I have jet lag. I've had no energy at all for the past few weeks. I still dont altho I can feel a BIT of it returning occasionally. I didn't even feel like putting up a Christmas tree or much decorations this year.  To begin with... this is all the Christmas decorating I could muster the energy for....
  Seriously, I am not joking. ZERO energy was had and I even had trouble mustering the energy to type Yule Log into the search to get this on the TV.

Then I decided- well, I'll get the stick-on decorations I brought from the States out of my luggage and do the entrance hall mirror. VERY small 5 minute job.... so I did that.... but after putting them on it looked naked, so later that evening I dug the reindeer and the bag o' snow out and put it and the little snow covered tree and two pine cones on the shelf below the mirror. (I did add a bit of silver tinsel around the mirror later on, but didn't get a photo of it completely finished.) The entrance hall at least had a BIT of Christmas Cheer for any Holiday visitors.

The Kitchen came next. I had two sparking wine bottle that had come with a delivery meal hubby and I had back around September. We're only occasional drinkers, so the sparking wine got tasted, was rejected as an utter waste of grapes, and poured down the sink in favor of something more palatable, and the bottles were put aside. I had an idea about something simple to do with them when I drained them, and Christmas was the time to do it. I had some red silver and green metallic curling ribbon in my goodie box, you know- the bits and bobs you don't quite have enough of to do anything major at the time, but too much to throw away and waste.... so I took the curling ribbon out. I peeled the labels off the wine bottles and it left a bit of the adhesive behind on the bottles which was perfect for what I had in mind. Then I unscrewed the caps, put the ribbons together and knotted them and put them in the neck of the bottle and then screwed the caps back on over them. (I may replace the screw on caps with actual corks if I can find some that will fit properly)... Then I just spiraled the ribbon round the bottles til I reached the bottom and then secured the ends to the underside with a bit of cello tape. A bit of short curling ribbon on the top and that was my kitchen window decoration sorted. I think I will get a couple more of those to do a little forest of them next year!!! With my little Christmas tins I usually put in the window or even just a bit of the plastic snow it will be whimsically cute.
Then I tackled the bedroom......
Just The stockings hung on the sides of the windows, red and white bedding, with my Christmas Quilt and red fleece throw on the foot of the bed and the small red sequined pillow in front of the pillow with white eyelet lace pillowcase.
 Then came the front door.....

That one was a breeze. Jingle Bells on curling ribbon garland with my red plaid scarf hung behind it. I wore the scarf to work every day- and when we got home I hung it back behind the bells.

Sometimes during the beginning of December we had went to the city and did a bit of a shop while we were there running errands, I had found a cute little rattan cone tree that was pre-lit and so I got it. It was originally going to be our "Christmas Tree" this year as I didn't feel up to putting up the 1500 tip artificial tree. So we got it home and this went on the shelf under the front window.
Then I found out that hubby wanted to host a NYE do with two couples we regularly do a Dinner and Board Games night with, so I had to do a bit of rearranging to bring in the table after Christmas, which currently was being used for hubby's Computer desk in the study/media room. Photo of where it went in a minute.
I had two unused Photo frames which I used to make a bit of Christmas with the top of a Christmas Card Box from a couple years ago....(The snow-scene on the right) and a collage of old Christmas Cards I had cut up to use for Christmas Gift Tags from years past...(The frame on the left)

and I put out a bit of Christmas do-dads on a couple of shelves...

As you can see this is where the shelf that was under the window went.....

By this time Everyone was asking where my photos were of my decorating as I am know as the Mrs. Claus of the Known World. I plan all year long and sing Christmas songs all year too.... When word got out I wasn't doing the decorating thing in the style I usually do, people began becoming worried about my health and general state of mind.  Even my husband was concerned. and he's usually the eye roller when I start digging Christmas stuff out at the end of November. I think the "I'm not putting up a tree this year." is what finally did it for him. He actually asked me "Who are you and what the HELL have you done with my WIFE?" and told me he was actually starting to get concerned.

I was getting emails, Private Messages, phone calls and sit down conversations with people.... it was exhausting!!!  So one morning, I got up,  got my 6 ft Santa down from his perch on top of my armoire,  and put him in front of the window.
He's in 3 pieces, so much less effort to put him together than the big tree. I set him up, polished his boots, straightened his glasses and then put his Nice List in his hands.  Then I placed all our wrapped gifts on the floor around his feet. Then, I got out the LED twinkle lights, a strand of colored and a strand of white, twined them amongst the gifts and then bordered a strand of silver garland around the bottom of the gifts. I also put two of the straight backed chairs together and covered them with my Snowman themed throw to look like a North Pole themed Bench.

And finally, I  took out my Grandparents and Parents antique ornaments they had given me when they bought all new things for their trees. They had had them since the first year they were married and I treasure them!!! (My grandmother actually had them set on top of the rubbish bin to be set out the next day's garbage pick up but luckily she asked me to take something out and I saw them and asked her could I have them...) she asked me why in the world I would want them as they were old and faded and she and Grandfather had had them since their first Christmas together. I said "Because they are old and faded and because you and grandfather had them since your first Christmas together." Then When mom was buying things for her and Dad's 50th Wedding Anniversary Tree, (They were married on Christmas Day), I told her that I had Grandmother's old ones and she divided up the ones she had from her and Daddy's First Tree and gave them to each of us kids.
Anyway, I put those ornaments in a large Hurricane candle lamp my daughter had given me and Hubby for Christmas years ago- then filled it in with the Bag o' snow and put a few bits of sparkly ribbon on top.
And that was my Bare Minimum Decorating Done and Dusted.

Now mind you- this decorating I'm showing you went on over three week's time. I finished the last bit on Christmas Eve Eve.... December 23rd. This is the bare minimum and I usually do my all out big decorating - the whole shebang -over a weekend.

Luckily, we were invited to Hubby's  parents home for Christmas Dinner  and I didn't have to cook. I don't think I could have done it.

I think next Christmas I am going to go all out..... A real live tree- wreaths for the windows..... A gingerbread house. The Whole Shebang.  I miss the smells of Christmas and I think that's why all my Christmas Spirit has left me. I miss the smells. Evergreen...oranges, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger....Vanilla and Chocolate!!!!!

Ahhhh..... Yes Indeed.

Christmas 2017 will be vastly different.