22 January, 2010

Inside and Out

Yesterday was a good day of experimentation. I have been feeling the Gloom descending upon me for the last couple weeks, and was really determined to stave it off: This is no time for wallowing in self-pity, this is time for positive action! So, I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and got outside. I rode my beautiful new/old bicycle, Miss Patty, to the library and back. While at the library, I got some dvds on travel and finances, plus a yoga video. I thought these might be a good way to stimulate my creativity in a practical way and learn something while doing so. I took the scenic route on Miss Patty. It was wonderful, though, admittedly, a little challenging since I haven't ridden a bike in ages. When I got home, I had a little snack before heading out to Duke Forest for some solitary hiking. (Actually, I invited a friend, but it being a last minute invite, she wasn't available.) Being in the woods is always therapeutic for me. I hiked for over half an hour, and would have stayed longer, but the darkening gray skies were threatening rain, and I didn't fancy getting my car all soggy on the ride home.
These excursions cleared my vision a little, so that I was able to make a few more decisions about the house decorating project. I removed the blue lace 'shades' from the living room windows. Despite loving them in the room, they were casting a greenish tint against the ivory drapes hanging over them. I just couldn't jam on the murky effect that was having, so they had to go. Instead, I realized they could work as the curtains on the kitchen annex window. This room is just off the living room, so they'd help to tie the colors of the two rooms together. Then I hung the pictures I framed on Monday and Tuesday above the sofa, so that the walls wouldn't look so sad and bare. The room will still have a way to go before being finished, but I think it's definitely starting to come together into a cohesive design. Since I'm working on a limited budget and trying to focus on re-purposing items I already have rather than bowing shamelessly to the gods of consumerism, I rifled through old magazine cutouts and saved calendars to find pictures to frame, and used mostly old frames I had stored in my attic. I tried to keep the color palette a reflection of the colors in my sofa to connect all the disparate subjects in the pictures. I chose the high school graduation photo of my mother as the center anchor of the arrangement. She's so beautiful, don't you think? I'm going to have to start earnestly planning for the painting of the walls very soon. (I hate painting, so this is going to take some discipline!) I'm still unsure of the best color for the walls in the living room. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

18 January, 2010

Weekly Roundup

Well, this week has been an interesting one. I've been having a lot of inspiration about projects I want to complete at the house, and have been trying to get them all organized so that I might actually be able to get them done at some point. The big catch is that I am suddenly facing a pretty sizable decrease in income. So, on top of all the project planning, I'm also having to ramp up my creativity on how I might find less expensive ways to do the things I've planned and everyday ways to save money during the course of my mundane activities. I'm forcing myself to look at this new predicament as an adventure in creativity and thrift rather than a roadblock.
So, before all of this had taken effect, I had managed to purchase some fabric for window treatments and a new duvet cover for my bed. I also got a down blanket to fill the duvet cover. I got a new trash can - finally - since I'd been using an old galvanized outdoor can that took up way too much space and, thus, looked a little dumpy. (Pun intended.)
I've been having trouble finding fabrics for my bedroom that really make me happy. I've made several purchases of fabric that I thought might work, but then ended up schlepping them back to the store when they just didn't work like I wanted them to in the space. I'm still waiting to find the right fabric, but my fabric shop choices are limited around here. I've checked online, but still haven't managed to find anything that really compares to what I'm envisioning in my head. I'm envisioning a sort of 1970's-esque palm beach fabric with pinks, reds and oranges on a white background ... sort of reminiscent of a Diane von Furstenberg dress. If anyone has any suggestions on where to look for a fabric like this, please do share! Maybe later - once I've gotten all my project ideas organized and written down - I'll post my plans on here. I'll also post some photos of the finished windows in a day or two. Until then ... happy experiementing!

11 January, 2010

Household Overhaul

Well, this has certainly been a productive weekend, despite early signs of floundering and laziness. I'm not sure what came over me, but Saturday evening I received a sudden surge of motivation and inspiration which prompted me to immediately start overhauling my entire house. It began with finally making the curtains for the living room. (I've had the fabric since before Xmas, and kept procrastinating making them.) Once they were hung it became apparent that I would have to rearrange the living room furniture. As I was rearranging the furniture, I began to feverishly reevaluate half of the stuff I own. That lead to a maddening round of purging items I no longer use or need and reorganizing the items I'm keeping. The 'game' continued ceaselessly today, and will have to be picked up tomorrow since I just didn't have time to finish it all today. It feels so good to be lightening up like this. And with every task I complete, I am made aware of twelve more that need doing. It's like a wonderful roller coaster. I feel like I'm freeing my self and my space to make room for new items and experiences ... ones that will be more appropriate to my current tastes and needs. It's so amazing to me how much I'm willing to release now, when I just went through this purging and reorganizing routine only a few short months ago. I thought I had let go of so much then - and, truthfully, I had - but now I'm ready to let go of even more.

Has anyone else ever had the sense that the external environment is a direct reflection of the inner environment? I've known this for ages, but it never ceases to amaze me. Anytime my house is a chaotic mess, it seems my life is a chaotic mess, as well. When I purge and clean my home, it seems to open my mind to a greater sense of clarity and purpose and resolve. When I de-clutter my house, I de-clutter my mind. It's such a simple form of magick, really, but is so powerful. I highly recommend you try it, too. And, if you feel the inkling, please leave some feedback on your own discoveries through the process ...

06 January, 2010

Someone's in the kitchen ...

Today's been a pretty good day. I was somehow feeling both lazy and motivated, which resulted in my getting several items from my "to do" list accomplished, but at an easy and enjoyable pace. I finished making the bread I started yesterday. It was so easy, and it's really delicious. Finally ... I have gluten free bread that's light and crusty and wonderful rather than the dry, dense junk I've gotten from the market. Hooray! For lunch I made myself some butternut squash soup with a couple slices of my just-from-the-oven bread topped with brie cheese and mango chutney. I washed it down with a glass of pinot grigio. Delightful! (See photos.)
I also made a white bean and mustard greens bruschetta and a brie, pear and olive tart. The bruschetta's quite nice. I used a fig infused vinegar to add a little zest and it was the perfect balance to the slightly bitter greens and slightly sweet beans. I haven't tasted the tart yet ... I was to full from all the bread and bruschetta ... but it looks beautiful, and I'm looking forward to having some tomorrow. Perhaps I'll have a slice for breakfast with some bacon on the side? Mmmm.
When I wasn't concocting yummy treats, I was sweeping and mopping the entire house. I also tidied up the craft room so that I can stop having excuses and hopefully get my curtains sewn tomorrow. I'll put up some photos when they're finished.
Whew. So glad to have a nice day after the mutinous Monday yesterday. Here's hoping tomorrow's just as good!

05 January, 2010

Monday, Monday ...

Usually I have no beef with Mondays. They've generally treated me pretty well. We've gotten along okay. Today, however, Monday was a wee bit bitchy with me. Nothing extremely earth-shatteringly terrible happened. There was just a series of tiny little crummy instances that left me feeling a little undone. Now, normally, when I'm in a funk, I'll console myself by hopping into my pajamas, grabbing a glass of something numbing and resorting to watching something from my dvd collection for the millionth time. Today, I came home, feeling a little weepy, and put on my pajamas. I heated up a calzone, and finished the fourth Harry Potter book. Somehow, this was enough to put me back to rights. After that I did the dishes, cleaned the kitchen (yes, my kitchen is pretty much always in need of a clean), then cleaned an old tiny shelf that had been on my porch. I painted said shelf. I put said shelf in my bathroom and redecorated half the room. I also began a loaf of [gluten free] no-knead bread so that I can have the loaf ready by tomorrow afternoon when I will no doubt be hungry for a brie and chutney sandwich. With all that behind me, I'm feeling much less mopey. In fact, I'm feeling pretty darn good. Now, I'm going to grab that glass of wine and start on book five. Happy Monday!

04 January, 2010

Easy like Sunday morning ...

Sundays are generally my favorite days. More often than not, I indulge in a little lazing during the morning (after the animals are all taken care of, of course). Then I spend the late morning into the early evening cleaning and cooking and listening to public radio. Today differed only slightly in that the morning lazing was combined with some work on my financial budget. Budgets are always a little tricky, I think, whether they are arranged around money, time or whatever resource strikes your fancy. My budget is currently going to undergo a tightening as a direct result of the budgets of a couple of my regular clients undergoing some tightening. I'm remaining positive, though, that I will still be able to make all my bills as well as having some extra to save for home projects, a much needed vacation sometime this year, and Charlie's new diet regime. I've also been trying to start building up some kind of nest egg, since I've never really had one before. It's really outrageous to me that personal financial management is left out of our school curriculums. (But, I won't jump on that soap box just now ...)
Anyway, after the budgeting was done, and my emails were checked, I tidied the house, washed the dishes, and cleaned the kitchen. I made a lovely sweet and savory butternut squash soup that turned out even better than I had imagined it would. I also made several calzones and individually wrapped them so they'll be easy to grab when I'm in a hurry if need be. I did these, as usual, with the Bob's Red Mill gluten-free savory bread flour which makes for a terrific crust that balances really nicely with the sweetness of the tomato sauce, goat cheese and chicken apple sausage I used in the filling. Delish! I also got some of my mies en place together for a pear, brie, olive tart and a white bean, mustard greens bruschetta that I will finish making tomorrow. Then, I made myself an indulgent Sunday breakfast for dinner: cinnamon and cardamom [gluten-free] prairie bread french toast with a remaining piece of the chicken apple sausage and some crispy bacon. (Is there anything better than bacon bathed in the rogue maple syrup from a pile of french toast? I'm coming up blank.)
Hope your Sunday was just as enjoyable as mine. Until next time ... may your own experiments be met with success!

03 January, 2010

Charlie Casserole

Today found me doing the weekly grocery shopping: first at the Durham Farmers' Market and then at Whole Foods. After all the goods had been gotten, I set about preparing what I'm calling Charlie Casserole. It's basically a large batch of the raw foods that Charlie (my dog) will be eating on for the next couple weeks. Unfortunately, I had to get several supplements all at once, too, so the bill was quite a bit higher than I'd hoped, but I it's worth it if it helps Charlie to get better. Charlie has a systemic yeast infection, otherwise known as candidiasis. It is often overlooked and/or misdiagnosed by veterinarians, and can cause a random assortment of symptoms in animals and humans alike. (I battled candidiasis several years ago, myself.) I've switched Charlie to a raw foods diet. Let me just tell you now that he is eating a million times better than I am. When I returned from the markets, I set to work making up his meals for the next couple weeks. I pureed so many greens that I thought my blender might actually sputter and die under the strain. But, after about three hours, I was finished. I had a gigantic bowl full of pureed greens, chopped asparagus and green beans, pureed eggs and shells, dulse flakes and bee pollen. (See the photo ... the coffee mug and travel mug are there for size comparison.) I also bagged up all the raw chicken legs, chicken necks, and meaty soup bones so they could be frozen in individual serving sizes. The chicken livers are still thawing in the fridge. They were too frozen to throw in the blender while I was working. I guess I'll have to add them in tomorrow. Then I made up a meal for Charlie to eat today. (He had to wait much later than usual while I was buying and preparing it all.) He ate it with zeal, though his joints are really getting rather unstable causing him to slide around a lot while he eats. I know he is in a healing crisis, and this is normal, but it is still heartbreaking to watch. (You can see the worst of his hotspots - above his tail - in the photo.) I've started him on a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement for his joints, and have also started adding edible clay to his water. Soon I'm going to try to order some fulvic acid minerals and marine phytoplankton to help accelerate the healing. I've also gotten him some homeopathic sulphur to help rid his body of the toxic effects of past vaccines. Hopefully he'll start feeling a little better soon. He's a trooper, though, and, despite his obvious miserable state, is hanging in there admirably. He's still itching like crazy, but I really believe that we are on the right track to help him fully and holistically heal.
If you have any questions about canine candidiasis, or if your pet is experiencing some uncharacteristic symptoms, feel free to contact me, and I'll give you the information I have regarding candidiasis, systemic yeast infection, and links to some great holistic/natural remedies for animals of all sorts.
Thanks for reading!

02 January, 2010

Happy 2010!

A new year and a new decade began today. Most of the day, for me, was spent trying to recover from last night's merriment, but I was up alarmingly early (before 8am!) nonetheless. I did manage to be somewhat productive throughout the day, though, summoning small bursts of motivational energy between lethargic stints on the couch. I gave Charlie (the dog) a bath. (Always a good time ...) I tidied up the house. Washed, dried, and put away the massive mound of dishes that had been threatening to take over my kitchen since yesterday morning. I cleaned out the bunnies' houses. I also managed to take the bunnies out to play a little, though, they are never really sure how adventurous they're willing to get when out of their houses. I brought Anisette (a big, feisty, super fluffy, black dwarf lionhead) onto the couch with me for while. Then I let Blanca (a timid, little, white netherland dwarf with brown markings down her back and on her ears) onto the bed for a while. I still haven't tried putting their new harnesses and leashes on them, yet. Though I intend to do that very soon. I hope they won't put up too much fight when I try to outfit them, though, I must admit, it's likely they might. But, I think the vision of them in their coordinating harness vests will be adorable enough to make up for any difficulties with the donning. Lastly, I've made out my list for the farmers' market and the green grocer visit tomorrow morning. Aside from that, I've been volleying between re-reading the Harry Potter books and researching information on natural care for Charlie's illnesses. I'll have to write more about those in another post. Too much to cover tonight.
I'm off for a little more reading before bed ...
May 2010 be a year of many wonderful and rewarding experiments!

01 January, 2010

On the eve of the new calendar year ...

Not much new to report today. Yesterday I was busy with clients, and today's been full of preparations for my friend's wedding this evening, so my projects have been put on hold until 2010.
I did, however, check out my tarot reading from the brilliant online deja deck today. (Click here to try it: Deja Deck.)
This was my reading:

A stable home life.

This card centers around your house and those family/friends/lover(s) involved with your house. From your home you will find your power, whether it be from those who live there/frequent it, or from what you accomplish in the comfort and sanctity of your own temple.

On a slim few readings, this card has been prophetic of Bad Nights Out™ and has translated (in retrospect) to, “Do Not Leave The House Today.” But more often than not, it’s a card of positive powers, all of which emanate from your home base.

Look around you and appreciate what you have! And quitcher mopin’ while you’re at it!

Fairly fitting, no? I guess the timing of this blog was very apropos, indeed.

Happy New Year, everyone!