The Ghost of Christmas Future, and New Year’s Resolutions

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This Christmas is over, and after all the gift-giving, card-sending, partying and over-eating, all I want to do is…start on next year’s preparations.

Am I sick, or what?

It might be because I never finished decorating for this Christmas. Or it might be because I haven’t had time to do anything very creative for a while, so I want to make some more Christmas cards and some earrings to give as gifts. Goddess knows, I have enough earrings for my own wearing for this lifetime!

But, it’s New Year’s eve today, so I must review my 2015 resolutions to see how I did.

2015 RESOLUTIONS:

1. CUT CREDIT CARD DEBT BY HALF.

Oh my, oh my. This was a complete and utter FAIL. I started 2015 with $8000 in credit card debt, and ended 2015 with $12,600 in credit card debt. I had approximately $6000 in medical bills this year, while I had $1500 budgeted. I also had to buy new tires for Gypsy Blue, to the tune of $1000.

This week I withdrew $4500 from my retirement savings (gulp) to pay off the “small” cards, and I refinanced the $8100 balance on an expiring 0% interest card to a new 0% interest card.

2. CONTINUE DECLUTTERING AND BLOGGING.

This went pretty well, if slower than I would’ve liked, so I’ll call it a WIN. Yay!

I started 2015 at 231 bags, boxes and small pieces of furniture cleared out of the house, and ended the year at 309.

3. CONTINUE TO COOK, AND EAT WELL.

This was a 50-50 success-fail. I had a weight loss of 25 pounds, then fell of the lo-carb wagon in slo-mo, gained 15 pounds back, got back on the wagon, lost 8 pounds, fell off the wagon from Thanksgiving through Christmas, got back on the wagon, lost 2 pounds…

Up and down, back and forth, to and fro…you get the idea.

I just decided, a tie is a WIN.

4. TAKE A PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE.

FAIL. I bought a new camera last year and can’t even figure out how to turn it on.

5. TAKE TECH WRITING COURSE.

FAIL. This was an “I should do this to try to make extra money” resolution. My heart wasn’t really in it.

6. LEARN TAI CHI.

FAIL. This was an “I should do this to make Dr. Paul, my naturopath, proud of me” resolution. My heart wasn’t really in this one, either.

I didn’t make a resolution to get back into my Herbalism course, but I started it up anyway. I had left it a little while (cough*years*cough) ago, when I was just 60% through part one of three. I finished parts one and two this year! Yay! BONUS WIN.

TOTAL: 3 WINS, 4 FAILS.

Embarrassing to admit, but probably my most successful year ever.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! MAY 2016 BE THE BEST EVER!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! MAY 2016 BE THE BEST EVER!

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS, 2016:

  1. CANCEL ALL CREDIT CARDS EXCEPT NEW 0% AND MY BANK VISA.
  2. BUILD UP $1200 EMERGENCY FUND. (Not much, but $1200 more than I have right now).
  3. PAY CASH FOR EVERYTHING. (No new charges).

Of course, I want to eat well more consistently, and I want to continue decluttering, and I want to learn to use that damn camera, but I don’t want to focus my resolutions on those things.

Hey, to make sure I’m extra successful, maybe I should resolve to NOT take a tech writing class or learn Tai Chi!

Stay tuned…

p.s. I made $59 extra in December. I sold $24 worth of household goods to a thrift store and won $35 at the casino.

 

The Ghost of Christmas Present

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CHRISTMAS #1: Potluck lunch at “The Company”.

Each year, near the winter solstice, my fellow employees of “The Company” arrange a potluck lunch for all to share.

There were about 18 crock pots full of main dishes, a dozen platters of sausages, cheeses and crackers, multiple chips and dips, a plethora of salads, and a few things that defied categorization. There were also about eleventy-hundred desserts.

I brought napkins.

Approximate calories ingested: 10,000.

CHRISTMAS #2: Dinner with my BFF “L” and her family.

I went over to “L”‘s house on Christmas eve, laden with gifts for her and her twin boys, age 14. I didn’t get anything for her husband this year, because I don’t want him to get too spoiled.

After dinner and desserts, we played Cards Against Humanity. It’s very raunchy, and we had to explain some of the terms to the boys. We’re such good role models.

Approximate calories ingested: 10,000.

CHRISTMAS #3: Buffet lunch at the casino.

On Christmas day, I met No.1 Sis, and BFFs “V1” and “V2” at Mystic Lake Casino for the buffet lunch (prices extra high for the holiday) and a little light gambling.

My tip: Avoid the sugar-free desserts.

My other tip: Try the new slot machines that have the huge video screens. You’ll probably still lose money, but the graphics are awesome.

Approximate calories ingested: 10,000.

Money won: $35.

CHRISTMAS #4: Potluck lunch at No.1 Sis’ house.

No.9 Bro, along with his wife and two kids, were visiting Minnesota from their home in Washington state. We all gathered at No.1 Sis’ for a potluck lunch and some game-playing.

I brought celery.

Approximate calories ingested: 10,000.

CHRISTMAS MOVIES WATCHED:

“Christmas Belle” with Halie Duff, 1 time (don’t bother).

“A Christmas Carol” with Patrick Stewart, 1 time (the best “Christmas Carol” ever filmed).

“Elf” with Will Ferrell, 3 times (listen to the phone conversation the secretary is having the first time Buddy comes to visit his Dad).

“Arthur Christmas”, an animated British Christmas movie, 1 time (highly recommend).

OTHER STATS:

Antacids ingested: Approximately eleventy-hundred.

Blood sugar: Too afraid to check.

Weight loss, against all laws of nature: 2 pounds.

Stay tuned…

P.S. A co-worker informed me there were 27 crockpots at The Company potluck!

P.P.S. I forgot, I still have one more Christmas to celebrate! That makes 5 this year!

 

 

The Ghost of Christmas Past, or 309

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Okay, let’s face it. It’s 2 days until Christmas and I’m not going to decorate the mantel.

I got the tree put up. I got my shopping and wrapping done (thanks Mrs. Mary Kay, AKA No.2 Sis). I got my Christmas letter written and my cards sent out.

I’ve had the first of four Christmas celebrations. And I’m done. Well, except for the three parties this coming weekend. Then I’m done.

I was looking through some old photos of Christmases past.

MY FIRST CHRISTMAS (IN BLANKET). LOOK AT THE ROLLER SKATES THAT YOU CLAMP TO YOUR SHOES.

Christmas past - 1

PHOTOGRAPHIC PROOF THAT MY MOTHER SOMETIMES COOKED (I’VE HEARD RUMORS, BUT HAVE NEVER SEEN IT).

MY FIRST DOLL.

Christmas past - 2

THANK THE GODS, THE NUN DOLL WAS NOT FOR ME.

Christmas past - 3

WHY DO I HAVE A FEATHER IN MY HAIR? NO. IDEA.

Besides doing all my Christmas chores this week, I worked on cleaning out the Studio. I donated 2 more boxes to Goodwill. That makes 309 bags, boxes and small pieces of furniture removed from the house since January, 2014. I thought I’d be done by now. Hah!

Stay tuned…

A Little Solstice Decor, and 307

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I haven’t put up a Christmas tree in a few years. In fact, I just got rid of my five-foot tall artificial tree while cleaning out the garage.

I decided to buy a new,  smaller tree this year. Small enough so Bella the cat wouldn’t recognize it as a tree that needed climbing. Large enough so that she wouldn’t mistake it for a cat toy.

LITTLE SOLSTICE TREE

LITTLE SOLSTICE TREE

No.2 Sis made these ceramic Santas for me.

CERAMIC SANTAS

CERAMIC SANTAS

And this is one of my favorite ornaments.

SISTERS ALWAYS STICK TOGETHER

SISTERS ALWAYS STICK TOGETHER

I added a bunch of the ornaments I no longer use to the “Sell” box and took 2 boxes to a thrift store that pays cash for home decor. They bought one of the boxes (none of the ornaments)  so the rest went into the Goodwill donation box.

That brings my total number of boxes, bags and small pieces of furniture cleared out of the house up to 307.

I still plan on decorating the mantel (yes, I know it’s getting very close to the Solstice/Christmas) and when I do, I’ll post some more pictures.

Stay tuned…

 

17 Simple Daily Rituals, A Review

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I ran across this on Pinterest: 17 Simple Daily Rituals That Make Life Immediately Better, by Chelsea Fagan.

17 is way too many for me to handle, but I thought there were some really good ideas in the article. Let’s review, shall we?

  1. Buying frozen fruits and vegetables. Makes sense if you live in the Frozen North, as I do. Frozen produce is healthier than canned, and cheaper than out-of-season, imported produce.
  2. Making extra food. Brilliant! I always do this, since I’d rather mess up the kitchen once or twice a week than every night.
  3. Setting up your coffee the night before. No coffee for me.
  4. Stretching.  It sounds like a good idea, but I think I pulled a back muscle whilst stretching this morning.
  5. Putting your alarm clock far away from you.  I have to do this, or I’ll just slap the alarm off and go back to sleep. How many times can you be 2 hours late for work without getting a scolding? (Answer: 1).
  6. Organizing your shoes. I only have 2 pairs of work shoes. They stay pretty organized.
  7. Using nice hangers. Yes, I love my velvet hangers!
  8. Taking stock of your refrigerator. Daily? Too much.
  9. Lighting candles. I should do this more often.
  10. Opening your curtains right away. Hahaha. In Minnesota, in the winter, there’s no point in opening the curtains at all. I go to work in the dark, and I come home in the dark.
  11. Getting flowers, and changing their water daily. I should do this more often, too.
  12. Writing down or cutting things out that are important to you. I don’t know, that would really make me feel like my mother, who was a paper hoarder. When she was in the nursing home, she wanted us to bring her boxes of papers from her apartment so she could sort through them. When she was on her death bed, I told her it was okay to let go because we’d finished her filing. I’m pretty sure she knew I was lying.
  13. Cleaning up a little bit as you go. I’m SO BAD at this!
  14. Drinking tea. I do this, but what choice do I have really, since I quit drinking coffee?
  15. Looking out the window. See number 10.
  16. Changing your route. Ha! I do this every time I get lost on the way home from work.
  17. Reading a little bit about the places you want to go. Brilliant! I do this, and it helps keep me from going bat-sh*t, burned-out crazy between vacations!
WHAT I'D LIKE TO SEE OUTSIDE MY WINDOW

WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE OUTSIDE MY WINDOW

Stay tuned…

 

Basic Chicken and Pepper Steak

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I tried two recipes from “Nourishing Traditions” cookbook.

NOURISHING TRADITIONS

NOURISHING TRADITIONS

BASIC BAKED CHICKEN

I tend to follow the recipe exactly when making it for the first time, but I did a little tweaking on this one. I didn’t have a full, skin-on, bone-in chicken, only skinned, de-boned chicken breasts, so I cut the cooking time in half.

I realized afterwards that the accompanying sauce recipe relied on said skin and bones, so the sauce didn’t really work out for me. The chicken was excellent, though.

I’d meant to make the pepper variation of the recipe, but I found no red peppers in my grocery bag when I got home from my shopping. I remember picking up a red pepper, putting it back upon deciding to fetch a produce bag, getting the bag, and then…apparently NOT returning to the peppers. So I made the basic recipe.

PEPPER STEAK

The pepper steak recipe called for smashed green peppercorns and lemon juice as a marinade. Tip: Do not put peppercorns in marinade bag and crush with mallet, as the lemon juice, when added, will seep all over the counter through holes in the bag (caused by either the peppercorns or the mallet, or the combination thereof).

Never say I haven’t taught you anything.

I followed the recipe exactly, and it turned out to be delicious.

Stay tuned…

P.s. I shared this post at Chic on a Shoestring.

 

60 Is Right Around The Corner

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I woke up with a start this morning and sat straight up in bed. I just realized that I’m going to be 57 years old in a few days, and that means 60 is right around the corner!

For years I’ve been looking forward to 60 because I should be able to retire then. But it just hit me this morning that not only will I be retired, I’ll be old! Oh my Goddess, I don’t want to be OLD!

I hope I don’t fall into a depression. My first Great Depression was when I turned 25. I thought I’d have life figured out by 25. A quarter of a century of experience should impart some wisdom, shouldn’t it? I still felt like (and probably was) a clueless child.

My second Great Depression was at about age 37, when I realized I’d be 40 soon. I was facing 20 more years in a job that was stressing me out, I was cursed with a body that had started aching all the time, and I’d never even been to Europe! Alas and alack!

My actual 40th birthday was kind of a relief. I still didn’t have all the answers, but I finally felt like an adult. I owned a condominium, I had started putting away money for retirement, and I vacationed in Europe for the first (but not last) time.

At age 25, I had tried to picture my ideal future. I imagined myself in a cozy little cottage, with a fireplace, and tons of books on white bookshelves. I saw myself sitting alone on a little love-seat, dressed in a Chanel suit. I felt content and satisfied.

Now, at 57, I’ve been to the British Isles and continental Europe many times. I’ve even been to Africa!

ROSS CASTLE, IRELAND

ROSS CASTLE, IRELAND

I have a lovely house, that I’m still working on making into my cozy cottage. I have tons of books, but most of them are on the Kindle instead of on bookshelves. Who could’ve predicted?

I’m writing this while sitting on my charming, white slip-covered love-seat, in front of a roaring (hissing, gas) fire.

So what’s missing from my life? Nothing, except a Chanel suit. Where did that come from, anyway? I hate suits! Give me jeans and a tee shirt any day!

Ah, life is perfect, and age is just a number.

Stay tuned…

P.s. I shared this post at Chic on a Shoestring.