Monday, January 23, 2012

Goals Week 3: Woe

1. Move: in at least three workouts (hotel has fitness room and pool). Twice
2. Budget: Start getting tax items together (make my yearly checkoff list)-nope
3. Learn: Read gardening books-some
4. Complete: finish all outstanding reports for work (these are different from files). :(
5. Sustain: Look online for potential jobs/update resume (a lot more on this later). no

Um, yea...I failed on all goal accounts last week. It ended up being a long, stressful, wintery, and tiring week. I did go to the gym twice, but, otherwise, I can't say I did much else. So, I will just carry it over to this week. I am skipping the other one I'm doing this week.

Motivation seems to be a huge factor for me when it comes to any task. This has not always been the case; generally, if I have an interest I plow full-steam into it, but if I have to do something I do the best I can anyway. Jobs have always been this way for me: I am highly productive, high achiever, and have always tried to be a top employee (e.g. volunteer a lot, participate, produce timely results, etc, etc). I've never had issues with discipline and have received many employment awards and accolades. My current job, however, seems to be really holding me back. Or maybe I should say: I am really holding back from my current job.

I tell myself I need to feel grateful to be employed, well-employed at that, and find something to love about the job. I can't believe how difficult this seems to be. I have a mean, self-centered supervisor who is causing great stress among her employees. And, for reasons I am unclear about, I seem to be fulfilling a self-made prophecy of pissing this boss off. I mean to say, a lot of what I am (not) doing (quickly enough) is the cause of the stress. I think I am being subconsciously passive aggressive. Dumb (on my part).

I have today off because I worked through Saturday this week (travel). Boss likes to bark orders and I tried to complete her order, but had some technical difficulties that IT is still working on. She is unhappy I didn't just jump when she said it. I just have never been able to work for people like this woman. Really, who can be motivated when you are constantly belittled, patronized, mistrusted and ragged upon? On the other hand, I am starting to slightly believe that the universe is conspiring to make everything hard (f-ing computer and f-ing security and f-ing bad luck).

Of course, I cannot give up as much as I want to. Sure, I want to go home. I am tired of Louisville. I am tired of micro-management. I am tired of a job that is slowly being phased out (making achievements few and far between to the chagrin of the boss). I am tired of feeling so damn unhappy. However, financially I am still getting us to a 'safe place'.

I look at the want ads back home now and then and I'm not seeing much else. I have to tough this out for now. Meanwhile, I need to find coping methods. It's been many, many years since I despised a job. I despise this job.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thrift Share: 15 Jan

The only two measly things I have thrifted since Christmas: Milk glass mugs found at a flea market in KY. This booth had so many (cheap!) milk glass mugs it wasreally hard to settle on just the two. Sorry for the blurry photograph, but the one says "Mother's Prayer-Grant me patience, Lord....but hurry!" and the other one is just pretty. There were some great ones I left behind, many with Iowa advertising (banks, seed companies, trucking, insurance, etc.).

These are just proof I made jam today. The one on the left is the Three Citrus Marmalade (although, I am afraid it is going to be more like three citrus sauce as it hasn't set up well) and the one on the right is Blueberry-Lime jam made from blueberries picked last summer and some Persian limes I already had that were starting to head south. I ended up with a dozen jars (half of each). Both are really tasty!

Goals 2012: Week 2

(Christmas finally put away!)

Next week I have to travel again for work. I'll be gone for the whole week including Saturday and will not be able to go to Indiana. Because of this, I am keeping my goal forecast simple:

1. Move: in at least three workouts (hotel has fitness room and pool).

2. Budget: Start getting tax items together (make my yearly checkoff list).

3. Learn: Read gardening books

4. Complete: finish all outstanding reports for work (these are different from files).

5. Sustain: Look online for potential jobs/update resume (a lot more on this later).

Here are the goals I completed this week for Van's challenge(not a good week for goals):

1. Finish seed organizing/order-organized, but did not complete orders
2. FINISH case files (unfort or maybe fortunately, I have to or there will be hell to pay with the boss) Sadly, I am finishing up my last one today. I have no idea why I can't seem to stay motivated to get my work done. I'm usually a worker who arbores idle time and like when I'm busy. This job, however, all my tasks feel really tedious.
3. Try a thrifted cookbook recipe I am canning three citrus marmalade. It is not a thrifted recipe, but I found the recipe online. I'll post about it later
4. Clean apartment
5. Purge unworn clothing/unnecessary objects from apartment-in progress
6. Photograph objects for the Etsy shop-I didn't get to it.
7. Work out 3 times at gym/walk whenever nice outside

Here are my tasks completed for the 12 goals (my own challenge):

12 for 12 for 12 Roundup:

Week 2

Learn: I can't think of anything-this week was busy and went by quickly and I had little time to read or study as I would have liked. Maybe if I think about it a bit.

Move: I walked a couple of times in the Louisville 'hood (it was nice out for most of last week) and I went to the Y. I really hope to pick up in this area. I feel so good after a workout, but it is really hard to get motivated to do it.

Complete: Cleaned both boys' bedrooms. This chore included purging outgrown or broken toys. They both helped and even put toys in the donation/yard sale box on their own! Oh, and after today, ALL my 2011 case files are completed (I know you have no idea what these are, but suffice to say they are tedious and I had a ridiculous number of them last year). I also forgot to put this on the goal list last week, but Xmas decor is down and ready for the attic.

Sustain: I'm going to count making marmalade as it is good to keep canning skills sharp. Although, the citrus I bought is hardly local (it is USA grown). I haven't canned like I have in the past and we are actually running low on jam. I know for the same cost I could run to the store and buy it, but there is something inertly satisfying to know you can make it yourself. Oh, I also scheduled a physical to check B12 blood levels.

Plan: In my head, I plan to do a much better job of not falling behind at work. Work smarter, not harder-isn't that the motto?

Nourish: All food was made at home. We are drinking lots of water. And, I don't know if this counts, but due to a broken coffee bean grinder and all stored whole bean coffee, my coffee consumption was limited. Very limited.

Create: Again, time was short this week. This one had to be sacrificed.

Grow: I grew in personal awareness.

Observe: I observed that I am really not liking my job. :(

Budget: I really thought I messed this one up as I ended up at the grocery this weekend and spent more than I planned. However, I budgeted my accounts and found, much to my pleasant surprise, that I am saving money. In a short two weeks, I have more in savings than I've had in months. I should have been paying more attention, but I can only go forward. A lot of the items I purchased this week were for the pantry and should last for a couple of months. Next week I will spend very, very little (working with co-workers which will mean eating out, but I plan to pick cheap, healthy items off the menus).

Play: The boys and I watched Dolphin Tale and it was very good. I need to improve here. I am always so busy!

Love: This one is hard to quantify, but I think I am finding myself more patient than usual. I spent time with both boys (deliberately) and I enjoyed myself. This probably sounds odd, but when you really focus on how you spend time with your kids, is it quality time? I always have 101 things to do and ALL always need to be completed by some stupid deadline. Of course, I love my children, but I am not always apt to show it with all my distractions and impatience when they are distracting me. I will continue to work on this bit.

How did you do this week?

Saturday, January 14, 2012


As anyone living closest to a small city (i.e. less than 10,000) knows, buying local in the dead of winter is hard. Very hard. We do have a great farmer's market starting in late spring through October and all sellers must have grown their produce in our county. I try to shop there or another nearby county to the north of us (Amish markets) for most of my summer produce needs. My biggest exception: citrus.

For reasons unknown to me, I have been craving citrus all winter. I can't get enough. While I love grapefruit, Satsumas, and oranges, I can't say I have ever craved them with such an intensity. I am guessing my body lacks or needs something and citrus is meeting that need.

For the most part, I buy most of my citrus from Trader Joe's or a fruit market in Louisville. I like their selections of less common varieties and the prices (especially at the former) for organic is great. However, I also shop at the Big Stores. You know which ones I am referring to (basically, my only choices in the small city).

So, I am getting around to my story here. Today I saw that one of the Bigs had blood oranges. Wow, and at a great price! I love blood oranges. I decided to try following Tigress in a Jam's Can Jam Challenge (informally, as this one was from 2010) and make blood orange marmalade. Of course, the Big did not have the blood oranges they advertised, so I bought a bag of Cara Cara oranges and Ugli fruit instead. While checking out, the cashier and I were talking about the citrus and she tells me she used to work in produce at a supermarket that was once in town (long ago bought up by one of the Bigs). She told me when she came to work for Big she tried produce, but was soon placed on cashiering. She told me she asked them if she could do both (she's experienced, mind you), but they told her no. Instead, the Big store cut her after holidays hours down to 14. Yes, fourteen hours and she is the main wage earner in her family. She told me she had almost paid off her trailer, but then they cut her hours and now she is afraid she is going to lose it. She is falling further and further behind.

Now I understand the need for businesses to cut back when business slows, but this place is the only Big store in town (they definitely have the monopoly) and it is almost always busy (unless you are there in the middle of the night or early in the morning). Fourteen hours at probably barely minimum wage? She said, 'I work really hard..." in a voice like she was pleading with me to understand her plight or just make me believe she really wants the work. I can't imagine how she must feel to check out all the shit we buy. But then, the shit is giving her 14 hours (said with a sarcastic tone).

Really sad. I wish my patronage to the business counted for something towards it's workers. They say these Bigs make jobs. Really? Quite frankly, I think the majority of us are just screwed by the Bigs: higher prices, less choices, less hours for the workers, higher profits for that abstract face behind the curtain.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Winter Hike

It was so quiet. My eyes hunted for waking bears.

The trees stood tall and proud, soldiers looking for the edge of spring.

The warming sun began to steal the ice.

Nevertheless, the mountain stayed for a moment in a pair of giant smiles.

Kentucky's Natural Bridge State Park

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Goals Week One: Wannabee

Back in the early part of the century (2000-ish), I started to devour books about urban homesteading and city farming. I eventually built a small chicken run and a garden in the little backyard of my house. Actually, if I really think about it, I had an interest even in the mid-90's and used to draw plans for a small raised bed and chicken run in my tiny Arizona apartment's backyard. I loved that the courtyard in AZ had lemons and oranges growing in it (even if I never did harvest them due to a move).

Anyway, after I moved from the city to a rural property, I had high hopes of becoming a market grower (or at least a 100 feet locavore). I did garden every year for my family until I moved to Louisville, but I never seemed to gain enough skills (or time) to grow for the farmer's market. I pretty much gave up the dream.

Fast forward, last week I attended a fruit and vegetable growers conference in Kentucky. Although I was an exhibitor and could not attend the great seminars (grape growing, wine making, asparagus growing, bee keeping), I learned volumes from folks stopping by my work's exhibit. Not only did I learn from these wonderful people, but they rekindled a flame from a spark I had only been feeling for the past 1.5 years in form of wishful thinking. For their time in talking about their setups and how they got started, I am grateful.

I am also counting this as part of the move towards my 2012 goals.

12 for 12 for 12 Roundup: Week 1

Learn: Attended a fruit and vegetable growers conference (as an exhibitor); reading Essential Urban Farmer (Novella Carpenter), Gardening in Small Places, and lots of blogs. Restudied the fine art of making a worm bin

Complete: 95% completed with my 2011 work case files (part of my 12 before 2012 goals-CANNOT wait to have them completed 100%)

Move: I hiked! It was lovely and will be a near future post here.

Sustain: Removed two cardboard wrapping paper tubes from the recycle bin after reading this article. Continuing to save yogurt containers for seed starting. Collected 4 eggs (two of which had froze and became dog snacks). Bad news here, is we lost our Pekin duck we have had for four years. I am not sure what happened to her (no marks, she looked healthy). She was the last of our ducks (stray dogs attacked and killed much of our poultry and rabbits a few years ago and then the move prevented me from raising replacements).

Plan: Thinking a lot about my gardening plans this year. I am also contemplating better work habits (like not waiting until last minute to complete case files). I am also working towards debt reduction to allow me to come home.

Nourish: Nothing really significant. I did bring healthy snacks on my business trip last week to counteract eating out on the road.

Create: I started step one of the Meyer lemon limoncello (future gifts).

Grow: Ordered my first round of seeds from small family business. I will make final order in another week after I have had a chance to organize my old seeds. I also moved my Meyer lemon tree from the basement (it's been under lights) and it seems happier next to the back door. In fact, I spotted blossoms starting on it this morning.

Observe: Visited a new place called Natural Bridge State Resort (KY) and hiked to the bridge. It was super quiet and beautiful and I tried my best to capture some of this beauty on digital. I will share this week!

Budget: I did fairly well at not spending money on anything other than essentials. I did fall off the wagon on restaurant food (I was on the road and it is always so easy and tempting), one thrifting stop (more on that later), and some extras at the grocery store (clearance items). Sadly, I am also struggling (always it seems) with a man that is utterly STUPID when it comes to money. Not a happy part of the week (enough said).

Play: I can't say I did anything here, although, I had a lot of fun at that conference and, even though it was work, I could categorize it as play. The hike probably fits here as well. I also read a bit of a Christmas present book for pleasure (the latest by Charles Frazier).

Love: Tried to tell my boys ILU a bit more and also tried a little more patience with them. The three of us had a nice weekend.

Hopeful Goals for week 2:

1. Finish seed organizing/order
2. FINISH case files (unfort or maybe fortunately, I have to or there will be hell to pay with the boss)
3. Try a thrifted cookbook recipe
4. Clean apartment
5. Purge unworn clothing/unecessary objects from apartment
6. Photograph objects for the Etsy shop
7. Work out 3 times at gym/walk whenever nice outside

Linking up to Van's Sunday Goal Party.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Harvest Something

As a part of my goals this year, I want to try to keep track of the food I am producing or foraging again. On the old blog, I used to participate in this "linky" business of sorts (before the linky thing became popular in bloggerland-I wish it had been used for the challenge as I used to love to read other bloggers' accomplishments and this would have saved so much time!) called Independence Days Challenge. I participated for a couple of years and stopped in early 2010. I am not sure if it is still ongoing (I really hope Sharon brings it back this year and, if so, I'll participate again). If you are interested in sustainability, homesteading, farming, permaculture or preparedness, I implore you to check out some of the old posts on the topic.

I don't know if I will keep track of all the old categories (I have my own specific goals now), but I do like the idea of keeping track of what I grow (or forage) myself. I have not really tackled any of this on this blog, so this may seem like a 360 degree turnabout, but it really is an old and loved way of life I enjoyed (or at least felt challenged and interested in) for many years. I had planned on carry my homesteading ways on to Kentucky, but life has not been a picture-perfect script in any way and I really am not sure what the future holds. I think we can all agree the world is changing at G-force speeds and none of us can be certain of what lies around the proverbial corner. I like being (or at least trying) to be prepared.

I think thrifting is an extension of preparedness. I have thrifted or "curb shopped" for items useful in homesteading and preparedness. All of my tomato cages are garbage finds; I've picked up free pallets and used them to make chicken coops and raised beds for gardening (oh, and a composter too!). I have found cheap barrels that smelled like mint and vanilla (they once held essence) on Craig's List and transformed them into rain barrels. I have 'thrifted' chickens and turkey poults. Found books about gardening, goats and homesteading at thrift stores and garage sales. It is all part of frugal life (as long as it is in moderation unlike my last year!)

I am hoping to grow and can a lot of produce again this year as we have finally thinned our stockpile (my obsession with canning covered years 2004-2009; the man took it over in 2010-11 and much less was put up, but much more was used due to the distance).

I am currently in a tough situation of living between two places. This makes homesteading difficult. Hell, it makes life difficult and tiring. However, I am looking forward to a year of urban homesteading AND rural homesteading. I can't wait to compare the two. I've already been drooling through the seed catalogs and planning my crop.

So, back to my original topic about my 2012 harvest: Today I harvested 6 Meyer lemons from my houseplant! I plan to make limoncello as gifts next December and these sweet lemons should get me started.