Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekend Chit Chat


Mmmm... Tabouli!



So here I am at the tail end of my weekend, which has been a good one. For two weeks now I have been working on the weekends: grocery shopping, lesson planning, scheduled get-togethers, etc. This weekend I worked hard to make it that I wouldn't be doing that this weekend.

I kind of have a hard time relaxing when I look around my home and can see when there are things that need to be done or if I know that something is hovering in the background needing my attention. I am not a procrastinator and do much better knowing that my relaxing can be true relaxing and that there is nothing I ought to be doing otherwise.

So, on Friday, I pushed myself to get the menu and grocery planning out of the way before the presidential debate came on at 9:00 p.m. I plan to do the big grocery shopping on Monday. Saturday was going to be my day to finally get to go spend some of my birthday money on a few little treats! My new "Tried and True Meal Chart" (see two posts down) came in handy and I spent some time perusing my new cookbook to pick out a few new meals. I always plan out two weeks worth of meals and the shopping coincides.

Recall that Paul is now home with us for lunch instead of supper, so our bigger meals are then. Here is our lunchtime menu for this week:

Mon. Chick Pea Sensation Patties with Rosemary Polenta Fries and Smoky Avocado Sauce Tues. Mushroom Stroganoff
Wed. Falafels with Cool Cucumber sauce in Pitas

Th. Gimme Chimmis (chimichangas) with Guacamole and Potato Squashers
Fri. Today we'll be attending our once-a-month homeschool skating day from 12 - 2, so we'll have a brunch of Blueberry Carob Pancakes and then take Apples and Peanut Butter in the car for a snack on the ride home.
Sat. Leftovers day
Sun. Family Meal at our home church next door. I'll be bringing Chili and Cornbread

With the menu planning and shopping list out of the way, I was free to enjoy the weekend! So, yesterday I went to Bath and Body Works. I had $20 to spend there as a gift from Paul for my birthday. I know that you can get lotions and bubble baths pretty much anywhere these days, but I have long enjoyed B&BW, but never get anything for myself in there. It's just not usually in the budget and there are other times that I get spending money and have other plans for it. But this year I wanted some pampering things. So I got some bubble bath and some lotion in the Sensual Amber fragrance...





... and some body spray in Velvet Tuberose.


I just got a little sample size of the body spray. That was pretty much it for my gift money and then I got some hand soap in the Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin. It doesn't smell very pumpkiny to me, but it's still very autumnal ~ very nice.

Incidentally, though my heart goes out to the many, many families I know who are struggling in this economy (and we are one as well), I do think that those of us who have been practicing voluntary simplicity... or simply maintaining a practice of living within our means, will find the coming days somewhat easier to handle. We have become adept at things like using restraint when making purchases (saying no to ourselves and our children) and stretching our dollars. The other part of my birthday "shopping spree" was picking up two new shirts and a pair of pants for myself at Goodwill and I was thrilled with what I found.


Breakfast in the tent!

The weather here has flipped a switch. Thank you to our northern friends! The drier air has finally arrived and windows and lanai doors are open! We've enjoyed morning bike rides and the girls "camped out" in the back yard last night with neighbor, K. I am so happy to have the windows and doors opened again. Another of our money-saving strategies this summer was to keep our indoor air-conditioning (you pretty much have to use it here in FL to avoid lots of mold and mildew in your house) at 85 degrees F as opposed to our regular 83. I know that we are a lot cooler-natured than most people, but I confess that I find it kind of funny that the energy-saving temp is usually recommended at 78! 83 is quite comfortable for us with our ceiling fans going when we're in the room. But it's surprising what a difference those two degrees can make - and 85 is just pretty darn warm! I, for one, am so happy fall has arrived!

To note, though, we slashed our energy output by one third this year as compared to last! Our higher temps, daily laundry hanging, and careful eyes upon turning off lights and fans when leaving rooms really made a difference.

Finally, I did do one little bit of "work" this weekend, and that was make some Tabouli Salad. I doubled the recipe and shared it with a gal from our church who is a single mom... and who also loves my Tabouli Salad! :) It's fast and easy and so, SO good! I gave her the recipe with her portion and I'll share it with you too:

Tabouli

1 c dry bulgur wheat
1 1/2 c boiling water
1/4 c lemon juice
1 t salt
1 heaping t garlic, chopped
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped (or more to taste)
1/2 c fresh mint, chopped (or more to taste)
3 to 5 green onions
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber chopped

Add bulgur to boiling water. Remove from heat and let sit to absorb water for about 15 min.

Meanwhile, blend olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a large bowl.

Add remaining ingredients to bowl, including bulgur, when ready and chill and serve!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Not Allowed


My Chocolate-Banana Shake!


Now here's something that gets said to me quite frequently, which doesn't bother me, but does bother me a bit when it is directed at my daughter, "Oh.... you're not allowed to eat that are you?" or, "Oh, sorry, you can't have this, can you?" This is nearly always said with kindest regard; certainly I don't miss that. And I don't take offense. More, I wish I could properly educate on the way we see things.

First, when the statement or question is put to my daughter, it is usually said with such sympathy and a tone which says, "The poor dear, missing out on so much in life." Second, the way we look at it is this: Well, yes, we aren't "allowed" to have that cheese pizza or hamburger in the same way you are not "allowed" to eat that dog they enjoy in some parts of Asia or the grasshoppers they eat in some parts of Africa. We are not "allowed" to have the shrimp in our salad the same way you perhaps do not "allow" yourself to enjoy escargot (snails) or caviar (fish eggs) or monkey brains for that matter. We simply do not like them.

Of course, we do not like them based upon matters more than taste. That fact alone seems to lose a bit of ground with folks, as if it is really taste that matters when it comes to eating. Or is it? I mean, how about cat? Have you ever tried kitten? You might really like it if you taste it. Oh, but kittens are cute and sweet and they have personalities... unlike something like, say... a lamb? or a piglet? But kittens are smart! As smart as a dog? Or a pig?... which is as smart as or smarter than a dog or at least as smart as a two or three year old child.

But, I usually don't go into all of that.

What I do wish I could do, if I had the time, was to explain all the freedom I experience in making vegan choices. So many people immediately think of a vegan diet as limiting and restricting. Well, if you are looking at the Standard American Diet (SAD) as your model of good living than, yes I suppose it is. :)


But what has all this good living gotten us? Children with what used to be called "Adult-onset Diabetes," now simply referred to as "Type II Diabetes." Heart disease that is the #1 killer of women in America and cancer that is second. These diseases are conclusively linked to eating animal products.

Even Oprah's famed Dr. Oz spent some time talking with Dr. Neal Barnard about reversing diabetes with a vegan diet. Learn more about that here. In the introduction to that particular discussion it states,

"Having a high-carbohydrate diet didn't cause problems, but Dr. Barnard suspects the meat and dairy-heavy American-style diet may be the bigger culprit. To test his theory, Dr. Barnard says he put patients on a vegan diet, meaning no meat or dairy products, as well as small amounts of oils and sugar. He says that his patients lost weight, lowered their cholesterol and saw more improvement in their diabetes symptoms than with any common oral medication. 'People liked it because there was no limit on calories or portions—they weren't ever hungry,' he explains. Because they were eating plenty of beans, vegetables and fruit, the patients were getting a lot of fiber. '[Fiber] fills you up and tricks you into thinking you're eating as much as before, when you're actually eating maybe 10 percent less,' Dr. Barnard says."

When I eat, I don't worry about these things, because nothing I am eating contributes to disease. Have you had your chocolate shake today? No? I have one every day if I want. You say you're watching your cholesterol or your weight? Perhaps your doctor has recommended that you're not allowed to have them daily? Oh, well, I am "allowed," because my shake is made with frozen bananas and almond milk, a dash of vanilla, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon or two of cocoa. A bit of agave nectar to taste. Agave has a lower glycemic index than sugar, so essentially, my shake is actually good. for. me.

I live in freedom, because I don't worry about over-indulging with cream sauces or artery-clogging, fatty foods. Does this mean I eat salads all the time or miss out on cream sauces? Well, how do these recipes sound?

Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
Hazelnut-Pear Pancakes
Breakfast Crepes with Fresh Fruit and Celestial Cream
Tomato Basil Breakfast Quesadilla with Smoky Avocado Sauce
Lemony Cashew-Basil Pesto on Pasta
Coconut-Lime Basmati Rice
Seared Portobello Mushrooms


All of these recipes are in the new cookbook I just got for my birthday (thanks for the Amazon coupon, sis!), Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton. Now, you don't have to buy vegan cookbooks to eat vegan. You can certainly find many, MANY amazing recipes at vegan blogs (a number of them are listed in my sidebar) and at VegWeb. But really, don't those meals sound fantastic? Believe me, a vegan diet is far from one of deprivation by any stretch of the imagination.

Finally, there is freedom in knowing that what I eat aligns with my values.

I am concerned about world hunger. I know that enormous amounts of land, water, and other resources are used for raising cows, pigs, and chickens rather than growing food for people. Making vegan choices means I use fewer resources.

I have long considered myself an environmentalist. Raising animals for food contributes also to global warming/climate change. A study by the United Nations found that raising animals for human consumption contributes 40 % more to global warming than all the cars, planes and trucks on the planet combined. You don't need to buy a hybrid to help the planet. Save money and go vegan instead!

I have long been committed to non-violence. A vegan diet aligns with this value too. Not only do the animals not need to suffer for my palate, but I am not asking someone to kill for me either. VeganVideo.org has a beautiful, beautiful video out that reports that "95 % of Americans feel that it's wrong to unnecessarily hurt and kill helpless animals, yet 95 % of Americans continue to unnecessarily hurt and kill helpless animals... so they can eat them."

Far from being restricted and "not allowed," making plant-based, whole food, vegan choices gives me true freedom: freedom that aligns with my values, freedom that lowers my health risks from unfortunately too common diseases, and freedom to experience a wide, wide variety of food choices and world cuisines. This has been one choice that was easy to make in the beginning and has been easier with each vibrant, new day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Efficiencies:: Part Two


Aahhh... this little chart... it's a thing of beauty, isn't it? Okay, maybe not, but I have such affection for this little darling, this gem, this... where-have-you-been-all-of-my-life? or at least, where-have-you-been-all-my-mothering-life?, meal planning chart. You can click on the picture to see it close up and please be assured that everything - even things like the "pigs in blankets" - are veg!!

Ever since I began staying at home with my little ones, eleven years ago, I have been doing a bi-weekly menu of meals on a regular basis. There are SO many reasons to do this: you save time, you save money, you are less likely to have impulse purchases, you'll have everything you need on hand to make your favorite dish, and - easily my favorite reason - you don't have to think when you are already hungry and the troops are beginning to cry out, "When is supper going to be ready????? or What are we having for dinner??"

All that said, there have been periods of time over these eleven years that the evening of menu planning was only begrudgingly met after much procrastination and sighing. And there have been periods of time when I would actually skip it and blow all the former good reasons out the window because I was just too dang tired (though I rarely have done this, because I am the type of person who is pretty dedicated to a discipline if there are enough "good reasons" behind it; i.e. Bible study, flossing my teeth, exercise, vegan lifestyle, etc.). For as good as the reasons are to plan a menu, I just hate sitting down and figuring out what to make.

I would flip through my binder with my tried and true recipes and begin to figure out what to put into the days. We just had that this week. Oh, we could have that, but it takes a long time to make...well, maybe on this day that I'll be home all day. We have a lot of potatoes, so how can I use them? Well, if I use them, then we shouldn't have them on this day and oh, there's a lot of soy protein happening here, so I should have some days without soy... and on and on and all the while flipping back and forth among the recipes as well as a couple of cookbooks or a magazine for something new.

A couple of weeks ago, though, an idea started to form in my mind: What I'd really like to have is just a simple chart with all the meals that we regularly eat and rotate through, so I could just see them all in one place and pick and choose quickly. And so I took my own advice and made one up last weekend. And you know what happened?

Trumpets began to blow a glorious Hallelujah chorus and white doves were circling my house for at least five minutes straight as I added the last meal in the last column and hit the print button! I swear.

Because I knew how well it would work. And it does, oh, it does!

So, in case you can't really see the scan, I'll just tell you that I have 4 columns labeled: Breakfast, Light, Main, and Soup. The Light column is for lunch-size meals, which with Paul's new schedule, usually means supper for the girls and me.

Under the Main section I have sub headings of Mexican and Pasta, because we have a few favorite regular dishes of those to choose from too. Now it was so easy to just look at the calendar and see which dish to fit into which day. Easy dishes were for a busy day and more complex dishes for an easier one. We can have a soup once a week. It's so easy to see on one page what we've had and what we haven't had in a while. I leave two or three days over the two week period for trying something new and the weekends are primarily left-over days.

One more thing I did was to get the girls involved. At 9 and 11 1/2, they know how to make a number of things for themselves for the smaller, lighter meals. I made sure that the Light column had lots of things for them to choose from and let them pick their own light things they could make for themselves a few nights a week: everything from cream of wheat to a pre-prepared pasta salad I might have in the fridge. That way, Maia won't be having a chick pattie (her favorite) every time she goes to make something for herself, and Eve won't be having pb& j every time either. Some evenings I'll make something for all of us, but some evenings they're on their own and they like checking the menu to see what they'd picked for themselves that day.

This has saved me SO much time and now I don't dread having to think out our menus. It actually leaves time for preparing a few more efficiencies I've incorporated into our kitchen:

I always keep one or two large containers of peeled, chopped bananas in the freezer ready for putting into smoothies. I buy the over-ripe bananas when the store has them on sale or use the ones that we just haven't gotten to sitting out on the counter. Bananas never go to waste in our house!

I buy a big bag of almonds from Sam's Club and keep it in the freezer. I don't actually have a membership there, but I will go with my mom every once in a while with the main purpose of buying big bags of raw almonds and walnuts. I keep them in the freezer and dole them out when needed. I keep a constant bowl of soaking almonds in my refrigerator for practically instant almond milk. Sweetened with vanilla and agave and a pinch of salt, this is the base for all my smoothies. Without sweetener, it's a perfect base for chowders and to use in baking in lieu of soy milks if you are trying to keep your soy intake to reasonable levels.

Out of site is out of mind, so clear containers of prepared sticks of cucumbers, celery, carrots, and broccoli and cauliflower florets are waiting in full view at snack time. If my kids don't grab them, I'll throw some on a plate when the 10 o'clock hour hits and we're still at it with school. Crunchy veggies are a more inviting diversion from math on it's own and the veggies get eaten. I also keep a clear container with the almonds and walnuts plus raisins, dates, and sometimes pumpkin seeds thrown in for a quick handful snack while meals are being prepared.

So, there you have it: some more new time-saving, money-saving, health-preserving ideas that are working for us. They keep tummies filled and Mama happy. Can't get much better than that! :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Efficiencies :: Part One


As school was approaching for this year, I started to feel a bit uneasy. I have a small host of things I usually need to get done in the morning before we start and now, along with my Bible time or journaling time, I wanted to add my workout time in too. I want working out to be part of my lifestyle; I don't want it to be "catch as catch can." That is how it was last year and I didn't like it. Lack of consistency = lack of results. I've been seeing results and feeling results and I wasn't willing to give them up.

But how to fit it in? Last year, I would watch our 9:00 start time slowly slip onward toward 9:30 and sometimes even later than that if I'd had a particularly challenging morning. For example, when I come out of my bedroom, there're always the cats and the bird to feed and later, the dog. Sometimes, one of the cats would have left a "hairball surprise" for me to deal with or the dog would get up and decide she needed to throw up. Yep. Sexy mornings at my house. Then the laundry would need to be gathered, shower and makeup, and breakfast made,etc. Of course, I would want my Bible time or journal time too... and if it had been a frustrating morning, the journaling might take extra time... just to process it all, you know.

An additional challenge was going to be the fact that my husband would now still be sleeping peacefully in bed, having moved to a second shift, as opposed to already being at work. Given that he's a light sleeper, I wouldn't be able to turn on many lights or be making noise grabbing things around the room that I might need. I could see the scenarios playing out in my mind and decided I needed some efficiencies to help me out this year.

The first step, of course, was to get up about a half hour earlier. Much as I am a morning person, though, I really dislike standing there in my closet trying to figure out what to wear. Plus, that would mean opening and closing said closet, lights on, etc. and that would have Paul lying there awake. I've known, of course, for years, about how families will lay out clothes for children the night before when they need to be somewhere, whether it be public school or Sunday school. I never really considered that it might apply to me, because we don't really have to be anywhere. But here's the thing. I have never, never, NEVER been able to be someone who hangs out in my pajamas all day, save for days when I'm really sick. I don't feel good when I look at myself all rumpled and disheveled. I can go a day or two without makeup, but even then, I'll put a little on if I'm going to leave the house. I just need to feel ready for my day. Despite the fact that we technically could be in our pajamas all day, it just doesn't happen.

So, I decided to take a look at that laying-out-the-clothes-thing and once I got started with that, a bunch of other things immediately came to mind. Now, every night I lay out my workout clothes on the bathroom counter as well as the clothes I'm going to wear for the day once I shower. I was elated the first day of trying this, because I'm so bad at changing my mind about what I'm going to wear or figuring it out in the first place. Beyond that, though, I set my basket with my Bible & devotional, my journal and pens, out on the table the night before too. Now when I'm done with my workout, I can cool down and have everything ready that I want for my quiet time. I allot myself about 30 min. for this. Kitties still try to interrupt, but hey, look at that, I've already filled their food bowls the night before too, so they don't need to stand around meowing at me as if they're starving. And laundry is already in it's place by the washer, ready to go. (Washing is my girls' responsibility. I just need to bring the appropriate articles for the day and then I hang them out to dry later.)

These little things I do are so easy, but are absolutely key in making a total difference in my days. No longer do I feel deprived if I don't get enough "me time", I've already worked out, and we're starting on time with a mom with a peaceful countenance and attitude (love those endorphins!). I'm dressed and ready to focus on the tasks at hand. I completely believe in the adage, "Those who fail to plan, plan to fail." I know I may not get everything done that I plan to do, but having easy time-savers in place that help me achieve my goals is something I just love. A well-executed plan is a thing of beauty, really... and it just makes you feel so darn clever! :)

Now, if I could just do something about the hairballs...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Leaves


"Sunlight Through Leaves" by Aflo courtesy of allposters.com

Do you ever go through periods in your life where your actual circumstances aren't changing that much, but you know that you are changing? I'm sure you have. I have read too many times of people talking about the changes they are feeling on the inside, while appearances seem to remain the same.

I began to go through this a few weeks ago and was in a bit of a slump about it. The usual things that had peaked my interest for the longest time, did not have their same appeal. For example, as I was revamping the blog page here last night and creating a new blog list, I saw how very many blogs I had bookmarked and realized I really need to go through some of them and clear out a bit of space!! It's not just that I had so many, though, but also that some were not things I was still interested in reading about.

It reminded me of something I read by Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book, Simple Abundance. (I looked for the quote, really I did, but it has alluded me!) In this part of the book she is talking about fashion and style and was talking about how, at one point, she found herself wearing things that didn't really fit her personality anymore. She found that she was still dressing the way she had been inspired to dress when she wrote the book, Mrs. Sharp's Traditions (a wonderful, wonderful book by the way). That book is based on Victorian customs and traditions that can be applied to families today. Because of all of her research and time spent on the book and then the time spent promoting the book on tour and portraying a certain "Mrs. Sharp", her look had become quite romantic. But then she notes, after a number of years beyond the success of that book, she found herself still in those clothes, but feeling quite a different person underneath them.

This is kind of how I have been feeling lately.

I had been in a bit of a negative place with everything that had been happening with our family and the uncertainty of our finances and our future. More than that though, were the homesick feelings I continued to have and frustration with my own social circle here. But I am not a person to wallow for long. I get tired of listening to myself whine about things - either out loud or in my head - and knew I wanted to make some changes. But what kind of changes?

For a while, things seemed to be out of my hands. The truth is, of course, that there is very little that we actually control (and I can sincerely thank God for that; I'd rather trust Him with the world than myself!), except for our perceptions and the way we respond to situations.

The night before we started school on the 25th of August, I pulled out a book (another Ban Breathnach) that always inspires me, called Romancing the Ordinary. I just wanted to start thinking positively again. I wanted an energetic optimism to come from me, not a downtrodden energy. I felt this feeling of change beginning to grow in me - that feeling of turning over a new leaf - but I wasn't exactly sure what it looked like.

Part of me wanted it to look like this:


Dara Torres - photo by Ronald Cadiz


Ha, ha! I bet you weren't expecting that! :) But, did you watch the Olympics?! The summer Olympics are my favorite! I'm always so inspired by the athletes. Now, I do not have the time or inclination to devote the time and resources to getting into the amazing shape Dara Torres is in, but I can tell you that after seeing a photo of myself from the beginning of May last year, I could see that I was beginning to resemble the slug I was feeling like!

Eating well has always been a given with me, but exercise comes and goes. I feel like I'm an active person overall. I love to bike places and I'm always moving around my house with one chore or errand or the next. But I had given up my regular brisk walking and my resistance training a while back. It's not that I didn't take the occasional morning walk on my own - maybe once a week or that I didn't look at the weights sitting there on the floor and pick them of once in a while, but I was really kidding myself if I thought that kind of "commitment" was going to do any good.

I was also eating handfuls of chocolate chips here and there and helping myself to seconds - even after I'd had a large portion of dinner to begin with. I've never been a sweets person, but a good meal is my downfall. I have to consciously sit and wait for my stomach to get the message to my brain that it's been fed, because my taste buds definitely want more!

I'm not overweight, that's not it. It was more those extra 5 or 8 pounds that you just know are keeping you from your, "fighting weight." And I definitely wanted more muscle tone. I want strong muscles - not big muscles, mind you, but strong ones - so I can continue to do all the things I want to do. But I also want strong muscles, because strong muscles give you strong bones and prevent osteoporosis.

I kept seeing those Olympic athletes like Dara Torres and Lolo Jones and thought there was so much to admire in these women. I've never been into sports, not being competitive at all in my nature. But I have been into being fit and healthy since as long as I can remember. So that was one of the new things I decided to do.

I was already starting a regular workout routine for myself, when I came across Marilu Henner's newest book, Wear Your Life Well. What perfect timing for me. That is exactly the thing I had been wanting to do! I had read her book, Total Health Makeover a number of years ago, and though I don't follow her food combining practices, I gained a great deal from that book and from this new one. Now she is a woman who exudes energy and positivity! If you remember her only from her Taxi days, then you really ought to be reintroduced, because she is simply a dynamo!

So. Where does this bring me? Well, I have slowly been discovering some of the changes I have wanted to be making and I'll be talking about them over the next few days. Fitness is obviously one of them. I am currently waiting to find out if I will receive a scholarship to be able to join the YMCA with my family. Whether or not we do, though, will not get in my way from the things I want to do.

Currently, I am doing brisk walking for about 20 minutes or so every other day and alternating that with resistance training and yoga. I have a video from the library on Pilates too, so I'll be trying that out soon. The one thing I have noticed - and my husband noticed too - is that my energy had noticeably increased. He's commented on it twice! Today he said, "Do you think your walking has given you more energy, because you used to sleep in longer than me and now I'm always sleeping longer than you?" He has later hours now and doesn't get home til late, but I've been staying up some nights to spend time with him and I still manage to get up early to get to my workout. The getting up part has never been that hard for me, since I've always been a morning person, but it's the sustained energy throughout my day that I am thoroughly enjoying so much! The exercise, combined with my vegan, whole food diet is key, I'm certain, to the way I feel.

I have more new things to share, but I'm sure this post is plenty long enough. I've missed talking with all of you. I feel a bit like a champagne cork that's been popped. :) Um... someone stop her... please... :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Creeeaaaak....

... um... hello? Hello?

Oh... hi! Boy this place sure was dusty and needed some cleaning up! It's amazing how much dust can collect over two months of being away. But I am back now! :) Not with a vengeance, really, but more like a quiet settling in. As you can see, the place is a bit more spare now, which is how I'm kind of feeling these days. Not spare in a bad way, but spare in a clean and organized way.

Do you ever take all the stuff off the refrigerator doors just to have it cleared off for a while? All that white space looks pretty good after it's been covered with magnets and drawings and menus and notes. My fridge never stays completely bare for long, but I do enjoy the restful, blank canvas for a while.

Though I haven't cleared off my fridge (I do want to!), I stopped by here and cleaned house a bit. It seems appropriate for new beginnings and so many things are new for us:

:: another new school year
:: a new job for my husband with...
:: a new work schedule - a second shift - an adjustment for us all
:: a new decade for me (I turned 40 this past Sunday)!
:: and a new plan for our future - hopes and dreams of moving "home" to Minnesota

It seems pretty crazy to want to try to move in the midst of this horrible economy and housing market. Certainly, our house is not for sale at this time; we will be taking time to ready it for market while paying attention to said market to see what it does. But we will have reached our 5 year mark for living in Florida on September 19 and we promised ourselves we would evaluate our situation and make decisions at that time. A few of you who have followed my blog from the beginning - or nearly the beginning - two years ago, will recall my struggles at feeling at home here. Enough of those feelings remain for all of our family to consider the move back north.

Paul's new job plays into this as well. Not only are the hours different for us, but also we are not making as much: there is a long drive with a toll and a lower salary. But in this economy, we are thankful to have income!!

In the meantime (our goal being to try to put the house on the market in the spring if things are looking okay), we continue on with new angles, new perspectives: a new, blank canvas, so to speak.

I just wouldn't be me if I didn't get reflective on turning 40, but seeing that it is 12:45 a.m., I'll be needing to share those thoughts - and a whole lot more - in future posts. But I just wanted to put out the welcome mat once more.

Talk with you soon!
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