Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Ahead: Goals for 2011

Personal goals:
1. Like everyone and their mother, work on exercising more and getting healthier.

2. Enjoy my free time more, by working on hobbies, taking classes, etc.

3. Make more of an effort to be social.

4. GET OUT of my hellish job that I've been at for over 4 years and MOVE ON with my life.

5. Keep improving my relationship with Turtle.

6. This goes with #4 but find a new job that allows me to shine and share my talents with others; where I am appreciated for who I am and what I contribute. Also, one that is family-friendly and has great benefits.

House goals:
1. Really finish fixing up and getting settled into our house.

2. Getting this house PAINTED top to bottom. I can do a lot myself, but for some rooms, I will need to call in the pros. The kitchen and our bedroom need to be done by pros b/c I take a long time, and we kinda need those two rooms to live in.

3. Start our garden in the early spring. We're already looking at seed catalogs (DORKS).

4. Buy new doors for the two bedrooms where the previous owners' sons bashed them in.

5. Paint our basement hatchway door.

6. Figure out a new/better method for firewood storage.

7. Possibly build a shed in our backyard.

8. Continue to keep things neat!

9. Put up some kind of tile/backsplash behind the stove. It gets messy back there and what's the sense in painting it if it's just going to keep getting gross?

10. More planting! Especially some trees.

Financial goals:
1. I've been trying to put away ~$500/month into savings, and I'd like to keep that up, if not increase it.

2. I've been socking away ~$150/month for a vacation, which I'm still going to do. We were going to go on a "big trip" in 2012/13 for our 5th anniversary, but I think instead we're going to try and go to Maine this summer. Besides a long weekend in Philly for our 1st anniversary, we haven't been away ANYWHERE since our honeymoon. We can still go away for our 5th anniversary, but not a "big trip." Maybe another small one. Who knows where things will be in 2 or 3 years?

3. Get Turtle enrolled in his 403b or whatever it's called. His company matches!

4. Get us in to see a financial planner and have him help us make the best of our money.

5. Keep avoiding credit card debt. We've done GREAT with this for years, and I just want to keep it going.

6. As I'm looking for a new job, I hope to be making more money (don't we all!). I want to increase my retirement contributions AND sock more into savings instead of going crazy with more money. Of course, then I'll be too paranoid to spend the money, haha.

Looking Back: 2010 Highs and Lows

- Having an amazing boss who helped me to see my potential and who gave me courage to get OUT of my current job. Her leaving is what I needed to get myself out of a toxic situation.
- Learning HTML and LOVING it
- Improving my relationship with Turtle
- Getting help for an issue that was affecting several areas of my life
- Working on this house and getting it into better shape/where we want it to be. It's not done, but it's better than it was!
- My friend finally getting pregnant after 7 yrs of trying and giving birth to her son
- My friendship with (above friend) getting back to what it used to be like years ago (we had a strained relationship for years)
- Saving money while spending (how does this happen? lol)

- Breaking my hand, surgery, therapy, having a slightly deformed finger now.
- My friend's baby being really sick
- Losing my grandfather and the subsequent drama
- Work nonsense
- Health-related issues
- Other friend stuff
- My boss leaving
- Other family stuff
- Stupid health insurance

Monday, December 20, 2010

My worst fears (at work) came true

My boss gave her notice this morning.

I cried on and off all day since the meeting. I couldn't help it. I really liked her. Not only was she an awesome boss, she was one of the nicest people I've ever met. I never had a boss like this...someone who actually cared, listened, tried to help her "people." She's been an actual friend.

I'm absolutely devastated. This is the closest thing I've had to as a mentor. And she'll be gone 12/31.

I know we'll keep in touch, but you know how that works out after awhile. We had a 1:1 later on this afternoon, and she gave me some really good compliments on my work, work ethic, etc. She also told me that it's time for me to go, and take that plunge to find something that will make me happier. She also told me that she'd be happy to be a reference, write recommendations, etc. etc.

I've gotta admit, I am jealous that she's leaving after only 1.25 yrs, and I'm STILL there (going on 4.5 yrs)...and any efforts of me trying to leave haven't been successful (or I just haven't tried hard enough, I guess). She really helped to boost my confidence about working there, because she actually CARED about what I did.

Of course, I'm scared about what will happen now that she's leaving...until I can get out of there. They'll be hiring a new marketing manager, but until then, it's a messy mix between the wife-owner (my company is owned by a married couple--and she is CRAZY and just horrible) and the IT MANAGER, which makes VERY little sense.

I've never written about work before, but today I had to. I know I need to get out of there, the place is just TOXIC, but where, doing what, etc?

This is when I want to give up and be a housewife...but I can't.

PS. I know I have some comments that need replying. I'll get to them soon, I promise. Tonight I'm just sad...going to go scrub a toilet to put my energy into something constructive.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Busy busy busy

I'd say as a bee, but it's December 15, and it is FREEZING here. Actually, below freezing.

I'm long on things to write about, and short on time, so this will have to do for now.

I know I have comments from people, and I'd like to reply to them...but this house is cold, so I need to start a fire, then comes dinner prep.

We're having this tonight instead of whatever was on my meal plan: I cannot wait, it looks delicious!

I have a ton of cauliflower that's in the freezer. Got it fresh a few weeks ago (thanks Dad!), steamed it, and froze it. Bacon was already pulled out, so why not?

Tonight is Turtle's late night so I hope he's surprised.

Most of all, I hope it's GOOD!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The 1000 Challenge, part 4

I'm at 200/1000. Christmas shopping will do that to you :) Plus, it was around 50* here on Saturday, so why not take advantage of the beautiful, sunny, weather and park further away from the stores to get some extra activity in?

I don't think I'll make 1000/1000 by 12/31, but it has made me pay more attention to my movement/activity level. While it's important for everyone to be active and stay moving, for me, it's even MORE important. I have some health issues that can be exacerbated by not moving/being fit...and I really don't want to be a statistic. (Although, sadly, I'm heading in that direction...but as my primary doctor says, "it's NOT permanent.")

Meal plan, week of 12/12

Sunday--We went out for dinner, just down the street to our local favorite place for burgers. We were supposed to have haddock, which was supposed to have been yesterday's dinner. Yesterday I was too busy running around Christmas shopping and doing stuff around the house, so we had roast chicken thighs instead to supplement the few ribs that were left over from Friday night. Tonight, the haddock was STILL not yet thawed! At least it's not going to waste, like I've done in the past...

Monday--haddock, tater tots, salad (last try for this one!)

Tuesday--breakfast (probably bacon and waffles, with peaches that we picked over the summer, scalded to take the skins off, and froze)

Wednesday--chicken cacciatore, over pasta, with veggies or salad


Friday--shepherd's pie, which is pretty much a meal in one pan! I use beef and throw a TON of veggies in there.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The 1000 Challenge, part 3

I finally broke 100 minutes. What did it? This morning, we had a visit from the furnace repair man (it's not the heat, it's the A/C that's having issues, we've discovered, long story). Thanks to running up and down all of the stairs in my house numerous times this morning, checking the two thermostats, talking with the guy, etc, combined with speed grocery shopping last night, I'm 10% of the way to my goal of 1000 minutes of physical activity in December. I need to step it up though!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's beginning to look a little bit like Christmas

With the decorations, I mean.

It's a few minutes before Wednesday, so I guess this can count for my first Wordless Wednesday post. Although I'm typing right now, so there goes the "wordless" part. (more pictures of the house all decorated to come, really trying to make up for hardly decorating last year)

I do some weird things sometimes

Like take pictures of my empty fridge before I go grocery shopping. See?

In the Ziploc on the very top right is a Hostess Fruitcake. Tis the season. I can only tolerate it in very tiny bites. Mostly for Turtle's consumption. And yes, there is a half-empty gallon of cider.

One lone Greek yogurt, haha.

Meat drawer has a packet of American cheese.

Vegetable drawer has a few carrots, some celery, and a bag of baby carrots. Pathetic!

Fruit drawer--ZERO.

But if you're looking for condiments, we have plenty! Including two whipped creams. Why did I buy two?? Hmm... I probably won't have to buy any for Christmas now.

Look! No more evidence of the slow cooker fiasco! All clean.

Just realized that I should take some pictures of the "after" look:

It looks pretty much the same, but I swear, there is food in there. Especially since I spent over $100--there better be something to show for it!

Milk, creamer...oh look the lone Greek yogurt has 4 new friends! And sour cream...I bought more than just dairy items, really.

Our dinner is also back in the fridge--the Ziplocs on the second shelf on the right hold green beans and some kolbasi.

The fruit drawer is still empty...but wait a minute.

What's that in the veggie drawer?

Oh hello, portabellas! Peppers! Cukes! So lovely to have veggies in the house again. There's celery and carrots and some heads of Romaine in there, too.

Here's the fruit! Bananas, Bosc pears, Macintosh apples....and some tomatoes, which technically are a fruit.

Right church, wrong pew?

All of my life, I've enjoyed singing. I was always in the choirs/choruses from 5th grade on. Even in college, I sang for a bit--both in the college's women's choir, and for the liturgical choir. (I didn't last very long in either college vocal group--too much going on with my coursework!) I sing in the car, in the shower, while doing chores. I make up silly songs about what I'm doing, etc. (Regarding my previous post, I might be lazy, and my children might inherit that, but at least they'll be highly entertained by my made up songs!)

Anyway, one of the things I like about attending a Byzantine church is that the liturgy is entirely sung, and everyone is encouraged to participate.

I never considered myself a great singer. Sure, I'm good, I guess. I'm very humble about my voice. Part of it comes from growing up in a town and attending a high school that's very well-known for its choral singers. If you were great, you knew it. Everyone did. I never considered myself that great, because I never got any solos, never made it into the musicals, never made it into the show choirs. I can't really sight-sing, but I do know my notes. Dabbling in clarinet, violin, and piano will do that.

(However, I did shock everyone by performing a song, all by myself, at the senior showcase concert.)

Back to the present. Turtle has been complementing me on my voice more and more lately while we're at Liturgy...or, maybe more like afterward. Since we sit near the front, by ourselves, I don't fear anyone hearing me and thinking I sound horrible. I kept telling him, "sure...I'm not that great, really..."

One of our priests, Father T., has talked with Turtle about becoming more involved with Liturgy. I'm not going to say too much right now about that...I will discuss it more when the time is right. When Father T. had asked Turtle this question, he also asked me a question. The conversation went something like this:

Fr. T: Do you sing?
Me: Uhhh, well...
Fr. T: I see you singing during Liturgy, you should go upstairs with the choir. (The "blessing" of sitting so close to the iconostasis, the priests notice things!)
Me: Oh I don't know, we'll see. (getting redder and redder by the minute....)
Turtle: She really should, I keep telling her.
Fr. T: Well, nothing has to be decided now.
Me: Okay, sounds good!

Fast forward to Sunday. Our parish had a St. Nicholas brunch after Liturgy in our hall (which is in the basement--sounds funny to say "hall," but go downstairs). When it was time for us to go, we made our way over to Father T to say goodbye. He was talking with another couple who we see all of the time--the wife sings in the choir, and the husband...I guess he'd be called an usher? He sits in the back and keeps an eye on things, does the collections, holds the Gospel for Father, etc.

The five of us were chatting...and I felt terrible because we'd been attending Liturgy here for over a year, and we didn't know their names! Before I could ask them, the husband said to me "I just have to tell you, I hear you singing when I am passing the basket, and you have a beautiful voice." The wife said something similar later, and she reminded me that I had sat behind her during a holy day when the choir sang in the sanctuary instead of the choir loft. They both encouraged me to join the choir. (And we formally introduced ourselves, he is N, she is M)

My face was pretty red, and I was doing the "no, no...I'm not THAT good" thing that everyone does when they are humble about something.

Then Father T. "outed" Turtle by saying that when he does his "thing," maybe I would go up there so I wouldn't be alone during Liturgy. That took the pressure off of me for a bit!

I'll be honest: I have been thinking more and more about joining the choir--even before N & M complimented me. Maybe I am a great singer. Maybe my voice was destined for a higher purpose than show choirs and school solos. I'm trying to write this with humility...I'm not walking around, thinking about trying for a record contract. I'm still shy, I'd still be nervous to get up in that choir loft as a "newbie" and I would NOT be auditioning to sing/chant the Epistle any time soon!

That's what I meant about right church, wrong pew--maybe I was just singing in the wrong place all of those years? Maybe I do have a great voice...and it was just falling on deaf ears?

Clean the fridge, then go shopping

How many of you look at your refrigerator and think, "I should really clean that thing."

But when, right? Maybe you think of doing it while you're putting a car load of groceries away.

Maybe you think of it when you're going to have guests over, and you have to remember not to tell them "oh help yourself to some drinks" because you don't want them seeing the bit of spilled spaghetti sauce that has become a fixture to the shelf. But you don't have time to clean it before they arrive, there are THINGS TO DO.

Confession: I don't clean my fridge very often. Luckily, it's not too gross either, but sometimes, it gets a little dingy. If you read my slow cooker incident a few weeks back, when the sauce had bubbled over onto the outside of the insert (if you're confused, my apologies!) it also got on the bottom shelf of the fridge. And yeah, guess who didn't clean it up right then and there? Go me!

Yes, I am lazy. I fear for my future children.

Anyway...tonight I am going grocery shopping. On Sunday, I decided to go Tuesday (today). Which gave me last night (Monday) to clean out the refrigerator. Why haven't I done this before? It really makes perfect sense!

By the way, I have done the "oh crap, I have a car full of groceries, but the fridge is nasty, the food will be OK while I scrub down the inside." Luckily for me, and for Turtle, the food didn't spoil. We're still here.

Last night was probably the best time to clean out the fridge. I think this is the emptiest the fridge has been in a few weeks, maybe months. There wasn't much to move around or take out. I moved everything to one area, wiped down all of the empty shelves, moved everything back to where it really goes, then wiped the remaining dirty shelf. I also wiped out the drawers--meat, veggies, fruit.

The only thing I didn't do was the door pockets. They were pretty full--salad dressings, jam, pickles, oyster sauce, ketchup, sherry name it, we probably have it.

What a difference it made! Almost looks brand new. Did I mention I did this last night, around 9:30? Yeah, I'm a little out there when it comes to proper times to do chores. But it is done. Me, some Dr. Bronner's, hot water, rags and a bucket.

If we can keep it looking good until after Christmas, I might just let some guests help themselves ;-)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The 1000 Challenge, part 2


Slow and steady wins the race, or so I'm told ;-) At least I managed to get away from my desk on Friday for a brief walk in the cold. Walked a bit yesterday while getting lunch with a friend, and today, T & I cleaned out the garage and stacked some firewood.

I really hope I can get out tomorrow and walk for a bit! My boss is back from vacation and I'm not 100% on top of things. Some of my work fell through the cracks while she was gone, because I was doing some of her works, as well as assisting other departments (long story).

If not, there's always the treadmill waiting for me when I get home...

Meal plan, week of 12/5

Sunday--take-out pizza.

Monday--leftovers, stretching with soup if necessary

Tuesday--Wedding kolbasi*, mashed potatoes, green beans (We haven't tried this kind before, T grabbed it when he was last at the store where we buy our kolbasi, we'll see how it is)

Wednesday--Chinese style venison, rice, frozen Asian veggies


Friday--pork ribs in the oven, salad

Saturday--haddock, tater tots, salad

*You might know this better as kielbasa. So did I, until I met T. Kielbasa is the Polish spelling (I'm half Polish). Kolbasi is the Slovak spelling (T is half Slovak). Same thing though.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The 1000 Challenge

I'm doing this for December. My friend, Michelle, over at Hey, Love, started this as a way of getting fit. She describes it much better, here:

I'm in. I plan on getting out of the office during the day and walking around the business park where I work. Even for 20 minutes. I have to move. Well, everyone needs to, but I'm overweight and I really need to get healthier. Also, I have a lot of stress (mostly self-inflicted!) from work, and I think it would be good for me to get out of the office. I rarely take breaks away from my desk. It's bad, and what better time to start, especially with all of the holiday temptations that will be sneaking into the office (and home too) over the next few weeks.

If you're on Twitter, feel free to join in. #1000challenge is our hashtag. I'll be updating my progress here, so if you see any references to (insert number here)/1000, you'll know what I'm talking about.

And oddly enough, Rachel at MWF Seeking BFF posted the following for her Research Wednesday post. The Hard Facts: Losing Together How timely!

Side note: I've never met Michelle, but have "known" her since ~2003. We "met" via a message board, then a bunch of us started a spin-off board, which had a few mutations, but the main bunch is still together and we also connect via Facebook and (some of us) Twitter.

Thanks Michelle! And good luck everyone!!!