2019 ~ by Sam

Well, here we are. It’s the 5th of February, and I haven’t updated since the New Year. We’ve been busy…ish.

The end of the year found us scrambling to get a new roof on the house before the rainy season. I know, I know ~ the rainy season? In L.A.? I’m joking, right? But, really, I’m not. Because, honestly, any amount of raining inside your house, is not great. Also, we kept hearing there was actually going to be a Rainy Season this year. Maybe even a RAINY SEASON by L.A. standards, and that, without a rainproof roof, did not sound like a Great Idea.

So, while trying to get lots of other things ~ like Holiday shopping, and decorating, and baking, and gift-wrapping, and packaging and mailing ~ done, we were also trying to do things like get roof estimates, find someone who could take down the solar panels and put them back up again, decide who to hire, work out all of the details and figure out how to finance all of this… And you know, get the kids to school, and still do all of the usual day-to-day stuff, too. So, you know…it was a little bit hectic. You might say. But we did some things, anyway. We didn’t necessarily get everything done in a timely fashion (we might have mailed out “Happy New Year” gifts ~late, very late ~ instead of Christmas gifts), and I definitely didn’t remember to come over here and write about any of it. So, I thought it might be good to come back and do a little bit of a check-in:

I looked at my last entry, and saw this (I’ve added notes about my progress in parentheses):

I will:

Accept that I am a work in progress. (working on it)
Balance the books and pay bills every Monday. (need to do this)
Strive to buy coffee out only 1x/week, and remember my reusable cup when I do. (eh…this needs work, too)
Exercise at least 3-5x/week, and do my PT at least 5x/week. * (um…2-3x/week, so far. But that’s better than none! I’ll keep trying)
Play my banjo every day. (not every day, but not none!)
Accentuate the positive. (um…probably also needs work, but I’m trying)
Focus on forgiveness. (I think I’m doing okay here)
Breathe, drink water & eat real food. ** (Girl Scout Cookies are not imaginary)
Read every day. (YES ~ nailed it!)
List stuff on my etsy shop within 1 week of making it. *** (Haven’t made anything new, but did list a bunch of stuff I had already made!)
Work in the garden at least 1x/week. (Okay, it’s been POURING, but I did work in the garden a little bit when it wasn’t, and I potted a couple of indoor plants)
Try to be more present & attentive. (will always need more work, but I’m doing it…the trying part, I mean)
Sew/knit/crochet or otherwise craft/make something every week. (100% doing this ~ I don’t finish a project every week, so far, but I am always doing something creative)

I will NOT:

Beat myself up if I fail. (still needs a little work)
Give up because I miss a step (week, day, whatever). (yup, got it. It’s hard)
Care what other people think about this list, me, or anything I’ve written here. (uh, huh. Pretty much doing this, most of the time. I still have my moments)

So. Here, in no particular order, are some things I have been doing:

I made some fun cookies with these adorable cookie cutters to send to friends and family. Kids helped with some of the decorating.

I made this set of pillows for my sister & brother-in-law.

I’ve been doing a lot of sewing with my mentee, and I finally started working on this dress. Several years ago, I bought this fabric and pattern. As soon as I got home, I washed the fabric, cut all of the pieces from the dress fabric (but not the lining ~ it will be fully lined), and then put it away and never got around to sewing it. Now, I am finally actually sewing it. Slowly but surely, because I keep getting distracted by other things, but at least I keep working on it.

It doesn’t have wings. My dressform, Mädchen, just wears them, sometimes.

I have been working on finishing a large single crochet blanket I started last year, then set aside. When I ran out one of the yarns I was using for that blanket and had to order it online, because I couldn’t find it in stores, I started working on another, smaller crochet project (probably just a throw), because I found some yarn I loved while looking for the other one.

Blanket #1

Blanket #2

I am still painting the Little Free Library, and trying to get it all ready to open. It’s ridiculous that this is taking so incredibly long. We have books and everything! It’s almost done! I am so excited. But still really slow. (Who knew it would take so long??) I really wanted to have it up and running before the end of last year, but promised not to kick myself if I didn’t get things done. (I’ll wait to post a picture until it’s done.)

I visited The Last Bookstore with Shane and Justice, and the Museum of Tolerance with Kaia.

We all went to the King Tut exhibit at the California Science Center.

I drove Kaia to an animal shelter to drop off 4 pet beds and 20 cat toys she’d made for the animals there.

There are so many other things I am forgetting. No wonder I’m so tired all the time. Now that I see it all in black and white, I can see that I’ve actually been rather busy.

So, now, we are just trying to get back into the swing of things. It seems like there is always something else to do. The laundry room is mostly painted, thanks to Shane, and we have settled on a colour for the next project. I am sure, by the time we get that one done, we will have figured out something else that needs work.

I think, at least for now, I am beginning to feel like I’m settling into something like a routine. It’s not the same each day, and it still needs fine-tuning ~ for instance, I have to include more exercise, if I want my foot to hurt less, and I want to include more banjo-playing, and I should include more housekeeping ~ but I am hitting my marks (or at least landing somewhat close to them) more often than I used to, and that feels good. At the end of the day, I feel like I am making progress, and that’s what resolutions are all about, aren’t they? I never expected to just immediately achieve all of those things. I set out to work toward my goals over the course of a year, with the hope of someday achieving them. I’d say I’m doing all right, by my standards.

The Heat is On ~ by Sam

Both literally and figuratively, the heat is on this week.

After learning recently that we have a termite infestation to go along with the ants, pantry moths, and occasional earwig that we have been dealing with since we moved in to the house since we moved here in December of 2012, we have decided to bite the bullet and have the house tented and fumigated.  I HATE having to make that decision, but, given our situation, it seems like our best bet.  So, this Thursday, we will move in to a hotel room until Sunday.  This means, we have to prepare for fumigation, which includes not only packing for the hotel, boarding the cats and leaving the fish with a friend, but also packing up all of the food that is not in factory-sealed containers.  It’s a lot to think about, and really, a lot to do.

There’s only one problem: I can’t do a lot of the physical stuff involved in the preparation, because I might have broken my scaphoid when I fell on the tiled floor in the kitchen last Saturday.  I go in for a follow-up about that on Wednesday, so I will have more information right when it is too late for me to do much to help get ready for Thursday’s big event.  Right now, I am hunting and pecking with one hand, because it hurts when i try to use the fingers on the hand that belongs to the injured wrist, which, I’m thinking, is probably not a great sign.

I went online to read about the type of injury I might have, hoping to find encouraging news about how rare it is, and how it is much more likely that it’s just badly sprained.  What I found, instead was that, in a fall on to an outstretched hand, a sprained wrist is actually rather rare, and it is much more likely to result in exactly the kind of fracture the doctor at Urgent Care believes I have.

Stupid internet.

The good news is I had the exact same injury a couple of years ago, in the other wrist.  So, at least i developed some strategies for negotiating the world one-handed.  If I end up in a cast again, I am definitely investing in an electric can opener.  It’s the one thing I never got last time, and it really would have helped.

The other kind of “heat” that’s on is the burning pain in my left foot and ankle that comes with CRPS.  CRPS is a nervous system disorder, and I was diagnosed with it last Fall, after an injury in my foot.  Basically, it causes chronic pain.  There are days when my foot just feels like it’s broken, but I am supposed to keep using it as normally as possible, so I don’t lose the use of it.  There is also swelling, discolouration, and a burning sensation.  I mean, really burning.  Like I’m being attacked by fire ants (which actually happened once, when Justice was a baby, and we still l lived in Phoenix, so I know what that feels like.  I don’t, typically, have a lot of that burning pain, but, since we returned from our trip to Maryland in early August, it has occurred far more frequently than usual.  My doctor upped my nightly medication, and has prescribed a Ketamine gel, which is exorbitantly expensive at my usual pharmacy, so I will be checking Costco pharmacy tomorrow for a better deal.

Then, there’s the literal heat.  it’s hot.  To quote the film Biloxi Blues, “It’s like Africa hot.  Tarzan couldn’t stand this kind of hot.”  In truth, having lived in the Phoenix area, I can say, it’s hot, but it’s not that big a deal.  We’re just not used to days on end of above 100℉ on end here in Sunny So-Cal.  We’re not used to it being hot even at night.  Usually, the sun goes dow, and the temperature drops by, like 30 degrees.  Not lately.  It’s just hot.  All the time.  Having my arm and thumb in a stiff, thick black brace 24/7 is especially uncomfortable in the heat but it beats not having a brace, so I can deal.  The plants outside are not thrilled with the heat, but I think they’ll make it.  The forecast calls for a drop in temperatures ~ and maybe even some rain! ~ this week.

With the fumigation looming before us, I know it’s not going to be the easiest week of our lives, but we will get through it, and we’ll get to enjoy swimming in the pool, watching movies, ordering in food, and all of the other little luxuries that come with staying in a hotel.  It will be a nice break, I hope, after a couple of stressful weeks.

Back in Black ~ by Sam

It’s gonna be another short one ~ haha!  Get it?  SHORT one? ~ but I have way too much going on to spend much time writing.

Found out today that there was a music parent meeting at Kaia’s school last night.  Missed that.

Went to take a shower and found it full of ants.  Seriously?  So, yeah.  Ants and termites.  How fun!  After much research on the subject, we have scheduled a home fumigation.  I am not thrilled about this, but it is the only way to make sure the termites are all gone.  It also means we get to spend three days in a hotel, and we love hotels (note how I am trying valiantly not to consider the cost of all this).

Also, I wore shorts.  These are cut off Dickies.  I vaguely remember that the pants ripped somehow, so I cut them off.  You will note that I left them longish.  I also wore one of my favourite shirts.  So, here ya go:

In this picture, I am making a goofy face, and Snoopy’s doghouse (AKA our cuckoo clock) is on my head.  Not really.  It’s really hanging on the wall, but wasn’t standing here for the picture a good idea?  It’s like a festive little hat.

photo 1

Oh, and the house is messy, and you know what?  I don’t even care!  I’m so done, y’all.  I mean: D-O-N-E.  DONE.

Hallie took another pic, from the back, so you could see why this is one of my favourite shirts.  I saw this online a while back, mentioned how much I liked it, and my mom bought it for me, because she’s awesome like that.

photo 2

In case you can’t read it, it says, “It’s not the size of the girl in the fight.  It’s the size of the fight in the girl.”


In Brief ~ by Sam

No, I am not wearing briefs in this post.  Well, I might be, but there won’t be any pictures.

I didn’t wear shorts over the weekend.  We went to a Bar Mitzvah on Saturday, and The Griffith Park Shakespeare Festival on Sunday, so shorts weren’t really going to cut it.  My plan was to go back to the shorts thing today, but then the day got away from me.

I started out by rearranging the furniture.  Then, there was a lot of running around, grocery shopping and kid pick-up.  By the time I got home from picking up Hallie, the groceries had been in the car for a while; but that was okay, because I had planned for that, with an insulated bag and an ice pack.  Or so I thought.  Somehow, a can of crescent rolls had missed being put in the chilled bag.  So, when I opened the trunk ~ pop!  The can just popped opened, and the dough came oozing out one end.  It still felt cold to the touch, so I decided to bake them.  Luckily, we had some Smart Dogs and cheese; so I wrapped up “pigs in blankets” for Justice and Hallie and rolled up the rest of the crescent rolls. and baked ’em.

Then, I got back to organizing the room.  And putting the stuff back on the shelves I had moved.  And realizing that I had moved one piece of furniture into a place where it wouldn’t work.  And leaving it there, anyway.  For now.  Then, I remembered that needed to balance the books and pay bills…but I didn’t do it, because, just then, there was a knock at the door.  Two gentlemen had arrived to do a termite inspection.  We’d noticed what we thought were signs of termites a few days ago, and called to have it checked out.  I wasn’t expecting them today, but what do I know?  I told them to go ahead and inspect.

We were right.  We have termites.  We can have a spot treatment, or we can have the house tented.  Tenting will mean moving out for 3 days, boarding the cats, leaving the fish with friends, and then cleaning up after.  It also means the company will guarantee that the house will be termite-free.


So, today, I never put on my shorts.  Or made dinner.  (It’s okay ~ we had plenty of leftovers.)  Or finished organizing the bedroom.

Being first-time homeowners (we bought in December of 2012), we have very little experience with…well…home ownership.

So, we have a big decision to make tonight.  I will probably be wearing jammies.

On the up side, while rearranging and organizing the bedroom, I found the portrait of me Kaia drew for Mother’s Day.  I think it’s pretty awesome.


Tightening Our Belts (again)

Home ownership comes with a whole new set of responsibilities, and that can be a difficult adjustment for serial renters like us.  Let’s review: Since we moved in together, over 18 years ago, Shane and I have rented 2 apartments and a townhouse in Arizona, and 3 apartments and 3 houses in California.  Oh, and Shane rented an apartment in California when he moved out here shortly after we were married.  That’s 10 rental homes.  We have learned the ins and outs of renting.  We know how to negotiate with landlords.  We know how to read a lease and determine what is our responsibility, and what is theirs.  Home ownership is different.  It’s our responsibility. It just is.  Even if it is covered by our home warranty, or homeowner’s insurance, it’s our responsibility.  We have to make the calls, we have to make the decisions, and we have to pay whatever bills come our way.

Well, okay.  We knew that.  We also knew that we were going to have to repipe the original part of the house within the next couple of years.  I mean, the house was built in 1954, and it has not been repiped.  We knew it was coming.  Perhaps, we should have seen the replacement of the line out to the street last April coming, too, as well as the broken sewage line under the house and replacement of the mainline in to the house last week.

The mainline pipes replaced looked like this:


I think replacing them was the right decision.  Unfortunately, we hear that the rest of the pipes in the original part of our house look much the same.  Yikes.  We’re going to have to do something about that soon, I guess.  I’ll spare you a pic of the sewage pipes.  Trust me, it was not good.  

Yeah, those repairs kind of surprised us.  We thought we were just calling the plumber in the week before last to unstop a toilet.  Turns out, the real problem was a broken sewage line, and that’s not really something you can put off having fixed.  So, we didn’t.  Then, the guy saw the mainline in to our house and, since he was also doing the other work, offered to replace that for about half off what he would usually charge for that job.  Luckily, Shane has had a few recent side gigs, so we actually had money this time to pay the bill in full, instead of carding it and paying it off later, like we did in April.  We will still be able to make our house payment,  and pay all of the bills on time.  

Nevertheless, it would behoove us to play it very close to our chests for the next month or so.  To that end, I am trying to save as much money as possible around the house.  I have been baking bread, and recently made batches of muffins and granola bars (and pumpkin pie ~ yum!) for lunchboxes.  I keep thinking I need to run to the store, then looking around and realizing we have plenty of food here.  So, I am trying to shop very minimally, just to fill in the gaps.  This week, I have spent a grand total of $59 so far, and I don’t anticipate spending much more.  We have everything we need to make roast chicken (vegetarian, I happen to have one in the freezer, believe it or not), greens, corn and biscuits one night, stir fry and rice another, and pasta another night.  That will leave us with plenty of leftovers, and there are some other easy options of hand (beans, rice, pastas, soups, potatoes, eggs, etc), as always.  If I get a wild hair, I might even make quiche one night.  That’s a crowd pleaser, and I can make two at once, and put one away in the freezer.  

Of course, working with what we have on hand sometimes leaves us needing to think outside the (lunch) box.  Today, two girls took cheese sandwiches, pumpkin pie, a drink (almond milk for one, juice for the other) and a snack (I forgot what), and the third took soy turkey, popcorn, pie and almond milk for lunch.  Popcorn is part of a healthy lunch, right?  Especially with pumpkin pie on the side.  Well, she’ll eat it, which is more than we can say for a lot of foods.  On the up side, the pie is relatively low in sugar, and made from fresh pumpkin.  That totally counts as a vegetable…ish…maybe.  Come on, I need it to count.    There are banana cupcakes or pumpkin muffins for after school snack, as well as eggs, nuts, fruit and yogurt, and we’ll have a healthy dinner, so that’s good.  

Anyway, when I was at the store yesterday, I saw some multi-grain pancake mix on sale for $1.99, and I almost bought it.  Then, I read the ingredients, and that jogged my memory ~ I had all of those ingredients at home, as well as a recipe for making my own pancake mix.  I know it’s not a lot of money, but why spend $1.99 if you don’t have to?  

So, last night, I finally made my own pancake mix.  It took a few minutes to throw together.  I remember that my mom used to make hers, too, when I was a little girl.  I wanted a multi-grain mix, because that’s what we usually use, so I had searched the internet and come up with a recipe I thought sounded like a winner.  The only thing was, it called for oil to be mixed in the dry ingredients before storing, and I thought that sounded like it would just cause the mix to spoil sooner.  The recipe states that it can be kept at room temperature for 2 weeks, or the the fridge much longer.  To be honest, there’s not enough room in my fridge for a jar of pancake mix.  So, I decided to leave out the oil, do the math, and add it when we mix up our pancakes.  

This is the recipe I used:


Ours looks like this:




My jar is HUGE!  If we go through this quickly, I will double the recipe next time.  

I added a label, so I will remember how to mix it up.  (Please note:  I took the picture before I realized that I had written “1 1/2 c. oil.”  It should be “1 1/2 TBS oil.”  Please DO NOT put 1 1/2 cups of oil in each batch of pancakes you make .  Tablespoons.  I have since fixed the label, but didn’t catch it before I took the picture.)  

We took our mix for a spin this morning.  I added some applesauce to the batter, as I usually do, and they were eaten with butter and/or homemade raspberry jam.  Thumbs up from everyone, so I guess the recipe’s a keeper.  Give it a try.  It might save you a few bucks, and it will definitely keep a few boxes out of the landfill, not to mention saving the fuel needed to produce and package those boxes of pancake mix and transport them to your local store.  Oh, and you get to eat wholesome, homemade, piping hot pancakes.  Not a bad deal, if you ask me.