Monday, July 20, 2015

More of what you like, less of what you dont

Have you ever logged in to Facebook and you start seeing things you wish there were a dislike button for? I recently came to a point where I had to re-evaluate why I was friends with some people on Facebook, for a manifold of reasons, not just because they had some strong opinion about politics, religion, or anything else. I was just sick of going on my Facebook feed and seeing negative, snide, or condescending posts and comments. 

I was somewhat inspired by a friend who had written about decluttering her life virtually. Yes, Danielle is an inspiration on several levels to me. Her post about decluttering her virtual life led me to do the same thing. Because, how many times have you opened up your email box and been bombarded with 100 to 1,000 emails, and none of them are personal emails which would take place of a letter or phone call from a friend, they're solicitations from websites and stores you shop.

Similarly your friends list and the websites you visit regularly are all part of the time eaters you allow in to your life. But we're not powerless, we can unfriend, we can block, we can unregister from email lists. Might it be awkward? Yes. Might it save you some time and give you some mental clarity? Yes.

I need more mental clarity, not 'friends' who take but dont give in an emotional sense. I know that surrounding myself with more things that bring me up will surely bring me up quicker than surrounding myself with things that bring me down. Simple concept, but something that I was too lazy to do with unregistering on email lists, or too afraid of the reprocussions of unfriending some people. But to be honest, when there's a window in your life online or elsewhere you have control of what you put out there and to a great extent who you wish to let view.

I encourage you to let go of things and people who take up your time but dont put any back in in a positive manner. Manage your time and your life will fall in line better, your ability to do things that make you happy will be greater because you are no longer allowing the negative to creep in or hang around. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A cloudy morning at the beach

This week I went to the beach. It was a slightly overcast day with cool temperatures perfect for walking and enjoying fresh air. Living so close to the beach I sometimes forget how relaxing it is to go there. It had been a few months since I had last gone, and far longer since I had gone by myself. I walked down to the water and saw a few bottle caps on my way there, then I hooked a right and kept walking.....I was dodging trash every few feet. It was rough.

But this my friend is what made me stop and pick something up. Behold a barnacled, broken, aluminum can. So old with age is it that I can't tell what it originally had painted on it's exterior. I couldn't leave it. All I could think about was a child stepping on it. So I picked it up as well as a plastic bag half sunken in to the sand. 

My walk continued with interesting finds in sand and seaweed like this grip handle.

I even found a pair of ear buds. It was like Christmas!

I decided to leave these flip flops in case the owner was near by and coming back for them.

I found a few things that did belong on the beach.

(Deceased horse shoe crab)

I found enough straws and bottle caps that I started to wonder if we hold a straw and bottle cap convention that I am unaware of. Convenience food item wrappers and items like lollipop sticks, ring pop settings, and juice pouch and box straws were also in abundance.

A lot of items are small and blow away from people, but here's my thing......bring a cooler or bag, make sure it's weighed down, or put it under your blanket and then whatever you bring take back with you. Imagine the marine life that accidentally eats a piece of trash and chokes to death. Imagine a plastic bag getting stuck on a turtle or dolphins head and they die. Imagine a sharp object like broken glass or a tattered old can cutting a dolphin or seal and they bleed to death or are eaten by a predator now that they're easy prey. Put the trash back in your human world.....your child chokes on a bottle cap, a plastic bag over your child's head suffocates them, your child walks on broken glass or old rusted metal. Scary? Imagine not having opposable thumbs.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


This past week I had the honor of attending a work convention in LA for my company. Did I say the honor? It was the coolest big trip I've done in years!! And one of the first where I had a budget in mind....more signs that I've transitioned in to adulthood. 

Flying is a neat experience. If you've flown in the last 10+ year you know you cant bring any drinks through security. You're also limited in your carry on capacity so if you want to bring snacks you have to balance them with what you really feel you'll need to carry on.

Airports have every item you could possibly need to travel within their stores. There is so much temptation. Things range from books to magazines, fancy coffee to booze, and fast food to sit down steaks. It's tempting to spend a lot of money before you ever get to your destination.

I decided to take the midway and brought my own snacks from home, a book from home (thanks mom!), and then bought my drinks. I had a long layover where I bought a salad, then called a friend and caught up for a while. I was surprised to find that most airports now have charging stations for mobile devices. This is the first time I have flown in three years, it seems the airports have modified themselves only slightly. Charging stations were the only difference I noticed overall.

 I was fortunate to have my hotel and airfare paid for by my company. The host for the company provided all meals while there. Any incidental expenses such as taxi fair or miscellaneous drinks will be reimbursed, but only if I can provide a receipt. 

While at the conference I was able to take in the scenery of LA and spend time in the former Tonight Show studios where both Jay Leno and Johnny Carson recorded their shows for years. The stage has now been made over for concert venues, shows, interviews, and conferences. 

Some memorabilia of the past can still be found in the building.

While the stage itself has been updated significantly. 

The most important part of the trip for me was meeting friends from work, some who I had never met in person before. It was like a high school reunion. I loved every minute of it! Did I mention I learned tons of new things about what I do for a living? EQ'ing was my favorite session. Yes, I'm geek!!!

The second night I was there my friend Roger who had driven up from Colorado and I went for a drive up in to the hills to see the Hollywood sign and drive past the Chinese Theatre. Strangely looking at the houses was the most interesting part for me. I loved seeing how homes were built on the hillside. One area we drove around in had their trash bins out, I couldn't imagine a school bus or garbage truck driving up and down those steep inclines. We also saw a coyote....this was a highlight for me, I would have thought it was a skinny dog, but Rodge insured me it was in fact a coyote.

After the conference was over some of us with flights leaving later in the day were able to tour our company studios in LA. It was pretty awesome!!! We had a great tour led by a woman Lisa Marie, who had worked in the company for 17 years. She had so much insight, I dont think we could have thanked her enough for giving us such an informative tour of the building chock full of stories, introducing us along the way. The studio tour was a highlight.

Event getting back to the hotel after that was a highlight. Let's just say 6 people in an the smallest Hundai I've ever seen was questionable, especially on the steep incline to the Las Angeles Hilton drive way. Making memories are my favorite thing.

Did I mention I ate at In N Out Burger for the first time? The trip had so many highlights. LA is definitely a place I'd like to go again!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Harvesting Loquats

I spy with my little eye something yellow!!!

Loquats have been in season in Southern Florida for a little over a month now. I remember when we first moved in to the house during May two years ago I didn't know what these things that had fallen on the ground were....they were kind of a nuisance. Last year I knew their name and knew they were edible, my friend and I tried one but it was very bitter....very bitter. Perhaps not ripe though.

This year, I decided to reach out to my friends and neighbors through a website called nextdoor, and see if anyone would be interested in having some of the loquats from our yard and lo and behold I was able to find two couples in the neighborhood that loved them and had plans for canning, pies, and chutney with the little things.

So what is a loquat like? It has the flesh of peach, but the taste of a lemon. They're small and are a bit of work to get to the flesh too, they have 2 to 3 large seeds in the center giving less fruit. Because loquats have a short season and the flesh of the fruit is so small, they're rarely for sale in markets. Perhaps in more tropical climates like the islands. But here, not so much. Nor are there any tree groves that I know of for the fruit specifically. However, since I have not one but two loquat trees in my yard.....I knew giving them away was far more prudent than letting them fall. The experience of meeting neighbors was great too.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Accepting Alternatives

One day I was heating some food in the microwave and realized there was a hairline crack down the side of one of my bowls. I was bummed but got another bowl from the too had a small hairline crack, there were two other bowls left and guess what, one of them had a small crack.

I remember moving to Florida on what most people would call a hope and dream, throw in my last dime and I was really trying to make things work. I bought my dish set at Goodwill. I remember looking at the sets and loving the flowers, when I turned a plate over and saw they were made in Ireland I decided to get them knowing I would never see these same dishes again.

Thoughts of new dishes raced through my head. I was thinking about Fiesta Ware in all red or some old Correlle dish ware from the 60's or 70's. It was fun, I was thinking about where to go and what my price point would be....but I had just paid my bills and I knew there were no new dish sets in my immediate future. I was struggling to find a decision that wouldn't land on a credit card and give me buyers remorse.

A light bulb turned on! My mother had sent me a set of plastic picnic wear her company had given to her at their annual company picnic years ago. It was bright blue and well...plastic. I had thought about giving that box of picnic ware dishes to Goodwill on numerous occasions but something always stopped me.

I pulled out the box they had been sitting in for three or four years, untouched and unloved. In that moment as I looked at the box I thought of something my mother often says about the 'pull of the universe', where instead of trying to force things to happen you have to let them happen on their own. I put the box on the kitchen counter and took out the items. My son immediately wanted to use the bowls for a snack. He loved them! I washed them and in the cupboards they went. Four brand new, microwave safe, blue bowls. I didn't have to leave the house, the answer to my problems was already present I just had to accept that what I had was good to use. No running out of the house to shop for styles and prices and try to sale and coupon hunt. I already had the solution in my home. 

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to saving money and living frugally is to get over the expectations in your head that you NEED things. We didn't need a fancy brand new, expensive set of dishes. Would it be nice? Sure. But is it necessary? No. I had to accept an alternative to the commercial idea that everything should be new and shiny and come in a box and look around at what we had already. Strangely enough it was new and in a box....hmmm but it was something we had that was utilized, so we opened the box and used it.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cleaning up the Neighborhood

In the last few months since finishing my last pre requisite class - with an A I might add!!! I've joined the neighborhood Civic Association, a non profit educational foundation committed to building community. It also has a Neighborhood Watch which works closely with it. 

Over the last week or so I noticed this tree while driving to pick my son up at school. In Florida we call this time of year 'season' where all the tourists flock and we have tourist season, affectionately said season as not to offend anyone. One of the small inconveniences we have from season is heightened traffic, the offset however is no state income tax. 

Back to the story.....I noticed this tree and while in stand still traffic realized that the lovely black and white things were shoes not birds!!! What?!! That's a gang sign!!! Gang's will rob someone and then string the person's shoes to a telephone wire or tree, or shoes in front or around a house mean that house or a house near by may be dealing drugs. I decided it was time to put a little NIMBY, not in my neighborhood, in action!!

On Friday I stopped at the house on my way home from picking up my son and obtained permission to enter the yard to remove the shoes from an adult member of the house hold. He said they had been there for FOUR years!!! And they were just waiting for them to rot off. He figured it was neighborhood kids that did The tree was bordering a canal, but can you imagine four years of living with that literally in your back yard? I was pretty astounded at the mindset to let them rot. 

Yesterday morning at 9 am the head of the Neighborhood Watch, my six year old son, and I went out with a pole saw, ladder, and garbage bag and got to work. 

We removed two garbage bags worth of shoes. Leaving six in the tree we just couldnt get to. Al, the Neighborhood Watch leader will be contacting the county to see if they will help in getting the remaining shoes down. 

One small step for the neighborhood reclaiming it's beauty and feeling of safety. 

The final results, the tree had six pairs of shoes/flip flops left when we were done. We removed over 20 pairs of shoes.