Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Moving, packing, and culling

It's been really busy.  I've been packing, and getting rid of stuff, and packing some more, and uncovering other things that I should just get rid of because I have not used them, and packing. . .

I got home last night after working a little late and I was so tuckered out that I didn't get all that much done.  According to the guy from the moving company, I don't have a lot of stuff to pack up but I feel like a hoarder right now.  He didn't think it would be that onerous when he came to give me an estimate.

I gave a lot of books to my church for their book sale (part of the church fair).  I also gave them some champagne glasses I bought years ago and that I've used maybe three or four times.

There are things that I don't need but that I'm holding on to because of sentimental value, and I do make a point to use them because of that.  But I still have some things that I'll be happy to be rid of.  The rest of the stuff will go into boxes, and a lot of those boxes will stay sealed and stored for the next six months or so while I look for a new place to buy.  I can get by on very little for six months.  Honestly, I got by on very little for longer than that, so. .

(Okay, Ma, if you're reading this I am not going to live like a monk, I promise.  I just hate unpacking just to pack things up again.)

I know I'm making the right move but I'm still a little melancholy about this.  I lived here for 13 years, and I have friends here and family close by.  This is actually the first time I've been sad about a move--I've left the country before quite blithely and came back to the US quite blithely and never had second thoughts. I will be much more well rested, certainly, since I'll get home from work before six o'clock.  I got home after seven last night.

I'll be glad when I'm moved into my new place and the closing on my condo is done.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tag, I'm it.

Carol over at Tales From Spring Cottage tagged me.  The rules of this are simple: link back to who tagged you, post eleven random facts about yourself, answer their eleven questions, ask eleven new questions, and tag other bloggers with 200 or fewer followers (post on their blogs to let them know).  The original rules called for people to tag 11 bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, but like Carol, I will do a greatly reduced amount.

Okay, here goes.

Random facts: I love black tea, I never liked fish until I tried sushi, I know naughty words in seven languages (including American Sign Language), I am deathly afraid of cockroaches and waterbugs to the point where I hyperventilate, I had a student in Japan who used to draw pictures of farts in class, I am very stubborn, I saw the original version of The Wicker Man and loved it, I used to live in Japan and have been missing it terribly lately, I can crack many of my joints, I am hungry quite a lot of the time, and I have always wanted to hunt but I'm a klutzy wimp.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Frugal Halloween costumes that don't require T&A

Sexy Halloween banana? Really??
It's coming up to Halloween again, which means that if you have a costume/fancy dress party to attend and you're a woman and you're buying a costume, it's going to be difficult to find a non-sexy costume to wear.*  Want to be a lizard? Well, the men's costume is a baggy zip up job that covers the wearer and looks like a lizard.  The women's costume is a micro mini-dress with a plunging neckline and thin spaghetti straps and low back.  I have seen my share of lizards and none of them seemed remotely sexy to me.  Maybe I've never seen ladylizards, though.  Maybe the ladylizards are at the salon getting botoxed and are too busy shopping to ever make an appearance.

Anyway.  If you are not pleased with the selection of Halloween costumes out there, you think they are too expensive, or you just had no plans to go out until the very last minute, never fear! You can actually throw together a costume with minimal cost and no sewing.

Zombie: This is so easy.  What I love about zombies is that they will never be a love interest, you cannot be a sexy zombie (unless you're being ironic) and if you don't feel like talking you can stay in character and just growl and moan.  If you've had a few and can no longer walk properly people will also figure you're staying in character.  Or that you're actually a zombie.  Which would be pretty epic.

To be a zombie, put some white powder on your face, smear some ugly greenish or gray eyeshadow over it (lightly), go a little darker around the eyes, and maybe smear some red lipstick around your mouth.  Wear some old clothes with holes in them.

Witch (the fabled scary one, not the actual Wiccans:.  This is easy, too.  Most witch costumes that are sold are for sexy witches.  But all you really need is a long black dress and the pointy hat.  Maybe a black wig if you want.

Energizer bunny: This was an awesome costume I threw together last minute years ago.  I actually had adult-sized footy pajamas.  I got bunny ears.  I had a small drum.  I was done.  I was also really comfortable and thus in a great mood all night.

Cat or mouse: Matching shirt and pants.  Cat or mouse ears.  If you don't have the ears, get a fabric headband, cut out the shapes of the ears with construction paper, and staple them on.  Draw on whiskers.

Vampire: buy the fangs, wear all black.

Stepford wife: Yes, I wore this.  It is technically a sexy costume but I was so insufferable while I was wearing it that every dude in the party ducked under the nearest table.  I wore a dress, kitchen gloves, and carried a duster.  And I said, "I'll just die if I don't get this recipe" over and over and over again.

Pirate: A ruffled blouse, jeans and boots, and a bandana tied around your head should do the trick.

* I am not against sexy costumes per se--I've been Catwoman before, though she's kind of supposed to be sexy (as well as scary)--but I'm against the trend that makes it a thing for women while men don't seem to have this pressure.  A man's lizard costume doesn't feature spandex shorts in a lizard print with boots and no shirt for men.  It's a zip-up-cover-him-all-up-looks-like-a-lizard-job.  The woman's? Not so much.  If a man's doctor, lizard, and devil costume isn't going to showcase all of his skin, then the woman's shouldn't have to, either. And if women have the "option" of being sexy, we should have the option to not be.  And men should get this same "option" to be sexy as well.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Stuffed acorn squash

I made this a couple of weeks ago--I've been getting acorn, delicata, butternut, and kabocha squash through my CSA and wanted to serve it up in a new way.  I thought I would stuff it.

I used the sausage that my friend Dan gave me from his meat CSA--I removed the casings and cooked it over medium-high heat in a skillet with a little olive oil, and placed it on a plate with a couple of paper towels.  I cut the tops off of acorn squash and a kabocha squash, scooped out the seeds and a little flesh, and sprinkled a little kosher salt and some pepper into the cavities.  I stuffed each one with the ground pork and the extracted flesh, covered it with the top part of the squash I had cut off, added some spinach, and roasted it at  350 degrees for about an hour.

This was very, very filling and as you can see, left me a good amount of leftovers.

Friday, October 12, 2012

And now for our regularly scheduled Friday blogaround. . .

Let's get to it.

Katy indulged in five frugal activities.

The upside to running low.

A French pastry chef came to Mother Connie's house to teach a cooking class.

The insidious scourge of lifestyle inflation.  Just because you're making more money doesn't mean you have to spend it.

Telemarketers ignore do not call lists.  Shocking, I know.  You can file a complaint here. I'm getting long, tedious recorded messages on my home voice mail from one local business, and they called our general number at work yesterday.  Guess who I'll never do business with? Yep.

10 tips to afford almost anything you want or to reach your financial goals.

The true cost of commuting.  Food for thought--though my job situation changed three times over the past five years, and I think moving each time would have been foolish, it's good to keep in mind how much a long commute--especially by car--can take from you.  (Which is why I'll be moving in a few weeks.)

Have a great weekend everybody!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cutting back in Japan

Japanese apartments. Photo originally from this website.
The Wall Street Journal had a story about a movement in Japan to cut back on electricity usage--and they aren't going by half.  They're doing this not just by turning off lights, using compact fluorescent bulbs, and getting appliances that are energy efficient.  They're lowering the capacity of their circuit breakers, so if they go over a certain amount of amps, a fuse blows.  It's energy conservation by voluntary enforcement.

One family dropped using an electric toothbrush, their washing machine, their vacuum cleaner, and 24-inch television. Their electric bill is now about $13 a month. The movement, called Amepere Down, was started by a Canadian English teacher living in Hokkaido. It gained popularity after the Fukushima accident.

I found this almost bemusing.  Not because I disagree with what the Japanese are doing--far from it--but because I remember living there and thinking that in a lot of ways, the typical Japanese lifestyle took up a lot less resource space than my (even somewhat simple) life in the United States did.  When I first read this article, I wondered what in the heck the Japanese were going to cut.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Impromptu family dinner

Yesterday my town had a farmer's market kick-off event--next year there will be a regular farmer's market in town, which is great news for everyone who lives here.  The event was a success--the weather was warm and sunny, turnout was great, there was a band, kids activities, and stalls for local produce and products.  I got some Gouda cheese and a loaf of bread (I didn't have time to bake the crusty bread I've made before).

Well, I'm trying to eat my way through my pantry and freezer as it's getting closer and closer to moving day.  I had chicken thighs in the freezer, tomatoes, peppers that I chopped and froze, several winter squashes. . .I have a lot of stuff!  So I figured I'd invite my folks over to help me eat it.

I have a recipe book for chicken--well, poultry, but mostly chicken--and I cracked it open for the first time in years (I had made with some success chicken and balsamic vinegar).  There was a recipe for Spanish Chicken Casserole that was heavenly.  It used chicken, a chopped onion, garlic, tomatoes, green bell pepper (I used the multi colored ones I chopped and froze), red wine, chicken stock, potatoes, olives, and bay leaf.  You dredge the chicken through the flour, pan sear it in an oven-proof casserole, set it aside, and saute the onion and garlic, then add the tomatoes and bell pepper.  Add the chicken back in, add the wine, stock, and potatoes, 12 olives (I used kalmata) and the bay leaf.  Cover and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour.  It was delicious.

I also made chili-brown sugar delicata squash with pears.  This was so easy.  I'll let you check out the link that will bring you to the recipe, but oh, wow, it was good.  If you are vegetarian or you do not care for swine, you can skip the bacon (yes, it calls for bacon, yes, this made me happy as I firmly believe that everything is better with bacon).  It was very, very good.  I'm sure you could also do this with other thin-skinned winter squashes, like kabocha or acorn.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday around the internets--the job search edition

What to do when you're laid off.

Six Job Search Signs That Don't Mean Anything

Older workers pay the bills by temping.  If your unemployment's run out, this is a good option to consider no matter what your age.

Other advantages to temping while you're searching for a permanent job.

How to change careers.

Keeping a positive attitude during a long job search.  It's a cliche, yes, but sometimes it really does help to keep your game face on, no matter how discouraged or angry you feel. 

How to network to find a job.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Time to fess up

Well, I will fess up.  I have been largely absent because I've been in the middle of selling my place.  It's fairly involved even from the seller's side.  Fingers crossed, nothing will go haywire and this sale will go through.

I didn't have to put my place on the market, and honestly--I had done a lot of work to it and made it beautiful.  If I was working in the city and still took the commuter train, I would stay here.  It's a short walk to the rail station from my place.  I have the best of both worlds--I live in a suburb, but right in the town center.  If my car was to die and if I worked in the city, I could do just fine--I can walk to the grocery store, the library, the train, and the local bus.  My condo unit is very nice, I have a balcony, and access to two garden plots between the community garden here and the one at work.  I have nice neighbors (my downstairs neighbor and I had a very nice meal out tonight) and my family is close by.

But that's the thing.  I'm close to everything but my job.  Work is an hour and ten minutes away.  I'm going against traffic, so it's not particularly stressful, but at almost $4 a gallon, it's getting expensive.  I'll be renting very close to work for the next six months while I look for another place to buy--that way I won't feel pressured to buy something, anything and have a home to move into (and regret it later).  I can take my time.

I figure I'll buy closer to work but not right there--I don't want to paint myself into a corner if, Flying Spaghetti Monster forbid, I get laid off or my boss decides I'm a TERRIBLE employee or my boss leaves and they hire Attila the Hun.  Or, as a friend of mine said (and no forbidding this), I get offered a dream job in the city.  There are communities that would be 30-40 minutes away from work and that have easy access to commuter trains.  So that's where I'm looking.

I'd prefer a single family house--I'm not about to go buying any goats or anything, but I would like to have a huge vegetable garden.  I think it would be easier to maintain it and care for it and enjoy it if it was, well, in my backyard.  However, I also want to be realistic--if it turns out that decent single family homes are out of my price range but that I can afford a good condo, I'll go that route.  (I wonder if there are condos that allow goats? HAHAHAHAAHA. Joking.  I promise!)

So that's what I've been up to.  What have you all been up to?