House projects

Library of house renovation image black and white stock png files ▻▻▻  Clipart Art 2019

My big landscaping plans of redoing everything, front and back, are now on hold because all of the landscapers I’ve contacted are overwhelmed with work. So many houses lost massive amounts of shrubs, bushes, trees, and plants due to our February freeze, and the earliest I could get work done would be June, which is wicked hot here in Texas. Plus I only have the landscape plan for the front of the house, not the back yet, and I need it all to get accurate bids for time, plants, and total costs.

The Plant Lady designing my plans is up to her eyeballs in her landscape business. What she sent thus far has beautiful plants that I never heard of but will be soft, low, and colorful. So it’s worth waiting for what she sees for the back. Right now I’m thinking about doing the landscaping in late September instead of trying to squish it into Now, which is just not looking very feasible anyway. This would let me get bids and then get on my contractor’s schedule for ripping out old plants and fixing things up with the new with time for them get rooted before the cold weather sets in. I’d rather wait and do it right.

Today the electrician was here to fix two problems. The outlet at the end of the penninsula in the kitchen hasn’t worked and now we know why: it is wired so that the light over the kitchen sink has to be on for the outlet to work. Quirky but given how little I actually use that outlet, it’s a lot easier to just go with it than to have to undo and run new wires. The other project was outside on the porch where the ceiling fan didn’t work. A handyman took down the old one but there’s no power to the drop for the fan, which is why the old one didn’t work. The attic space above it is only inches high, which is going to make this tricky. He’s coming back on Saturday with a buddy and has a plan for trying to find and poke through wires to a place where they will work. I’d really like to put the fan up so it’s worth it.

Friday another company is coming to clean out the air ducts in the house. Who even know that was a thing that could or needed to be done? They charge based on the number of air openings for vents, registers, and intake. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around how this will work and how to keep the cats out of the way, but I think getting rid of extra dust and crud will help my allergies as well as keeping the house cleaner, which is always a good thing.

Next week the sprinkler people are coming to adjust two sprinkler heads that are going off like fountains. Everyone who sees them calls me to let me know about it – duh, thank you. I reset the sprinkler control box using Youtube instructions and am feeling pretty accomplished. Hopefully this will keep the yard from being over watered and bog-like.

I bought a new TV for the living room after having someone ask how long the colors had been muddy. Uh, they look fine, don’t they? No, they didn’t. It was more like tinted black and white images. The Geek Squad delivered and set up the new TV and hauled away the old one AND my old printer, since I just replaced that, too. Who knew that the TV shows were in actual color? The eyes got used to what was there but now I’m seeing things in living color. Big improvement even if it wasn’t something I expected to be buying.

This is all expensive and it makes me tired just thinking about everything.

I Secret Santa’d Myself

I had no idea I needed a cordless vacuum until my housecleaner used one on a visit before Thanksgiving. My 13-year-old Dyson works great but is heavy, cumbersome, and, well, has a cord that I have to move multiple times as I clean. I need cleaning to be easier to do or I put it off, and with the cats shedding fur everywhere, I really need to whip around and sweep the floors more often than I’d been doing.

So I Secret Santa’d myself and bought a Tineco A10 Hero+ after doing some research with Consumer Reports (I’m a librarian, I can’t help myself; research is in my blood). Tineco is the highest rated brand and the same one that my housecleaner used and raved about. And it was on sale at Amazon! It arrived in 2 days and I absolutely love it. Easy to carry, much quieter than the Dyson so the cats aren’t terrified, and it does a great job collecting cat fur.

Actually, I Secret Santa myself quite a lot. I don’t really NEED stuff as much as I want it. So anything that would be an impulse purchase gets saved to a Pinterest board so I can find it again if I’m interested – clothes, earrings, stuff for the house, ideas for other people. At least half of those items are mysteries later – why did I think THAT was something I wanted? – while others I buy and still others just sit there awhile longer. During these Covid times, I really appreciate online shopping, even with paying for shipping costs, because I do less in-store impulse buying. Just because something is cute and I like it doesn’t mean I need it or want to spend money on it. Have a central place to pin ideas helps me keep track of what interests me.

The cordless vacuum, though, was worth it. Now I think there’s a pair of earrings calling my name.

Practicing Self Care

My goal for the next few weeks is to practice self-care. It’s a lot easier to just sit around and complain about the knee and the back and how they’re holding me back. Which they are. But in the meantime, there are things I can do and work on.

Sleep: I haven’t been sleeping well or enough. Whatever the reason, I wake up tired and stay that way for much of the day, which could mean a bunch of things: sick, allergies, staying up too late, uncomfortable bed, stress. But what I think it means is that my CPAP is set too low, meaning I don’t get enough oxygen. Back in July at my annual visit with the sleep doctor, my air pressure rate was decreased from 13 to 11. We thought that, with the weight loss and sinus surgery, it was too high. I think we pushed it too low. So I made an appointment to consult again and have it adjusted.

I also spend too much time reading after I get to bed, and get up at 5am to give myself time to wake up. Maybe I need that because, duh, I’m not getting enough sleep. So I’m making a commitment to turn off the light at 9:30 p.m. and to add 15-30 minutes to my alarm so I get a little more sleep at that end, too. I’m also considering putting coffee back on my food plan. I stopped drinking it when I got on Noom because I didn’t like using that many calories on creamer and didn’t like the coffee without creamer. But they are my calories and I can do what I want with them, and I miss the taste and the ritual of coffee – with creamer.

Cleaning. I hate cleaning. I like having things BE clean, just not doing it myself. I had a house cleaner who came every 2 weeks until just before Covid when she had a double knee replacement and then retired. I’ve been doing my own cleaning since then and I still hate it. Today I called The Cheerful Cleaning Company again and am trying to set up a regular cleaning schedule. They did my post-construction deep clean and were amazing. It’s not cheap and it’s actually a luxury, but I need this.

Church. I work in a church that I no longer attend for worship, having joined a local Episcopal Church a few months ago. My problem has been actually getting there in person because I found myself doing tech support for Work Church on Sunday morning, which is now doing Facebook Live as well as Zoom for streaming Bible Study. I’ve reserved a spot for in-person church at Worship Church only to not actually go. This week I delayed making a reservation until today. I’m going to the 11:00 a.m. service this Sunday, which means I can be home while Work Church is doing technical things in case there’s a call, but I can still get to my own Worship Church. I need it for grounding and learning my new community.

Hair and Toes. I put these in the same category because I try to “do” them on the same schedule. I love getting a pedicure because I sit in that fancy massage spa chair for an hour with little kneading action on the back. Plus someone else spends a lot of time working on my feet and then they feel better and look beautiful. I’m currently out of whack on my “doing them on the same schedule” plan but am going this afternoon for a haircut. Toes were done last week.

Massage. I have two gift certificates for a body massage but have been holding off because of covid concerns. It’s been 9 months since I’ve had one and that’s a very long time for me to go. My body is off balance because of the back and knee problems on the right side and my muscles are tight knots strung together like beads on a chain. This week I’m calling both places to find out their cleaning procedures to see how safe they feel, and if they are acceptable (and I’m picky), I will make an appointment. By the end of the week.

Weight loss – yeah, I know, I shouldn’t have put this last. No one can do it for me and it’s important. But it can’t be the only thing in my life. I’ve spent too much time obsessed with food, diets, eating plans, calories, counting, tracking, measuring, etc. I’ve really enjoyed just being essentially in one place for almost 2 months. I don’t want to stay here, but right now it feels good. When I’m ready to buckle down, I will. As long as I don’t forget how I got here.

Actually, looking at this list shows that my idea of self care is mostly having someone else do things for me. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But there are things I can and need to do for myself. My big one is to remember my goal of preparing, compiling, and publishing genealogy books for each grandparent’s line that include full size images of original records such as census pages and church documents. The book I did for my brother 2 years ago omitted these because no one really cared except me. But as a research tool, something that is a “brain and record dump” of my genealogy program, this is a huge goal. I’ve been working on the family lines for 50 years and know that it may be a long time, if ever, before anyone else in the family is interested in picking it up. So I want to get as much out of my head and my computer into a printed form. It will not be finished by the end of December, but I’m again making progress.

Baby steps

Yesterday I weeded out the pantry of a whole boatload of things that I had no idea were there – and it didn’t look that crowded! But there were plenty of outdated canned veggies, enchilada sauce (why did I have that?), chopped olives, packets of oatmeal from boxes tried once but that I’d hoped would taste better another time, and too-old cartons of chicken stock. I think I’d planned to use them back when I started Noom back in January and then forgot they were there.

I pruned 30 cans of cat food left behind when the cats moved on to another kind of fishy food and turned their noses up at the old stuff, and hauled it today to Petco to be donated to a shelter. Then I consolidated half empty boxes of Ziplock bags and reorganized the shelves. It looks beautiful.

Then today I went grocery shopping, but not much went into the pantry. I bought broccoli and apples, sweet potatoes and meat, milk and lemonade, protein drinks and carb-balanced spinach tortillas, and of course, cat toys. The pantry still looks beautiful but now the fridge is super-crowded until I get organized on what to next with stuff in there.

I have plans. Tonight I’m cooking pork tenderloin and sweet potatoes, serving with steamed broccoli. Adding 1/4 C. of unsweetened applesauce to the potatoes, I will be 100 calories under my calorie budget without feeling hungry or deprived. It will be Day One to be strung together with other days to come to get myself back on track. Today I listened to my body and ate differently, and I feel better about myself and my choices.

Tomorrow I’ll do chicken teriyaki in the crockpot, with added onions and peppers, pineapple and water chestnuts. It’s one of my favorite meals served over a small portion of rice. I’m throwing out that frozen riced cauliflower; I’d rather have a smaller bit of something I actually enjoy.

After running around all day and spending money like water, it feels good to be still for an hour. Time to write, time to read, time to rest. I have Noom articles to read but I also have a book that’s almost finished. I think that’s up next.

On Vacation on a Quiet Monday

Here I sit on a quiet Monday morning, Sipping coffee with my wet hair wrapped up in a Turbie-twist (these things are awesome and have freed me from that heavy towel wrapped around my head that kept falling off).  I’m on vacation for the next 10 days and love days when I don’t have a race from task to task to keep on a work-day schedule.  Of course, Tessie is there to remind me that, “yo mama, give me crunchies” comes early whether I think I can sleep in or not.

Today’s agenda is finding a swim cap (hoping that drug stores have them because I don’t want one of those racing caps that squeeze your brains out), getting my hair colored and cut, going to the gym for an hour pool workout with my personal trainer (hence the need for a swim cap with newly colored hair).  My outside stuff finishes up with a fresh pedicure.  Then it’s time to actually think about what to pack because tomorrow morning I head to Texas for a week’s visit with my family.

Left to my own devices I wouldn’t go to Texas at the end of June.  Do you know how hot it is there??  I am a New England girl now and don’t have a high tolerance for heat.  Plus I’m shifting sizes again so who knows what will fit and be appropriate for the weather.  The trip was originally timed so I could go to my nephew’s wedding next weekend, but it was called off and the engagement ended (by the bride) so there is no wedding.  But my aunt and I had non-refundable tickets, and we hadn’t seen the Texas fam in quite a while, so we’re making this a mini-family reunion.

Lapband update – my doctor told me he did NOT think I needed a fill, especially with two trips coming up.  He reminded me that as I get smaller, the weight will come off more slowly, and that 5 lbs a month is a good rate.  I’ve now lost 108 lbs and am 3 lbs away from breaking 200 for the first time in over 30 years.  Believe me, I’ll keep you posted on that.

Since I’m going away for a week, naturally I needed to clean this weekend.  Ever since I spent a summer as a hotel maid, I’ve hated cleaning.  I know how to do it, I just hate doing it and procrastinate amazingly well.  Yesterday, though, I vacuumed up enough cat hair to make a kitten for Tessie to play with, scrubbed the bathroom, cleaned the stove and sink, and did 3 loads of laundry.  I still have to dust and finish cleaning the kitchen.  I always forget how much nicer it looks after I do this.  Maybe I should do it more often 🙂