Life Maintenance

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Tuesday brought a few surprises with it. Like, a doctor’s appointment made several months ago that I had totally forgotten about — and never updated my calendar to remind me.

I called and rescheduled the appointment and then went to my calendar to correct the issue. Yikes!

In the mail was a past due notice about a bill that had been regularly paid, but only for a specified number of months, as I expected to get a renewal notification, but didn’t.

After a phone call to clarify and correct the issue, I learned that the bill was for services that would not expire. Something that I had not seen on any paperwork received. Whew!

Mercury in Retrograde? Maybe. Using updated tools without really learning how to use the updated tools? Likely.

So far, 2019 has been an interesting roller coaster of a year.

One good thing that has come from Tuesday’s surprise package is that I’ve spent time clearing out not only my desktop of old, outdated and unused icons and links (laptop loads faster now). Another is the archiving of old emails. I admit I try to do that more often, but when I ran out of ink and kept things I wanted to print until I had new cartridges installed, things got a touch out of hand.

I learned years ago not to hold off on software updates, so I don’t have issue with that, but there are times when seeing what new tweaks have been added get put aside until <cough> ‘later’.

At the end of the day, Tuesday was a reminder that little things make a difference in how we live our lives. I prefer the stress free version, myself. 🙂

Categories: Musings

Spring Cleaning Part Two

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I was pleased and surprised to see an article on Groknation.com regarding Clean Mama. For those of us who struggle with keeping our homes clean, this was a great article with some inspiration and great tips.

Read it: Groknation.com – Clean Mama Shares How To Tackle Spring Cleaning

Looking for a bit more inspiration and ideas? Check out CleanMama.net.

I’ve been cleaning house for almost 6 decades, so I’ve encountered a thing or two. While I have not used any product sold on CleanMama.net, I have used some of her tips and tricks.

If nothing else, it is a good place to get some great information and ideas on how to tackle your home.

Categories: Musings

Spring Cleaning – Sort Of

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As I write this outside there are bits of rain that are slowly turning to frozen drizzle with more to come. The idea of “Spring Cleaning” doesn’t even begin to appeal to me.

That being said, I have come across a couple of things that I thought I would share.

Over on YouTube Hermione Chantal has been presenting a series of “Sort Out Your Life” videos that have been not only inspiring but thought provoking.

Decluttering may be a “thing” but it is also a great way to not only create space in your home but potentially create cash if you decide to sell your cast offs. All that being said, the best part of decluttering is the way it opens you up to life.

Let’s be honest, “Stuff” usually costs money and for many people that means credit card debt or little to no money in the bank which creates stress. Want to get rid of some stress? Try cleaning out your closets, library, garage and store rooms.

Been there, done that.

Spring Cleaning usually includes a touch of redecoration. This does not necessarily require spending a lot of money. Take a look around your house and see if you find things that could live in a different part of your home.

One thing I’ve seen return to the decorating scene is using either scrapbook paper, wallpaper or wrapping paper in frames to hang on the wall. Hermione recently did a video on the entryway to her home and used wallpaper in a frame as a focal point. Beautiful!

All you need is a frame you like and the paper of your choice. You can use old calendar photographs or photos from magazines. How about old posters?

Don’t have frames or posters? Head over to the local resale or second hand shops and see what you can find. HINT: Why not drop off a load of your old things you no longer want or need at the same time?

Do you have some old pillows that have seen better days? Before you toss them, why not wash them? I have a throw pillow that has been around for years. Anytime I see it getting a bit bedraggled and sad, I toss it into my laundry and watch the magic. It comes out full and fluffy and fresh.

Be sure to read the labels on your pillows before you wash – some might be a bit particular.

While washing may refresh, why not create your own pillow covers to update your decor? There are tons of How To videos available for the novice or expert sewer.

Do you have old sheets that you haven’t used in a while? Do you have enough flat sheets that you can use them as curtains? This means two flat sheets per window.

If you don’t have enough on hand, trek on over to the second hand shops and see what you can find. Don’t be surprised if you also find new curtains or other window treatments. HINT: Good idea to have a list of your window measurements and maybe color swatches in your bag or on your phone just in case.

Not too fond of the color? Why not try your hand at dyeing the material?

One other Ultimate Spring Cleaning tip is to rearrange a room. If you can, move the furniture about or reorganize your storage. Do you have bookshelves that could use sprucing up? You can change the contents, or put in new backings with removable wallpaper, inserts or paint. YouTube’s Engineering Your Space can help.

If you are contemplating spring cleaning your home, take the time to plan it out. Depending on what you have in mind, it could be a project that carries over several weekends. Weather can (and will) affect some of the things you might want to do.

Not matter how much, or how little, you want to clear out for Springs, don’t be surprised at how great you feel once each step is done. Getting rid of things you don’t need, freshening up your living space, and adding new things of interest will give you a bit of a lift.

Categories: Musings

The Sunday Roast

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I’m one of those fly by the seat of my pants cooks. Mostly. When I put together my grocery list, I have a good idea of what will reside in my pantry or freezer. What I do with that food might end up a different matter.

One thing I love to do – and is a no-brainer for weekly cooking – is prepare a meal that will have potential for lots of left overs or re-dos.

The Sunday Roast is perfect for this.

A roast chicken can be the main meal plus chicken casserole or chicken tacos.

A roast beef can become a wonderful beef stew.

A roast pork can evolve into a casserole or enchilada dish or …

The Domestic Geek has built a following on weekly meal prep. This is an idea I can support simply because it is brilliant. Do most of the work ahead of time so you can get through your week with healthy food read to go.

The Sunday Roast fits into that theme perfectly. Sunday is the one day of the week you can let the oven do its work without a lot of fuss and bother so you can ease into the rest of the week.

As I write this, my Sunday Roast is a pair of beautiful pork shoulder steaks that will be seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and sage, then spend about an hour to an hour and a half in a 325 degree oven. They will be accompanied by sweet potato fries.

Yum!

Categories: Cooking Food

Say Hello to Miss Bella!

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If you received today’s newsletter, you learned about our brand new barn cat, Bella. As promised, here are a few (!) of the photos I’ve taken since she arrived.

Sweetie (aka: Bella)

This was her photo from the shelter. Yes, it came in the Large Economy size — which is pretty amusing when you realize that Bella is far from Large. I haven’t taken the trouble to check, but I’m pretty sure she weighs in under 10 pounds. She is smaller than Annie by far.

Very Soft Fur!

Her colors are a bit muted due to lack of a lot of fur. I’m hoping that once she gets settled and the skin condition is under control, her fur will be less muted and fluffy.

She really likes the bed!

A snuggle cat, Bella loves being warm and cozy.

As I mentioned in the newsletter, I’m thinking a lot of the issues with skin and fur are stress related. If Bella is upset or unsettled, she chews her fur. This situation has eased off quite a bit, but every once in a while something happens to upset her.

A work in progress, you know. 🙂

When she gets especially happy, the toes on her back feet curl.

Tidbit we discovered by accident. 🙂

If you are considering a new cat or dog, please check your local shelter. There are lots of animals that would love a good home. Most won’t have issues like Bella’s – they just want a family of their own.

Also, and this is a big issue for me, please consider an older animal. Many, many times these animals have lost their humans due to issues that were not their fault. Some lost their humans due to death, while others couldn’t not stay with their humans for other reasons. Bella’s former family had to move and couldn’t take her with them.

In many cases, an older animal has learned their house manners, so training shouldn’t be so intense. They also have developed their own personalities. Kittens, puppies and young animals can be wonderful additions to a home, but please don’t overlook the adult or senior animals.

And, if you are inclined, don’t forget to check out the Special Needs animals. These guys really need human champions to care for them. They can be loving companions just like the other cats and dogs who are looking for new homes.

My hope is to share Bella’s journey here. I’m going to let that unfold and see where it leads.

In the meantime – Thanks for checking in and don’t forget to say HI! to our brand new barncat!

Categories: Bella Musings

Reminder!

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Our March newsletter will be out on March 3rd. If you are interested, please sign up now.

Go to the HOME tab and follow the instructions under the Newsletter heading.

Categories: Musings

Cord Cutting – My Journey

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When I was growing up there was no cable or satellite. There were only 3 networks: ABC, NBC and CBS. PBS came along a bit later.

Antennas were the way we watched television. If you had a decent antenna and no interference, you would be able to access the networks in your area. If you lived in an area where the signals did not transmit far, like I did, you might not get the ‘full’ experience. In some cases, you wouldn’t have access to a network affiliate at all. Fact of Life. <shrug>

When cable came in – and was installed – it was a game changer on many levels. My dad could now get all the local stations, and then some. This was a necessity in areas who depended upon the local news and weather for safety. For myself, who lived in a large metropolitan area, cable was not so much a necessity as a luxury. A rather expensive luxury.

Over the years I indulged in cable on occasion because regular TV got, well, boring. When I moved back to the mid-west, cable was once again a necessity – but one I could forgo once I moved into a more urban area.

By that time, 25 years into the cable experiment, cable had grown into a rather boring option. What had been exciting and new was dull, tedious, and … uninteresting.

Not to mention expensive.

Streaming was something that I didn’t know very much about. I found Wil Wheaton’s TableTop on YouTube and then began to explore what else was available. Frankly, I was astounded.

I discovered AcornTV, a service that streams programming from the UK, Canada and Australia. As a fan of BritComs and other British programming, I was thrilled. It did not hurt that I got all the programs I wanted to watch for less than $10 a month.

When Roku entered my life, I moved to a new level exploring both paid and free offerings on a box that was a one time only charge and only needed access to WiFi – in my house not an issue.

I would occasionally get curious about cable and satellite. The latter is not a possibility because I have trees, lots of trees. The former… <shrug>

The most prevalent complaint about cable and satellite services (beside the service or lack thereof) is the fact that you spend $$$ on channels you don’t watch. Waste of money, right?

If you are a life long cable subscriber and have no idea what is available over the air in your area, here is a simple and easy way to find out. Go to a TV listing provider and see. Most will ask for your ZIP code and the way you view your programming, Antenna or Cable. Choose the one you aren’t using.

Eye opening, isn’t it?

Television is a very personal exercise. What you watch, how you watch and if you watch change from person to person – even in the same home.

For myself, looking at taking on cable required me to take stock of what I was actually viewing, what I wanted to be viewing and what I was not interested in at all.

Looking at TV listings in my area by provider gave me solid information on what was available. Looking at various streaming services allowed me the opportunity to see what I was willing to pay for – and what I wasn’t.

I discovered that I really don’t watch that many movies. I love cartoons. British programming? You bet! Sports? No, thanks.

Streaming has become such a game changer that many networks and studios are looking to develop their own platforms. Some have added streaming services in addition to their cable/satellite offerings.

If you are contemplating cord cutting, there are several articles and books available with information that could be helpful. For myself, I suggest you sit down and take a good look at what you watch, and how much you want to pay.

You could replace a hefty cable bill with a collection of streaming services that could equal that bill. Or not.

I have Amazon Prime, AcornTV, BritBox and CBS All Access. Just these cost me less than $50 per month. I have all the movies I want in addition to some programming I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. BritBox has Dr. Who – years worth!

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I recently dropped Netflix. Why? Because I wasn’t watching it.

As a friend recently said, “There is so much to see and so little time.” Yes, and no. What I realized is I watch what I want and if I haven’t made any effort to watch, I wasn’t all that interested.

One other thing that appeals to me – I no longer have to program a DVR.

Test it out yourself. You just might save enough money to buy a huge new TV or go on a trip. Or you might find programming that really interests you without paying for stuff you never watch.

Categories: Musings TV

The Accidental Alchemist Series

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Love that Gargoyle!

I actually started this series by listening to book 4; The Alchemist’s Illusion. I then went back and started in on the first 3.

I’ve read urban fantasy off and on for years and have heard about Nicholas Flammel in a variety of places (Harry Potter?). Gigi Pandian’s work focuses on an alchemist who has found a home in Portland, Oregon after many years on the road in her pick up truck and Airstream trailer.

I have to tell you that it was the gargoyle, Dorian, who really caught my attention – even though I did like the main character.

I should also tell you that I, too, have a gargoyle in residence. However, mine doesn’t converse, cook or scamper about (that I know of) at odd times of the day or night.

The first three books in the series explain a lot about alchemy, history and the intricacies of vegan food. I know it isn’t to everyone’s taste, but there is nothing that says you can’t give it a try. The resolution to Dorian’s situation comes in book 3, but his story continues.

The reader does an amazing job and really helped me get into the stories. I enjoy all the characters – and each is well defined and presented. Portland, Oregon is becoming a character in itself.

If you are inclined, check out Gigi Pandian’s website HERE

Categories: Audiobooks Books

There’s A New Barn Cat!

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We have a brand new barn cat here at the OrangePlaidCat!

Her name is Belle (or Bella) – think Beauty and the Beast.

If you would like to learn more about her, please sign up for our monthly Newsletter. The next issue will have her story and a few pictures.

Categories: Pets

A Study in Kindness

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Did you know that Sesame Street will celebrate 50 years on the air later this year? Fifty years of Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Elmo and countless others.

I was well past the targeted viewer age when it debuted, but I watched. In fact, like many others, I have watched off and on for most of those soon to be 50 years.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood has been around for almost 57 years. That one I came to much later in life. Like many people, I found myself captivated by the simple message:

You are okay just as you are.

Both iconic shows endeavored to educate youngsters on a variety of topics. Sesame Street sought to start pre-kindergartners on the road to education by teaching numbers, colors, and simple concepts like ‘near’ or ‘far’. Mr. Rogers, thanks to Mr. McFeeley and the magic mirror, gave us a behind the scenes look at lots of things. How crayons are made, what do bakers do, etc.

Both, however, dealt with topics and issues that went beyond basic education. They taught people of all ages about kindness, empathy, and compassion.

By dealing with scary topics like divorce, 9/11 and natural disasters, kids were given the tools they needed to begin to understand ways to deal with a world neither they, nor their parents, controlled.

Ethnic and religious differences were shown not as a negative, but as a potential starting point to getting to know your neighbor. This was extended to include Autism and physical impairment.

Not bad for shows with puppets and silly kid songs. 🙂

Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!

Categories: Musings TV

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