International Hot and Spicy Food Day

According to Hallmark, today is the International Hot & Spicy Food Day.From their datebook: Archaeological evidence suggests that people have been using hot spices in cooking for over 6000 years, proving that no one lets a little heartburn stop them from eating their favorite foods.

Sahweet! We love hot and spicy food. However, unlike others who think that means one should make food as hot (and inedible) as humanly possible, we believe in using the hot and spicy to enhance the flavor of food, not use it to burn the heck out of ourselves.

My personal love of “spicy” food is roasted green chiles. Preferably Hatch green chiles! I’ll slather them on grilled cheese sandwiches, in empanadas with apples, in ice cream, or just about anything else I can think of. The soft spicier nip of the chiles always warms my heart and tummy.

Hubz, on the other hand, thinks the spicier, the better. Hardly ever is something “too hot” for him. So when we go out for curry, he often has to hold back and order the mild or medium version for me. When I make curry at home, I do try to spice it up a bit hotter for him, without compromising the unique blend of flavors. I must e doing something right, cause he always gobbles it and sometimes even goes back for seconds.

One thing we both agree on: don’t use hot sauce just for the sake of using hot sauce to make something hot. Most often we see hot sauce used for this reason and it ends up just ruining the flavor of the food because it completely overpowers any other flavor in the dish. Very sad indeed.

So, in short, in our world, green chiles, curries, and spices = GOOD! Things like Dave’s Insanity Hot Sauce (nothing against them) = BAD. Sorry people! We want to be able to taste the foods!

Posted in Post-A-Day, Recipes | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why the drastic career change?

This is a question I seem to be encountering lately. I have spent almost all my work career in the administrative field. Twenty years worth of it. That’s a long time. Now that I’m getting up there a few years from being 40 years old, why now would I choose to make such a “drastic” switch in fields, moving into healthcare?

One of the biggest reasons for my switch is the current state of the economy and crappy job market. Or really lack thereof. Regardless of the fact that I have fabulous references, excellent resume, experience and track record in various field, after two years, I still can barely get an interview. So I started checking out what other fields are growing – healthcare being among one of the best.

The second biggest reason for my change is that, after twenty years, I am starting to feel burnt out on the whole office administrative field. Yes, I’m good at it, but I’m almost dreading going back to another “cube-farm”.

In researching the new field and job options, specifically being a certified caregiver, I found the field is growing by leaps and bounds and I can easily clear $20k-$30k a year salary. That may not sound like a lot to most people. However, that small amount is still more than twice what I got when I was on unemployment. Also, I won’t be locked in a cube farm and I’ll get still interact with lots of people. Ideally, I’d like to work for one of those companies that sends me around to various people’s homes to help them out. However, realistically, I know I’ll probably start out working at one of the assisted living homes.

Either way, I’m excited to jump fields!

Posted in Employment, Post-A-Day, School | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I’m committed!

Oh-oh! I’ve finally gone and really done it. I’ve really taken the first big step and really committed myself!

Today I called in my registration for my first caregiver class. 28 hours of fun fun fun at the end of January. It will be the FOC class that will help put me “on the lists” and able to get a basic caregiver helper job, until I get my full schooling done in February and March. Washington State has some of the strictest guidelines in the nation (or so I’m told), so every class I take counts towards my requirements. Gee, if I wanted to work in Oregon though, they have ~NO~ requirements at all for certifications! How’s THAT for a wee bit scary for the elderly in Oregon? <shudder>

I have also signed up for the Red Cross Pet First Aid class, too. Yah! I get to learn to save the pups and kitties, too! I figure if I am in a person’s home giving them care, they may have a pet that may need help also. Or something could happen and the owner doesn’t know what to do, or can’t physically do animal CPR, etc. *I’ll* be trained and certified for it though! Just another fabulous add-on service that boosts my credentials some. Plus, I want to know, just for my own sake of knowing the stuff. I love my kitty Neeko dearly and want to be able to give him the best possible care.

Next step? Choosing my school to do my CNA classes and certification. I’ve narrowed it down to two. Now I just need to go “interview” both schools and make the final decision. They both cost pretty much the same amount (within $25 of each other – yeah, *that* close!). The programs are about the same length. They, of course, use the same textbooks (Washington State approved). Will need to drag hubz along with me, since he catches some of the fine details I miss. Classes start soon, so I have to decide soon, or else I will have to wait two more months for the next round of classes.

Posted in Post-A-Day, School | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What made you decide to start a blog?

Today’s suggested topic is: What made you decide to start a blog?

I’ve blogged before and found it pleasurable, almost liberating. Putting my thoughts down “on paper”, digitally. Before I met my husband, I had a long-running blog that I seemed to constantly write in. After meeting the hubz, and during dating, I got distracted and let it fall, sadly, into disuse. It finally got to the point where I hadn’t blogged in months and I decided just to delete it altogether. Swoop! And it was gone, the whole kit-n-kaboodle.

So, flash forward a year. Hubz says it would be good for me to take up writing again, give me an outlet of some sort, even it is no longer completely anonymous, like the old blog was. Hmmm…start writing again. Perhaps improve my style, or really, actually GET a style! They do say that if you want to be a better writer, start writing ANYTHING.

Over the past several months I’ve dinked around with several blogging sites. The old one on Google Blogger is wonderful, but I felt I needed something “more”.  I tried LiveJournal and a few others, but nothing really “clicked” for me. Maybe not enough options to personalize it, maybe too difficult to actual post…whatever. So at the beginning of the year I decided to try WordPress. So far, so good. Simple, easy, gives me all the options I want and, best of all, FREE!

So, here I am again, opening up my life to the world. It’s always an interesting ride. Several of my friends tell me I’m smart, funny, fascinating (I think that’s good!) and just an all-around “cool, awesome person” to know. LOL…gotta love friends that build ya up like that! I think they are pretty awesome, too! 🙂 One of my dearest friends suggested I make sure to make posts about all the quirky, weird things hubz and I do, things we know, knowledge we can share. So I’ll try to do more of that, too. I know I’m always spouting off some obscure factoid, while my friend will look at me and say, “You totally need to blog that!” So, ok, I will! Hubz will post his fun on his new blog, also (I think I have him hooked back into writing again!!).  Make sure to check out his blog, too, and encourage him!!

Raise a glass to weird factoids, fun, and dispersing knowledge and struggles!

Posted in Post-A-Day | Tagged , | 1 Comment

What are you looking forward to this year?

Today’s suggested topic? What are you looking forward to this year?

OK, I’ll run with this one. I think one of the biggest things I’m looking forward to this year is that last year’s struggles are gone. We are optimistic about our immediate future, though not always sure how to get from HERE to THERE. We have lots of goals, plans, and ideas that we want to work on this year. Far more than might fit in one year alone, but at least we’ll start them rolling.

Here’s some of our biggest goals this year:

  • Expand my home business, Celtic Cat Shop. Get more items listed for sale on Etsy and Amazon for it.
  • Do my caregiver classes and get my CNA certification.
  • Start seriously building towards buying one, or several, multifamily properties.
  • Purge, declutter, downsize! Get rid of more STUFF! Baby steps every day!
  • Pay off several of our bills & get some savings back in the bank again.
  • Reconnect with friends, family & people more

That’s a good start, at least. I’m sure I’ll expand this list as the year progresses. We’re getting there. Last year really kicked us down hard. Actually, the last two years. There was a lot of good in that time though too.

We are expecting good things this year!

Posted in Goals, Post-A-Day | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Spending the Day *In*

So, today we decided to spend the day in, catching up on projects around the home and not going anywhere. It may make for a boring day at times, but at least a lot got done.

I got another stack of souvenir magazines sorted that hubz brought back from his Alaska and Hawaii trips. Ripped out the articles I wanted to scan in to the computer for later reference and tossed the rest to recycle. Total weight loss? About 10 or so pounds. AND I reclaimed over half the kitchen table! Yah me! Tomorrow’s goal is to scan all those articles so I can toss the physical papers.

Hubz got his resume completely reworked and ran it through RezScore – a B+! Yah Hubz! Great job! There is a big job fair tomorrow morning that we are going to, so we wanted to make sure both our resumes would be “up to snuff” to impress.

I got some more of the information gathered and sorted for the CNA classes I want to take. They cost a good chunk of change, especially with the new State of Washington requirements that doubled on January 1, 2011. It’s not hard work, just a bit expensive, given our current situation. I never thought I’d actually be able to make this step towards making it a reality though. Hubz is definitely behind me all the way, encouraging and supporting me in this path. Whew…in the long run, it will be worth it though.

Another small accomplishment: I made my famous mini-meatloaves today! We found my mini meatloaf pan a couple weeks ago while sorting a box and I got all excited! So today I pulled it out and went to work. It’s really a hodge-podge recipe of whatever is on hand. Start with two pounds of hamburger (I love using 80/20) and add in about three handfulls of crushed crackers. I keep a ziploc bag of stale, crushed, gluten-free chips, crackers, etc in the pantry to use in place of breadcrumbs. Then I add in roasted green chiles and diced onions, along with numerous condiment packets of taco sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce and a few soy sauces (you know, those freebies they give you at fast food places and 7-11 – why let them go to waste?!). Of course, the eggs and a small can of tomato paste (also dolled up with more numerous condiment packets). Sometimes I also add a packet of taco seasoning. Viola! Meatloaf loaf! Squished into the mini meatloaf pan, bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then let it rest in the turned off oven (with the oven door open – to warm the apt, of course! Why waste the heat?) and them are some pretty tasty meatloaves. My pan makes 9 of these little delicacies at a time. Just right for a light meal for two, with leftovers for two more meals to stash in the freezer. Eat one or two, paired with my other famous item – garlic mashed potatoes (made from REAL potatoes, thank you! I’ll post that recipe someday, too) and some steamed mixed veggies drizzled with garlic butter. There’s a simple, fast, easy meal. No bad meatloaves here. In fact, in all the years I’ve been making these, I can’t say I’ve ever had a loaf turn out bad, or one that wasn’t quickly gobbled up by whoever I was making it for. Maybe just lucky, I guess, since I never measure any of my ingredients (hence why I also terrible at baking! I have to actually MEASURE stuff then!).

Anywho, all around it was a quiet, peaceful day. Not much to report here. I hear some people saw snow today around us. I know our porches and drive are a bit icy right now. But we’ve got the old reliable Subaru, so we’re not worried. Nervous about the job fair tomorrow, but also excited. 🙂

Oh, did get my first “hate mail” today about my blog. Cool! I was kinda bothered and upset about it at first but Hubz says that means I’m doing something right and getting “popular”. LOL I guess that’s a nice way to put a positive spin on it. It really wasn’t THAT bad, just struck me wrong, being the sensitive sap I am about personal stuff. For all my readers, feel free to submit comments – I read them all, not just the one people put on my Facebook page! I love to hear from people, good and bad.

Off to Dreamland. Hubz and Neeko already beat me there. 🙂

Posted in Decluttering, Employment, Post-A-Day, Recipes, School | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A Call for Change…Make 2011 the Year of Less

Hello. My name is Lise and I am…I’m a…I’m a packrat. I’m a clutterbug. I’m a hoarder.

Yep…there. I said it. I’ve known it for a long time. Both the hubz and I come from a long solid line of packrats, some very proud of their packrating and hoarding abilities. Some, like our grandparents, packrating instilled into them during living through the Great Depression. Some, for no reason at all.

Hubz story is his to tell, though I believe his is similar to mine. Growing up, there were times of abundance, then long lean times of want. I remember having to share clothes with my mother, because she refused to buy me my own. I remember getting out on my own at 16 and not being able to buy much more than the clothes I had been able to take with me and the kindness of strangers who would give me an item, here or there. Somewhere in all this, I got the mentality of “never enough” and started my own packratting tendencies.

Over the years, I’ve purged things, here and there. Sometimes by my own hand. Sometimes by the acts of others (breaking up with a boyfriend, getting my divorce and have to leave behind whatever I didn’t have packed already).

But then I would start accumulating stuff again. Sometimes very stupid stuff: Mismatched Tupperware lids; three full sets of various sized strainers and mixing bowls (and I hardly EVER bake!); eight measuring cups (I mean REALLY! How many do I think I really need?!); tons of books – most of which I had read once, but didn’t have any intention of ever reading again; and loads upon of clothes – most of which I either have never worn, never intend to wear, don’t fit (too big or too small) or I just didn’t *like* for some reason, but was holding onto anyways. Holding on to STUFF, just to say I *have* it.

So, recognizing this in myself, hubz and I made a serious commitment just over a year ago to start getting rid of all our STUFF.  We looked around ourselves and realized that our true treasures were hard to find, let alone be shown off. Items like the statue that holds one of my dear cat’s ashes (ok, morbid to you, but to me it’s special), souvenirs from our trips (we don’t get a lot, but sometimes bring back an item), our library of books. So, we finally decided we really must par down what we do have.

I have always been a fan of Flylady, and have tried my best over the years to follow some of the steps. But I always fall behind and eventually get distracted. Now though, I’m feeling more confident this year. Over the last year and a half, hubz and I have gone from a generous and crammed to the gills 10×10 storage unit, down to a 7×10 unit, and now are in a small 5×10 unit, with some wiggle room. Unfortunately, we also have “paths” through our apartment right now too. On either side, lined with boxes that we are currently sorting and purging. It’s a long process for both of us. I came from a packed 4 bedroom, 1500 square foot house (even tho over half the stuff got left behind when I fled the home), and hubs came from a modest 2 bedroom apartment (with stuff stashed away at his dad’s house too!). So it’s quite the challenge at times, trying to decide what the real treasures are, what we can sell/trade on Amazon, eBay, Paperback Swap and craigslist, what should go to the homeless shelter, what should go to the Goodwill, and what should just go to trash/recycle. To know when to push each other, and when to say it’s ok to keep something, even if we know it’s just for a little while longer, to say goodbye and detached ourselves emotionally from the item.

Here’s an awesome posting from a fellow blogger about making the vow to get rid of, and just make do with less STUFF in our lives: A Call for Change… Make 2011 the Year of Less.

We’ll keep ya updated on our own personal progress. We have the dream of someday moving in to a smaller home, a home that is less than 1000 square feet, perhaps even a Tiny Home! Maybe even accomplishing our dream of creating a small, self-sufficient, off-grid “compound” of tiny homes, similar to cohousing. We have a dream!

Posted in Decluttering, Post-A-Day, Simpler Living, Tiny Homes | Tagged , | Leave a comment