Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Simple Living

Today I'm craving a little simplicity. Just a good, old-fashioned tea time with a slice of spice cake and a mug of something hot.

Sometimes it feels like living simply is an unattainable goal. I have been paring down, giving away, packing up things in the house on and off for the past couple of months. Now we are getting ready to do some room re-arranging and I feel that familiar sense of anxiousness and dread coming. Where will I put everything? Why can't our house be better organized? Why did the builder put that room there? And didn't he think we might like a closet here?

I love my house and I'm grateful for it, don't get me wrong. But sometimes it feels like a huge jigsaw puzzle to me. I have two file cabinets stashed in the closet of the exercise room, along with all our board games. The dining room closet has a big bureau in it, packed with candles and candle holders, gift wrap, and presents for upcoming holidays. The storage container stuffed under our bed has some of my old artwork in it; stuff I can't bear to throw away but don't want out on display.

No matter how well I think I de-clutter, there's always more.

Sometimes I think that this is the reason that vacations are so stress-free. You have a small bag of belongings. . . and that's it! No myriad of shoes to organize, no dozen family photo albums to find a new place for, no videos and DVDs to try to keep straight in the cabinet. Hopefully I will remember all of this the next time I'm at the store or at an online shop and see something that is just-so-great-I-have-to-have-it.

But unfortunately today there is no cake or hot mug of anything waiting for me. Just a large room with many windows which will, if all goes as planned, hold our dining room furniture, my home office, and craft/art supplies in a somewhat tidy manner by the end of this evening.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Government Clean Up

I wish someone would bail me out of my financial woes. I came across this article while perusing the web this morning. Now, honestly I try not to get involved in political matters. Politics makes my blood boil for the most part, and since GWB took office it's gotten nearly impossible for me to follow along and not feel like I'm going to have a seizure or a stroke. So mostly I try to avoid all things in Washington. I don't read newspapers. I don't watch the news. I try my best to avoid anything but the bare minimum about the upcoming elections. (This is all rather ironic since I make my living writing and providing information to the general public via regional and national publications!).

But this whole Wall Street bail out is one of the most ridiculous things I've heard of recently. In fact, if it wasn't so absurd it might be funny.

But it's hard to see the funny side while the government is debating bailing out these extremely large financial firms on OUR tax dollars. Our national deficit is out of control. The government says that they are trying to avoid a more detrimental economy. I guess I can't see how spending $700 billion dollars helps our economy, especially when we are already so far in debt.

My parents taught me very well when I was young that money doesn't grow on trees. But apparently the United States government, with GWB leading the way, thinks that in middle class America, it does.

One thing this whole mess is reminding me, is how important it is to have my own debt paid off. In addition to the money not growing on trees thing, my parents also drilled into my head how important it is to owe no one. Own your cars, pay off your mortgage, don't carry credit card debt if you can help it. And make sure you give back--God will take care of the rest.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Do you like Auctions?

Remember when Ebay first came out? It was so exciting--a world of good deals, and some pretty hideous knick knacks at our disposal 24/7.

Ebay has certainly changed over the years. A lot of people have made a lot of money selling a lot of crap. Okay, there's been some good stuff, too. Like this adorable set of vintage Pyrex. Yum Yum!

There are other sites like Etsy which I absolutely love. Etsy is a HUGE online mall of artists and crafters who make the most wonderfully creative stuff. Though my little shop is currently empty, I'll be filling it back up at some point.

But thinking about Ebay and Etsy, got me thinking that I have some things I could auction off. And instead of selfishly selling these items for my own profit, I've decided to raise money for causes that I believe in.

I'd like to hear from anyone who would be interested in having the option of a silent auction here on A Chick with a Conscience. Now, just being interested in seeing what is for bid doesn't mean you have to place a bid, so don't worry about saying "Yes, I'm interested" and then not bidding. It's not a problem.

If enough interest is generated, I'll post the item(s) here, and anyone interested can email me privately with their bid. I will set a time limit so that you aren't waiting weeks to find out if you've won. At the end of the time limit (say 7 days), I'll post the big winner here.

The hardest part will be choosing a charity. There are so many incredible ones out there, it will be hard to pick just one. But I will have to do just that, if the auction is a go-ahead.

So, post a comment in the "Comments" section if you are interested in seeing an auction on this site. I'm curious to see the results. . .

Monday, September 15, 2008

TV Pacifiers

Are any of you concerned with the amount or quality of television or movies you've been watching lately? I'm re-reading Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth's book, Serve God, Save the Planet and just finished a chapter on the negative aspects of television.

Now, before anyone lambastes me for trying to make them feel guilty for watching a little TV now and then, let me share a scary statistic with you. The average American citizen will spend 10 years of his or her life watching television before she dies.


I'm not a big TV watcher, but I do love movies. I love going to the theater and renting movies at home. Love, love, love it.

My husband is a big-time TV watcher. I bet if I didn't live here, it would be on just about all the time. But, the truth is, if it's on I will usually watch it, sometimes even against my will--I get sucked in. In fact, I even asked him to buy a headset for television watching because I cannot seem to keep my focus on what I'm doing if the television is on.

So lately I have been thinking that it's time to pare down on the television watching a bit. I just came across this great Web site which offers you 101 emailed ideas of what you can do instead of watching TV. I'm signing up.

The site also lists a lot of the reasons to turn off the "boob toob" (my parents favorite term for the television). And really, reading through the list, it did make me think: When's the last time I watched television and felt all happy and energized afterward? Does it ever make me inspired to do things that will positively effect my life? What else am I missing out on by watching too much TV?

"But it's just so eeeeaaaasssssyyyy. . . " I can almost hear someone responding. It's true. Watching TV is easy--incredibly so. Now televisions are installed in places I never thought they would be--in the back of minivans, at the grocery store, in restaruants. What did we do before all this constant TV watching? Hmmmm, I think we used to do something strange, called conversing. . .

Make sure you tell me if you sign up for the email ideas, okay? I'm curious to know what others think--I'll try to post some of the more interesting/unique ideas on this blog.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Fall Gimmes

Ugh, just when I was feeling so smug that I haven't had to deal with the gimmes lately, they've struck again. Of course, this always happens in the fall. Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the cool weather, sunny or rainy days, the smell of woodsmoke, and the fall-only activities like apple picking and leaf peeping.

But with fall always comes this deep desire to have a new wardrobe. And a new house. And a huge new creative project or two, just to keep things interesting.

I think it's because I feel so energetic and happy at this time of year, that I want to celebrate--for me that means spending money and eating too much chocolate. I can't take all the blame for that. . . my mom used to give us "treats" to celebrate events when I was growing up. They usually involved shopping for new clothes or eating ice cream in some form.

But I digress. What's a girl (or guy) to do about these pesky gimmes?

Perhaps I should seriously think about freeganism. But I think I'm still a little too squeamish to eat food from a dumpster. Unless it was super clean. Like brand-new clean. And everything inside was wrapped in mounds of un-earth friendly plastic or secured in very sturdy glass or something.

Maybe I should join The Compact? That seems much more do-able. I've been following this blog by Katy about her experience trying to live more lightly. She's a Compact member and seems completely cool.

But all of these things are simply distracting me from what I really want to do--rush to the mall (which I normally avoid at all costs) and shop, shop, shop. New clothes, new music, new home decor--then a trip to a big bookstore to shop some more. Books, a journal, magazines, a new yoga DVD. And of course, we can't forget Michael's Craft store.

Maybe instead I should look for some new ways to celebrate things that don't involve overeating or overspending. And hey, when the gimmes pass, I might just have an extra hundred bucks in savings and still fit into my jeans.

"I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than attempting to satisfy them." ~John Stuart Mills

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Happy Foody

Lately, I've been craving sweets like this little crispy treat above. And check out the foil wrapped Lindt chocolate on the right of the tea cup! Yum. Almost too pretty to eat.


But these days I'm trying to eat more healthfully. Even my husband has gotten on board lately, asking for extra fruit and vegetables and cutting back on soda and chips. I know in my heart of hearts that eating good food makes me feel good. I know that eating foods full of sugar/fat/salt don't make me feel so hot. So if I know all that, why is it still so hard to eat good foods?

If you've been wondering that same thing, I have the perfect Web site to share with you: Happy Foody. This girl is a true inspiration to me on many levels, but one of the best things about her site is that she makes you absolutely crave crunchy fresh vegetables and sweet, wholesome fruits as though they were cake and candy. Her photos are amazing and she includes some fabulous recipes.

PLUS she's super environmentally friendly. You can learn more about her and her family's recent trip across country in a veggie-oil RV here.

Very inspiring.

Here's a delicious recipe from Dr. Weil's site that I just tried out today.

This makes a perfect snack or dessert when you have a sweet tooth and is nice and healthy.

Cocoa-Banana Frozen Dessert

4 bananas--quite ripe
2 Tbl. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbl. real maple syrup

Whiz together the bananas and cocoa powder in blender or food processor. Add vanilla and maple syrup and process until very smooth. Transfer into custard cups and cover. Freeze a few hours until set.