List of things I need to do to take care of myself

  1.  Get a haircut.  It has been 2 years.  Update:  I tried to do a walk-in at the place next to DC2’s newish Saturday morning activity, but they were full-up.  When traveling dies down, if I haven’t gotten a haircut in a conference city, I will make an appointment for during DC2’s activity one of these weeks.
  2.  Get an eye-exam and new glasses.  I think it has been over a decade and my driving glasses have scratches.  I am also intrigued by the idea of computer glasses.  Update:  got the eye exam while at a conference at the Lenscrafters in [conference city] (everything is aok, though I’ve gotten slightly nearsighted in addition to my astigmatism; doctor says I can still use my glasses for just driving).  Will pick the glasses up at another conference in the same place later this month.  (Oddly, I think I’ve gotten all my glasses since 200X from the lenscrafters in this mall, and a good number of my haircuts.  I have several conference buddies who refresh their wardrobes periodically from the Ann Taylor there, though I don’t because there’s never anything in my size on sale.  I get my shoes in a completely different conference city.)  I also used my prescription to order an extra pair from (not sponsored!) zennioptical, which is where my DH gets his actual glasses.  Update:  have both pairs of glasses, and both make my vision really crisp.  I definitely needed an updated prescription!
  3.  Get a mammogram.  I filled out the online form for an appointment a couple weeks after my birthday but haven’t heard back.  I should call.  Update: scheduled for May 2nd.
  4.  Get tested for diabetes/insulin resistance or just get a metformin prescription.  I have PCOS.  Over the holidays plus during job candidate season I overindulged and didn’t listen to my hunger and gained weight eating all sorts of refined carbs.  Since then I’ve gone back to my regular mostly diabetes-friendly diet, but my weight has stayed the same instead of dropping like it usually does when I listen to my hunger, my periods have stopped (this could be menopause in action) but I keep feeling like I’m about to have my period, I’m tired and fatigued a lot, I’ve been drinking water a lot more, and I’ve been getting headaches (but maybe my hair is just too long).  Also I occasionally wake up with tingly fingers or toes.  In response I am going completely no-refined-carb (goodbye wheat thins, the cookie in cracker form), but I really ought to also just see a doctor for testing or medication.  Update:  diet change seems to help a lot, and when I do accidentally eat something with lots of sugar I feel cruddy and brain-foggy within an hour or so.  Still no period.  My current plan is to go back to the rule from my late 20s when I was first diagnosed:  3 months no period => go see the doctor.  That puts me at the start of summer to make an appointment.  Update 2:  diet change helped with that too… so I think I’m going to need to decide if I want to continue with the diabetes diet vs. go on metformin.  It is just hard to be careful about added sugar and refined flours (and I *like* refined flours), but metformin is unpleasant and can also interfere with B12 absorption which is something I occasionally have a problem with.  So I dunno.  After doing some youtube watching, it sounds like if you’re good about your diet over a 3 week period, diabetes won’t show up in the initial blood screen because you’re not getting the bad symptoms that show up in the bloodwork.  The fasting icky drink the awful orange drink tests should still show up positive though.
  5. Eat more vegetables.
  6. Get my skin checked out.  The problem with this is that the dermatologist office in town has a reputation for removing all moles, not just the ones likely to be cancerous, and he has a “non-disparagement” clause thing you have to sign, so nobody is allowed to leave a negative review on Yelp.  So I would have to find a dermatologist elsewhere and get to them.
  7. Get new brown dress shoes.  My current Pikolino’s half boots (3-4 years old) are getting worn down in the heel.
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I bought some plates

They’re the Lenox butterfly plates* I said I wasn’t going to get until my children were out of the house.

What changed?

Well… my MIL bought some before Christmas.  She got the kind that are made specially for Macy’s, so they’re blue.  I made sure to use them at every opportunity and got little sparks of joy while doing so.  They’re thicker than they used to be and the image isn’t printed on quite as nicely as they used to be.  Them not being quite as nice is likely related to the fact that the price has gone WAY DOWN since I wrote that post saying I wasn’t going to get them.  On top of that, the holiday sale that my MIL bought her plates from was still going on, so a set of 6 dinner/salad/cups in my preferred design was only $99 instead of nearly $400.    At that price, I can handle the predicted amount of breakage without tears.  It’s more than the white Corelle we’ve been getting (and slowly breaking into a zillion tiny fragments), but not *that* much more.

Next holiday sale, I think I might get the hydrangea pattern which will come with bowls instead of cups.

Now… we’re not actually *using* the plates right now.  The Corelle stuff (along with the four of our original floral Target at Home plates that haven’t broken) is on top of the Lenox in the cupboard and we haven’t really had time to entertain at all since we bought them.  But I’m happy to know that we have them and they didn’t cost too much.  As we continue to shatter the Corelle we will eventually start using them as daily plates rather than replacing the Corelle.

So… part of being willing to buy nice things is the price of said things dropping!

Are there things you would love to buy if they weren’t so darned expensive?  Do you keep your eye on things in case the price drops?  When the price does drop, do you buy?  For your specific wanted item, is it about not being able to afford it, or about feeling crappy if something goes wrong with the purchase?

*(Yes, I know this is a very grandma set of plates– I don’t care!  The heart wants what it wants.)

Stuff we’ve really enjoyed having this year

(besides books, though KJ Charles rocks!)

I love this teapot I got for my Birthday last year.  It is so easy to use and to clean, and it makes the right amount of tea for when you want, you know, a pot instead of just a mug.

Although you should probably not gift this to anyone, this home laser hair removal thing  has been fantastic.  I barely need to pluck my chin anymore at all (with the exception of a few white hairs that laser won’t get) and it’s been a few weeks since I’ve done even a touch-up with the laser.

I still really like my moleskin weekly planner, even though everyone else has switched to Google Calendar.

This Solo travel bag I got myself has been perfect for overnight travel without having to take a roller-bag.  For those who cannot part with the roller-bag, one of my colleagues swears by these packing cubes and will be getting them for almost everyone on her list this year.

This amazing lamp was everything I wanted and more!

DH loves this little pocket pen.  It is pretty clever.

Our in-laws love this ice cream scoop we got them, although it is not dishwasher safe.

#2 enjoys watching her DH play the latest Assassin’s Creed game.

Here’s a previous post on little things that just work.  I still get a lot of pleasure from using a high quality pencil sharpener.

What stuff has been “sparking joy” for you over the past year?

September Mortgage Update and Furnishing an Empty Apartment for a Year

This month (August):
Balance:$21,340.08
Years left: 1.583333333
P =$1,125.48, I =$88.93, Escrow =$809.48

This month (September):
Balance:$20,210.15
Years left: 1.5
P =$1,129.93, I =$84.47, Escrow =$809.48

One month’s prepayment savings: $0

In the end we decided to move out here with next to nothing– we filled up the car, sent a few boxes, and DC2 and I each checked a bag and did a carry-on on the plane.

And now our 1200 sq ft 2br apartment is mostly furnished.

How did we get here from there?

1.  We bought a couch, dining room table and chairs, large ottoman, bunk beds (and mattresses), king-size bed (and mattress), kid’s bike, shelves, and a few sundries (plates and bowls, cooler, toaster oven, microwave) from some people who were moving out for 1K.  I’m pretty sure we could have bargained her down given how last minute she was about everything, but 1K was less than we would have spent at IKEA on much cheaper versions of the same stuff, so we’re good.  Even though she was a PITA to deal with and kept going on and on about how she didn’t want to sell us things because they were dented.

2.  IKEA has a lot of very inexpensive stuff.  We bought three small tables (one for the living room, two to use as nightstands), a set of odd silverware (that cost less than the same partial sets of silverware at goodwill– our goodwill sucks), and a few skirt hangers.

3.  The apartment has some built-in shelves and cabinets.

4.  We have some friends who were happy to give us the crappy stuff they bought back in 2000 that they have since replaced with much nicer stuff but hadn’t gotten rid of the crappy stuff even though they never use it.  Yay generous packrat friends who were saving this stuff for just such an opportunity!  Here we got some not great quality pots, pans, bakeware, measuring spoons and cups (the kind where you have to guess the size because they’re so well-loved), and so on.  They have dibs if they want it back at the end of the year, but they’re hoping they won’t.

5.  The same friends are letting us borrow some shelves and a card table they were keeping in their garage because they want to clear out the garage to organize it.  Also they’ll want them back at the end of the year.

6.  We got a card table and chairs at Walmart for $55 that we’re using in the dog-run for outdoor dining.  DH also got a bike for himself at Walmart.

7.  After trying to work in the eat-in kitchen and being defeated by the heat of the sun, DH decided he really needed a desk, so we got one for $60 off a neighborhood list-serve.

8.  Target filled in more kitchen and bathroom odds-and-ends, as well as things like envelopes and printer paper.

9.  Amazon filled in for some bigger items like a printer, extra ink, a bike for me (after waiting too long to buy one locally so all the students have cleared out anything under $300.  If only I’d bought the first time I looked!  Also, what is going on with Forge bikes not actually having any bikes in stock anywhere?)

10.  I ended up getting a laptop as I didn’t realize work wouldn’t come with a computer and my old laptop is giving up the ghost.

11.  Another friend has a piano lying around that the previous house owners left that she said we could have for the year if we pay for moving.  Paying for moving there and back puts it still at less than the cost of renting or buying a new digital piano.  (We really did want to bring our own piano but just couldn’t fit it in the car and it would have cost more to move than to rent one for the year.)

12.  We got some black-out curtains from Kohls (online, clearance).  The place did come with curtains, but the bedroom curtains didn’t block out any light and the living room curtains only covered about half the window, exposing the world to streaking toddlers who don’t want to get dressed in the morning.

13.  (Update)  Scored another set of shelves and very small chest of drawers that someone in the neighborhood left out with a free sign.  Now DC2 can keep hir shirts and pants in separate drawers and I have a place to put hir winter clothing and too big stuff, which means there’s room in the closet for their toys.

We’re doing a lot of “making do”… like, we don’t really need a casserole if we have the knock-off le creuset for some tasks and a mason jar for other tasks.  We don’t need a pyrex 13×9 if we have a metal one.  And so on.  We’re using long flat bowls instead of small plates for a lot of things (the plates we have are enormous).  But it’ll be fine for a year.  Things that aren’t fine we’ve eventually bought (like an ove glove– way better than the towels system we’d been using).

How much did this all cost, I dunno, something between 2K and 3K?  Closer to 3K if you include the bikes.  How does it compare with shipping?  We’re ahead if we don’t ship stuff back at the end of the year, but we’re about even (since we’d have had to buy bikes anyway) if we do a Pod at the end of the year.

How did you furnish your first place/most recent place?

What did we get for Christmas?

#1 DH got the interior of my car detailed!  It is no longer scuzzy at all [update:  except the tip of the emergency brake– I’ve mostly gotten that clean though] and they tacked the fabric back in the doors.  Yay DH!

I also got a pillow protector, Akata Witch, The very nearly honorable league of pirates #1, The well of ascension, What works for women at work, What If?, and One Lady Two Cats off my wishlist.  Oh, and new sheets and towels (the former of which we really need since one of our two sets literally disintegrated a week before Christmas).  My stupid plan to keep my SIL from getting me the thing marked “lowest” off my Amazon list by not marking anything as “lowest” failed when she got me something not on my wishlist at all.  I’m not actually sure what it is… some kind of housewares thing that looks like one of those trays you serve breakfast in bed with except it specifically says not to use with food.  (Also it’s seriously scratched up on the bottom.)  DC1 drew me a super awesome comic strip with Pokémon putting up a Christmas tree and Pikachu lighting it up with predictable effects (“Does anyone else smell smoke?”).  The last panel says, “Now we sit and wait for presents to appear.”  My sister got DH and me a joint gift from her trip to Italy with small tasting liquors (including pistachio which I have been looking for in the US for AGES) and ancient balsamic vinegar sweet enough to go over vanilla ice cream.  Win!

The kids got a tonne of stuff.  Highlights of the best include a wooden toy tool belt from my sister, The Book with No Pictures, and The Most Magnificent Thing.  I *strongly* recommend the most magnificent thing for any budding engineers (under the age of say, 9 or 10) on your list, or even just budding perfectionists.  Oddly DC1 got catapults from multiple family members this year.  We can do a serious siege on the wooden castle now (we only had one catapult before).

#2’s partner got her a dice bag which is black leather with purple dragon on it.  Inside are purple dice, lavender dice, and steampunk-y dice.  I’ve been borrowing partner’s purple dice for D&D.

I also got lots of books!  I love books!  And amazon gift cards!  That I spent!  On books!  [ed:  If you wonder what books she got, you’ll have to ask her in the comments!]

Did you get anything especially fun or unusual?

Little things that just work

Sometimes I like giving Christmas presents that are practical but luxurious.  My grandmother-in-law was kind of weirded out at first when we got her a bath mat for Christmas one year early in our marriage, but it was a really nice really expensive bath mat that just felt like stepping on a little slice of Heaven’s carpet after getting out of the shower or bath.  She remembered that purchase and was appreciative years later, even if it seemed an odd choice at first.  Sure she already had bath-mats, but she didn’t have luxury bath mats.

And it’s amazing how these little luxuries can change one’s quality of life.  Sometimes in ways that you don’t even realize are possible until you’ve experienced them.  I think that makes for the best kind of Christmas present for the person who has everything– something they didn’t know they wanted.

The following things are expensive for what they are, but cheap given the happiness they bring.

Maped metal pencil sharpeners.  Sharpening a pencil has never been so pleasurable.  Pencils perfectly pointed.  After dozens of crappy plastic sharpeners that just gave out after a few sharpens, this little hand-held product is a dream.  Amazon no longer carries the two-pack we got that had the huge number of 5-star ratings, but it carries a two holed version and a one-pack.

furminator— accept no substitutions!  Big Kitty and Garage Cat were both long-hairs.  We’d tried various brushes with Big Kitty and they mostly ended up with all parties being upset.  Then a friend with a long-hair recommended the furminator.  It was expensive so I put it on my Christmas list and got it as a present.  This just works.  It combs through hair without catching.  The cat in question generally enjoys it, and you end up with enough extra fur to build another cat.

tweezerman tweezers — These just work.  You find the hair (or splinter, or what have you), pull, and it’s out.  No wasting tens of minutes trying to get purchase.  You get purchase.  There is a small learning curve where you learn not to take off skin too, but once you realize how good the tweezers are, you figure out you don’t need to grasp at skin like you would with normal tweezers.

We have differing opinions on pens and there are a lot of good pens out there.  One of us is addicted to Pilot G2, especially for grading.

Leifheit jar opener— If you don’t live with the incredible hulk, sometimes you need to open a jar by yourself, and sometimes you’d like to do it in a way that doesn’t damage the lid of the jar.  This expensive jar opener imported from Germany is a wonder.  I feel like I can open anything!  It is true that there are other highly rated jar openers on the market, also expensive and also from Europe, but we haven’t tried them.  This one definitely works.  We love it.

We have a perfect metal spatula, but unfortunately it is unbranded and we’ve been unable to find a second exactly like it.  Maybe you have a metal spatula to recommend?  Good rubber spatulas are also a great thing to have, but they are legion.

This Logitech ipad keyboard is amazing.  Sure, it’s not so little, but it is so nice.  One of my RAs had one and after she showed me all its features I had to have it.  It’s made responding to emails while traveling SO MUCH EASIER.  Note that the different colors have different prices– you can get a discount if you’re willing to go with say, red.

What little things have made your life better?  When has spending extra for quality on some everyday item been worth it?

The Decluttering Stuff post

Oh man, I’m really bad at this.

But I figure everyone’s got one, so we ought to have a decluttering stuff post too.

#1:  My method of decluttering is to not buy stuff to begin with (except books, but I declutter books by buying bookcases…and sending stuff to the relative who is a reader).  And to move every few years… when I move stuff gets taken to goodwill or tossed.  About once or twice a year I gear up for a big Goodwill trip and allow DH to remove perfectly nice clothing that he looks nice in but just never wears.  He jettisons as much stuff as he can at those points as my natural tendency is pack-rat.  Throughout the year as we get gifts we don’t want and so on, we keep a big former TV cabinet as the goodwill cabinet and stash stuff there.

I feel most comfortable with a few papers or books lying around where they don’t belong.  It reminds me of home.  When I was growing up, I sorted things by strata– newer stuff was on top, older stuff closer to the carpet.

#2:  I sometimes read stuff like Unclutterer, not that it really helps, but at least it makes me keep thinking about decluttering and keep that in mind.  I too have a particular place where I store stuff to go to Goodwill, and take it over there on a regular basis.  (Infrequent, but it happens.)   Clothes are the thing I turn over most, because of my changing size and/or taste and/or context of life.  You can find some excellent name-brand items to buy at Goodwill.  I am working on a better way to store them, too.  For books, I try to use Bookins, which my MIL also loves.  If a book sits around for a while and it’s not moving on Bookins, I might throw it in the Goodwill bag.  I cull books rarely but also regularly.

 

organized baby bats

 

organized baby bats

(images from Things Organized Neatly)

boxes

Is this the ending of Indiana Jones? No, but it's not my garage, either.

For some things, often including paper and other types of mementos, I have what I call “the emotional statute of limitations”.  If I feel like something has emotional value to me and I would miss it, I stick it in a box or file cabinet and keep it.  Example: Some of the writing I did in high school.  Every once in a while I go through these areas looking for things I no longer need or want.  (Example: Some of the writing I did in high school.)  For a long time I kept Playbills from shows I saw downtown with my family.  They made me feel sophisticated and cultured when I was young, and they brought back good memories.  I recently went through several dozen of them and recycled almost all of them.  I still have the memories and I no longer need the items.

 

swiss abbey library

Full of things and beautiful (from The Great Geek Manual; click picture for source)

On the other hand, there is something to be said for clutter.  I keep things in front of me to remind me they’re there.  My desk at work is cluttered and I use it all the time; the “clutter” is usually made of things I am working on at the time or need to work on soon.  My home desk is like this too, but less organized.  I sort of like un-organized stuff, as long as you know where it is, but I don’t want to have so much of things that they overwhelm me.  Let’s not hate on clutter.  Clutter is not the same as disorganized.  I find uncluttered places (especially minimalist ones!) to be a little restricting and sterile.  They make me feel uncomfortable.

Ok, blog readers, it’s question time.  Clutter: do you or don’t you?