Making all kinds of messes

8 Steps to a Pain Free Back – Step 1 is Excitement

A few years ago I hurt my neck in one of the stupidest ways imaginable – reading too long in the bathtub.  It was months before my neck successfully moved somewhat normally.  Since I wasn’t working at the time, seeing a doctor was not a priority, and the condition did slowly improve.

Since then, I have woken up with a sore, stiff neck and upper body more often than not.  The entire day is spent trying to work the kinks out, usually unsuccessfully.  Between that and the other back soreness that appears after walking, action needed to be taken while I’m still young and able bodied.

I just got the book “8 Steps to a Pain Free Back” by Esther Gokhale, and am very excited to begin working through it.  She is someone who started suffering from chronic back pain and spent years in intense study around the world, specifically of native world cultures.

In the first chapter alone, she builds a very compelling case that there is a natural, common posture and way of movement that is common throughout the world in non-industrialized areas.  In the US and other “first world” areas where chronic back pain is a serious problem, there is a photographic progression from the early 1900’s with “correct” posture to current day problematic posture.

I will be trying everything she suggests, and hopefully reporting success. If this is as miraculous as some of the referrals for the book suggest, there should be some spectacular results.  Here’s hoping!

Have you ever tried an “alternative” treatment method for treating ailments?  Did it work?


Tiny Houses! In Maine

You must go to the website Perfect Little Houses right now.  Then go to Tumbleweed Houses and look at them.  The last place is Tiny Texas Houses.  Go on, I’ll wait.
Are they not AMAZING?  That is everything I want in a vacation home/compound.  I say compound because we have a brand new house we built in Maine last year on my H’s land.

Maine Casa

Cutest Maine house, sidewalk in progress

Isn’t that adorable?  It’s a 2/1 place, with a ton more room than it looks/sounds like. I am DYING to get in there and decorate/liven it up.

Anyway, my Big Idea is to rent the place as a summer vacation home to other people until such time as we can use it ourselves.  And then, I want to add on via various small buildings, much the way the home in this post looks to have done.

So I’ve been looking at ways we could add on and give us additional cottages to bring in rental income, as well as places for my family to come up and enjoy the fabulous summer weather up there (it’s like a Texas Spring, in July).

And sincerely, I can’t get this sweet cottage setup out of my mind. I even like the odd angling of the outbuilding.  I know we’ll add a garage with an apartment above it first, and after that, I’m sure I’ll have more ideas than I know what to do with.

For now though, I’m forced to make plans from afar for the grounds, the interior, and then I can probably move on to more concrete decisions about fictional outbuildings.  I’m planning on two, one for my parents and one for my best friend and brother to split time at.

After seeing the tiny houses, do you have the urge to buy a property and just fill it with them?  I am dying to build one, they’re so small that I think we could do it on our own without subcontracting anything beyond the required plumbing/electricity.
Would you rent one if there were other renters you didn’t know at the same compound?

Cook’s Illustrated- Puritans and Science vs Joy

Have you read this article about the editor of Cook’s Illustrated?  It’s a really interesting piece about the rigor of their process, who the editor is, and how his outlook has shaped the magazine.

The funniest quote from the piece is Kimball (the editor) saying:

Chris Kimball Quote

True feelings revealed.

Considering he looks like the dour farmer in the American Gothic painting, it tickles me that he would say something so somehow expected.

The quote that is getting the biggest reaction is:

What cooking is not

Cooking is nothing fun. Stop trying.


I agree that in itself, there’s not much glamorous about cooking.  You make a mess, you hope that the recipe turns out correctly and that it tastes good.  To mitigate risk, you use recipes from trusted sources for “higher stakes” meals, such as steak dinners.  Or free-range organic chicken.

Basically, anything I buy in my twice a month trip to here:

Rancher owned store o meat

Free range everything and local food mecca.

Excuse the extreme reflection, I was trying to record their hours, not be artistic.

Something I have been shocked to find out is that I do, in fact enjoy cooking (for now.  Get back to me when I’ve been doing it 30+ years night after night).  I enjoy the creative process, I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what to make and how it can be used the next night. I’m not someone who plans ahead, yet.  I just buy protein ahead of time and then figure out how to use it.

For instance, yesterday, I had a free range organic whole chicken in the crockpot all day. We ate the thighs and drumsticks, I pulled the rest of the meat off and threw the bones and skin back in the crockpot.  I checked for preferences on Chicken Tortilla Soup vs Chicken and Peaches Salad, got an answer, and BAM, today’s dinner is almost done in my mind.

Crockpot was turned back on this morning, and fresh chicken stock will be waiting for me at home tonight.  It makes me feel extremely competent and happy to have a) made food that tasted good b) planned for the next day  c) know what I’m doing tonight and d) made healthy food from scratch.

I think Kimball is underestimating the satisfaction and accomplishment that comes from that.  Cooking every night is work, no doubt, but I have done harder things with my time.  I’ve also done much less rewarding things with my time.

How do you feel about cooking?  Is Kimball a kill-joy or the only one who has the guts to speak Truth with a capital T?




My new hubby and I are taking the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course right now, and are really enjoying it.  We both have been pretty good with our money as single people, and have similar outlooks on debt, so we aren’t taking it for the “Debt” part as much as for the framework it gives to build our budget together.

I have a different idea of where money should be invested than H, of course, and we needed the communication guidelines as well as the motivation to actually sit down and do a real budget.

It has been very helpful for me in making me feel included in the budgeting process, instead of like a pesky line item added into the H’s budget.  Now we both have input and are working together on it, instead of me trying not to “mess up” H’s systems.

The topic last night was Insurance and I think it should be required for everyone graduating high school to take that particular section.  I remember making big insurance decisions in my first job, not really understanding them.  Especially when I got laid off, I was unclear on COBRA and my other insurance options, and ended up wasting literally THOUSANDS of dollars on unnecessary insurance coverage.

Because of last night, we are looking into our insurance responsibilities and are going to talk to our parents about their insurance.  The most important insurance you can have after age 60 is Health insurance and then Long Term Care insurance.  Long Term Care is for if you need to move into a nursing care facility, or have home health care provided.
I’m positive neither set has it (both are relatively good health, and young-mid 60’s), and from the information presented, it could be a life saver, literally.  Right now, not having priced any such insurance, I would be willing to pay part or all of a policy for the parents, I consider it that good of an investment.  Hopefully, they will be open to that discussion.

What is something you wish you had known about insurance before?  What would it have saved you?

Get Something Done Already

I know what I need to be doing.  I have to just do it.  Today is the day that I start.

Sugar Free – Week 2+

I have made it through 2 weeks of being sugar free, with a caveat.  The caveat being this:

Delicious boozy shake

Granny’s Shake – vanilla, caramel sauce and whiskey

I had one milkshake while we were in Vegas.  It was vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and whiskey topped by some barely sweetened whipped cream.  It was amazing.
I did notice though, that the next few days I craved candy bars and other things that I hadn’t been drawn towards in more than a week.  Tricksy devil.

I will say that I haven’t been the strictest person on rooting the sugar out of my life.  I’m still eating ketchup and BBQ sauce, for instance, even though they have sugar in them.

The benefits I’ve noticed have been great – my skin is much clearer, I no longer “crash” and am much more alert in the afternoons, and just a general feeling of well-being.
Give it a try.

Vegas Baby!

Vegas is just too much.  I know it’s known for over the top excess, but until I spent the weekend there (doing fairly low-key stuff), I had no idea how much of an assault it is.


Vegas Strip at night

The muchness

So many people!  So many shops!  So many lights!  There’s a lot of a lot.

There’s a Northpark mall in the base of every casino I went to on The Strip.  The interiors were amazing, the shops were meh as far as I was concerned.

The same display in the window of identical Louis Vuitton shops was just weird.  The fact that I already have access to these places kind of ruined the “excitement” of them.

Cesear's Palace outside

I remember a construction company that was doing the interiors of the Venetian coming to A&M and showing their work.  They were responsible for the “sky” ceilings and all the other truly spectacular details. The name of the company was Italian, and Vegas and New York were their main markets.  I don’t think there was much interest from my classmates, it sounded vaguely mob-ish.

We caught the “O” Cirque de Soleil show, it was absolutely amazing what the performers were capable of.  The show felt very “French” in the sense that there was some kind of plot that I couldn’t quite follow.

We didn’t gamble and spent most of the time walking and eating, which I’m sure is a typical use of time.  Everything is so big and spread out and walking is the best way to get there.

For me the highlights included a Walgreens that looked better than most Sephora’s and was stocked with European and Japanese skincare and makeup lines.  It was fantastic.

The other main highlight was Topshop, which I’ve been to in Dublin and London over the years and LOVE, I picked up a pair of oxford booties for a steal.

All in all, I loved the buildings and the show we went to.  Didn’t love the people and just the overwhelming stimulation.  I spent all of the day after I got home de-compressing in the living room.

Does anyone over the age of 30 who doesn’t gamble or pursue “Adult activities” enjoy Vegas?


Trying to Love – Salads

Part of my becoming a grown-up criteria includes eating salads.
I didn’t grow up eating fresh vegetables, mostly because my dad didn’t like them and my mom grew up thinking they were dirty and that canned veggies were more sanitary.  FYI, that is not a good way to raise children who eat veggies.

So I’ve been working on it.  And salads aren’t that bad.  They just don’t taste as awesome as, say, chips and salsa.

Enter Lettuce in Your Kitchen : Flavorful and Unexpected Main-Dish Salads and Dressings.  I picked it up by chance at Half Price Books, and have loved it ever since.

They have salads with meat, salads without meat, and I haven’t had one yet that I didn’t like.  Some I liked better than others, but that’s true of everything.  One of my favorites involved chicken and peaches with a mustardy-vinaigrette dressing.  I never ever would have put any of those things together on my own.

What’s your favorite random salad pairing?

ENFP – Refresh

Almost all descriptions of ENFP start out with the phrase “warm and friendly” which I think makes me sound like a Lab (I do have two of them though….).

I decided to re-take the Meyers Briggs test earlier, just to confirm that my personality meter hasn’t moved.  And it hasn’t.  I am unusually balanced between Introverted and Extroverted and Thinking and Feeling, but apparently there is little difference between an ENTP and ENFP anyway.

The gist of my personality is summed up here “Their greatest difficulty is not in initiating projects, but in choosing among so many possibilities, setting realistic boundaries, establishing priorities and correctly assessing resources.”

And here : “ENFPs dislike routine work and want a variety of tasks and challenges. They prefer to set their own schedule and chafe when saddled with excessive regulations or mundane details. They seek out fun, novel tasks that allow them to be imaginative and relate to other people in an unstructured, supportive way.”

Suggestions include Writer, Actor, Dancer, Event Coordinator (not that crazy), Photographer (would be awesome), Counselor, Entrepreneur (yes please), and weirdly enough, Computer Programmer or Engineer.

I feel like the time to pick a career might be over, and I might just need to make shit, sell it, and get on with it.  My imaginary dream day is to spend time making stuff, walking about, and then going treasure hunting at estate sales for things to re-sell.

It doesn’t sound crazy, right?

Noodling – not the Okie kind

For years now, I’ve had the desire to do something where I worked for myself. The problem is, and has always been, what will I do?

I am transitioning. I’m in a new position at a new place, completely unlike anywhere I’ve ever worked before (at a church! I work at a church!!!), and newly married.  The hours are spectacular, the people are nice enough, and I don’t take the work home with me.  And yet.

Part of it is my personality type – I think I’m an ENFP now, I used to be ENTP.  Either one is recommended to work for themselves, we are a people who don’t do well with administrative work or being told what to do. Coming up with multiple solutions and trying new things is my greatest joy.

Part of it is if one more person feels entitled to make a comment about my desk, I will not be held responsible for what happens next.  I will probably kill them with my eyes.

Things I have looked into seriously in the recent past and discarded – baker (too many conflicting regulations), eco nursery painter (still do-able, but I don’t know if I have the desire to get back into contracting), tutor (don’t want to give up my evenings), wine salesperson (probably not as fun as I think it is).

I love living in the possibility and once I have thoroughly planned out whatever excitement I’m chasing, I’m pretty much done with it.  It’s like I don’t need to mess up the plan with any reality.

I do however, love to create and make physical things.  So my latest excitement, that keeps me up at night, is the idea of silk painting and watercolors.  I can’t get it out of my head, and I have endless ideas for what to create.

I’m going to start watercolor painting, just to see if it’s as awesome in reality as it is in my head, and find out what I have to learn (quite possibly everything).  Then I’ll take a class in silk painting.

And maybe 2 years from now I’ll be reading this from my castle built by painted silk blouses, working in my gypsy vardo studio.  (Another example of how detailed my plans get, although they always end with life domination).

What are you searching for?

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