Monday, October 27, 2014

A Day at the Estate

For the last full day of my vacation I decided to go to the Biltmore House (I guess technically it's the Biltmore *Estate* but I'm Southern and Estate sounds snooty). I spent a good deal of the day walking and being out of doors so I'm thoroughly tired now. To spare the few brain cells that seem to be firing on all cylinders here are pictures in place of words (because a picture is worth a thousand words, right?):
Just before leaving the bed and breakfast.
Picking up my tickets.
View as you're walking up to the house.
Beer tasting at lunch.
Just before the carriage ride around the property.
Rest stop on the carriage ride. Biltmore Estate is in the background.
After this point I developed camnesia and forgot to take more pictures. Technically I took one photo while on the winery tour (of a clock tower, exciting) and none during the wine tasting (I only tasted 4 wines so no biggy there). I was going to walk around the gardens after the wine tasting but I forgot that the house and the grounds closed at 4:30 (it was 5:30 at this point) so I called it a day and headed for the bed and breakfast.

Now I have officially maxed out the remaining brain cells. Time for shower and bed. Tomorrow I head home!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sometimes a Shower Changes Everything

Today I am on vacation. And, I have to admit, it didn't exactly go like I thought it would. This is how things were *supposed* to go today:
  • Pick up mom, dad, and aunt from the airport very early.
  • Come home, grab breakfast and any last minute items, jump in the car, and leave for SAFF.
  • Arrive at SAFF, grab lunch, shop for a few hours.
  • Head out to bed and breakfast.
  • Stop off at grocery store for a few essentials for lunches and dinners.
  • Arrive at B&B and spend rest of day relaxing (possibly grabbing a nap if time allows).
How things actually went:
  • Wake up at 4:30 and immediately begin researching where to find the cell phone lot (because you have no idea where it is and need to go there in an hour).
  • Leave 15 minutes early in order to get gas for car.
  • Arrive at airport. Wait. Wait. Wait some more.
  • Pick up parents and aunt who are very tired (because they just came in on a flight from out west and their times are all screwed up).
  • Drive aunt home.
  • Drive parents home.
  • Get breakfast, put on make up, obsess over details of caring for high maintenance cat, pack car, and leave.
  • Be totally jazzed for your trip for the first hour and half.
  • Start to feel a little more tired and run down the closer you get to SAFF.
  • Park a half a mile away from the venue (not really but it felt like it), shake off any tiredness, head into show.
  • Get "lunch" (chilli cheese fries and a large Dr. Pepper) because blood sugar is kind of low.
  • Shop for an hour and half before you start to feel woozy (probably because "lunch" didn't help that blood sugar problem at all).
  • Make sure you run into an old friend when you are feeling half drunk and more than a little nauseous.
  • Try to carry on conversation with friend and pray that she doesn't think you are totally off your rocker.
  • Finish shopping after overspending.
  • Remind self that this is supposed to be an indulgence and to stop fretting about it.
  • Drive to B & B.
  • Get almost to B & B and realize that you need to stop at the grocery store and that one you passed like 5 miles ago was the one.
  • Go to "interesting" grocery store (it was reminiscent of Aldi...only more country).
  • On way back to B & B get call from host. She is in town and won't be there when you arrive but she walks you through how to find your room.
  • Arrive at B & B.
  • Come in to find family dog on couch (you knew he'd be around somewhere).
  • Dog begins to bark.
  • Since you have been assured that dog is harmless begin to approach dog, speaking softly.
  • Dog continues to bark.
  • Hold out hand so dog can smell it and you can become friends.
  • Dog bares teeth and looks like he might lunge.
  • Withdraw hand extra quick, yelp, and have small heart attack simultaneously.
  • Retreat to room.
  • Unpack car giving dog the side eye the whole time.
  • Try to lay down for a nap.
  • Other guest begins playing various instruments downstairs, directly under your room: piano, something that sounds like an auto harp, and a violin. None of these are executed with any finesse.
  • Give up on nap.
  • Have panic attack because you have been around people all day, you took some medicine that increases your chance of being anxious, you got snarled at by a dog, you have a headache, and you are tired as all get out.
  • Come down to make dinner.
  • Make peace with the dog.
  • Eat dinner.
  • Go to room and knit.
  • Start to feel very homesick and sad for yourself because the day hasn't really turned out all that well.
  • Think about going home.
  • Text best friend.
This, my friends, is when the day turned around. Why? My bestie told me to go for a walk. Forget about it. Forget about anyone else. Hit reset. And it hit me...that was exactly what I needed to do. Not take a walk per say, but hit the reset button. This could still be a nice vacation for me. Even if all I did was lay in bed because I was feeling under the weather. I mean look at this view from the window in my room:

I realized I was sitting around in my stinky thinking still (literally) reeking from the day. I needed to literally get clean so I could clear my mental slate. So I gathered up my toiletries, towel, and pajamas and headed to the shower. It totally helped. My head still hurts and I'm still really tired but I can head to bed now looking forward to the next few days of my vacation.

P.S. I am leaving out the part about where I tried to get the AC to work in my room and it was blasting hot air and I thought I was going to roast to death.

P.P.S. My host and her husband did eventually show up...just as I was getting out of the shower.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Just a Quick Check-In

Just thought I'd pop over to give a quick update...

First of all, we had a bit of drama at work this week when part of the ceiling caved it (literally) during a rainstorm.
Before the cave in. A very threatening look water bubble.
After the cave in. There was a huge "crack" and then the "goosh" of water rushing out.
More aftermath.
I spent about 2 hours today (Saturday) at the storage unit for Walking With Orphans sorting things and trying to get shipments ready to send out. I wish I had pictures. There were boxes and bags everywhere. At one point some empty boxes fell and I looked around and realized I was literally trapped between the rolling cart with the boxes and the wall of donations behind me. (Obviously) I was able to get myself out and get everything (somewhat) organized. I cannot wait until we have some real office space with ample storage. I have no idea when to even expect that day to come but I'm holding out hope...

I have been staying up way too late every night. I'm a night owl but it's like I get busy and then I suddenly realize it's 11:15 (as it currently is) and I have to be up at 7:30. I could (and probably should) sleep a little later but it takes me so long to get moving in the morning before work that I need 2 hours just to wake up. I downloaded this app that tracks my sleep and wakes me up at the optimal time in my sleep pattern. There is a 30 minute window that I program it for and it wakes me up at the best time in that window so that I don't oversleep by hours waiting for the best time for me to wake up (because that time would probably be noon).
I don't know exactly what makes my sleep "efficient" but I guess I'm doing ok. Please note the erratic pattern in my going to sleep and waking times. Also not that after about 4 a.m. I do not really get any more deep sleep. And let's not forget that my "average" bed time is 12:44 and I'm getting (on average) about 6 and half hours of sleep every night. So, yeah, I need to go to 2 hours ago.

I am taking my parents to the airport very early in the morning. They are taking a trip to Hawaii for a week. I'm so pumped for them. I loved Hawaii and hope they have a great time (and that the impending tropical storm doesn't cause too many issues for them).
Me on North Shore. November 2006
After I drop them off, I'm doing a fun run.
And then I'm babysitting until Sunday afternoon/evening.

So, again, methinks I should be asleep already...

Monday, October 13, 2014


For the last week or so I have been reading entries from my old blog. Some really interesting stuff on there. For starters, I used to knit A LOT. It made me miss some of the projects I used to work on and I was tempted to start a sweater for charity right away. While I would love to drop everything and knit for hours on end...I feel like my life right now is very well balanced. I definitely spent too much time knitting and dyeing yarn and not cleaning my apartment, exercising, cooking, being social, and devoting time to developing my teaching skills (though, honestly, teaching (as I have discovered) was never my passion and probably nothing I would put time into outside of work but I digress...). Another thing I noticed was how much money I had! I didn't realize it at the time but I was paying rent and making car payments and still spending boatloads of money on anything that tickled my fancy. Today I scrutinize every purchase I make. If only I could have seen that just a few short years after I started my blog how bad my financial situation would be maybe I would have saved more money...

Something that made me sad looking back over those old posts are the pictures of Penelope. She has lost so much weight over the last year and her coat looks so scraggly. She is still my baby but she no longer tears through the house or jumps on the back of the couch. I know she doesn't have the energy any more but I would give just about anything to have her healthy and gaining weight. Yes, we are still dealing with the loss of those 2 teeth. She is on another round of antibiotics and has gone back to only eating baby food and cat milk. I don't know if she will ever plump back up again but we'll keep at it.
I managed to capture this selfie of myself and Penelope the other day. Nothing short of a miracle since she usually runs from the camera.
It's so crazy to go back and read the posts from before I went to Moldova (my first international mission trip). Then there are the posts leading up to my first trip to Romania which I haven't even reached yet. I seriously cannot believe that I have arrived where I am today. I mean 7 years ago I was still teaching middle school band. I started my indie dye studio 6 years ago. I began my master's degree 4 years ago (um, seriously had to go look that back up...definitely thought it was only 3 years). I started the Eastern European and Russian Orphanages Project 4 years ago. I moved back in with my parents 2 years ago. All I can say is WOW. Time flies. I feel a little sad because so much has happened and life just flashes by. But at the same time I feel an immense sense of hope. I cannot wait to see where the next 3, 5, 10, 20 years take me. How much will I have accomplished by then? What will my life look like? Where will I be? I keep praying that God will let me make a difference in this world for His glory. If I could do anything else for the rest of my life I'd like to just love on orphans and help improve their lives. I never imagined I would be a mental health counselor who loves to do play therapy. I never imagined I would have my own non-profit that works in 4 countries and is about to expand to a 5th. I never imagined that I would be learning a second language at age 31 (Romanian if you are wondering or had forgotten). The future sure looks bright from here!

Anyways, enough reminiscing...but it sure has been fun!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Not Homemaker Material

I have a confession to make...I'm not a good homemaker. I can't really cook, I hate to clean, and I'm not especially handy. My organizational system is piles of things all over. I know what's in each pile, I just can never seem to get to together enough to get things in filing cabinets, get the junk mail thrown out, and let go of that business card for the place I might want to visit if I had the time and money. It's nowhere near Hoarder's level but I'm definitely not a clean freak.

But all that may be about to change. I have discovered the joy of homemade, natural cleaning products. A few years ago I bemoaned the fact that typical cleaners are so bad (see this blog post, #5). I did buy some organic cleaners but I didn't really like them all that much (they smelled kind of weird) and then I moved and my parents use all kinds of skin burning stuff and it was just easier to do it their way then spend a bunch of money on organic cleaners. And I'm lazy and this stuff was already here. But then I got into essential oils. And I downloaded a little book on how to use essential oils for all kinds of things. Which is why today I made some all purpose cleaner.

And I got a little excited about cleaning. And then I used it. And I got a lot excited about cleaning. Like, I can't wait to clean again excited. I know, I scared me too a little.

This stuff is seriously great. I used it on the mirror, the sink, the tub, and the toilet and it made everything *shine*. And it smells great. And, on top of all that, there is nothing harsh about any of the ingredients. I could literally clean my body with this stuff and it would be ok. I don't have to worry about my skin melting if I touch it. I don't have to worry about my insides burning if it accidentally gets on my toothbrush. I don't pass out from the inhalation of chemicals. I don't even need special rags to clean up. I can use my regular washcloths and not be worried about chemical residue the next time I want to wash my face. Amazing.

In case you want to make your own here is the recipe I used:

2 1/2 cups of hot water
1/4 cup distilled white vingear
1/4 of castille soap (I used Dr. Bronner's with the tea tree oil since the recipe I was working off of called for tea tree essential oil (which I don't have))
5 drops of lavender essential oil
5 drops of lemon essential oil

Put in a spray bottle and store. Shake before use. Spray surface then wipe down with a damp cloth.

The original recipe (and a bunch of other great recipes of using essential oils) came from Best Essential Oils and Aromatherapy Guide.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happy Fall, Ya'll!

Technically fall started a week ago but, for some reason, October feels like Fall with a capital F. The days are definitely getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler. Not quite to the low 70's yet, but at least I don't sweat walking the 10 steps from my house to the car in the morning.
Current temp. Not too bad. Wish that 82 for tomorrow was a misprint...
On a side note: I just happened to look and see what the weather was like in St. Petersburg, Russia. I think they just skipped fall completely and went straight to winter.
Anyways...nothing really exciting to report here on the blog. A "stealth" life project is underway but normal day to day operations continue apace. I transitioned to a more supervisory position at work about three weeks ago (same amount of work, better pay) so I've been doing some training and trying to keep my small team motivated (and myself too, honestly).

I've recently gotten into essential oils (is that something you can "get into"?) and have a few basic things like lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus.
A sampling of my essential oils collection.
I've made one of my own "concoctions" and I went ahead and ordered a book on the most common uses for different essential oils. Maybe it's a placebo but I have slept incredibly well the last few nights after I put the "Stress Less" formula on the bottoms of my feet.

As far as Walking With Orphans goes I've redone the website, started to advertise for our second annual Fun Run, and will be boxing up jackets, hats, socks, and sweaters to send out all across Eastern Europe and Russia soon. I'm thinking about taking a day off work just to get the storage unit organized and things packed up to be sent off.

I think that's everything for now. Just a quick post to welcome the changing weather and bring you (mostly) up to speed on my life!