Sunday, April 22, 2012

BEDA 10: Updates

If I decide to do this in August, I'd like someone to punch me.

Moving on! As usual there is not much going on in Small Town, USA. I've been on this work, read, sleep, repeat routine for weeks now. Work is the same as always. We just finished up all of the Mock Standardized Testing last week, and we will start actual testing on May 1. I'm so glad I'm not a kid. I mean, I'm completely burned out and I haven't even had to take any tests! Massive testing means boring work days filled with too quiet hallways and large amounts of paperwork catch-up. The bright side is that as of tomorrow there are only five weeks of school left! FIVE WEEKS! I'm so excited I can't stand it! I've been reviewing my finances and my Summer To Do List in preparation of my free summer. I worked in my herb bed yesterday and checked the mini-composting I've been doing. The rate of decay seems spot on, and I added some extra coffee grounds and egg shells to the mix and then turned the top layer of soil over, burying the compost. I'll turn everything again next weekend to continue to mix the compost into my soil and it won't be long before I'm planting herbs and trying fancy pants recipes with tasty fresh herbs! Unfortunately I discovered that a colony of ants have moved into one corner of the bed. I'm a bit worried about what to do with them, because I'm so anti-pesticides but I need to find a way to get rid of them. An article I read online suggested sprinkling cinnamon around the hill because the ants hate it and will leave. This seemed to be working yesterday, but it rained for most of the afternoon and I'm not sure that it actually worked. It's supposed to snow tonight though, so that will probably take care of the ant issue.

While we're on the subject, SNOW?!?!? Really? It's almost MAY and for the first time in recent memory school will actually be over before mid June. I'd prefer it to stay warm and slightly rainy. We don't really need winter weather at this point! I'm ready for lazy days in the hammock, swim session with The Cousins, soaking up warm rays of sun,* and mornings in the garden. So I'm hoping that the weather doesn't get too wintery and that spring reemerges SOON!

I'm going to try to finish strong with BEDA, since I got more than a little lost in the middle of the month. I have no real excuses, except for massive allergy attacks and large bouts of sleeping off the associated pain. Hopefully silver lining of the imminent snowfall is that it will reduce the pollen counts and I won't be quiet so miserable.

*After lathering myself full of sunscreen. I'm also anti-tanning. Skin cancer is a MAJOR fear and I am as safe as possible while in the sun.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

BEDA 9: Ice Cream

Allow me to share with you a riveting story. Today after working my required 8 hours and then trudging home, I discovered that our mail lady had delivered the second and third discs of Downton Abbey. Huzzah! I've been looking forward to seeing how season two ends for quite some time. After watching the first two episodes of Disc Two (and crying and sniffling my way through the episodes) I decided I needed junk food. "I'm getting ice cream!" I announced to my grandmother. She was EXTREMELY impressed by my ability to say words and asked me to bring her some ice cream as well. Only one large scoop though. While scooping out her ice cream I managed to rip the box. "Quelle horror!" I exclaimed. After tearing the box open I realized that there was NO WAY I could salvage the remaining ice cream and would therefore need to eat ALL THE ICE CREAM. So I did. Now that I've devoured a gigantic bowl of ice cream I've been sucked back into the world of Downton Abbey. Seriously, if you love British people, period dramas, an beautiful sets you should be watching this show. It is WONDERFUL!

Monday, April 9, 2012

BEDA 8: The Problem with Loving Books

Clearly this is no longer BEDA...however, I do hereby swear that there WILL be thirty blog posts by the end of April.* I don't really have any excuse for not posting yesterday, and really what is the point of dwelling on our past failures? ONTO THE ACTUAL BLOG POST!!!

It's no secret that I love books. Just flat out adore them. I love them in any format - hardback, paperback, ebook, with the dust jacket, without the dust jacket, new, used, borrowed, etc. It doesn't really matter to my how I get my hands on a book as long as I have books. The problem And also time. There will never be enough time in my life for me to read all the books that I will desire to read. And that makes me a little sad, but it also makes the discovery of books that I love and cherish even more special in the long run. Currently I have a LOT of books. I have stacks of books and shelves filled with books and my friends have stacks of books that I've loaned them and I have an ereader that is ALSO filled with books. It's no surprise that one of my Major Summer Goals is to reorganize my bookshelves and catalog all of my books. This is vital for numerous reasons. 1) I'll know what books I own, 2) I'll know where my books are, and which books are off in the Wild Blue Yonder, and 3) I'll be able to weed through my shelves and donate books that I don't need for whatever reason.

Another major issue with having ALL THE BOOKS is actually deciding what to read. I ran into this issue this weekend when I had several hysterical crying outbursts because of Family Drama (centering around my mother) and I just wanted something fluffy and funny to read. You know what I don't own a lot of? Fluffy, funny books. So I was torn, should I read something I love (HP) and find comfort in that? Should I pick up something random from my shelves and risk it being filled with angst? Should I just ignore all the books and watch super hot brothers kill demons on Netflix? I had too many options, which usually happens when it comes to deciding What to Read.** Truthfully, I'd rather have too many options when it comes to What to Read than no options at all. And sometimes I look around at all of the books I'm hoarding and I remember that there are children and adults all over the world who don't own books. And then I dislike myself just a little bit. I'm good about giving books away and donating money to book related charities and the like, but I still feel kind of greedy when I see how much I have. I'm sure that by the end of summer I will have donated a large number of books to my local library or I will have them boxed up and ready to mail out to some sort of book drive. And then I'll start the process of purchasing and hoarding books all over again.

*No really, guys...I am GOING to do this. Really!
**For the record I just read a book I had already started.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

BEDA 7: Updates

At 11:33 PM I finished Paper Towns (HUZZAH) and completed my Book Nerds for Lent challenge. I'll probably post more about that tomorrow or Monday. I don't have much to talk about as today has consisted of lazing about and reading a book. I watched Hugo though, and it was AMAZING more on THAT later too. Ultimately this seems like one big teaser post. Apologies for that. The reason things are disjointed and half-formed is mainly because Old lady Bedtime rolled around about 45 minutes ago and I can't cope. I'm rarely awake past 11, but forced myself to stay up to finish PT and also to update ye olde blog as promised this morning in my scintillating post about compost. Now I'm going to bed because my allergies are off the wall and I'm tired! Expect a REAL post tomorrow! And have a happy Easter/day/Passover/whatever you may be celebrating

BEDA 6: Herb Bed Planning

It only took me SIX DAYS to fail BEDA!!! Go me!! I honestly had the bones of this typed and ready to finish up last night before I went to bed, but then I received a message from my mother, which made me EXTREMELY upset and ended up crying for over an hour and falling asleep completely wrung out without even thinking about finishing this post. That means TWO posts today, folks!*

Day two of spring break included baking two batches of cookies and prepping my herb bed. I really wanted to build and plant an herb bed last year, but due to the sheer overwhelmingness of summer I didn't manage. I wanted to try this quick fix composting trick this year, but I've been lazy and I'm not sure it's going to have enough time to really work. Now, without further ado, HERE is a pictorial blog about my herb bed prepping.

This is the wild mess that is growing beside our front porch , which must be groomed into submission before I can even think about doing my garden!

After clearing all of the weeds, I turned all the dirt over, and cleared rocks and twigs from the area. 

After I finished the major prep work I started building my quick and easy compost set up. I'm really nervous about this part, and I want to run outside every 15 minutes or so and peek under the tarp** to see if things are working, but I can't or it really won't work!!!

Step One: I used ashes from our wood stove as the base of my compost. Ashes add various nutrients to the soil for healthier plants!
Step Two: Luckily Doda mowed our yard today so I had fresh grass clippings to add for the first "green" layer. Green layers are what add nitrogen to your compost/soil and are also essential for decomposition.

Step Three: The "brown" layer consisted of dried pine needles. Brown layers add carbon to your soil, which helps with decomposition. These break down really easily and have made my regular compost heap work really well!***

I added dried bread to my mini pile to help everything start to break down. This is just an added  step so that things stew and the bugs are attracted to my compost dump.

Last I covered everything in a layer of grass to add more "green" material to break down and also to discourage animals from sniffing out the bread and disturbing everything.****

After I added all the layers to my herb bed, I used an old black plastic trash bag to cover everything. This ensure that heat and water are contained and it also discourages animals.
In a week or so I will go out and check on this bed to see if all of the elements are meshing well. I'll also mix the compost for the first time and I'll add water if the materials are too dry.***** After I turn the heap I'll be adding coffee grounds and maybe some shredded newspaper, depending on how quickly these materials are breaking down. I'm planning on planting my herbs mid-May, so I don't have time for heavy duty composting, and truly that is reserved for the heap I have in the back year.

If you are interested in starting a compost heap, this is a great website I've found that details different styles of composting,****** has resources, and even talks about how much of each type of material you should add to your own compost heap! I'm a huge fan of being green whenever possible, and composting is a really easy, and beneficial way to be green. And if you garden (vegetable, flower, or container) the composted material really improves the quality of your produce without adding harmful chemical agents to your plants!

*Get excited!
**And by "tarp" I mean "black plastic trash bag"
***I have no idea why this picture imported upside down, lets just roll with it!
****Another photo that refuses to orient correctly. No idea why
*****I was lucky that we had massive storms all week so my soil and the pine needles were both pretty moist. If you're trying this and everything is dry make sure you lightly water your heap before covering it.
******My dream is to start a worm compost, but it just isn't possible at this point in my life. Maybe when I have kids I'll do one in a glass aquarium so they can watch the worms break down the organic materials.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

BEDA 5: "Spring" Break and Lent Updates

I am now officially on break! Technically this is our spring break, but when you live in a tiny town that is mostly White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestants it's referred to as Easter Break. I don't care what they call it as long as I don't have to work until Tuesday! But with Easter fast approaching I thought I would review my Lent for Book Nerds challenge.* I was really happy with this challenge. While I didn't always manage to get my 30 minutes of reading in every day, I do feel like I spent a good amount of time reading over the past 40 days. I only reread one book, and I've finished nine books so far. This means that I only need to finish reading ONE book by midnight on Saturday! This should be gravy because I'm rereading Paper Towns right now and I started a memoir about the filming of Breakfast at Tiffany's that I've been reading for about a week, but haven't made much progress on. The best thing about this Lenten Challenge (in my opinion) is that I really took time to evaluate my TBR list and make headway there** and I enjoyed taking time to read. I know that sounds silly, and anyone who knows me in real life would probably argue that I spend more than enough time reading,*** but I am usually bogged down with paperwork (or really painful allergy symptoms) and I don't take time to do things for myself. That has been changing over the past few months and with a summer filled with NO WORK I am going to have even MORE time to devote to myself. I generally think that I'm a pretty selfish person, but recent events in my life have reminded me that I really do put others first a lot of the time. I live with my grandmother, who is very capable but is also elderly, and I spend a lot of my at home time doing little things to make her life easier. I've been keeping a lot of my personal anxieties on the download because the rest of my family is reacting so poorly to this entire mess that has been going on with my mother. My weekends generally consist of having at least one of my cousins at my house for sleepovers and generally at least one night per week I am going to one of their games or picking one up from practice. And I am SO HAPPY to do those things for the people that I love, but it also adds to my stress levels and leads to me feeling crappy on a regular basis because I HATE disappointing people. And ultimately, as much as running around like a chicken with my head cut off to do things for my family can seem overwhelming, they are also the most therapeutic thing in my life and being around them allows me to heal. Catch-22 situation at it's best! And worst. But summer is going to be all about spending time on ME. Yes, I am going to be doing some home improvement type things for my grandmother and I will most likely be moving my father halfway across the country so he can be away from my mother and all of the drama that comes with her and also so he can begin a new job. But summer will also consist of sitting in my hammock, reading in the sun, messing in my compost heap and herb bed, camping with the cousins, and swimming every single day. It will involve HEALING and making sure I am okay when I go back to work in August. I am looking forward to the end of May for the first time since I graduated high school, and THAT is an amazing feeling.

*Giving up fast food for Lent was a complete success. No real issues with that, except on days we had meetings. I just used those as an excuse to eat yummy Chinese food!
**I only I only read one newly purchased book (Black Heart by Holly Black) during this challenge, all others were previously owned.
***No such thing

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

BEDA 4: Adult ADD

I don't ACTUALLY suffer from Adult ADD and truly I shouldn't joke about it in any way, but there are times that my attention span is so small that I honestly wonder if I should possibly see someone about making things better. Currently I'm listening to American Idol, typing this blog entry, and attempting to finish reading Black Heart so BFF2 can read it tomorrow. However, I'm having extreme difficulties managing any of the three. I WAS pretty successful when I was drooling over Phil Phillips. But being enthralled with Phil Phillips doesn't take a lot of brain power. He's just so PRETTY! And drool-worthy in other various ways.

MOVING ON (before this just becomes a Phil Phillips Appreciation Post) to other conversational topics!

Today was the last school day of the week! I now have a five day weekend to look forward to! This is SO exciting for me, because honestly I could use a break. I love my job, but it is stressful and time consuming, so any break is MUCH appreciated. I don't have many plans for break per se. I've been learning how to make rag rugs, so I may spend the weekend sorting fabric strips and running them through a wash load before I braid them into the beginnings of a rug. I also hope to start working on my tiny, baby herb bed! We have a lovely little section right off our front porch that would be ideal for an herb bed, but I have to see how the soil quality is, look into organic fertilizer that I can work into the ground, and I need to procure so sort of border. I may get rocks to edge the bed with, or I may get some excess lumber from a local lumber yard to create a border. I'll also have to wage war with various family members about my decision to mulch the bed instead of using plastic to kill any weeds. Sometimes they are really confused about my environmental choices. It is also getting to be PERFECT weather for composting! My poor compost heap has been sorely neglected over the last year and I'm hoping to whip it into shape by the end of summer and then maintain it through the school year. Last year I produced enough compost to cover my grandmothers small tomato patch, which was EXTREMELY exciting. It's lovely to take things that normally go to waste, in our case left overs and vegetables that fall from their vines, and make something that is beneficial. That cycle is calming and it also makes me feel powerful. I'm using things that would otherwise be cast aside and using them to better not only my own environment, but the world's environment as well.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

BEDA 3: I have never been punched in the face...

...but I can certainly sympathize with those who have had that experience. As I told the 7th grade math teacher today, I believe I may be allergic to someone in the first period class I have to attend. His suggestion that I'm probably allergic to ALL of the children was hilarious, but seriously unhelpful. Although, word on the street is that laughter is the best medicine. If this is the case then I should never be ill. Between BBF2 and several of the teachers I work with, my work days usually involve massive amounts of laughter.* And I suppose, if I'm honest, I don't usually get sick. Well, if you discount stress related illnesses and general allergy ickiness then I'm never sick. I guess you could say I'm always sick, but only if you're a "glass half empty" kind of person. Today just for laughs I looked at a map detailing pollen counts. Our county was a BLAZING red, which caused BFF2 to burst into hysterical laughter when she saw it. Today wasn't really terrible though because only tree pollen counts were up. Grass and weed pollen counts were LOW!!!** My favorite days are uwhen all three counts are BLAZING red on their respective maps. Those are the days that I cry or just stay in bed all day.

I realize that I've written two blog posts in a row about my allergy woes. I promise that every BEDA blog will NOT consist of a detailed account of my allergy struggles, unless you like that sort of thing! =D

*They also include large amounts of stress, tension headaches, and occasional panic attacks.
**YAY for low pollen count days!

Monday, April 2, 2012

BEDA 2: Allergy Woes

There are many things I love about Spring. Flowers blooming, warm weather, driving with the windows rolled down, sitting outside when it rains, etc. But I hate what Spring does to my allergies! I deal with them year round, but this time of year is THE WORST! Today I've been plagued with a headache, terrible itchy and runny eyes, and random pains shooting through my ears! Consistent pain makes it difficult to really enjoy the things I love about this season and t always makes me grumpy! I suppose I shouldn't complain, the past two winters have been very harsh and I've suffered a lot less than usual with m allergies. Even if I have a bad year with them this year at least there has been a small reprieve. The saddest thing is that it has been warm enough to sleep with my windows open* and I haven't been able to so far. I suppose it's time to buck up and plug in my air purifier if I want to enjoy open windows!

*Open windows are my absolute favorite thing about warm weather!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hello again, BEDA

EDIT: I'm not sure how exactly this blog managed to disappear, but it randomly reverted back to a draft. Reposting so that ALL of the BEDA blogs exist!

If at first you don't succeed...try, try again? Right? That's the adage. Which is why I am once again attempting BEDA! Which will probably consist of me blogging daily for two weeks, and then disappearing for months. 'Cause that's how I know...

Anyway, I can at least begin BEDA with SUPER AWESOME WONDERFUL NEWS!!!!* After a complete breakdown last week and weeks of suffering from stress related illnesses (migraines, loss of appetite, feeling sick whenever I eat) and being a miserable person to be near (again with the stress induced horribleness) I made a pretty big decision to not work this summer. It was a big step because I had already promised to work and I had promised BFF2 that I would run a therapeutic group with her during the course of our day camp program. It was a big deal, choosing to take this step for myself, but after talking to BFF2 last week and my boss on Thursday I feel AMAZING! For the first time in two years I'm looking forward to summer. I have some plans to do a massive overhaul in my room. This includes getting rid of clothes that don't fit or aren't wearable, cataloging my bookshelves again, and redecorating my room. Not sure how much of the redecorating will happen because I will be on a VERY tight budget this summer, but hopefully I'll at least get everything arranged so that I will be ready to paint in the fall and can buy linens and curtains and other accessories when I start working again inûp August.

I'm also looking forward to time with my family. The past two summers have been really hectic, and while I've taken a few spur of the moment trips with The Clone and family, I haven't actually spent much time with The Cousins. That will be different this year. I plan to fully enjoy cookouts and bake sales and pool time. Actually I'd like to swim at my aunt's every day this summer. It's excellent exercise and it will really help my (so far unsuccessful) attempts to be more active and fit.

With less overwhelming exhaustion this summer I am also hoping to read a lot. I know this comes as a shock to you all! I really want to read books that have been on my shelf for a long time that I've never read. Last year I banned myself from buying books for a few months and then I attempted to restrict buying to no new books unless I read a book I already owned. With a tight budget this summer I won't be able to buy a lot of books, so I'm hoping to make a good dent in my TBR list. I'm also planning on actually compiling a TBR list of all the books I own but haven't read. I've been using GoodReads for this and I enjoy it more and more with each use.

If any of you are participating in BEDA this year let me know so I can visit your blogs!

*That I already announced on Twitter and told the people I see in my actual every day life.