Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Week In Review

I'm reminded on week's like these why my blog is called Accepting Change. There have been so many changes in my life in the last couple of years, and I'm still learning to accept that life can change from one minute to the next. It's been a busy week full of changes, but I'm thankful that it's been good. It's been really good.

I started training for my new job this week. I'll be working in sales/customer service. The training this week has involved mostly learning about the company, what it stands for, what the processes are, etc. We had orientation on Monday in person, then we were given our computers and equipment and have been learning from home since. There's a lot of computer stuff to learn, which is what we'll be doing this coming week, and I'm excited to learn more. The team is great, the trainers are happy to answer any questions no matter how's just a good environment. 

The big adjustment has been figuring out what's going to work for me as far as scheduling my week. I'm Type A; I like my lists and having everything very organized. Whenever I wasn't working I did everything during the week: yardwork, errands, everything was scheduled on the weekdays, and I rested on the weekends. Working 9:00 - 5:30 changes things. I thought I would have to do everything over the weekend now, but this past week I was still able to mow the lawn during the week. I just worked for about an hour or less on Wednesday and Thursday, and on Friday I finished what was left in about 15 minutes, so I didn't have to do yardwork all weekend. I'm hoping I can do that on a regular basis, but it really depends on the weather. We are smack in the middle of rainy season in Florida, meaning it often rains on a daily basis. My grass loves it, but it means I have to mow the grass every week. Yes, that's right, every week. In one week's time the grass will grow back to where it was, and if I don't take care of it I'll have a jungle on my hands. If I can do a little everyday it makes the task more manageable, but that will only happen if it isn't raining in the afternoon. I'm gonna have to play it by ear.

What I did on the weekend was laundry, vacuum, groceries, and a little food prep for the week. My job gives me two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch break. Now, I'm not the type to eat something small at lunchtime and then have a big supper. I cook one meal at noon, and I make enough for lunch and supper. Well, I can't get a full meal done and eaten in 30 minutes - even Rachael Ray doesn't do that - so I've been meal prepping and freezing meals to make my life easier. The Instant Pot and slow cooker are getting a workout! On the weekends I try to get as much done for the week ahead so I don't have to stress. For instance, tonight I grilled some chicken tenders, then sliced them and put them in the fridge. Tomorrow I'll boil some fettuccine noodles and we'll have chicken fettuccine Alfredo. I've prepared some ground beef, meatballs, and two meatloaves that are frozen, and I've got more chicken ready for the instant pot for teriyaki chicken. What I've been doing is getting it all set up during my morning break so that at lunchtime all I have to do is warm it up. It's worked so far.

Today my son and I got our second Covid shot, and this one hurts way more than the first one did. About 10 days after I got the first shot my arm started itching. The next morning I awoke to a hot, swollen, red, blotchy arm that freaked me out. I went back to the pharmacy where they'd given me the shot, and they explained that it's a phenomenon called Covid arm. The pharmacist told me it's very common and lots of folks get it; the internet told me it's rare and uncommon. Regardless, my arm was swollen for about 3 days. It's a "mild" allergic reaction, which didn't surprise me since I have sensitive skin that breaks out easily, but it was no fun and now my arm is so sore I can barely move it. I'm hoping the pain doesn't last.

So, that was my week. Work training and yard work. I have a strong suspicion it's gonna look like this for awhile. Until it changes. Because life is like that, always changing. Have a blessed week.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Organizing My Kitchen

The hub of the house. The center of activity. The kitchen is where everyone congregates, regardless of whether it's separate from the rest of the house or in the middle of an open concept living area. If you're like me, you spend plenty of time in the kitchen. We don't eat out much; once a month is a lot, and often times we spend months eating only home cooked meals. I like it that way; I know what's in the foods I'm eating because I'm preparing them myself. I can try new recipes or stick to the tried and true favorites. But to do this I need my kitchen to work with me, not against me. I need it to be organized.

Kitchens are broken up into three basic sections: food storage, food prep, and the cleaning station. Food storage includes the refrigerator and pantry, food prep includes the stove and microwave, and the cleaning station consists of the sink and dishwasher. To make the kitchen flow seamlessly, everything should be close to its corresponding station. For instance, dishes should be close to the sink and dishwasher; cooking apparatus, such as cookware, bakeware and cooking utensils, should be nearest to the stove; and the fridge and pantry should be close to each other and near the entryway so it's easy to put groceries away. However, kitchen layouts don't always accommodate the rules. The kitchen triangle, where the sink, fridge, and stove locations form a triangle, doesn't happen in a galley or a one-wall kitchen. Allowances have to be made sometimes, but it's still possible to have a kitchen that's well laid out and easy to maneuver.

If I were to label the layout of my kitchen, I'd call it a "modified L-shape". In a normal L-shaped kitchen, there are two stations on one side of the L and one station on the other side. The kitchen in my first house was a U-shaped kitchen even though it had the fridge and stove on one side and the sink in the middle of the U. The other side was a complete peninsula that was open to the family room. In my current kitchen the stove is on the long side of the L and the sink is on the short side, then on a separate wall there's the fridge and pantry. It's not a true U-shaped kitchen but it isn't a true L-shape either. But it does have the perfect triangle - that's a definite plus.

As I mentioned before, the kitchen works best whenever everything is close to its respective station. While I have a great layout triangle-wise, it falls short of station designation (like that rhyme? I did). Food storage works well; the pantry is right next to the fridge. The microwave is above the stove and there are cabinets on both sides along with a long drawer, so I can have everything I need for cooking and baking right at my fingertips. The sink and dishwasher are a different story. These are open to the living room, so there's only one small cabinet above that area - not enough for all the dishes. There's only a small drawer next to the sink, and it's not big enough for all the silverware. So, a little changing up had to happen. Since my dining area is right off the kitchen, it made sense to put the dishes and serving ware closest to that area, which is where it was going to be used. Once I had it all planned out, it was simple enough to put everything in its place.

In the upper cabinet closest to the dining area I have my dishes. These are our everyday dishes, and yes, they get used everyday. On the top two shelves are serving ware and a pitcher. The empty spot is where I put my fruit bowl whenever it's not in use. It's the farthest cabinet from the sink/dishwasher which normally is not ideal, but it still works for serving meals at the table.

To the right of the dishes is the food storage containers. This is conveniently between the eating area and the food prep area. I can bring leftovers from the table or the stove right below this cabinet and just reach up to grab a container to store them in. The two top shelves are wine glasses and another fruit bowl that don't get used often. I have 42" cabinets and I cannot reach the top two shelves easily, so I only use them for items I don't use frequently.

Above the microwave I keep my cookbooks and mason jars. I use mason jars for my homemade spaghetti sauce. I need a stepladder to reach these. 

To the right of the stove is my cooking/baking section. Here I keep my spices on a bamboo spice rack I bought years ago off of Amazon. I have a few lazy Susans that make it easier to find things like oils and vinegars or spices in larger containers. I also have some acrylic containers that I use for canned goods such as beans, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes which I use whenever I'm cooking. 

That one small cabinet above the sink area houses my mugs and glassware, which isn't a whole lot. I've also got my vitamins there, and a flour sifter at the top.

There are two large drawers in this kitchen, a nice change from my previous kitchen that only had two small drawers in the entire space. This one is below the dishes and near the dining table, so my silverware is in half the drawer. The other half is my "junk" drawer, which holds chip clips and a few odds and ends that everyone keeps in their kitchen.

Below the drawer is my small appliance cabinet. My waffle maker, cake holder, blender, rice cooker, and electric grill (behind the rice cooker) make their home here, along with my chopper and grater. I got the last two for Christmas and my birthday and I love them both.

In the next drawer I keep most of my cooking utensils, though I do have the most frequently used ones in a cookie jar on top of the counter, next to the stove. These also get used often, though not daily. I have one spot for all my knives, one has all my rubber spatulas, and the others are kind of scattered by what fits in what container.

Just below that and to the left of the stove are most of my pots and pans. The pans are stacked in a holder so they take up less space. 

The smallest drawer is between the stove and the sink, and it's where I keep my cleaning cloths. I like to buy microfiber cloths in bulk from Amazon. Blue is for the bathrooms, yellow for dusting, green and pink (not shown) for kitchen cleaning.

Below that is bakeware, and my cast iron skillets that can go from stove to oven (and are my favorites for cooking).

There's a skinny cabinet to the left of the sink that's perfect for my roasting pan, baking sheets, and cutting boards. Oh, and my pizza pan is in there too.

Under the sink is probably everyone's nemesis. It can get cluttered and messy with all sorts of cleaners and junk. To keep the area neat and tidy I use containers. The dark gray container is from Target, and the clear ones are from Dollar Tree. It helps corral all my cleaners so they don't go all over the place or drip onto the cabinet. I also make sure I keep my cleaners to a minimum; if it doesn't fit, it doesn't belong.

We mustn't forget the kitchen island! Because of the center brace in the cabinets, it's hard to get larger items into them (if you look at the picture of the under the sink cabinet you'll see what I mean). These larger items are stored in the kitchen island - Instant Pot, slow cooker, and my large bowls. I keep a few other items in here as well.

The island also has three nice deep drawers. In the first one I've got my measuring cups and dish towels.

The middle drawer just has plastic storage bags and tin foil that get used fairly often.

And lastly, the third drawer has a few items that aren't used as frequently, such as oven bags, wax paper, plastic wrap and plastic cutlery.

That's how I've organized my kitchen. There are areas that are sparsely filled, and the cabinets above the fridge are totally empty. I find it helps to keep things organized if I only keep the things I really use. The next organization post will be on the pantry. Come back soon! Have a blessed day.

Friday, July 30, 2021

The Week (And a Half) In Review

I was gonna post a week in review earlier this week but events took a turn and my mind was on anything but my blog. You'll soon understand why.

Last week I kicked my job search into overdrive, knowing that J was no longer employed at the company he'd been working at for over 25 years. I knew that, even if he had another job getting paid more, he would want to do everything possible to cut my alimony payments. I prayed and asked others to pray with me and for me. I was especially moved by the pastor of the church we're now attending, who reached out and asked for my resume in case he knew of any openings anywhere. Tuesday I had a virtual interview with a local company. It was unlike anything I'd done in the past; there were assessment tests, but also recording myself on video answering questions on different customer service scenarios. I recorded myself as best I could and sent it in. I also applied to several other companies over the next couple of days, though I didn't hear from any of them.  

My daughter started feeling sick around the weekend. She's been working at a preschool over the summer and is scheduled to start teaching elementary art and Spanish this school year. One of the children in the preschool was clearly sick. The mom said he'd tested positive for Covid but was asymptomatic. Within days half the faculty was sick as well as several children, and my daughter tested positive. A couple of days later her husband began feeling the symptoms and also tested positive. It was breaking my heart because they both felt terrible, but she was especially affected with coughing fits and was starting to have trouble breathing.

My son-in-law works for a doctor who advised them both to get the antibody infusion. Saturday they went to the local hospital for it, and by Sunday my son-in-law was a bit better, but my daughter was not. Her oxygen levels were low. Monday morning he took her to the hospital where she was quickly admitted. My poor son-in-law called me in tears. She hadn't slept because of all the coughing, and now because he tested positive he wasn't allowed inside the hospital. I was heartbroken as well; driving down was futile because they put her in isolation so no one can be with her, and I couldn't stay with him because he's Covid positive. I waited a couple of hours while they ran tests and x-rays. The dreaded news came later that morning: she had pneumonia. 

I began texting and emailing everyone I could think of that would pray for her. Churches, bible study groups, friends, family, all my prayer warriors were put on high alert. The hospital immediately started her on antibiotics and oxygen; thankfully she didn't have to be intubated. By God's grace her fever was gone by the next day, and while she is still in the hospital receiving treatment she seems to be getting better by the day. The infectious disease doctor gave her a good prognosis. She doesn't have anymore Covid symptoms; if it weren't for the pneumonia she'd be cleared to go home. I know it'll be a long road to recovery but I'm trusting God to bring complete healing.

In the meantime, E and I went and got our first vaccine on Sunday. I know it's controversial, and I believe each person needs to individually decide if the vaccine is right for them. We got it because my daughter begged us to, and I didn't want her stressing over it. I'll say this, my arm was in pain for days. Man I hate getting shots :-(.

With all that was going on I had trouble focusing on anything else, but I got a call from the company that had done the virtual interview. They wanted to interview me in person. I went in on Wednesday and again had several assessments along with the interview. I was glad that the company is only 15 minutes from my house. The interview seemed to go well, and the interviewer told me he'd give me an answer by next Friday since there were several others he needed to interview. The very next morning I received a call with a job offer.

To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I'd been applying for jobs for months whenever we were living in the townhouse and I only got one interview. I knew right away they weren't interested. It was like God didn't want me to get settled there because He had other plans for me. I've now been in Central Florida for 3 months and I've landed a full-time job that's not only close to home, it's currently remote, so I won't even have to leave my house. The company will provide whatever equipment I need to do the work from home until they're ready to come back to the office. 

Even in the difficult, trying circumstances of life, God shows me that He is good. When I'm in need, He provides. When I'm hurting, He comforts and reassures. He puts people in my life that stand in the gap for me. I say as King David said, "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4). I can be secure in His love because He is always faithful. If you're reading this, I hope you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you don't, I hope you will reach out to Him now. He is waiting, and He is good.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Week In Review

What day is it? Thursday? It's taken a while to recover from last week, LOL! VBS was A-mazing! I didn't realize how much I'd missed working with the kids and doing Vacation Bible School till I was back in the game. 

I'd done VBS in the past, whenever my son E was young and later with my niece and nephews. I had been an assistant leader, worked registration, and did snacks for two years. I hadn't done VBS since 2014, though. My last church had VBS in the evenings, from 6:00 - 9:00 pm. I was working from 2:15 - 8:15 pm, so I wasn't able to be a part of it. So whenever this new church we've been attending asked if I would consider volunteering, I immediately said Yes! And it was meant to be: they assigned me to the snack room, so I had experience! There were three of us in the snack room teaching on missions. I met some of the loveliest and most encouraging people. We got the 1st and 2nd graders, a wonderful and well-behaved group of children that were eager to learn (and eat!). It was a joy-filled, rewarding experience that I would do again in a heartbeat.

VBS ran from 8:00 am till noon. Once I got out I took care of everything I needed to do around the house: grocery shopping, yardwork, laundry, the usual. I also applied to jobs whenever I found anything. Which is a good thing too, since I got some shocking news this weekend. My ex-husband J quit his job of 25 years. 

J has been telling me for years that they are going to fire him "any day now". Even when he told me the company had been sold a little over a year ago, I didn't believe him because I'd been hearing the same story for such a long time. So when I got the text message on Sunday saying Friday was his last day working for the company, I couldn't believe it. Then I looked at the message again. He didn't say they'd fired him; he said that Friday was his last day. That was suspicious. So I texted back asking what had happened, but I got no answer. I was left to ponder the meaning of his text.

Monday he finally called. I asked him point blank if he'd been fired or if he'd quit. He started yelling and cussing up a storm, till I calmly told him there was no need for him to fly off the handle like that. I'd only asked a simple question; there was no accusation or judgment. He finally did calm down and told me the new administration had been firing all the employees that were there from the old owners and bringing in new people. They called him in saying they would no longer need him in his position and offered to demote him, cutting his salary. So he walked out.

What does this mean for me? It means my job search had been moved into high gear. J still has to pay alimony but he's going to try and give me as little as possible. I'm thankful that my expenses aren't as high as they were whenever I was living in South Florida, but that doesn't mean I have no expenses at all. I'm applying and interviewing as much as possible, but so far there haven't been any offers. Still, I put my trust in the Lord. He who has provided in the past will continue to provide. I put in a prayer request at church and the pastor kindly emailed me requesting my resume so he can forward it to anyone that might be looking. I am beyond thankful for that gesture.  

If you have a moment, say a prayer for me. Ask that God would guide me to the right job. That I wouldn't be anxious for anything, but that in all things, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, I make my desires known to God (Philippians 4:6). I am filled with His peace now, and I don't want anything to take my focus off of Him. 

That's it for this now. Have a blessed rest of your week.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Week In Review

I know, I know, I'm behind on my posting. VBS is in full swing and I get home pretty tired, and then I have things to get done here so it's hard to find a moment to sit down without quickly dozing off.

We had Kuzco for the whole week. He was one spoiled puppy! I told my daughter that while he missed them, he would miss my yard a lot more. He was outside several times a day running, playing fetch, and having a good ole time. I enjoyed having him around but was also glad once he left because all those trips outside meant lots of dirt being brought inside. He got picked up late Friday afternoon and I spent Saturday vacuuming and steam cleaning everything. 

My son E has had a cold all week and dog dander didn't help. He's still not feeling his best but thankfully he's doing better.  I took him to the Minute Clinic last Friday because I was concerned he might have asthma but his oxygen levels were normal. He just needs lots of rest; not the easiest thing when he's also got schoolwork (he's doing summer classes this semester).

We got the first tropical storm scare last week. TS Elsa looked like she was gonna come barreling through Central Florida as a category 1 hurricane, but ultimately she lost steam and headed just north of us. We got plenty of rain, though, which meant I had to mow the yard again. I'd only just mowed the week before, but the mix of rain and sunshine energizes the grass. Thankfully I was able to finish it in less time with the help of a second battery for the mower.

This year's VBS theme is Destination Dig. I got an idea from one of the girls from my old church: a photo-op frame in the shape of a jeep. Whenever I saw the picture on Facebook I said, I have got to make one! So I did.

It turned out super cute! It's up as decor in the room for now but we'll use it for pictures later in the week. It was a mission trying to get this made with a puppy underfoot! He followed me around everywhere like my shadow. But I'm so pleased with how it turned out and glad I was able to contribute some decor to the room.

That was it for last week. Like I said, this week has been very busy and we're only halfway done. Next week rest? Hmm, we'll have to see. Have a blessed week y'all.

Monday, July 5, 2021

The Week In Review

Happy Monday after Independence Day! It was nice to see everyone out setting off fireworks in celebration of the 4th of July, though not quite as happy about the noise - more on that later.

I spent the week mowing the lawn. That's not an exaggeration. I was out doing some part of the yard every. single. day. Whenever we first moved into this house, the lawn was in really bad shape. There were lots of dry patches and areas where the dogs had dug up the lawn and it looked rough.

This was just off the patio. It looked like this in several areas throughout the front and back yard. I didn't know if I was gonna have to buy sod to take care of these spots, but I decided to wait till the rainy season started. Good thing I did.

This is the same spot as above. With all the rain and no dogs, it's like the grass got energized and has started growing with a vengeance. There are still dry spots but in just two months it has improved dramatically. 

All the rain has also meant the grass grows very quickly. Whenever I started cutting the grass, I didn't cut it too low because it was hot, sunny, and dry. I didn't want the roots to dry out so set the mower pretty high. Once the rains started I began cutting the grass lower and lower but it was a mission! I finally caved and bought a second battery so that I could get more done and not have to mow the lawn daily. Friday I was done, just in time for a visit from my grand-dog Kuzco. My daughter and son-in-law are on vacation so they dropped him off Friday evening for a week with grandma. He's been enjoying the backyard, running and playing and getting plenty of exercise whenever it isn't raining.

Speaking of raining, there's a tropical storm headed our way. TS Elsa has moved over slightly to the west, which means we're technically out of the cone, but storms have a way of doing their own thing and not always following the meteorologist's predictions, so we're keeping an eye on it. I'm especially bummed because of what came this past week:

I bought patio furniture! I've been saving to get a set of patio furniture but oh my word is it expensive! Not gonna lie, I didn't expect to find anything 1- in rattan, 2 - under $500, and 3 - before Labor Day weekend. 

Rattan is my favorite material for outdoor furniture; it just feels like the South. I know, that probably doesn't make sense, but whenever I picture a front porch or back patio in the South, it's always got rattan furniture and soft, puffy cushions. I looked at multiple websites, higher end, discount stores, heck even Big Lots prices were through the roof (based on my budget, anyway). So I kept saving and kept checking. I found a nice enough set of wrought iron furniture on Amazon, with seating for 6, that was $495. I'm not the biggest fan of wrought iron because our weather here is so humid, but figuring if I couldn't get rattan like I wanted, I'd settle for what I could afford. I sent a picture to my daughter who was not impressed. She said I should wait till the holiday sales, which I thought was a good idea. I wanted to show my son E the type of furniture I liked and how expensive the sets were, so I pulled up patio furniture on Amazon and this came up. 

(I took out the folding chairs out - they were my patriotic chairs for the 4th)

I had to do a double take. A rattan set - a sectional no less! - 5 pieces, for $379.99?!?! How was it I hadn't seen this before?! And why was it so affordable? I looked at the reviews and they were very good. Then I saw that there was a newer model being offered - that explained why this one was so much cheaper than anything I'd seen before. My daughter agreed that it was a way better deal and much nicer looking, so I went ahead and placed the order. It came in two separate boxes on two separate days, 4 days before it was scheduled which was fine with me! Assembly was not complicated once I figured out the instructions, and I was able to do it by myself. It's beautiful, comfortable, and I can't wait to decorate it - but now that'll have to wait, since I don't know whether this storm will stay away or shift closer to us, in which case I'll be bringing all my furniture back inside. Ah, hurricane season. Can't wait till you're over.

Regardless if we get a direct hit from TS Elsa or not, we're pretty much guaranteed a ton of rain this week. Right now, though, the sky is blue and it's hot and muggy outside. That was my week. Hope this week is uneventful, weather-wise anyway.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Week In Review

Can I just take a minute to reflect how fast the first half of the year went by?! Maybe because I had so much going on these past 6 months. I put my townhouse on the market, sold it in two days, traveled to Central Florida, put offers on two houses, purchased a house, packed, waited, much done in so little time. I'm kinda hoping the rest of the year will be calmer. Not counting on it, though.

Last week was a very wet week in Central Florida. We had thunderstorms daily. Last Thursday the storms began at 12:30 pm and continued till after 3:30 pm. I mean non-stop heavy rain for hours. It took me three days to get the grass cut because the ground was soaking wet and the lawn mower would get clogged and shut off. (Spoiler alert: I've been cutting the grass this week since Monday and I'm still not done. It hasn't rained since Sunday but the ground is still saturated. And it looks like it's gonna rain today). I'm considering buying a second battery for the lawn mower. While I love the fact that it shuts off, forcing me to stop and not get over-exerted, I find myself cutting some area of the grass everyday. Each time the lawn mower gets clogged it shuts off; each time I have to restart it the battery loses more charge, so that I'm only able to get about 20-25 minutes of battery life. Whenever the grass was dry I was able to get 40 minutes of mowing, so I was able to finish the entire yard in two days. It's the rainy season in Florida and it'll continue this way till September. I don't want to be out in the intense heat mowing grass every single day.

I applied for a couple more jobs, but haven't heard anything from anywhere. I'm slowing down my job hunt for the time being, though. I'd wanted to meet the Pastor of the church we've been attending, but whenever we came out he was always surrounded. I hate standing behind people; it seems rude, like I'm rushing them because it's my turn. So instead I sent an email to the church's website. Within half an hour he'd called me, and we talked for about 30 minutes. I asked about what the church teaches, what kind of outreach they're doing, and told him what we're looking for in a new church home. He asked about the church we came from and even looked them up and listened to one of their sermons. I mentioned that I'd served in children's ministry in the past, and a couple of hours later the children's pastor emailed and asked if I'd consider helping out with VBS. Yes please! I got excited, because I haven't served in VBS for years. I was very much involved in VBS whenever my son E was little and even afterwards, but whenever we moved to our last church VBS was in the evenings while I was at work and I couldn't participate. This church does VBS in the mornings, meaning if I start a new job I won't be able to serve. So I'm gonna pause my job hunt till after VBS, which is the second week in July. We had our first volunteer meeting and I got to meet some lovely people. It helps me feel like I belong, which makes me so happy.

I started working on the July meal plan but I haven't finished it yet. I have to take VBS into account; they'll be serving lunch at the church so I only have to worry about supper. I'm not sure if I want to batch cook the week before and have everything ready, or just have simple meals that whole week. I need to get on that. 

That was my week. Hope everyone's was as blessed.