In my kitchen

Well I haven't been very organized about it, but at least attempting to focus on getting more focused has made me feel a little more focused. Nothing life-changing has happened, but I'm getting things done around the house anyway. 

The other day I recognized something that has been bugging me for ages: That we don't eat meals at the dinner table (in the kitchen), but instead on our laps in front of the TV. A big part of the reason for that is like every other part of our house the kitchen is a cluttered mess. Another part is that it is ugly. It's almost original to the house, which was built in 1950. The cabinets and layout are original. Some previous owner put in white tile countertops and backsplashes, and did a terrible job installing ugly beige tile on the floor, then when we moved in we painted everything white and yellow and that's where the improvements ended. There isn't much in the way of counter space or storage, so the kitchen table is often used to hold anything and everything until I find a place for it indefinitely.

It's not big but it's also not a particularly tiny kitchen, it just has a really inefficient layout. There is a big blank wall right when you walk in, which originally was home to the laundry area. We put our fridge on the other side of the doorway from the blank wall so there wasn't room for anything substantial like cabinets, so instead three Cost Plus vintage-esque framed prints went there and we made do. For nine years. Yep, I haven't even switched out the art since we moved in. I would absolutely love to renovate the whole damn thing, change the layout around, increase storage and counter space, and install a pass-through, but we haven't been able to afford that master plan since we conceived it so instead we did nothing.

Nothing... until the other day when I said to the Hubs, "I wish there was something we could do to make our kitchen more comfortable." We started brainstorming (not to be confused with mind-mapping), I hit up Pinterest for some ideas, we measured, and voila! We decided to build open shelves on that big blank wall. It was actually really easy and inexpensive. Instead of buying shelving kits, we got pre-cut pine wood and brackets and turned them into four three-foot long shelves ourselves. We painted the wood white and put a pretty gray contact paper on the tops. I ordered some nice (and cheap!) gray baskets for three of the shelves so we can use them like a mini pantry, and the other shelf is where my coffee maker and fruit basket now live. I'm kinda loving my new coffee station, and I'm absolutely loving the extra counter space I have now that the coffee maker and fruit basket have moved! Plus the kitchen looks more balanced, and even though I haven't finished stocking the shelves (my baskets aren't due to arrive for another week, ugh!) I'm already feeling a lot more organized.

I have more plans too! Next I'm going to paint a chalkboard on what remains of the big blank wall next to the new shelves, and then I'm planning to install pegboard above the stove (where three more "vintage-esque" pictures have hung for the past 9 years). 

So all this is what it takes to eventually get us to start eating meals around the table together. Yeah, it hasn't quite happened yet, but it will! I still have to tackle that mess on the table... but as my therapist friend says, "Progress, not perfection!" 


Focus and garlic

July is over and we're almost halfway through August already. I feel like I'm watching life fly by as one day blurs into the next. And every day I feel more and more scattered. It's getting to the point where I can hardly keep track of the thoughts in my head anymore. What's worse is I got rejected for yet another job, one that I thought I had in the bag. So I'm losing confidence and really starting to feel lost. I am not letting it get me down, I have these kids to take care of and when I'm stressed, they're stressed. Instead, I'm making a goal of getting focused. I don't know if it will help me get employed, but I think it will help me feel more...me. Centered. Purposeful. Less of a nebulous mass of thoughts and emotions. Something like that.

I did a little "mind mapping" (I'm old. Back in my day we called it "brainstorming," but whatever) and wrote out some things I can do to help me feel more focused and maybe figure out what it is I want out of life.

One is to get creative. I like writing and I have this here blog, so I'm going to try to do more of that. I may try to paint or draw or maybe just color too. I feel like when I do that my thoughts just flow, I'm not forcing them, so I feel more "me." And sometimes realizations happen.

Another is to meditate. When I was at what I feel was my best, I was meditating regularly. As a result I felt less stressed, more optimistic, and more confident, even though back then I was unemployed too.

And third, and I know I keep saying this, but I need to get back to running. Running is hard and makes it difficult to focus on anything but the present moment and how I may or may not actually die from the effort. And when I'm done with a run and realizing that "HEY! I didn't actually die," I feel pretty great.

So there ya go. You have glimpsed my most focused mind at the moment.

On Garlic & Zycam:
This is for Misty - TRY IT. Apparently there are studies that show the allicin in garlic can reduce colds. It's antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. Every time I start to feel like I'm coming down with something I eat raw garlic. Just take a clove, cut it into chunks, chew and swallow. You have to chew it in order to release the allicin. I chomp down a few times until it starts to sting, swallow and chase with water. (Take Pepcid if it bothers your stomach.) Do this 2-3 times a day for the first 2-3 days you feel sick. I find that when I do it I get maybe 30% of the severity compared to the rest of the family. And YEP I caught the gnarly cold that was going around my house last month, took the garlic, and I only felt a little crummy for part of one day and didn't get much of a cough at all, while everyone else hacked for DAAAAAYS. (Aaron had to do a nebulizer treatment and get inhalers, and Max wound up with an awful cough, an ear infection, and had to go on antibiotics.) I use Zycam too because zinc also works to reduce the severity of colds. I take 3/day starting at the first sign of a cold, for about the first 3 days. Oh and I also take Emergen-C! I do whatever it takes to not get sick! I do think it helps, particularly the garlic.