A Prep & Chore Day

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UPDATE
I found another cute big girl piece of clothing and shockingly it’s a swim suit! Yesterday, I had a wonderful day shopping with my mother at the Louisiana Boardwalk and the mall. I got the cutest retro style swimdress and coverup. I was pleasantly surprised that Jessica Simpson was now making clothes for big girls. Love her!

Both the dress and coverup were a 2x (boo, but wait. . . . ) Normally, that would make me cry but the ensemble was just that stinking cute and flattering for my current figure, I didn’t even mind. One of the things I hate about being a “big girl” is that all the clothes are designed for grandmas! Oh, the patterns! Even though I’m big, I want to look cute and age appropriate.

I’ve had some luck lately but it cost me a fortune. I’ve probably spent more on 3 pieces of clothing than I did my entire skinny girl wardrobe. It’s expensive being heavy in more ways than one.

My mom is supportive but also told me flat out that I needed to do something. I assured her I am. Lots of changes. I’m on Weight Watchers and incorporating their principles into my life.

Some of the things that helped me lose weight before & I’m using now:
Tea
Whenever I felt a craving but wasn’t really hungry; maybe I was bored or agitated; then, I brewed myself a great cup of tea. In fact, I did that last night when everybody was having ice cream and I kinda wanted the ice cream. By the time I prepped and drank my tea, all was forgotten. And, the tea is no calories!
Fruit Bowl
Have a beautiful fruit filled bowl on the counter. Right now, we have plums, apples and bananas. I’ve caught both of my parents hitting the bowl.
Prep Ahead
Today, I made my homemade mayo, a pound of meatballs, lemon chicken with broccoli and I roasted a spaghetti squash. I do not mind leftovers at all. I love them! I like when all I have to do is portion out my meal and throw it into the microwave. 1 day of planning and prepping will save you from getting caught off guard later in a busy week.

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Lemon Chicken with Broccoli

Ingredients
1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
12 oz uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast(s), thinly sliced
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth, divided
2 tsp minced garlic
2 1/2 cup(s) uncooked broccoli, small florets
2 tsp lemon zest, or more to taste*
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)

On a plate, combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper; add chicken and turn to coat. Or, you can throw it all in a bag and roll it around.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning as needed, until lightly browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes; remove to a plate.

Put 1 cup of broth and garlic in same skillet; bring to a boil over high heat, scrapping up browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Add broccoli; sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cover and cook 1 minute or until broccoli is crisp-tender.

Remove skillet from heat. Drain broccoli. Add in chicken, lemon zest and lemon juice; toss to coat.

I just divide the recipe into 2 servings and add another vegetable as a side and a piece of fruit for dessert.

BEST MEATBALL RECIPE OF ALL TIME!

I stole the recipe from Nom Nom Paleo.
http://nomnompaleo.com/post/5034138416/sous-vide-turkish-slider-burgers

Turkish Meatball
Taken from nomnompaleo.com

• 1 lb grass fed ground beef
• ½ medium onion, finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
• 2 teaspoons Penzeys Turkish seasoning (penzeys.com)(well worth getting)
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper

Heat up the coconut oil in a small cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, sauté the diced onion in melted coconut oil with some salt and pepper. When the onions are soft and translucent, add the minced garlic and stir everything around until the garlic is fragrant (~30 seconds). Transfer the cooked onions to a small bowl to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, combine the beef, cooled onion mixture, Turkish seasoning, several cranks of freshly
ground black pepper, and a generous pinch of salt. Use your hands to mix everything (but try not to
overwork the meat).

Form the meat and onion mixture into roughly 31 meatballs and place them on an aluminum foiled cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.

HOMEMADE MAYO

This is my mayo recipe again. I eat it every day. Love love love it!

My mayo recipe came from the link below. I put my own twist on it by adding the Siracha because I love spicy mayo from Asian restaurants. I put this on everything that I can within my dietary restraints. Eggs and mayo may seem strange but it really is good. And for me, I’ve been making my own mayo since I did the Paleo diet and I won’t go back to the jar stuff. It’s very easy to make your own.
http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/10/two-minute-mayonnaise.html
My Homemade Siracha Mayo

Ingredients
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from 1/2 a lemon)
• 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
• 1 cup light olive oil
• Kosher salt (to taste)
• Siracha Sauce (to taste)

Place egg yolk, water, lemon juice, and mustard in the bottom of an immersion blender cup. Pour oil on top and allow to settle for 15 seconds. Squirt Siracha Sauce to taste. Place head of immersion blender at bottom of cup and switch it on. As mayonnaise forms, slowly tilt and lift the head of the immersion blender until all oil is emulsified. Season mayonnaise to taste with salt.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. I am so OCD that I put it on my calendar so I don’t forget. MAYO EXPIRED!

NEW FOOD ITEMS
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Today, I wandered down the aisles of Wal-Mart searching for new items to spice up my food life. This is what I discovered. I used to do the Paleo diet but meat, veggies and nuts can be strict and just not the world we live in. There are some great products out there. I think that the meat and veggies formula is great but there is also room in my world for a breakfast bar or a bowl of cereal (portioned out, of course) every once in a while. I looked up each of the items and they are point friendly so that means they are a good calories and carb bang for your diet buck.

I bought:
• The Great Value (Wal-Mart brand) of Turkey Breakfast Patties
• Great Value Light Greek Yogurt
• Jollytime 100 Cal Bags of Popcorn
• Quaker Lower Sugar Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal
• Great Value Honey Nut Spins
• Kellogg’s Fiber Chewy Bars

A trick I learned in WW when I was on it before was to take a Sharpie marker and put the point value on the food when you are unpacking it. It just a reminder to track your food and an easy way to remember your points.

I’m excited to have a few boxed mass produced products back in my life! I’m starting to pondering rather being so strict and having a quest for perfection was what contributed to my downfall. Hmmm . . . .

Size

How you cannot know your clothing size? Very easily. I wear stretchy clothes. Spandex. Cotton. In fact, I have a chubby girl uniform that makes it very comfortable to be completely oblivious to my number.

I live in large Victoria Secret essential t-shirts with a Spanx-like tank top underneath

http://www.victoriassecret.com/pink/tees-and-tanks/essential-v-neck-tee-pink?ProductID=78230&CatalogueType=OLS

And, these elastic waistband cotton capri pants

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Danskin-Now-Women-s-Dri-More-Capri-Leggings/15066168

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I will dress this up or down with tennis shoes or with a pair of flats, jewelry and a cardigan.

With this outfit, I could completely be in the dark about my size. I have literally worn a version of this ensemble every day since I stopped working. I do not have anything else to wear except my equally forgiving pajamas. I have no jeans. No shorts. No dresses. None of my other clothes fit. I surpassed them a while ago. I didn’t want to buy any clothes in this size so I ignored and adapted to the situation. Therefore, I’m left with a very limited wardrobe with no clothing with any structure. I guess these could be my jell-o clothes.

Knowledge is power and I decided I wanted to know how bad the situation was. I just wanted to know the number. I was also struck with the need to have one nice outfit for family dinners, weight watchers meetings and other special outings.

So, yesterday, I went clothes shopping. It’s as bad as I thought. I immediately went to the size 16 in JC Penney. No dice. The tops weren’t doing it for me either.

Do you know what always fits and never lets you down? Accessories! Accessories always fit. So, I love accessorizing!

Yesterday alone, I bought:
• 3 pairs of shoes
• 1 hair clip
• 1 pair of sunglasses
• A purse
• 4 books

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I would have bought a hat & a scarf if I had found cute ones! Oh, and don’t get all judge-y on me either. I know I preach being thrifty and thrifty I am. I got two pairs of shoes and the purse at JC Penny’s on sale with an additional $10 off coupon. I found a brand new pair of Keds at the Goodwill for $5. I got the hair clip and the sunglasses from the $1 Jewelry store. Of course, the books came from Goodwill.

Where do you shop when you are size 16+? I honestly would not know. I have never admitted to myself, let alone anyone else, that my circumstances have become so dire. Lane Bryant was the only store I knew of and it was so darn expensive!!

Expense aside, we went to the Mecca of all chubby girls: Ms. Lane Bryant. I immediately went to a size 18. It fit but could have been looser. I probably could have gone up one more size comfortably but I convinced myself that was unnecessary. I took the plunge on a $75 pair of jean capris.

So, I’m officially a snug size 18. And, I didn’t even have a crying meltdown in the dressing room to get to this announcement.

This admission is probably the most embarrassing I have made publically. I feel ashamed but it was not a surprise. I expected the number to be in that range based on my weight. I also could see in the mirror that there was A LOT more of me to love.

My body feels bad carrying all this weight. My lean mass is about 100 pounds. I have an extra 130 lbs of fat on top of that and I feel it. My body aches. I cannot bend to tie my shoes or to put on pants. There are so many limitations when you are this big. And, I feel tired. Just dog gone tired.

I gradually got used to dealing with these obese symptoms because this did not happen overnight. It took me 2 years to get to this point. I’ve had fun eating whatever I wanted and being as lazy as I can be. Now, it is time to pay the piper.

I’m changing things now. I’ve already started changing the behaviors that got me into the situation.

On our shopping trip, we stopped for lunch. There is no telling what I would have ordered in my pre-conscious eating stage but it would have been very fattening. Yesterday, I ordered the smallest steak and vegetables. I didn’t go for the chicken (the wisest choice) because I was having that this evening.

Every Friday night, we go out to dinner as a family. It is usually something very delicious. Probably deep fried. I do live in the deep fried gravy biscuit Dairy Queen capital of the world.

Normally, I would order a chicken fried steak with biscuit, gravy, mashed potatoes and corn. Or, a hamburger with fried onions on top and slathered with mayo and French fries.

We would end the night with some ice cream.

Last night, I ordered the modest chicken breast with sautéed veggies and a side salad. Salad dressing was served on the side so I could dip my fork into it and then take a bite of salad ensuing I only eat the absolutely necessary amount of dressing. No ice cream for me either although I did have some point-wise desserts in the freezer.

I was diligent in my tracking of the all-important points throughout the day.

Another change that is staring me in the face as I write this is my black coffee. Hazelnut Creamer is gone. (sad face and wave to the Hazelnut Creamer! We missed you at first but the ache is slowly disappearing and your absence is almost unnoticed)

Success Kit

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Behold my Weight Watchers bounty!

All of this fit into that pink lunch box looking bag. I’m super excited.

It’s called the “Success Kit- 8 Outstanding Tools”

I’m a sucker for 12 Steps, 10 Ways, and obviously 8 OUTSTANDING Tools.

This WW package contains:
• A Multipurpose Expandable Tote ~ The tote can also be used as an insulted lunch bag but I’m going to use it to keep all my WW stuff in one place
• Master Your Meals Cookbook
• Find Your Fingerprint Guide
• Portable Collapsible Steamer Bowl
• Plan & Track Journal
• Mix & Flip Exercise Cards (cool, right?)
• Point Stickers (these you use to label the points on a food package)
• WW Calculator (to calculate point values & to track your points for the day)

And . . . . wait for it . . . . Coupons!!! Lots of coupons. A $45 value, in fact.

Obviously, the package wasn’t free but it really was a good value.

I will probably use that calculator the most. I found when I was in the grocery store, it was a pain to calculate my points using the Weight Watchers App on my phone. I had to wait for it to load and then my phone kept turning off and I had to start over when I came across the next item. I’m happy about eliminating that hassle. Plus, I got a handy dandy sticker cover for the top of it so now it is super cute and not screaming WW. Not that I’m ashamed! I’m not.

WEIGH IN

I’m sure you are anxious to know how I did last night. Well, my weight loss was modest and healthy. A 1.6 pound loss. I consider that a victory since I went over almost a day’s worth of points last week. That I’m not proud of. I have to curb this very robust appetite I have. I can eat like a horse. I get it from my Sr dad. I am still amazed how much food he could put away. It explained a lot for me. No girl should eat like that.

HEALTHY SWAP

Yesterday, I bought the Turkey Jimmy Dean Cooked Sausage for breakfast. I was shocked at the difference between the regular sausage patty and the turkey version. You get 2 for 1 calorie & fat wise.

I used the last of the tortillas today so now I am going straight 2 turkey sausage patties, 2 eggs and spicy mayo. The breakfast burrito will be retired temporarily.

THIS WEEK’S GOAL

This week I want to be careful with my fruit consumption. Because fruits have a zero point value, I was horking them down last week. At the meeting, we discussed how we should just be eating 4 servings of fruits a day. If you binge on fruit, it can hinder weight loss. And, a regular size banana is probably 2 servings. I know last week I made a mother of all fruit salads for dessert after dinner. Probably 10 servings of fruits. And, just before bed. My bad!

I also need to get in exercise. I can’t remember the last time I did. Oh, my WW location has Zumba for $2 after the meeting. Too cool! I haven’t done it yet but I will next week because that is an awesome and cheap opportunity for exercise.

1st Weigh In Day

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Today makes my full first week of Weight Watchers. I will weigh in tonight at the meeting. I haven’t been following the program like an angel. I had pizza, fried chicken, cake, ice cream and a hamburger. Not all at the same time but definitely each in larger than necessary portions. In fact, I was 30 points in the negative for the week.  Turns out the stuff I would normally eat was seriously point expensive. I guess I’ll be measuring my success right now on how little I go over the point limits.

However, even in my transgressions, I have been faithful in my tracking.

It’s a well-known fact that tracking what you eat will ensure you are consciously eating and is the #1 aid in weight loss.

I came across it again in this article entitled “How to Lose Weight: 30+ Fast, Easy Tricks”

http://www.rd.com/slideshows/how-to-lose-weight/

I love the app My Fitness Pal. As you know, I was using that but I just needed more accountability. I found my weight bouncing around the same minus and plus 10 pounds.

I need to pay someone monthly and weight myself in public. I’ve done Weight Watchers before and had success.

Also, I couldn’t resist the commercials showing how awesome Jennifer Hudson and Jessica Simpson look.

So last Thursday night, I went to a meeting and signed up. I jumped right into the plan and counting my points.  I’m starting to remember some of WW tricks but my breakfast is still the same. I’m debating taking away the tortilla because it really has no nutritional value but I just like it so I haven’t made the plunge. Maybe when I run out of tortillas I’ll call that one.

MY CURRENT FAVORITE BREAKFAST

Breakfast Burrito
o 1 Small Yellow Corn Tortilla
o 1 Jimmy Dean Cooked Sausage Patty
o 1 Egg
o ½ Tablespoon homemade mayo with Siracha

I heat up the tortilla and put it on a plate. Then, smear the tortilla with mayo. In a pan, scramble and cook the egg with the diced sausage patty. Transfer onto tortilla. Enjoy!

My mayo recipe came from the link below. I put my own twist on it by adding the Siracha because I love spicy mayo from Asian restaurants. I put this on everything that I can within my dietary restraints. Eggs and mayo may seem strange but it really is good. And for me, I’ve been making my own mayo since I did the Paleo diet and I won’t go back to the jar stuff. It’s very easy to make your own.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/10/two-minute-mayonnaise.html

My Homemade Siracha Mayo

Ingredients
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from 1/2 a lemon)
• 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
• 1 cup light olive oil
• Kosher salt (to taste)
• Siracha Sauce (to taste)

Place egg yolk, water, lemon juice, and mustard in the bottom of an immersion blender cup. Pour oil on top and allow to settle for 15 seconds. Squirt Siracha Sauce to taste. Place head of immersion blender at bottom of cup and switch it on. As mayonnaise forms, slowly tilt and lift the head of the immersion blender until all oil is emulsified. Season mayonnaise to taste with salt. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

After my homemade burrito, I have a Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt. That’s my breakfast! At the very least, I start out the day on the right foot.

I’m off to make my breakfast. . . . Thursdays are a big day for me and I’ll tell you why another time.

Peace & Quiet

Today, I realized the luxury of my circumstances. I’m free as a bird. I have no strings: No Job. No Children. Minimal Bills. Nothing and no one to invade my serenity. I am in a warm and loving environment. It dawned on me how at peace I am. I’m a hippie!!! Free spirit. Having pressured myself to be successful for so very time, this is so liberating.

I recognize that life being how it is, it will not always be this way. But, I am so thankful and blessed that it is.

I’m sitting here in glorious silence with just the tick tock of the clock in the background. I was knitting my scarf and my thoughts were jumping. I didn’t know what I wanted to write after the hugely revealing last couple of blogs, which were very popular. I was not expecting how the tale of a fallen lawyer would be so interesting. I got a lot of supportive feedback and that was very nice.

I have to warn you. My serene disposition could be the result of mega cold & flu medication. I have been struck down by a wicked sore throat.

I’ve have been sipping Throat Coat tea with ½ teaspoon of raw local honey.

http://traditionalmedicinals.com/products/throat-coat/

Man, is it soothing running down my fiery larynx. I’m having the tea right now.

I would like to be more productive today but it might not be in the cards. It’s all I can do to drag myself to the grocery store and do my basic chores.

If this gets any worse, I might have to bump the tea for some Theraflu.

http://www.theraflu.com/index.shtml

These two products are what I know to whip a cold fast. The remainder of the recipe calls for fuzzy slippers, soft pajamas and maybe entertainment in a box: some books, some magazines, movies, a knitting project, etc. Then, sleep.

Oh, you know what would be good? Soup. My favorite soup is this surprisingly awesome celery soup recipe. Very healthy and tasty. I found it when celery kept coming in my co-op veggie box.

“What am I going to do with this?,” I thought. I only knew “Ants on a log” (putting peanut butter on the celery stalk and then raisins on top).

So, I googled some recipes and found this one. From the first time, I loved it! And, I have been making it for years.

I did change it up a bit to make it my very own recipe.

Celery Soup Recipe
Ingredients:
• About 4 thick slices of bacon. Cut into pieces (you can leave out to make it totally veggie)
• 1 batch of fresh celery
• 1 medium sweet potato
• 2 Tbsp coconut oil
• 2 leeks
• 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
• 32 oz carton vegetable, chicken or veal stock
• Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:
1. Cut leeks into (roughly) same-sized pieces, about ½ inch to 1 inch thick, depending on diameter. Dump them in a large bowl and fill with water. Let them soak. The dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl and you will just need to scoop the leeks out. Leeks can be very dirty vegetables.

2. Cut celery into (roughly) same-sized pieces, about ½ inch to 1 inch thick, depending on diameter. Don’t worry about precision — the soup is going to be puréed anyway. We just want the pieces to be of uniform size so that they cook evenly.

3. I do numbers 1 & 2 in double batches since leeks are usually sold in a bundle. Then, I freeze in a freezer bag. Just pull out the bag when you are ready to make the soup.

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4. Peel the sweet potato and cut it into pieces about the same size as the celery.

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5. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, fry the bacon and remove when done but keep the fat.

6. Add coconut oil (you can use both the bacon and coconut oil or either one) and heat over low-to-medium heat.

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7. Add the leeks, garlic and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the onion is slightly translucent, stirring more or less continuously.

8. Add the stock and the potato. You should add enough stock to cover the vegetable, which may or may not be the whole quart. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the celery and potatoes are soft enough that they can easily be pierced with a knife. Don’t let them get mushy, though.

9. Remove the soup from heat and purée with an immersion hand blender. I have the Cuisinart hand blender and I love it. http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-CSB-76W-SmartStick-200-Watt-Immersion/dp/B000EGC9SG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395839544&sr=8-1&keywords=cuisinart+handblender

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10. Return to the stove and bring to a simmer again, adding more broth or stock to adjust the thickness if necessary. Yes, your soup will be green but it taste good and it is healthy.

11. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

12. Add the cooked bacon back to the soup. Sometimes, I will leave out the bacon and make it plain. Again, without the meat, this would be a vegan soup. Sometimes, I will fry up a hot Italian sausage link removed from casing. I just crumble it when I am cooking it and add to the top of a bowl of soup.

13. I divide this into 4 servings.

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MEET PINKY!!! My first knockout rose bush. It reminds me of my Sr Father. He had roses all over his yard. He was even guilty of throwing in some fake ones so his rose bushes looked even better. I have high hopes for this little Rose bush.

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Update on being an attorney

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Why did I have to mention the “Florida Bar 2013-2014” folder?

Remember yesterday, I told you I was an attorney. I am currently inactive due to incapacity. There was no misconduct and I was not disbarred. I was Baker Acted, which in Florida, means you are involuntarily committed to a hospital for psychiatric issues. Shrug. It happens. For me, the February 2013 admission was not my first or my last. I maintain I was still able to be a good lawyer despite my mental condition. In fact, I was a good lawyer because of my condition. I was bold. I didn’t take crap for anybody. And, I was creative. I could work the long hours with no stimulants. Just natural energy. But, sometimes, I just needed a little time off or some breathing space. With that small courtesy, I could do my job and run my life like a normal person. I found that simple request to be too much for my employers and when they found out about the hospitalizations and bipolar, I was toast. Even people who are suppose to be advocates for the mental ill (that’s you, Pinellas County, Florida) turned out to be not so supportive but professional in the immediate dismissal (thank you for that).

So, currently I do not work and I am devoting myself to my hobbies. In the back of my mind, I think about what new career I would want. It would have to flexible given the above perimeters.

Back to the Florida Bar. I didn’t fight them because I knew the prejudice I was up against and it just was not worth it. I was already living in another state and working on another career. Now, I would love to educate people on mental illness and fight for those people like me.

With the bar, I knew I would be facing another ignorant side that didn’t even know what bipolar disorder was. Therefore, we mutually agreed to suspend my license and I can seek to have it reinstated within the next 5 years. I can only imagine the aggravation they would give me trying to get readmitted when getting admitted in the first place was such a time consuming expensive nightmare. I am just cutting my losses and moving on in life. I can now say, “Been there. Done that.”

I got the Florida Supreme Court notice of approving my inactive status back in February. The Florida Bar website reflected my status. I notified anybody that would have an interest in my current bar status (meaning I had to tell anybody who thought I was still an attorney that I would not practice as an attorney). It wasn’t a big deal to me. Not even on the radar. I thought everything was settled and the process seemed simple and amicable.

Until yesterday.

Just the magic of mentioning this folder brought it to life. I got an email bright and early stating they did not get my latest affidavit and if they do not get it within 10 days, The Florida Bar will file a Petition for Contempt and Order to Show Cause. How nasty!!

So, I replied, “I mailed this on the 3/19/2014. Please check your mail and then threaten me with a contempt.” Yes, I probably could have been less curt because that really set the lady off.

To which, Ms. Legal Secretary replied, “Your incomplete and incorrect affidavit was received in our office today, 4 days past the due date. You may wish to revisit the rule regarding your obligations in providing the Court Ordered 3-5.1 Affidavit. You may also wish to verify the rules regarding Notary requirements. You must submit a correct affidavit directly to my attention within ten (10) days from the date of this email. If you fail to comply with this request, The Florida Bar will file a Petition for Contempt and Order to Show Cause.” Why couldn’t she just tell me what was wrong? It was clearly a technicality. I hate when people do that.

So, I let her have it. In a somewhat longer than necessary email, I explained that I was a mentally disabled person, that they were suspending me due to an incapacity, i.e., my mental condition. Therefore, it is confusing and disturbing when she is being so pushy and citing all these rules to me. I asked for another person in her office that would be better suited to deal with a disabled person. I told her to govern herself accordingly (we lawyers love this phrase). There was no need to be so hostile to me. I had done nothing wrong and was just trying to follow all the overly complicated rules they placed on me. I told her I would be happy to complete the form again and submit it. If it wasn’t good enough, they could proceed however they wished.

Then, she came back with a somewhat softer email apologizing but saying if I ever wanted to practice law again, I needed to complete these forms properly. More hidden threats. YAY!

Then, she wrote that if I am working for a legal organization I would have to follow rule blah blah blah. Turns out, this rule governs me working for any legal organization. As a former attorney, if I work for a legal organization, we (the employer and me) would both need to submit quarterly reports that I was not having direct client contact, handling funds of property and practicing law.

I just rolled my eyes. It was too much. The work I do for the law firm currently is so miniscule. I get paid peanuts. It wasn’t worth submitting a quarterly report, which I am sure has to be notarized and signed in my blood.

I quit the law firm. I submitted a new affidavit freshly notarized. Fingers crossed that should be the end of it. I thought about it last night and if I hear from them again on this issue, I’m just going to write I completed the affidavit to the best of my ability, I notified the only legal organization I was working for of my new inactive status, I subsequently quit my work for that firm so there would be no appearance of impropriety, I am not practicing as an attorney, I do not plan to be an attorney again, and please leave me alone. If you need new or additional information, then you may contact me.

Hopefully, I won’t have to write about this again and this chapter of my life is done. I hear a lot from people that they wanted to be an attorney or some such jazz. No, you don’t. It is a hellish profession. I wrote down on my list of requirements for my new career not to have a licensing policing agency bossing me around and taking my money. I’ m sure I’ll write a blog post on what it was like for me to be an attorney. For right now, I am just aggravated by the whole thing and it would be a bitching fest.

That was my morning yesterday. Part of my condition is I take things personally and tend to have extreme reactions. So, I was close to tears and just so fed up. I think that’s because I worked so hard to be an attorney, was very disillusioned with the whole system and all my work was dissolved with a few pieces of paper.

I was in such low spirits that my mom threw a hoe in my hand and told me it was time to plant. So, we got jiggy with it. How can you be unhappy planting? You can’t. I love the garden. We tilled some more. We raked the dead grass and planted two more rows of baby vegetables. More gardening on the agenda today. Our garden just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It’s because we got that happy little tiller and it makes quick work getting us some pay dirt.

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It’s a new day . . .
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Wooby Box

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DISCLAIMER: I might be OCD

I’m an army brat. That means I can organize and neat the crap out of anything. I love a mean routine. A protocol. I also worked for the federal government too and that means I love to write everything down. I love to make lists and acronyms. And, of course, I love some coffee.

I don’t necessarily like getting out of bed but once I am up, I love my routine. I like it when no one else is awake yet and the house is quiet. I like to wander around the house and outside checking things out. I mosey around doing my DMP (daily maintenance plan).

My humble pink dry erase board broadcasts the following DMP list, which I have shared before. Only the last one is new:

Get out of bed ~ This isn’t a given. Sometimes, you could just stay in bed, not do the things that will make your day easier and/or be late for work
Let Ginger Out ~ I’ll talk to you more about her later but pets are an amazing therapy and my internet adopted dachshund is THE best
Brush teeth ~ I have a whole oral care routine. Sonic care toothbrush for two minutes, floss, and mouthwash. I like the line that taking care of your teeth is cheaper and easier than dentures.
Weigh Thyself ~ I write down the date and “the number” in a book especially for this purpose and keep it next to the scale in the bathroom. I know exactly where I am and sometimes I write next to the number what happened: good or bad
Get Coffee ~ Or Tea. Whatever strikes your fancy. I just know I have to have my coffee and I like it strong so I have the super duper Nespresso. It’s 2 seconds and shoots out Cuban style espresso.
Take Medication ~ We’ll talk about this later but I did tell you early on that I was on medication for my mood. It’s no joke. So, when I mouthed off to my step brother yesterday and he yelled at my mom to make sure I take my medication, I could have . . . nevermind I don’t want to incriminate myself. But, seriously, only an as$ makes fun of someone on medication. Moving on. . . .
Take Fish Oil ~ I buy the Carlson Lemon Fish Oil. Really. It taste like lemon oil, not fish.
Make Bed ~ Make the pretty-est nicest bed you can. A Martha Stewart/Macy showcase worthy bed
Sit down and enjoy coffee. Give yourself a few minutes before the day.
Read something inspirational or anything that makes you happy, even facebook. If your facebook is not positive, delete delete delete. Only happy people on my facebook! If someone smarts off or does anything that spikes my blood pressure, delete! Happily.
Shower
Put in contacts
Moisturizer ~this is huge! Dude or dame. If you want good skin, do not leave the house without some SPF moisturizer
Deodorant ~ Please, if not for yourself. For others.
Make Up ~ Make yourself a movie star!
Dress
Jewelry
Breakfast ~ So important. At first, it might be hard to eat in the morning but just hork it down. After a while, you’ll wake up starving and desperate for your breakfast. It really is the most important meal of the day.
Meal plan for the rest of the day & pack it if leaving the house

While I am doing my DMP list, I get out my blue bin. Inside is all my entertainment as well as currently important documents.

Here it is:

I have a sheet protector on my 5K training program with the dates written on it. I am starting today with 1.5 mile run. If I keep to the schedule I will be ready for my 5k on May 17, 2014. On the other side is the YMCA Exercise schedule with their phone number written on it so I can call if I have to reserve a class (usually spinning. It’s always packed).

I have my 8X10 desk calendar of the month that I keep track of bills and anything else date worthy.

I like to make a folder for anything relevant in my life. I buy the goofy ones that kids use. I get them for $.50 a piece at the Family Dollar. It’s more fun than just plain manila folders.

I currently have these labeled folders:

Florida Bar 2013-2014. I was an attorney. I am currently inactive due to incapacity. There was no misconduct and I was not disbarred. I can still be an attorney. Basically, I was not practicing in that State and I do not see myself returning to the practice of law. While I was struggling with these decisions, the bar contacted me telling me they had found out about my bipolar condition. It was like the Spanish Inquisition about my mental condition. At the time, I could not handle fighting the bar. Plus, I was so tired of them threatening me. Hanging my bar license over my head. I didn’t want to pay them another dime. So, we have mutually agreed to suspend my license and I can seek to have it reinstated within the next 5 years. All this took a lot of paperwork and notarized documents. It’s only prudent to keep a copy of everything the bar sends me.

I think this folder might be ready to be retired to the bin of “Retired Folders.” Then, I will have a new folder titled “New Career” or maybe “College 2014.” I have no idea where to start on that new chapter. Right now I am enjoying just taking a break from all the pressure. Trust me, I feel blessed I can do it.

Student Loan folder. After going through law school and the bar, I have amassed quite a mountain of student loan debt. They are constantly changing providers. The federal loans are not bad and they work with you. Private loans are a nightmare. I can’t complain too much about either one of them because I would not have been able to go to law school and be an attorney if it weren’t for those loans. But, that doesn’t mean I am going to starve paying them off any time soon. We played chicken for awhile and now I am paying $50 a month! Huge victory for me but it got a little nasty to get to this point and I had to kiss my credit goodbye.

Articles. These are the articles I have collected and found worthy of ripping out of the magazine. I haven’t read these yet. I will read them and if they are worth keeping, I will put them in my magazine binder.

Healthy Recipes. I needed a folder just for these recipes because they were getting lumped into the recipes that I want to try but aren’t so healthy.

Also, in the basket is my current knitting project, a jar of markers & pens, a couple of notebooks, my password book, my kindle, my paperback books and my magazines.

I like having everything handy and portable. I can take this anywhere. If there was a fire, I would throw my dog on top of the box and cart both of them outside.

More Pretty Work

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When I went out on to the porch, I was greeted with this dewy morning. This is the view from our front porch. It’s also the land the horses are on. I can’t tell you enough how much I like looking at this in the morning instead of a concrete parking lot of cars or row after row of subdivision houses. It’s just nature. Pure and simple.

Yesterday, we spent the day expanding our garden real estate. The ground was somewhat moist so we went at it by hand. Just whacking away. With a hoe. Pounding the ground and trying to kill the grass. We wanted planting dirt!

Dude, it was such a work out for our arms. Then, my step dad came along and rescued us like a redneck fairy godfather. He offered to buy us a tiller. We literally threw down the garden tools, snatched his money and jumped into the car. We happily drove the 45 minutes to Lowe’s and picked us up a tiller.

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Once we got that, the ground was no problem. And, now we are ready for more plants and our little baby seedlings.
We still have so much work to do! We have more planting and we have to put the fence up. We also need to clean the place up a bit. We have stuff everywhere.

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While we were at Lowe’s, you would have thought gardening stuff was free. It seemed like everybody and their mother was pretty-fying their house.

UPDATE:
Remember the elaborate birdcage we got for $5 at a yard sale? Well, I got two fake feathered birds for $1.00 from the Dollar Tree and they are now in their new home. Our goal is for the Ivy plant to grow all around the cage. I just think it is a super cool decoration to have on our porch. My mom seen it done and they wanted $100. We have less than $10 invested in our bird cage. And, we do not have to clean up after the birds.

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On my way out the door to Lowe’s, they were marking this hanging planter down to $5. I couldn’t walk away so this is also a new addition to our growing foliage family.

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So, all this running around, planting, planning, and gardening is some serious exercise. And, it doesn’t stop. There is watering to be done and we’ll have to weed out the garden beds in no time.

Gardening is serious business!

As for today, I will be cleaning, reading and resting. In honor of Sunday, here is a picture of one of our old churches (1908)

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Finding Peace

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When I had my latest crisis, I was living in Texas. I had never felt so much relief as driving back to my home in Louisiana. When I pulled up, my parents came out of the house and met me on the porch. I got the best hugs of my life. That was last August and I haven’t left.

It’s no secret I am saving up for a house. But, when I actively started looking the other day, my mother seemed very hurt and quietly said, “I don’t want you to go.” So, who knows how long I will be here. Truthfully, I don’t want to live by myself anyway. I told my mom I didn’t want to be a pain or a burden. She assured me I wasn’t and my parents love having the company.

I do everything I can to make myself useful. I shop, cook and clean at every opportunity. My return is a real home and an amazing support system. We need that. If you don’t have it, go find it. It doesn’t necessary have to be your family. If your home feels emotionally cold, it’s time to get outside in the sunshine.

In the morning, I take my coffee on the porch and watch the horses across the street. I hear the birds chirping and our garden fountains trickling. I see and hear nature’s symphony. I take an inventory of our plants to see how they did during the night.

This is what I missed living in concrete cities and little apartments.

Here, our neighbors are the horses. If you are stopping at our driveway, you must be lost. We are five minutes from the nearest small town and 45 minutes from a decent city.

Our little town has everything you could want but no more, no less. A bank, a restaurant, a gas station, pharmacy, a post office and a library. Most people work a long ways away in the oil field. During the day, you see nothing but white work trucks running around town.

When I was a working professional, I would come here to decompress but I vowed that I could never live here. Now, I wouldn’t want to live in the city again. Too much congestion.

As my mom says, “You need green grass underneath your feet.” She right. My soul needed this.

We finished our Angel Garden yesterday and I am so happy. Now, I just need to get a bistro set to put underneath the porch. I am sure I’ll keep adding to the garden. My dad was like that. Just adding and adding in hectic harmony. The Angel Garden is also pretty sweet at night too because it all lights up.

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I am absolutely in love with my purple hanging plant. I will water it with a gentle mist. I will baby it. Talk to it. Love it. I just want it to live!

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UPDATE:
Our little container garden is sprouting!
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We are already putting stuff in the ground. The picture doesn’t do it justice but if you squint real good, you can see tiny broccoli, tomatoes, and beans baby plants.
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Finally, we assembled our Topsy Turvey Tomato Tree. We discovered that you can also stuff other hanging vegetables in it so we will be adding to it.

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So, yeah, we’ve made us a peaceful place on Little Brown Road.

$20 in My pocket

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THE SHOPPING

Like any self-respecting girl, I can shop my booty off but I’m a proud cheapskate. Not as bad as the people on Extreme Cheapskates like the man that pulls the popcorn bucket out of the trash can & goes to get a free refill (in fact, I have boycotted the movies all together) or the lady that takes a shower with her laundry (you’ll never catch me doing my laundry by hand).

But, I’m pretty serious about not wasting money. Mostly, I’d rather have the money in the pocket than junk or a meal I could have made at home.

It’s a balancing act. You want to save, but you have to eat, you also have to cloth yourself, you want your house to look inviting and homey and you want entertainment. I’m here to show you can do it all on a shoe string budget.

I wasn’t always this way. I had my wild youth of excess and the credit card debt that went with it. Then, I started noticing my grandmother. She is well off but saved like crazy and always paid with cash. My grandparents never knew about my staggering debt. My grandpa even said one time that, “Wasn’t I glad that I wasn’t stupid like most kids and fall for that credit card crap?” (Shamed face) But, I got out from underneath that monster. And, now I’m like my grandma: “If I can’t pay with cash, I ain’t buying it.” That means I had to change my lifestyle. That’s how I discovered a whole other world that I now love.

My grandma shops almost every day but isn’t looking for anything in particular and doesn’t necessary buy anything. She is a deal stalker. A percentage off vulture.

She taught me about yard sale’ing, thrift store diving and dollar store hunting. She taught me about the thrill of a sale. And, it’s good exercise. Just walking from store to store and then walking down each aisle to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Believe me, one day with my grandma and your feet will be killing you.

My first hot spot of savings is the Goodwill. Just last month I scored a brand new Starbucks cup for $2.99. Of course, we stopped by Starbucks and there it was. $16.95. I was super jazzed. This is the one.

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I have found Victoria Secret shirts and pajamas at Goodwill. I have even found brand new clothes from Target. I once found a brand new in the box Keurig coffee maker.

The Good will is my first stop to buy books since they are only $0.99 there.

DOLLAR STORE
My blog picture is yesterday’s Dollar Tree loot. At this humble store, I was able to procure:
1) My body washes for the month (4)
2) Body Exfoliating Scrub
3) My deodorant (Lady Speed Stick)(2)
4) Hair Shampoo (with Moroccan oil, ladies)
5) Dial Bar Soap (3)
6) Toothpaste squeezer
7) Blush powder
8) Facial Tissues (2)
9) Night light
10) Ribbon (scrapbooking)
11) Some kind of flowers (scrapbooking)
12) Pedometer (I’m going to start counting my steps)
13) Garden Gloves
14) 4 packages of planting seeds
15) 2 fake feathered birds (for our grand ivy birdcage that we are starting)
16) Kraft Starter Kit for Asian Fish Tacos

Grand total: $21 ($22.06 with “you can’t escape em” taxes)

The Dollar Tree is also where I get my clothing detergent. It’s in a blue bottle with Oxygen on it. It works like a charm. Again, my grandma turned me onto this. My rule about toiletries is that everything must smell good and yes, there is some really off smelling beauty products at these Dollar Stores but some of it smells awesome! So, give the Dollar Tree body wash & shampoo aisle a smell.

I also hit Big Lots pretty hard. I got a ton of scrapbooking stuff on clearance. We got a Topsy Turvy Tomato Tree ~ here we were with the regular Turvies and we could have been growing a tree. We were pretty stoked. I got a new notebook and some pens. I am forever walking around with a notebook and pen writing down ideas, making lists, etc. It’s a journal of sorts.

We have a few other warehouse or discount stores we hit in Shreveport like the new Dollar Mania. I got a pile of costume jewelry from there for $15. You have to find those stores in your area.

Yesterday, there was an off the wall store we love that just has different stuff that you can’t find anywhere else. So, I got a copper planter dog that we put an Ivy in, a tote that is really a cooler, French inspired hanger and a “draft dodger” to block the draft from under the door. I think I paid like $18 for everything. I know it was under $20. Here’s our cute porch dog surrounded by my shopping spoils:

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Of course, I also hit up places like Dollar General, Family Dollar and our little town dive store, Bobbette’s. Yesterday, I got a giant pot for my lemon tree for $10. Everywhere else was like $20, at least. Oh, and we haggled the nursery man down for the tree! No shame here.

THE MOVIES
Frozen is sweeping the kid nation, taking top animation honors and making an obscene sinking pile of money. Tuesday was Frozen comes to DVD and Redbox day. Yes, I was one of those people who ran to get a copy.

First, I should tell you that I don’t do the movie theater anymore. I’ll do a dollar movie if my city has one but I just can’t do the molestation of a regular movie theater. I cringe. The prices!!! I’ll wait. I just love spending the money on Netflix and watching a whole series. Or, going to Redbox and getting my movie for $1.20 and then buying some popcorn, candy and a soda for under $5.

I will spend my money on a good Broadway play! Anyway . . .

I truly feel for parents who have to watch Frozen more than once. It was excruciating for me. It was 27 minutes in before Elsa is exposed as having super powers and the movie really could have started there. It was a real snooze fest before and then it picked up a little. Of course, when the snowman, Olaf, appears, the movie gets super cute but that’s 45 minutes in! The whole time I was thinking of other better movies I could be watching like, Toy Story, Cars or the Incredibles.

The movie was a bust. But, at least I found that out for $1.20 and not $8-10 dollars. Thank you, Redbox!

Other ways I save:
• I use reusable mason jars and recycled jars for freezing (Saves on baggies)
• Take an inventory of your food and make a list before you hit the grocery store
• Only buy what you need and will use (I’m probably guilty of breaking this one the most. Who needs 100 scrapbooking stickers?!)
• Try a recipe every once in a while but keep your meals simple~ “meat & vegetable.” We usually make a salad. I buy meat and vegetables that are on sale so that determines our menu.
• Of course, actually eat the food you buy. So many people don’t do this.
• Use a Brita filter pitcher and fill up a reusable glass. I used to keep a thin Brita pitcher in the frig at work and a giant one at home. It’s what I use to make my coffee and tea. My splurge is one liter of Smart Water a day but I will refill the bottle up a couple of times with the Brita throughout the day. If I’m saving money, I just use one of the numerous water bottles I have.

I’m off to pop some tags . . .