Saturday, January 17, 2015

Thoughts on January so Far

Even though you're growing up, you should never stop having fun.
Nina Dobrev
(Bulgarian-Canadian actress)

Hi friends,

I've had a very busy few weeks and yet I've been feeling oh so tired. In some ways I've got a lot done and in other ways not.

Each year I find the months between November and end of February hard to take and especially January and February. I live in a place where we get so little sunshine over that period and by January I am really feeling it. This year I think more so than usual.

These kinds of days are still a few months away.

I've already done a lot of reading this month since I haven't been up for a lot more.

Here is a good book if you are interested in adventure to other lands or if you have an interest in elephants.

I've also done a lot of organizing in terms of setting myself up with things I need to move forward in the coming months: a stash of material to make a few items for my mother, a summer wardrobe that I've been pulling together over the last few months (almost done), a few additions to the winter wardrobe and replenishing linens and towels. It feels good to get these things out of the way. Bit by bit I've been also making my way through the house getting things tidied. I've got bigger ideas for moving things around but that will take a bit more time.

I found I haven't been sleeping well at all this month and my body really feels it. Then I started taking Vitamin D3. I don't know if that helps with sleep at all but since we don't get a lot of sunshine for many months where I live, I know supplementation is a must.  I think it is working already. After just a few days supplementation, I got the urge to start cleaning my kitchen cabinets and reorganizing them. Trust me, this is a job I don't like doing.  It is very hard to reach deep into and even to see into the backs of these cabinets. So as you can imagine, it is a job that very much needs doing and one has to feel like doing it. I'm glad I'm feeling like it now so I don't waste the sunny days to come with cleaning the cabinets, lol. Here is a link to read more about Vitamin D3 supplementation in case you might need it too.

I was inspired by seeing some videos of young women who totally organize their homes (I thought I was organized).  Seriously, I personally think people have too much stuff (myself included). Since I travelled to Africa many years ago now and experienced just how little so many people have, I've learned that we really don't need that much to live on a day to day basis. Food, shelter and a few garments are the key things besides family and friends. 

Over the ensuing years since my first visit to Africa, I determined that I needed to downsize my "stuff" and have been doing so bit by bit.  I do have to buy and replace things when they break or get worn out.  Add that to "stuff" I see and think it will help me organize or I can use it in a new recipe, and so on , and it does make it a bit more challenging to get to a good point of balance with "stuff".  I keep trying.  Knitting supplies and fabrics and all the tools required to make anything with these materials are what I tend to spend on besides food and household related items.  Yarn and fabric are  things I need to buy new if I want to make things.  (I gave up on buying used yarns because of the problems of not having enough to make any real projects I wanted.  Now I buy new yarns and fabrics on sale as much as possible.  It can take up quite a lot of time to build up the yarn stash and yet it still takes so much room to store until you have enough to start working with. I truly don't have space so I've had to purchase some baskets and try to limit myself to the colour batches I am going to use in future.  The challenge is to use these things and not just let them become clutter.  Some of you will remember that I also inherited a lot of fabric and craft items from my mom when she moved into care.  Though I did get rid of a lot, I still have a lot that I kept.  All the medical type equipment takes all the space in my downstairs storage unit and then some. I also have many of her papers and my dearly departed sister's papers and personal mementos too. I hope to give a lot of this to her son when he is settled down post education years.

Though I am fairly organized I do still have areas of too much clutter. It happens easily in a small home when you have a number of different collections, and if, like me you are keeping things that belong to others.  I need to keep better organized in some areas.  One area that needs a better set up is in my kitchen with spices and canned and dried goods.  I don't have a pantry or a closet or garage where I could store food.  So I have no choice but to make the best use of one awkwardly placed and shaped kitchen cabinet. It is the only real place I have to store food.

If I had a pantry like the one in this video  I would have no issues with keeping my kitchen tidy.  The woman in the video  is an organizational expert and has lots of wonderful ideas. However she has so much space in her house that very little of what she does can apply to someone in a small space like me. I can still learn a little from her and from some others on youtube and see how I can use the ideas in a more modest way. Virtually everyone who has a video on youtube to organize small kitchens has far more cabinets than I do, and a pantry to boot. Alternatively they are living in a pied a terre and I don't fit into either of those categories.

I went to Dollarama Friday and bought several containers.  I don't know exactly how many I might need so for now I bought 4 large and 4 medium and I think I am going to need at least 4 more medium containers.  That is probably all that will fit into my cabinet anyway along with the canned goods.  I may also purchase some fabric "boxes" to put a lot of my canned goods.  Some of the cans are currently "hiding" underneath a stand alone cabinet in my kitchen. If I put them in neat little boxes they perhaps go above the cabinets.  It is warm up there so they probably wouldn't last so long but this will accomplish two things:  using them up more quickly and  putting an end to my stock piling.  The meal planning I started recently is going to help a lot with both of these goals. 

I also spent time the other night re-arranging other kitchen cabinets so I can ultimately clear more of the counter space.  It is very difficult to do since I have so cabinet and counter space overall but every little bit of improvement helps.  I  moved my coffee pot closer to the kitchen sink where I can easily dump the grounds into the garburator without dripping on the floor. 

Starting in February all grounds and food scraps need to go to the common compost for pick up by the city each week. This is a new rule of the City Council to help conserve the environment. I totally agree with the change but it is expensive proposition for the City.  Taxes go up when things get expensive and there is the problem of rodents if the garbage is not picked up often enough.  I guess what I'm saying is I'm not really sure how sustainable this program will be. I read recently that another municipality in the area started garbage compost collection twice a week.  They've already had to reduce compost pick up to once a week when they realized how expensive it going to be.

Soon our City Council and provincial  government also want to have us vote on building yet another skytrain (above ground remotely operated trains). This again means more tax hikes and we've just paid for a new skytrain on another route and and all the other structural upgrades for the recent winter Olympics.  We've also just paid for significant highway construction and upgrades.  I am just not feeling up to paying for yet another skytrain though I really would like one. Increases to strata fees and special building levies come for me like clockwork every winter and so it is a lot to contend with when it all happens in a short space of time. It will be interesting to see if the property owners of Vancouver vote for or against the new skytrain because I know pretty much everyone would like one despite the cost.

The good news is my pension is indexed so I got an increase this month. The bad news is the cost of everything has gone up and there is more to come. In these kind of circumstances where I feel pressed, I do everything I can to remind myself just how blessed I truly am and I am grateful to have a small raise which I know many people do not get.

I'm going into my 2nd week with the menu planning. I have to say it is working out very well and I'm enjoying it so far. I also noticed that my blood glucose levels have already improved and rather than worrying about them getting too high, I have to watch that they don't go too low. Getting too low is more scary to me than getting too high though high blood glucose over the longer term is definitely not good. When I go too low I end up eating stuff that isn't too healthy just to bring my blood glucose back up.  I'm sure that as I continue I will find a happy medium for just the right way to eat. I am pleased with myself and think I've found a new tool to help manage my diabetes.

I started the weekend shopping for containers for dry goods. Saturday I shop for fabric to make mom a skirt.  I will also take in the new movie "Selma" about civil rights leader Martin Luther King. Sunday is fellowship  and I look forward to seeing friendly faces at church. In between I'm doing a lot of things that most of you have to deal with every day as well: cooking, cleaning, catching up with correspondence and telephone calls. I don't have any social planned for tomorrow like I often do. I feel like taking in a movie on my own because I have errands to run afterward. I just find it easier that way.

My post started with a quote about having fun. Sometimes I need to remind myself to have fun especially when I'm feeling tired and a bit down because of constant gray skies. Today I made my own fun. While I made dinner I listened to music in my kitchen using my phone and mini-speakers. This is so simple and something I never do though I know a lot of people do.  I'm hoping to listen to music in the kitchen more often. Mostly I listen when I am sitting at my desktop with the headphones on.  I may need different mini-speakers because the ones I have don't have very good volume. Or perhaps I can simply dig out my small radio from the emergency kit I've prepared and listen to the radio.

Tomorrow I will have fun getting out and about and seeing a movie. I'll also feel like I've accomplished something when I get the fabric for mom's skirt. Next I have to make a sewing day later this week as I now have 3 full slips and one long skirt to make.

Whatever your plans are, I hope you too have fun. Before I know it the winter here will be coming to an end.


  1. Hi Penny, I'm sorry you're been so tired, yet I can relate. At the moment (and you're one of the few who knows why) I have highs - and then I dip down low. I've also been "forced" to declutter and get rid of most of the stuff I've accumulated in Tanzania. Meanwhile MIL had blood pressure issues this week, Rina took her to our state clinic and she now has medication. She tells Rina she feels dizzy after taking the BP tablets; when I phone she says she is FINE. I'm at my wits end with her during this period of my life. Your prayers are always appreciated, my friend. Have a good day. Blessings. Jo

  2. Hi dear Jo, I will surely be praying for you and for your dear MIL. I know how health issues of our loved ones can be so concerning. Big hugs. xx

  3. So much going on and things to do. I am constantly trying to be organized, and fail miserably sometimes. And you are right we do have so much stuff. With Little Buddy living here our stuff level has skyrocketed.
    Hugs to you and take good care of yourself.

    1. Hi Meredith, yes there is always lots going on especially at the first quarter of each year. I know what you mean about constantly trying to be organized. When I see the photos of your home it looks very uncluttered. It helps to have large rooms I think as long as one keeps things contained. I know children and elderly people seem to have a lot of extra stuff. Hugs to you too. xx

  4. You have been busy considering your a bit tired,I take my hat off to you! :-)

    These months can drag on I find, but it is also a great time to do things in the home so that when the warmer weather arrives we are ready to be outside. For myself,I want to get those inside jobs accomplished so I don't feel guilty playing in the nice weather.

    Our family lived in Canada for many years, my husband is Canadian, and yet he was the one who struggled with those gray, dull, cloudy days.
    He would become some what depressed and never knew why, then realized it was just the weather. We need sun, don't we?

    I hope all your organizing goes well for you.

    Blessings, Debbie

    1. Hello Debbie, thank you for your kind words. I'm starting to realize that many people suffer from winter blues due to cold weather and in my case lack of sunlight or bright days. I agree that energy permitting it is a great idea to do inside jobs over the winter so one can enjoy the warm and sunny months outside when they do arrive. That's what I'm working toward now.

      I wonder if your husband is from eastern or western Canada since most of Canada does get a lot of sunshine where they also get a lot of snow.

      Thank you so much for your visit and have a wonderful blessed week. xx

  5. I've been having problems in the winter months for quite a few years. My doctor finally ran a test to see if I was low in Vit D and also Vit. B12. I was very low in both. What a difference it made to get those levels back up. I started having problems with sleeping this winter too but have figured out that I'm not relaxing enough in the evenings. Since I changed my evening pattern I have been sleeping better. Hope you find an answer to these problems.

    1. Hi Georgene, I too have had this problem for some years but this year it seems to go on and on. Usually I have it off and on not day after day. I started the Vit. D3 and I think it is helping. A friend recently told me about B12 so I should add back my B complex which I haven't taken for years. Thanks for your encouragement and I know that relaxation and sleep is something else I need to work on. Blessings. xx

  6. Hi Joyful, What a great post. I certainly admire your sense of organization. From what I’ve read over the last few years, as we get older one of the best things we can do to improve our lives is to downsize and get rid of clutter and excess possessions that actually become more of a burden than a blessing. Our culture (even more so here in the USA) is based largely on consumption, the more the better, or so it seems. I’m now working on downsizing and reading about your efforts in this regard are encouraging to me. I’m glad you mentioned collecting … you will know that I’m quite bad at that. : - ) I’m trying to scan as much of the paper collection into my computer and then either donate, discard, or sell the paper. Actually, I find that I can often enjoy the collection more by looking at it on my computer, where I can enlarge it easily, better than looking at the physical item itself. Now, getting to the dark days … I think I mentioned once before that in some ways I tend to thrive on the dark during the winter. Well, the thing is, I feel much more encouraged to sit in here working on my computer, for example, than I do when it is sunny and pretty outside … then I get nervous and feel like I need to be out there. : - ) Still, I understand completely how darkness can get folks down. I like your thoughts about Vitamin B3. Yes, I’m going to give it a try. Anything that might give me more energy … I’ll give it a try! Now, getting around to recycling (wow, you covered a lot in this post!) … yes, Seattle is getting more adamant about how we recycle and especially using the compost method. The “Sanitary Engineers” (aka garbage persons) say they will not become “garbage cops” … but it seems we may be on the starting edge of that. Lastly … will you give us an update on how you are doing with your walks? Are you still getting out there and enjoying or has the darkness hindered that activity? Wishing you a fine week ahead. Will look forward to your thoughts about Selma. John PS Beautiful shot of the geranium!

  7. Hi Joyful! I take vitamin D myself. I had my blood tested at the doctors, and it turned out that I was deficient. I was on prescription D for a while, and now take a maintenance dose over the counter. It's important!
    All you organizing sounds like the perfect thing to do when it's not very nice outside. There is nothing more satisfying than looking into a cabinet that is finally rearranged. And I love getting new linens! Sometimes those towels just don't soak up the water anymore, and get threadbare. Thats a fun 'pick me up' too.
    Wishing you a sunny day or two!

  8. January and February can be tough months. My problem is being unable to be outside very much because of the extremely cold temperatures in Minnesota and then I get what we call "cabin fever". It is a good time to organize and clean out, though, and it sounds like you are making good progress on that. I take vitamin D also as I know I can't possibly get enough of it in the climate I live in.


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