Archive for July, 2012

Smoke-free…Finally!

I run for the finisher shirt and medal…yeah, kinda pathetic.

 

Today is my fifth anniversary as a nonsmoker.  After 25 plus years I never thought I’d ever quit; I LOVED SMOKING!  I loved the way it calmed my nerves.  Nothing went better with a cocktail than a menthol.  And what better way to pass the time on those long solo car trips.  But there came a time when I coughed constantly, leading to a never-ending headache, and I hated the way I smelled.  Not to mention the disapproving glares when you stood outside chasing a little breath.  So I knew I needed to quit, but how could I actually stay quit this time?

I never bought into the theory that smoking was a chemical addiction.  After all, I never knew of anyone who went through withdrawals after quitting.  What I did believe it to be is a habit.  I read somewhere that it takes thirty days to make something a habit, so I thought I should just train myself to have a different habit.  I selected my quit date thirty days out, July 27th of 2007; twenty days after my wedding.  I then sat down and made a list of all of the reasons why I wanted to quit smoking.  I was going to keep this list with me to look at before every smoke.  My top three were the smell, the coughing, and the physical after-effects.

I then set out to create my new habit.  Before every cigarette I read my list.  I took a few seconds to imagine what I was going to feel like after I smoked.  When I finished a cigarette I came inside, washed my hands, applied lotion, sprayed myself with fabric refresher, and chewed a piece of gum.  I did this every single time I had a cigarette.  This was extremely important, no skipping steps.  Now, let me just digress for a moment.  I worked in a hotel with a staff full of smokers.  Before they went outside they would stop in my office to see if I wanted to join them.  They were ruthless and heartless about my quitting and made sure to taunt me at every possible opportunity.

As I got closer to my quit date, I wanted the actual cigarette less and less.  When I got to the 27th I maintained my routine—my new habit–except I skipped the part about smoking a cigarette.  I read my list, concentrated on how I would feel physically if I did smoke, then washed my hands, put on lotion, sprayed fabric refresher, and chewed a piece of gum.  I didn’t even miss the cigarette!  When my staff would come in my office to goad me, I focused on my list of reasons why I could not go outside with them.  When they came in I pointed out how bad they smelled.  It didn’t take long for them to stop teasing me.

It was important to find things to do with my hands other than smoking.  I bought a toy called a Tangle at a discount store.  It’s a bunch of long plastic ‘beads’ that you can rearrange and manipulate into different shapes.  That did wonders, especially when driving!  I snacked on licorice, carrot sticks, and celery.  I started doing crocheting and yarn crafts to fill the extra time that was now literally on my hands.  Anyone can quit.  Make a list, set your routine for your new habit, and focus on your date.  The best thing I did was buy a pair of running shoes.  Four half marathons later I’m not looking back.

 

 

 

How much sharing is too much?

Recently while I was doing some research on our new “Sharing Economy” I stumbled on a video of a CEO discussing a carpooling company.  Her concept and rapid expansion of this company is impressive.  However, during the video she issues a call to action for more expansive sharing in the form of couch-surfing or room renting to reduce excess supply.  This got me thinking, how much sharing is too much?

There are several websites that you can utilize to book rooms around the world.  The rooms on these particular websites are not in actual lodging facilities, they’re in people’s houses.  I’m not sure how you feel, but this has me perplexed for numerous reasons.  First of all, how safe can this be?!  Who’s to say a previous guest isn’t going to return with a copy of a key.  Or maybe the landlord or renter is of questionable character.  There’s a case in California where a woman’s home was vandalized and burglarized when she rented it out.  All they left behind was a selection of meth pipes.  For all she knew, they could have spent the week cooking it there.  What is it they say about hindsight?  Exactly.

Secondly, there’s the issue of legality.  In most cities it is illegal for a resident to rent out a dwelling or portion thereof without proper licensing and inspections.  As one of our members pointed out, many of us are up to our eyeballs in taxes and fees and we don’t need more.  That point of view is understandable, and I’m not looking for more government involvement in our lives, but surely there should be at least some kind of control.  I’m all for sharing, I personally love having a house full of guests, but at what threshold does a couch-surfing house turn into a hotel or bed and breakfast?  And not to say that every inspected/licensed facility is perfect, but shouldn’t a guest in these sharing-rentals have the same expectation of safety and security?

I’ve really only just begun my investigative journey into this section of the sharing economy.  Overall I like the sharing concept—yes; I’m kind of a Pollyanna.  Carpooling is great.  Upcycling and passing on clothes or household items is fabulous.  But this jury is still out on couch-surfing and sharing spaces until I get more information.  Do you have any thoughts or experience with this topic?  I’d love to hear about it.  Until then I have to run; I have a house full of guests for the weekend.  Here’s one way to feed them.  Enjoy!

Rocket’s Breakfast Pizza Bake

3-4 good size brat/steak buns

½ stick butter/margarine melted

1T minced garlic

1 T parmesan cheese

Rough-chop the buns and toss with remaining ingredients.  Spray or grease a 9 X 13 pan well.  Add the bread mixture and set aside.

1 lb Italian sausage browned

Handful of pepperoni chopped

1 C pizza sauce

Mix the sausage, pepperoni, and sauce together and spread over the bread evenly.

9 eggs*

½ onion (or green onion) diced

½ green/red pepper diced

1 small can black olives sliced and drained (optional)

1 Roma tomato diced

1 small can mushrooms sliced and drained (optional)

1 T Italian seasoning

1 T minced garlic

Salt/pepper to taste

In a large bowl, beat the eggs well and add all of the remaining ingredients.  Pour egg mixture over the pan evenly.  Top with 2 Cups “pizza” cheese or any combination of mozzarella/cheddar, etc.  Cover with a lid or foil and rest overnight in the refrigerator.  In the morning, keep covered and bake at 350° for fifty minutes.  Uncover the pan and bake it for ten more minutes to brown the cheese.  Let the pan rest five minutes before cutting.  Yes it is like torture; but you will be rewarded!

* If you want a more “egg bake” type of dish, use one dozen eggs.  It will make the crust layer more quiche-like than crust-like.  You can add whatever pizza toppings you like to the egg layer.Image

What’s That Smell?

 

Recently I was a victim of olfactory assault while grocery shopping.  I don’t have any allergies or sensitivities to perfumes or chemicals, but something in this woman’s perfume was sending me reeling!  I quickly put my hand over my nose and mouth and made a bee-line for the cool comfort of the dairy section.  Rarely do I have such a strong gag reflex to scent; but this was a doozy.  Which then got me thinking, what would life be like with a scent allergy?

I hopped online, as any inquisitive person would, and did a little research.  There are blogs and blogs and websites devoted to this very topic.  Huh, I was just drifting along in my little sweetly-scented world and these people are really suffering.  Then I remembered back to a conversation I had with one of our Fresh Air Lodging members, Solglimt Bed and Breakfast.  They are a scent-free B & B.  No foo-foo, candles, electric misters, etc, just fresh and clean.  And this is done for a reason; clearly, they are a haven for scent sufferers.

With thousands of different fragrances in the world, many have found their way into our cleaning and laundry products.  Since what is wonderful to some may be migraine-inducing or worse to another, many hotels are taking steps to eliminate those heavily scented products, replacing them with a more natural, but still equally effective cleaner as Solglimt has.  The only mild ‘artificial’ smell you’ll detect there is the peppermint oil they use for the floors.  Sounds pretty soothing!

I did a little more poking around and found some ideas if you are interested in taking steps toward greening your cleaning at home or at your office.

  • Instead of using paper towels for wiping up spills or dusting, use a reusable washable microfiber cloth.
  • When using spray bottles opt for non-aerosol whenever possible and spray it on the cloth instead of the surface to be cleaned.  You’ll use less this way.
  • If you have the option to collect rain water, do it!  It’s great for watering gardens and houseplants—and plants are great for healthy indoor air.
  • In the kitchen, stick to traditional mops instead of disposable single-use cloths, thus reducing waste.

Now, I don’t think I personally am ready to jettison all the fragrance from my house.  I love the way my laundry smells; and few things make me feel as good as the lingering scent of lemon Pine-Sol after scrubbing the floors.  But then no one in my house has a sensitive snout.  And if I have a guest heading north who can’t tolerate lemony freshness…well, I guess I’ll send them to Solglimt.

Crazy About Cabins

This week my husband and I had the great privilege of spending the holiday with some friends at their cabin.  We got to take part in a tradition they started ten years ago for the Independence Day celebration.  Their son and daughter each invite about a dozen friends.  I don’t know which part is more fun, enjoying the sun and the lake or watching what unfolds when twenty plus twenty-somethings get together.

It really is quite organized.  I suppose ten years of doing something gives you a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t.  “The Kids” as we affectionately call the collective, straggle in over the course of a few days.  They each contribute ten dollars a day for food.  Our friends then shop and prepare meals and make sure everyone gets something to eat.  The kids bring air mattresses to sleep on in the basement.  When you stand at the top of the steps above the sea of plastic, it looks like one giant bounce house where the floor used to be.  It is definitely cats and dogs living together.

“The Geezers” as we are lovingly called, have the responsibility of keeping a watchful eye over the group.  It means random head counts and making sure people have sunscreen.  We help locate lost articles of clothing/sunglasses and make sure everyone knows the location of the latrine.  When things break we try to fix them, and keep people hydrated while they’re drifting on floaties in the lake.  It’s not a bad gig if you can get it.

These are the types of vacations we like to take.  Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I have had some fantastic trips that involved hotels of all kinds.  But after working for decades in hotels, we also like to spend our time off in other lodging like cabins or tents.  I never thought I’d grow up to be a camper; my idea of roughing it was a hotel with no room service.  However, cabin rental or lake homes are a great way for families or groups to get together for a vacation and not spend an arm and a leg.

In the Midwest there are a number of resources through which you can rent cabins.  If you are looking for a vacation home to purchase, this would be a great way to find out if you like that particular lake.  You can also check out the dynamics of the area.  You’ll want to know if it’s mostly families who spend time there or if it is more rentals–which may be noisier.  Or maybe you just want to experience a number of different lakes in a particular area.  These trips are great if you have some in your group who want to spend all their time on the water and some who are content to read in the shade on the deck.  There’s definitely something for everyone.

My best advice to you; plan a menu, designate a shopper and a cook.  One person keeps track of finances and the group splits the costs.  It’s much easier than everyone doing their own thing.  Agree on the type of food up front–paying attention to any allergies or special restrictions.  Make sure you have snacks for “The Kids”; and jugs of water in case the well is not good for drinking.  Don’t forget games for rainy days, a sense of humor, and plenty of coffee for “The Geezers”.