Monthly Archives: March 2009

Laid Off

I walked into my second job to get pulled into the General Manager’s Office.  I had been laid off.  He said it was for financial reasons.  I feel like a failure despite being told it had nothing to do with work performance.  I am also very sad.  It highlights a very sad fact in my work life.  I don’t talk to anyone in my full-time job.  I talk to them in the sense that I discuss whatever work related thing needs to be discussed but rarely any other small talk.  As much as one can consider co-workers friends,  I had found friends at my second job.  I had some women that I could ask opinions, knew bits about their personal life that I inquired after and generally had things to say to them.  And now those ‘friends’ have essentially disappeared without any preparation and hardly a goodbye to any of them.  I am unbelievably sad that what little support system I had is completely gone.  Hmm… that is a sad statement of my life….

So… apparently I now have plenty of time to do things I was thinking I could do if only I wasn’t so tired from working.  I am not sure how much of that I will be able to do as it is possible that money is now an issue.  I suspect we are back to – what we bring in basically equals what we spend.  My second job didn’t bring in a lot of money but it was a small cushion against life’s unexpectedness.   I will have to do a budget and see how careful we have to be.


Handmade Lotion

I did it!  I finally made some lotion for myself. 

Just to remind you of past events. Last year,  I bought some bar lotion.  This is a solid bar you rub on your skin to moisturize yourself.  I did this for two reasons: a) I wanted to reduce my plastic consumption and b) I wanted a natural lotion.  Liquid lotions have all kinds of junk in it to keep bacteria from growing and to keep the oil and water tied together.  The bar lotion was excellent and actually moisturized better than liquid commercial brands.  Early this year,  thinking that maybe going right to the natural ingredients might be even better than purchasing this relatively expensive lotion,  I bought some natural butters from a cosmetic ingredient distributor.  Ilipe tree butter was a bit too hard, cocoa butter was better but still not easily spreadable and the avocado butter was partially oil at room temperature.  I have been using the avocado butter every day.  It is working but the fact that is was more like a sticky paste/oil was not totally endearing it to me.  So a week ago, I read an article on how to make your own natural shaving cream.  One of the steps was to melt shea butter in a double boiler.  Hmm… does this mean I can simply melt my butters and combine them?  Can it be that easy?  Indeed, it IS that easy.

I got a pot and a stainless steel bowl that fit nicely into it.  I weighed out 2.5oz (roughly – I have a cheap scale) of ilipe tree butter and started it melting in the bowl.  When it was about 2/3rd melted, I added in about 2.5oz of cocoa butter. When that was melted, I added in the 3oz of avocado butter.  After it was all melted,  I poured it into two little individual yogurt containers that I pulled out of my Preserve5 recycling box.  I popped them into the freezer to resolidify.

Other than the fact that I upended one of the containers to shake it out before it was completely solidified, I would say the experiment was a complete success.  It did crack from hardening in the freezer.  I am not sure if that would have been prevented from slower hardening.  At room temperature, it has solidified into a malleable mass.  You can squeeze the block and it will move under the pressure but it is a solid.  This morning,  I took a chunk and rubbed in on my skin.  It melted like a dream… exactly how I was hoping the raw ingredients would work.  I am incredibly impressed that I managed to get a good consistency on my first try.  I was afraid that I might have to remelt and alter the percentages to get something decent.  I might try to get something a little harder next time by reducing the amount of avocado butter or maybe increasing the illipe tree butter.

When it goes on, it still smells strongly of cocoa butter.  If you remember,  I purchased prime pressed so 100% of the scent is in the butter.   I don’t mind this smell but Eduardo hates it.  It also has undertones of the illipe tree butter and after several hours I have to say that I can’t smell the cocoa butter.  I think I smell the illipe tree butter and maybe a hint of the avocados.  I don’t find it offensive.  I am investigating the possibility of adding some kind of essential oil to the mix.  I want to be very careful with this because I heard bad things can happen if you put in too much essential oil.

But there you go… 100% natural, handmade lotion for my use.  It was actually fun to make and I think I might like experimenting a bit with it.  It has made me wonder if perhaps I couldn’t start a little side business of making natural moisturizers.

I can’t make it any simpler

Before I start my post, I wanted to say that I think my cat’s right eye is getting better.  Sadly, her left eye is still stumbling along with redness and tearing.  I am hoping that I don’t have to go back to the vets.

I have started doing paper/cardboard and #5 Plastic recycling.  I started the paper recycling more than a month ago and the #5 recycling more recently.  Next to the living room garbage can (used for ‘dry’ garbage) is a cardboard box.  In that box goes all the newspapers, ads and other assorted paper like Piero’s drawings.  But instead of putting his paper in that box, Eduardo throws it into the garbage can.   Eduardo eats tapioca pudding in a little #5 plastic container.  I have asked him to dump it into the sink rather than in the garbage can under the sink.  If anything, this is actually easier to do because he doesn’t even need to open the cupboard door.  Can I get him to consistently put the plastic in the sink and the paper in the box?  Unfortunately not.  When I remind him, he grouches at me saying he doesn’t care.

We have significantly reduced the amount of garbage and recycling we throw out to the curb.  It is less than half.  I would prefer to not even recycle the ‘recycleable’ plastic because I have heard that if the market is soft, they simply throw it in the landfill.  To that end I have attempted to reduce our plastic intake.  #5 plastic is specifically recycled to a company that uses it to make toothbrushes.  I feel more confident that it won’t go into the landfill.  So what easy steps have I done to reduce the amount of garbage and recycle?

1.  Recycle paper/cardboard.  This likely accounts for half of our reduced garbage.
2. Use glass milk jugs.  I return them to Whole Foods for my deposit.  This eliminates those large plastic jugs and I just have to throw out a cap.
3. Use juice from concentrate rather than tetra paks or liquid in plastic containers.  That concentrate is a small bit of garbage in comparison.
5. Recycle all yogurt and tapioca containers for Preserve.
6. Buy in bulk.  Removes all plastic bags from lentils, rice, nuts and so on and so forth from our garbage.

In one week we filled up 1 medium kitchen trash bag of kitchen trash and 1.5 to 2 medium kitchen trash bags of recyclables and every 1 to 2 weeks we filled another  huge black garbage bag of paper and other assorted trash. Now?  Every week, we fill 1/2 of a medium kitchen trash bag of trash and 1 medium kitchen trash bag of recycles with that huge black garbage bag of assorted trash being filled maybe every 4 to 5 weeks.

We reduced our trash in half with very little effort on my part and zero effort on behalf of Eduardo’s.

How I started my weekend…

I went to the vet.  I came home Friday and upon looking at Timmie, I knew that I had to go the vets that very day.  Her eye was swelling up and she was doing significant tearing.  If I didn’t take her immediately,  I would either be paying for an emergency vet on Sunday or not getting her to the vet until Tuesday.  I am glad I went immediately because it seems as if the infection is moving to her left eye.  The vet said she looked as if she had an upper respiratory infection.  I started with medicating her right eye.  It seems to be looking a little better this morning but last night, I took it upon myself to start medicating her left eye also.  I hope I have enough medication for two eyes to last the 14 days it is supposed to last.   I also hope this resolves the issue as the vet already lightened my bank account sufficiently last Friday.

Another Most Embarrassing Moment

I haven’t had one of these in quite some time but let me tell you what happened last night.

Last night,  Eduardo decided he wanted to head to Shoppers and get some ice cream.  It was a lovely night out and we were going to eat ice cream and play a game on the balcony.  We headed to a Shoppers that I rarely shop at.  The Shoppers that I go to has 5 self-checkouts.  4 self-checkouts are on the same wide aisle.  Two have mini conveyor belts to put your items on and two don’t have anything.  One of each is on each side of the aisle.  This Shoppers has 3 checkouts.  Two checkouts set-up just the other Shoppers and the third checkout has a regular conveyor belt and is on the only checkout on that side.

So I walk up to the wide aisle.  On the left are the double checkouts.  One woman is almost done and would have been done in less than 5 minutes.  To the right is the single checkout.  I swear that I saw TWO poles with lights indicating two checkouts.  The woman on that side is not near what I think is the second checkout.  I walk by her and right up to the checkout and swipe my ice cream.  She makes some sound or does something.  I don’t remember what but I turn my head that way and lo and behold…. she is at the other end of the conveyor belt and NOT at a second checkout.  I turned BRIGHT, BRIGHT RED.  I had literally cut in line in front of this woman and started using the checkout while she was loading her items on the conveyor belt.  I seriously couldn’t have been more embarrassed if I had found out I went to the store without pants on.  She was really super nice about the whole thing and told me to just go ahead because I had a couple of items and already started.  I feel really lucky that I ran into her because she really could have been nasty over what looked like my incredible crassness.   Eduardo said there was no doubt that I was embarrassed because I clearly blushed bright red in embarrassment.  So hopefully that woman realized that I really did make an honest mistake – however stupid that mistake looked.

I still SWEAR that I thought I saw two poles indicating two checkouts.  I don’t know how I couldn’t have noticed that there was only one checkout.  Perhaps it was just habit?

Fundraising – Hispanic style

On Sunday,  we attended a fundraiser.  A friend of Eduardo’s lost her job.  She was a nanny looking after a little boy.  The mother lost their job and obviously couldn’t afford nor needed a nanny.  This is a very serious blow to their financial stability as her husband lost his job almost a year ago and has not been able to find sustainable work.  I don’t think anyone would consider delivering pizzas to be a good full-time job.  Perhaps it is and I am being a social snob of some type?  I can see it for extra income but not your main source of income.  I hope that one of them is able to find a job and quickly.

I gather the type of fundraising that we went to is popular in the Hispanic culture.  What happens is the person that needs money advertises to friends/family/whoever that they are raising funds.  They will provide a plate of food for a specific amount of money.  I think that we have gone to one of these through a Hispanic church.    In this case,  his friend was making Adobo for 10$ a plate.  You got a huge bowl of Adobo (like a spicy pork soup) with some bread and a drink.  In our case,  we went to their house and had a sit down lunch with them.  We got a lovely bowl of Adobo with some bread as well as a chaser of Anise liquor and some tea.  We also got a chance to spend some time with our friends.   We took home three containers of Adobo.  One for me, one for Eduardo and another for Kelly.  In total, we supported them for 50$.   I felt a little weird giving them the money so I left the whole money and take-home containers to Eduardo.  I was afraid of offending or embarrassing them by saying something that would be appropriate for me but inappropriate for them.

What is that light switch for?

When you enter my condo, you are confronted with a very long hall (12ft maybe?) with 2 lights in it.  The light switch for these lights is right by the door.  At the other end of the hallway is another light switch.  Raise your hand if you think this light switch would be for turning off the hall lights.  You would be wrong.

I too figured that the logical function of this non-functional switch would be to turn off the hall lights.  After all, it is at the end of the hallway.  When I moved in,  it didn’t function. A friend told me that if lights controlled by two switches didn’t function properly it was because the wiring was mixed up.  I let the light switch be until recently.  Eduardo is an electrician’s apprentice.  They are learning about wiring and such right?  So why not ask Eduardo to figure out what is wrong with the wiring and fix the light switch.  Then we could turn off the hall light from the living room end of the hallway.

So Saturday,  Eduardo plays with the wiring.  I come home from work and he tells me that he worked on the light switch.  Oooo… it works!  Oh yeah… it works all right.  Not only does it turn off the lights in the hallway, it turns off the kitchen lights, most likely all the kitchen electrical sockets,  the dining room lights, most likely the dining room electrical sockets, all living room sockets except where the computer is plugged in and the electrical socket on Eduardo’s side of the bed.  Luckily, we aren’t used to using this light switch so I don’t think we have to worry about accidentally flipping it off and on.  It will continue to be wall decoration.

And we are scratching our head on why someone would rig up a light switch like this.