The Girl in the Gatehouse

So I got myself hooked into a romance novel. Here and there I’ll read a romance novel if it catches my attention.  I don’t know exactly why The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen caught it but I’m happy that it did.  Embarassed to admit it but I devoured this book in one evening.  Couldn’t stop reading – helped that I wasn’t feeling good and sleep was evading me.

I rather enjoyed this book.  I really liked Miss Aubrey as she was interesting and kind.  I really loved how she didn’t mope about drolling on about her losses.  She was likeable, she had talents, she was nice to her servants.  The captain was also very likeable and I enjoyed the other characters as well.  as far as her scandal goes?  even though it wasn’t “fair” she handled it well – not passing off blame though she could have, not whining, not acting the victim.

Here is the book’s description.
Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative’s estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how–by writing novels in secret.
Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made. When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past.
But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans. The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?

It’s finally over! – part 2

Friday morning my neighbor and I headed outside bright and early.  The mountain of items from my home and the hill from hers was pulled out and displayed as best as we could onto tables.  Open totes with more items rested underneath the tables.  Hundreds of books waited for some new reader to take them home.  I was slightly embarrassed and immensely relieved to see all of my clutter out on the lawn.

Sales were steady throughout the day.  My daughter enjoyed playing outside – I realized Friday would have been the perfect day for her lemonade stand but I had told her only one day and we chose Saturday.  At the end of a relatively successful first day we pulled inside anything we’d be upset if it were stolen.  To make set up easier in the morning we toted up everything by table and then slid the tote under the table where the items were displayed.  The table with the massive amount of glass items and knick knacks was covered with a tarp and considered good.  Books were toted up and left on the lawn.  Clothes and toys were stacked under the canopy and the canopy was dropped down.

Set up in the morning was mostly a breeze – much quicker and as far as we could tell nothing had been stolen.  I offered deep discounts on everything.  I started bag sales at 11.  I gave free items with every purchase.  When I felt like being done I carefully looked through the items remaining and pulled out a few items to set aside and then offered out the rest for free.  I reassessed the items I pulled out and decided I really needed them them and offered more for free.  By the time I went in for the evening we were down to four tables.  By morning we were down to two tables and then one.

Today I had one car load of items to take to the Salvation Army.  I have a small tote of books to donate to my work.  I have one small tote of items to try to sell and one small tote of race car tracks that I may or may not try to sell.  Amazingly enough I have a large stack of empty totes outside that used to be full of stuff.  I have a mostly empty shed.  Oddly enough my home is a mess but I should be able to pull it together.

So, what was I able to puchase with my yard sale gains?  I’d imagine you’d be surprised considering I gave away so much for free or for super cheap.   We bought the Keurig Elite, the reusable coffee filter and a box of Donut Shop K-cups.  House full of clutter replaced by a beautiful coffee maker.    I’d say I got the best deal of the weekend.  A bigger home and an awesome Keurig.

What really amazed me was how much my daughter made at the end of the two days.  She wanted an ereader.  I really thought I’d be putting money towards this for her.  She ended the second day with over $90.  Tote after tote after tote of toys, books and clothes gone replaced by an ereader that she hasn’t set down.  She bought it in blue from Walmart – an Ematic ereader for $50.  Which meant she had extra money to buy the batteries she wanted for other items.  She was even able to put money into her savings.

At the end of the sale I gave her the opportunity to take any one item back into the house.  She asked if it had to be hers and I said no.  She looked carefully through everything and picked out a toy belonging to the neighbor.  I had her pay for it and reasked if there was anything of hers.  She said no which surprised me and said that I could give everything else away.

It’s finally over! – Part 1

Saturday, July 7 was supposed to be it – the final yard sale of the summer.  I knew there were problems when it was 8:45am and still not a customer in sight.  We’ve always gotten the early birds and I never turn them away – I see it as a sign of good fortune.  I know people are coming.  But not on this day.  It was my first multi-family yard sale as I went in on it with my neighbor.  By noon we had less than 12 people stop by and I had $27.  Subtract the $20 I paid for the newspaper ad and that left me with $7.  The newspaper made more off of my sale than I did.

A shopper said, “Aren’t you worried about the storm?”  We had looked at the weather online and it was supposed to just miss us.  5 minutes after she said that big, fat raindrops fell furiously to the ground.  I quickly sent my daughter inside to get my husband while my neighbor and I quickly bagged and boxed everything we could.  Many miserable minutes later everything was safety under the canopy or quickly shoved into sheds and our homes.  The yard sale was a mess and mostly a failure.

We all agreed that we didn’t want to take the stuff back inside but were unsure what to do with all of the stuff.  It didn’t feel right to me to donate everything as we were soo far away from any sort of goals we had set, my daughter made about $5 which definately was not enough for her e-reader goals.  It would have taken multiple trips to the Salvation Army using a truck to get it all over there.  My neighbor joked that we could have a big bon-fire.  I chuckled but fears of burning down my home accidently made it not very funny.  I decided that with my upcoming mini vacation that I would hold another sale on Friday and Saturday.  I was reminded that both my neighbor and my husband worked so I would be alone for the Saturday sale but I stated that I would be fine and that I didn’t want to have to transport everything.

We took the more valuable items inside, dropped the canopy down and crossed our fingers that nothing got stolen while we waiting until Friday for better luck.

On a positive note it gave me more time to unclutter and we managed to have a game night which was lots of fun.  All in all it was a pretty positive experiance for me.

Oh – by the way – I am now writing this as I sit on my comfy couch in the family room!  This room is bigger and better and all I needed to do was get rid of tons of stuff:)

Allergies and Deficiencies

To say that I’m frustrated is the understatement of the year.  I really struggle with my vitamin D levels.  When my vitamin D is low (when I don’t take supplements) my fibromyalgia is terrible.  I suffer from all over muscular/ skeletal pain and all over feelings of malaise.  Months ago I learned that vitamin D3 is made out of lanolin.  I’m allergic to lanolin – hives, welts, etc.  Since I’ve started taking the supplements the majority of the pain is gone however I have other ongoing problems that I can only imagine is from ingesting something that is poisonous to me – headaches, nausea, sore throat, itchy skin.

Fish oil and exposure to the sun is equally problematic to me because both make me very sick as well.  Today I found a vegan Vitamin D3 online at so I ordered them.

Nature’S Plus Source Of Life Garden Vitamin D3 – 60 – Veg/Cap

It’s made out of mushrooms which are disgusting but i don’t believe are something that I am allergic to so here’s hoping!

My Bookshelf

So this is what I’ve noticed.  I’ve been paring down my books since my husband gave me my ereader.  Books that made the cut last yard sale weren’t so lucky today.  I pulled everything off the shelves and took a good long look at each book.  I had to really ask myself if I would ever read or use the book.  I then had to ask myself if my daughter would ever read or use the book.  I forced myself to be honest with myself and some of my “favorites” are just dust collectors.  Many more cookbooks landed into the yard sale box.  A handful of parenting books and self-help books landed in the box.  Most of my case worker books are in the box.  I figured if I don’t know how to be a case worker by now then I’m definitely in the wrong field.  My life skills books that I swore I’d never part with are in the box.  I simply don’t use them enough to justify the space they take up on my shelf.  I’m hoping someone who will put them to good use will find them.

I have about 8 books that I’m undecided on.  Most were recently purchased but I haven’t read them yet.  I have them in a pile on the book shelf so that once I read them I can either pass them along or add them to the keep shelf.  I may need to pick a date and if I haven’t started any of them I may as well part with them.

You know what’s strange?  My hoarding part of my brain is starting to flare up big time.  I think the purging is starting to trigger it.  It’s especially bad with the books.  I rarely crack open a cook book.  I either cook what I know or look it up online.  I rarely use a craft or activity book unless it’s colorful and illustrated.  Typically I go online for ideas.  I’ve been switching out my favorite physical copies of books for digital copies to free up more room plus I enjoy reading them more on the ereader.  Here’s where the hoarding monster comes in – disaster, survivalist scenarios in where there’s no way to recharge my laptop or ereader.  with no electricity I will lose all my books and have nothing to read.  Writing it out makes it seem even more ridiculous because if there were a catastrophe I would unlikely be reading but trying to survive and two, if there were a major disaster I doubt that I would last long considering my cardio skills suck.  If there were a zombie outbreak I’d be the tasty treat or the fat girl who trips and falls and gives the fitter people in my group an extra few moments to get away.

Here’s a sore spot – my bookshelf is fairly clear and has some open space.  my family sees this as a drop spot.  I need to create a habit of boomeranging their items from my space or shared spaces to their spaces.  This rings especially true for my daughter.

We always work better when we have goals in mind so today my husband and I came up with our wish list.  These are expensive items that we need/ want so I wrote them down so that I stop wasting money on items not on this list.  We can’t afford to take on new debt so we are left with the following options to pay for the following list – we can sell our clutter/ excess possessions, we can cut back on our spending to include food purchases, we can find alternative ways to increase our income (try to sell my husband’s jewelry he makes on etsy/ try to sell more of our photos and graphic designs on cafepress) and reevaluate the list periodically to see if these items are still important to us down the line.

Here’s our list – the first one is our top priority right now due to problems with our current vehicle.

  • A car – I definitely need something more fuel-efficient and something smaller than what we are currently using.  A car would use up less gas than our jeep and the tires will be cheaper when we need to replace them.
  • Fix the Jeep – tires, a windshield plus some other things needed.  Once we get the car the Jeep will be the back up vehicle.  We were going to try selling the Jeep but if there is an emergency with my daughter and I’m at work it could take an hour or more for me to get home (40 miles from home to office).  some of my visits are much further away.
  • Fix the external hard drive –  the larger dog we used to have knocked this on the ground and broke it.  It’ll cost about $2000 to recover our photos off of this.  about 7 years of photos that we are hoping are recoverable.
  • Upgrade camera – my husband and I are hobbyist photographers.  He wants to be a professional photographer but we just aren’t there.  Tonight we discussed what we needed to do to become better photographers.  We need to practice, practice and practice some more.  We are not as good as we used to be.  I haven’t taken the time to learn my new camera (my camera recently broke and we had to replace it).  I can tell you this much though – it’s way too slow and works lousy in low lighting.  It seems like my husband has gotten sloppy with his work.  The lighting is off, the posing is off, angles are bad.  We also should upgrade both of our cameras but we need to at least upgrade mine.
  • Upgrade photography equipment – some filters, a new flash, etc.
  • Another AC unit.  It’s so hot and our window unit in the living room is just not enough anymore.  My husband really wants one for the bedroom since he’s been struggling with sleeping due to the heat.
  • Paint the walls in the house.

I also thought it would be helpful to write down how I want to be spending my time so that when I’m trying to declutter I can see if it fits into my categories.

How I want to spend my free time

  • Working on adding designs to cafepress
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Gardening

This list came rather quickly to me and there were a few things that surprised me.  Gardening came without hesitation which means my OCD exercises are working.  Gardening would not have come anywhere near this list this time last year.  That area of OCD is weakening and I am getting stronger.  Three of my four activites are solo activites.  I went to write down “playing games” but the urge really isn’t there.  I’ll play if my husband or my daughter asks me to but it’s not as strong as it used to be.  Arts and crafts are no longer on this list.  I think it was my fantasy self who liked these activities – the person who I wanted to be but not who I actually am.  I really just want some time to myself, to read, think, process and write.  I want to have outings with my husband and daughter, eat meals together, spend some time talking together but I need time alone as well.