15 things that irk the hell out of me

Today is one of those days. Everything seems to be annoying to me today. Here’s a list of some things that annoy me. Maybe purging the list in the blog will let me attend the rest of the day in a better mood.
SPAM

  1. crumbs in the margarine
  2. Twitter is acting up yet again today.
  3. people who pronounce schedule SHED-ool rather than SKEJ-ool. Yes both are correct but the first one irks the hell out of me.
  4. bumper stickers. They just aren’t funny.
  5. canned meat. Any meat product that requires a key or a pull tab to access is just unnatural.
  6. pantyhose
  7. that one of my cats manages to throw up in my left slipper at least one night a week
  8. wire hangers from the dry cleaner
  9. that the last 3 “organic” and “green” items I purchased at the grocery store had more packaging (thus creating more trash) than their non-organic or non-green counterparts did.
  10. people with unnaturally white teeth. I find them creepy and untrustworthy. Plus it reminds me of a certain Friends episode and really… wouldn’t we all be better off without that?
  11. remakes of great songs. Or even mediocre songs. Did Alanis Morrisette add anything to Seal’s Crazy in her cover of it??
  12. speaking of remakes… Starsky & Hutch? Charlie’s Angels? The Duke of Hazzard? Was this really necessary?
  13. forwarded emails that have been forwarded twelve times without any of the headers removed
  14. Survivor. Enough already.
  15. Lists that don’t divide equally by 5

What’s annoying you today?

5 Easy Ways to Reduce Packing Stress When Moving

While preparing to move for the first time in nearly 12 years I realized that there are many easy ways to cut down the mountain of possessions I own to a more manageable molehill. I figure the less I have to actually pack and move the less stress the process of moving will be.

The last time I moved I wasn’t prepared. I packed everything and anything I owned, including items I hadn’t used in years. This time, I’m moving from a 2 story house into a small 2 bedroom apartment. There’s no way I can bring everything with me so it’s time to declutter.

1. Ebay – Going room by room I’ve made a list of items I feel I could sell on ebay quickly and easily.

2. Craigslist – some items such as appliances, furniture, etc. are just too large to consider selling on ebay. These items and many others will be listed on craigslist. I think I’ll even list some items of clothing (suede jackets, pants, dresses, shoes, etc.) on craigslist as well. I’d rather purge the old than pack it and have it cluttering up the back of the closets at the apartment.

3. Freecycle – There are always a few items that you have around that you figure you’d rather just give away and get them out of the way rather than hope to make a few pennies from selling. Freecycle is a great resource to help keep items out of landfills. One man’s trash really is another man’s treasure sometimes.

4. Secondhand and consignment shops – I’ll be bringing cds, books, and household decor items to local secondhand shops. Many will buy your items outright or give you a store credit. Others will sell on consignment sending you money when your item sells.

5. Charity – Goodwill, Amity and other charities will often take your used clothing, furniture and household items to assist in their fund raising. Many times they’ll even come pick things up!

You are about to close 74 tabs. Are you sure you want to continue?

I admit it. I’m totally addicted to tabs in Firefox. Are you?

When I get up in the morning and start up Firefox it automatically opens my first tabs of the day: Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, weather, local news.

I read about 175 (give or take a few) RSS feeds so the first thing I do is start looking at the items my friends have shared in Google Reader. Anything that catches my eye for more than 10 seconds (anything I feel I actually want to read entirely and/or bookmark for later) I open in a new tab. And so it goes.

It’s a rare day that I make it to 4pm without 30+ tabs open. At this moment I have 74 open. I prefer to read blog posts, articles, etc. in their own tab, not in the reader. I like to see the various layouts, colour schemes, menus, etc. on each site. I like to grumble when certain blogs have their font set so small I have to hit ctrl++ just to read them (Mr. Brogan – you’re guilty of this one ). I like to be able to read comments (and in turn comment) easily.

Having 30+ tabs open can bit a bit overwhelming but I’ve found a terrific FireFox add-on called Vertigo that creates a sidebar along the left side of your browser that can be sized narrower or wider and gives you easy access to each of your tabs. If you’re a tab lover I suggest you give Vertigo a spin. It’s made the multi-tab lifestyle much easier to maintain.

What’s Your Pot of Gold?

I’ve mentioned in previous posts my plans to change my life in many ways. I’ve also mentioned my goal to move in about 10 years time to somewhere with a moderate climate, possibly the south of France although I’m considering several options.

Last night I got into a heated argument with a very dear friend about the idea of moving in 10 yrs time. He feels the idea is unreachable, illogical, too expensive and I will live to regret it. He’s not normally a negative sort of person so his arguments against moving really bothered me.

It’s become clear that he and I have a very different attitude toward the future. When I said that I’d rather live in a 500 sq. ft cottage in a small village, with a small garden (preferably within walking distance of a vineyard & a library) rather than live in a 4000 sq foot house with a big screen tv in every room and a new car in the driveway he stated very clearly he’d take the big house, tv, car, etc.

I have a pretty clear picture in my head of how I want my life to be in 10 years time. I know that my picture isn’t to everyone’s taste but what I find very interesting is that when I ask most people what their dream life is, they usually can’t give me a clear answer.

What’s the pot of gold for you? What are you working towards? When do you plan to retire? We work hard. We save. We invest. We worry about our portfolios and our retirement savings. We spend hours with our financial planners and run our spreadsheets and worry will we have enough. But what is enough? What’s your goal?

If you want the big house, the car, the cottage and the sailboat that’s great! Do it! If you want to travel the world and stay in only 5 star resorts, do it!

I’m just wondering when did we all stop dreaming about that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Tempest in a Teapot

A couple of days ago I saw an absolutely incredible teapot on Etsy and shared the link with an online social group I’m involved in.

My friend Seana said, “Oh my god, Merlene likes teapots! Let’s all buy her teapots!”

She’d remembered a teapot story I’d told a couple of years ago.

Years ago when I was first setting up my home I splurged on a lovely artsy teapot I’d found in a local art shop. It was a gorgeous pottery pot with swirls of colour which really caught my eye. I fell in love with it as a piece of art more than as a fuctional teapot.

I mean, after all, anyone who knows me knows I don’t like tea.

My mother came for a visit and I enthusiastically showed her the teapot, knowing not what the result would be.

A couple of months later, for a Christmas gift, Mom sent me a teapot. This teapot was Mother Goose, the top of the pot being her head. Three weeks later I received a birthday gift from Mom, A big dog head teapot, the lid of this one was a hat on the dog’s head.

A few months later, Mother’s Day arrives. I received teapots from my Mother, my Mother-in-law who’s now convinced that I’m collecting teapots, and my husband.

For the next several years I received teapots for just about every gift giving occasion. I had pots that looked like Mrs. Potts’ from Beauty and the Beast, that looked like a chess set, like an antique sewing table, roosters, elephants, cats… dozens of teapots.

Another thing that you’d think anyone who knew me for more than 5 minutes would figure out is that I don’t like knickknacks, dust collectors, etc. I don’t have a china cabinet, curio cabinet or a display case of any sort.

The only thing I’ve ever voluntarily collected since I was a child was books. Yet here I was with dozens of teapots. Cutesy teapots. Cutesy teapots that were all rather pricey. Cutesy teapots which took up a LOT of shelf-space, cabinet space and required dusting.

I tried to drop hints (being the non-confrontational sort) that I might have enough teapots. Nope, still got more on every gift-giving occasion.

When I bought my house I had 5 boxes of just teapots!

So what happened to the teapots? Well a few years ago I  had a house fire, I lost about 95% of the contents of my home including several of the teapots. But… 6 months later when I moved back into my newly rebuilt home… the restoration company arrived with boxes of my belongings that they were able to clean and salvage.

I opened the first box and there, on the very top, was the original teapot I’d bought, all those years ago. I dreaded opening another box. Turns out it was the only pot that survived.

I stressed to family that since I had to buy all new furniture, etc. I was going for a more minimalist sort of look. No more teapots. No knickknacks. No dust collectors.

So far. So good.

Blurring of the Lines

A funny thing happens when you become involved in the social networks. After a while those strangers you’ve networked with start to feel like friends. A few even begin to feel like family.

I recently took a break from Twitter and Facebook for a week or so while some stresses in my real world were getting to me. My typical reaction to stress is to hibernate. To drop off the radar for a while.

A funny thing happened. My “social network” friends noticed. Within a couple of days I had received several “are you okay?” messages. The line had blurred. Network contacts had become concerned friends. The real world friends didn’t notice there was anything wrong but the social media friends did.

Sometimes just the smallest gestures of concern can pull you out of a slump. I’m really happy the lines have blurred. I feel very rich in friendship right now.

Free hugs for all :)