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Pennie’s Perspective

 Where do I go from here?…

I’ve been thinking about next steps for a while (too long, I know) and I realized a couple of things.  All those clothes that I kept because they now fit; I’m barely wearing a portion of them. New Rule: just because it fits doesn’t mean it stays.  Also, there are some things I know will go right away–On occasion my daughter talks me into buying clothes that are cute and fit well, but just don’t fit my life style.  Those are going right out.  Also, I have way too many socks – yes it’s a weird thing but I think all overweight people will understand that when you are too heavy to buy clothes that fit right, you tend to buy accessories like underwear, socks, shoes, etc.

All these clothes have been my focus, but it’s become clear clothes are just the tip of the iceberg.  I’m one of those people who keep things, “just in case” or “maybe I’ll use that for…”.  This is a bad habit that I need to break.  I have stashes of craft items (for lack of a better term) all over the place, many that I’ve had for YEARS.  So that is another group of items I need to weed through.  And find a place to donate what I can’t reasonably accommodate in my craft corner.  I also need to finish projects before I start new ones.  There are many issues rolled up in this group.

Also, I sign up for free samples at the drop of a hat.  I get them, but rarely use them.  Another bad habit to break, but what to do with all the samples I already have?  There are mostly cosmetics, shampoos and conditioners, lotions, etc., so I thought perhaps a women’s shelter could benefit from them.

Books – we all have them but how many do we really need to keep?  I read mostly fiction – things readily available in the library and I know the subset of books I want to hold on to because they are real favorites that I reread time and again.  Another group to donate.

What I’ve recognized is that there are many physical things I need to attend to and two habits I really need to break: holding on to things I don’t really need and starting but not finishing projects.  But if I try to do it all at once it will be too overwhelming.  I’m going to set up a plan – not an everything plan but the next few things plan. I’ve listed 4 things here: clothes, crafts, samples, books.  I’m going to get through the first 2 items on the list before I put another item on the list.  Because I really want to finish one group before I start another and if I have a long list, I’ll just get distracted.

It’s going to take a while and it’s going to take a lot of focus.  And more effort and more focus: lather, rinse, repeat! But I’m ready and I can do it.  And if  you have a similar problem I urge you to find a way to attack the problem.  And if you’re not quite there, I agree with reader Tamra Phelps who commented that “nothing makes me feel the itch to clean like watching an episode of a show like Hoarders!”  I saw just part of one a couple of weeks ago and it was totally disgusting.  If that doesn’t get you going, I’m not sure what will!

So is this The Final Chapter?  Probably not, but I have plan and I’m moving forward.  Sometime in the future I’ll give you an update.


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A Crisis of Clutter – Part 2 – Continued

by Pennie on August 20, 2014



So now I have a lot more clothes to deal with and for a couple of months they were piled on a table in the corner of my bedroom.  And then it is decided that a friend of my daughter is coming to stay with us for a while.  That meant we had to rearrange the house to open up a bedroom.  A bedroom that had been used for storage and was chock-a-block full of boxes.  (The reason a bedroom was being used is because my house has no basement and I’m kind of freaked out by attics.)

Anyway, the boxes came out and were first stacked up in the corner of my family room, all along one wall, all the way to the ceiling.  But the bedroom was cleared out and prepared for our new guest.  Now I’ve got clothes piled up and boxes piled up and another person in the house.  The stress is beginning to rise – where does the good part come in?

As it turns out our friend is a reformed pack rat.  And has become a neat freak.  As he becomes a little more comfortable in the house, he starts to straighten up a little bit here and a little bit there.  Which feels weird, but ultimately has a positive effect on both me and my daughter.  It’s like he is modeling good behavior for us and we start to emulate him.  Putting a few things up here and a few things up there.  It takes hold a little more strongly on me than my daughter (after all she has 2 little kids to deal with).

One day I tackle the clothes in my bedroom.  They are now all folded and neatly stacked on that table waiting to be put away.  Where I’m not exactly sure, since my closet and dressers are full.  I think that means that I need to weed some more, even though all the items fit, I just don’t have room for them!  Quite a realization.

And those boxes have started to dwindle.  They are certainly not all gone, but at least half of them are and I’m building a pretty large pile of stuff to donate.  Multiple trips have been made to the dump.  While everything is certainly not under control, I’ve made some pretty solid steps in the right direction.

Where do I go from here?…


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A Crisis of Clutter – Part 2

by Pennie on July 23, 2014


So a year has passed since I first talked to you about clutter and I’m still a pack rat.  And it weighs me down, both mentally and physically. But a couple of things have happened this year that give me hope that things are turning around, at least a little.

As I may have told you, at the beginning of the year I lost some weight.  Certainly not all that I need to lose to be a healthy person, but a relatively significant amount.  Enough that my clothes were, if not hanging off me, looking large.  Pants too full, shirts too loose, even my underwear began to sag (which is a very weird feeling).  Thankfully the weight has stayed off for about 6 months so I feel pretty good about it.  Time to clean out the closet!

NOTE***The first thing most people do when trying to clear out clutter is to go buy storage bins and start stuffing them full.  DO NOT DO THIS.  All that does is enable your cluttering by packing your stuff into a smaller package so you can bring in more stuff!

I began by taking everything out of the closet and drawers that I had not been wearing and washed it all.  Piles of laundry, because I wanted to try on everything, see if anything fit, and then have it ready to be donated right away and get it out of the house.  As it turns out, at my higher weight, I was wearing just a small percentage of my total clothing so I ended up with more items to wear than to donate or toss!

To Be Continued…


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Oh My Aching Feet!

by Pennie on July 16, 2014


I have high arches.  That was never a problem when I was younger.  As I got older my feet started to overpronate (my arches have started to flatten out and weight rests on the inside edge of my foot).  This caused me to require pretty solid arch supports.  Which is ok as I long ago loss the desire to wear heals of any kind.

It makes wearing cheapy flip-flops pretty uncomfortable.  But since flip-flops have evolved into a more sophisticated shoe, finding some with arch supports is relatively easy.  Thankfully.

And finding regular shoes (with good arch supports) for the way I dress is definitely easy.  But then pain in my feet started becoming a more regular thing.  Plantar Fasciitis in one foot for a whole year, that really stunk.  During the day the pain would subside but that first step in the morning was a killer!

Lately I’ve been having foot cramps for no obvious reason.  I read somewhere that as you get older, the cushioning in your foot pads lessens.  No doubt that’s why your feet hurt more, in general, as you get older.  But the pain I’ve been having lately seems more than that.  I’m going to get it checked out by a doctor.

But it’s all been made worse lately because I started a walking challenge.  10,000 steps a day for a hundred days.  That’s a million steps!  I’m doing pretty well, over 300,000 steps so far.  But I’m not quite averaging 10,000 steps a day, so I need to step up (pun intended) the pace.  

It turns out I was already walking about 4,000 steps a day on average.  Now I’m doing 2 1/2 times that.  It’s not helping my feet feel any better.  But it has had some positive effects.  I’ve lost some weight and some inches – I’ve dropped a size in clothes!  My resting heart rate is lower, and my blood pressure is lower.  All good things!

I wear really good shoes with good inserts and good socks, so I don’t know how to help my feet any more on my own.  I’d hate to think that my feet can’t get any better.  That would be depressing.  But the positives are outweighing the pain at this point, so even though they ache, I’ll keep walking!

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Favorite Foods

by Pennie on July 2, 2014


There are fewer things better in life to me than a good plate of spaghetti with meat sauce.  I will tell you right off that I am not Italian.  Pretty much I’m a mutt; English, Irish, Scottish, Polish all that northern Western Europe area. No Italian as far as I know…

But since I was a kid I always liked spaghetti with meat sauce. I’m not talking about really true Italian, fabulously made from scratch after hours and hours of cooking kind of sauce–although I have done that. I’m talking about a sauce that you put together somewhat quickly from canned diced tomatoes and either a jar or can of marinara sauce–but then I make it my own. 

I always start with fresh minced garlic in some olive oil that I sweat in a pot on the stove for a little bit. Sometimes I add some onions but not always because my daughter is not a big fan of them. Then I add some chopped meat (hamburger)– I like meat that is a little bit less lean. I think that it has a better flavor. I brown it as I break it down into small chunks and then drain off the excess fat.  Then I add a few spices–sometimes some salt, depends, a little dried basil, and my beloved greek oregano that was given to me by a friend.  It has a very unique flavor that I love, love, love! Then I add my sauce and diced tomatoes.

I let this simmer for a while, at least an hour, preferably two, because the flavors really need to meld together.  If the tomatoes are tart I may add a pinch of sugar, but usually not.  The spices and garlic usually mellow out any tartness.  And then I wait.  Impatiently.

A word about jar/can sauce which I am sure will rile a few of you that I even use it.  In the beginning I would use some very popular jarred sauces which seemed at the time to taste pretty good.  But I quickly tired of them because of various and sundry reasons, mostly too much sugar, or other added ingredients that just don’t say spaghetti sauce to me (green bell peppers are horribly over used in many cooked items).  So now I’ve found a less well known sauce that works for me.  Very few ingredients, if any, other than tomatoes.  It’s just they’ve done the cooking down for me.  Which, when you are a working mom who needs to put dinner on the table at a reasonable time, is really helpful.

For me, the only spaghetti is Angel Hair – everything else is too thick!  I bring a pot of salted water to boil so I can throw in the spaghetti when close to sauce completion.

While waiting for the sauce to get to the right state, I focus on garlic bread.  Oddly I use Cuban bread.  I like the texture which is not too crusty or too chewy.  I take a stick of salted butter (yes, real butter and yes a whole stick) and blend with minced garlic–we are garlic lovers in my house–so at least a tablespoon, probably two.  I need a touch of salt which I usually get from parmesan cheese, also blended into the butter mixture.  I spread evenly across the split bread and sprinkle on a little oregano.

When the time is right, I pop the bread into the oven, the spaghetti into the boiling water and get out our spaghetti bowls (which I got in Italy).

I drain the pasta, cut the bread into chunks and let everyone serve themselves.  I’d like to tell you that I have a salad with this meal every time I served it, but that would be a total lie.  I have one sometimes, but not always.

Because the perfect dinner is that bowl of pasta covered in meat sauce, sprinkled with Romano cheese with a couple of pieces of garlic bread tucked on the side.  I need nothing other than a fork to reach nirvana!

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by Pennie on June 25, 2014


My grandson was just a little over 3 years old when my granddaughter was born.  Day one home from the hospital he couldn’t stand her.  He wouldn’t even be in the same room with her for 2 whole days.  Every fiber in his being just wanted her gone.  Almost 2 years later not a lot has changed!

While he will be in the same room with her, he doesn’t really want her competing for Mom’s attention, or touching his things or touching him (heaven forbid!).  But it’s amazing how much she is picking up from him.

She watches him constantly and emulates his behavior (both good and bad).  She is picking up his gestures (like pointing with his middle finger).  She screams when he screams, cries when he cries and laughs when he laughs.  

When he storms down the hall to his bedroom to get away from her, she comes charging after him because there is almost no one she would rather be with.  He, of course, does not understand her fascination with him.

But while he mostly doesn’t want to be around her, when he does they are a joy to watch.  He will love on her, giving her hugs and kisses.  He will give her toys to play with and share his snacks with her and generally be so sweet to her it makes my heart all squishy.

But the best is when they giggle and laugh together.  They get silly and roll around together, it’s so infectious!  They have big smiles on their faces and twinkles in their eyes.  That’s when I know that, in the long run, my grandson is going to really love his baby sister.  This sibling rivalry will pass and they will become fast friends, just as I did with my little brother.

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Love of Music

by Pennie on June 18, 2014


You know those silly little quizzes you find around the internet?  “What state should you have been born in?”.  “What city should you live in?”.  “What movie describes your life?”.  “Which celebrity is your soulmate?”.  (Ryan Gosling!)  Most recently I took the “What song was written about you?’.  The answer: “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt.  Which was really nice because it’s a pretty song that I really like.  So I listened to it.  And then again.  And again and again and again.

After a while I felt so calm yet energized.  Sometimes music seems to enter my body and flow through my blood stream.  It’s not like goosebumps, it’s more like there is an electrical buzz circulating through my veins.  Some songs affect me like that.  Not sure why it happens, but I love that feeling.

I’ve always been drawn to music—my earliest memory is watching American Bandstand on our old console black and white TV.  The thing was huge and I think I was about the same height as it.  But what I remember best is the music, the feeling it evoked, something that made me feel more than myself.

In 1697, William Congreve wrote in The Mourning Bride:

Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.

It makes me realize that I’m not the only one who is so moved by music.  It has been affecting people probably since it came into being.  I can’t say what my favorite song is, because there are just so many that I love.  It doesn’t matter the genre, it only matters that it moves me.

Here’s the song/video that made me feel so good today: You’re Beautiful (explicit lyrics – actually just one word – but if that would bother you – look for another version).

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You Know that Feeling…

by Pennie on June 4, 2014

when you are tired, really tired, unbelievably tired, but you’re also wired?  Your brain won’t shut down; you can’t even convince it to be quiet for a while.  That’s what I’m experiencing right now.  It’s 2 a.m. and I got only 5 hours of sleep last night.  I’ve been up since 5 a.m.  That means I’ve been up for 21 hours on 5 hours of sleep.

This is a annoying situation to be in, because it means that I will be really tired tomorrow and I have a long list of chores to accomplish and I’m going to be feeling pretty groggy.  Brain fog.  When you can’t really focus on anything well.  And you are easily distracted by internet articles on “Celebrities that You Think are Dead but Aren’t”.  Did you know that Doris Day and Lauren Bacall are both alive (and well?) and 90 years old?  Do you even know who Doris Day and Lauren Bacall are?  Google them if you don’t.  Then you can get sucked into the interwebs until you have read so much useless (and questionable) trivia that hopefully your brain shuts down.

Right now that is not working for me. The dogs are asleep, the house is quiet, and I can hear the clocks ticking.  But none of that seems to be affecting me.  Maybe it’s because I been non-stop on the go for a couple of weeks and when I sat down with a little time on my hands my brain said “Ok, we’re taking a little vacation instead of sleeping”.  I read some articles, watched some vlogs, watched some TV, consumed some chocolate chips, looked at some movie reviews (HA, as if I had time to see a movie!) and played some Candy Crush.  Still awake.

Perhaps if I just step away from the keyboard, force myself to get ready for bed, then jump in and get all comfy and cozy, I’ll pass out.

Ok, one of the dogs (Rosie, “the sensible”) just came out and gave me the “Enough is enough, come to bed” look.  Since she is always in charge when I leave the house (as opposed to my daughter or son-in-law), I guess I’d better listen.  Off to bed to try to fall asleep.  Hopefully when my head hits the pillow, it will be lights out in my brain!


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May 1, 2014

I did it to myself.  I was walking around happy as a clam, while all around me people were sniffling and sneezing and coughing.  And then I said it, out loud, to just about everyone.  “I’m not having a problem with allergies this year”.  I might as well have jumped into a swimming pool filled […]

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Spring and Sun and Outdoors and BUGS

April 24, 2014

The weather seems to finally have settled down into spring time.  The flowers are in bloom, the really bad pollen is settling down and the sun is shining most days.  There is still a touch of cool in the breeze and the birds are chirping, so I want to be outdoors soaking it all in. […]

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Nerdfighters: John and Hank Green

March 20, 2014

A couple of months ago, I stumbled onto a video by John Green.  I was going to say I don’t remember how, but now that I ponder it a bit it was because I subscribe to the Upworthy feed on Facebook.  (Upworthy’s motto is: “Things that matter, pass ’em on”.  I really enjoy hearing about […]

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A Little over a Week into Being a Senior (?) Citizen

February 8, 2014

Ok, last week I told you I turned 60, so this week I thought I would tell you how it’s been so far.   First of all I’m in pretty good company.  Oprah turned 60 the day before I did (she probably had a bigger celebration than I did).  John Travolta turns 60 in about […]

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Today I am 60!

January 30, 2014

What can I say after that headline?  Do I feel sixty?  Mentally, definitely not.  Physically, sometimes.  Do I look sixty?  I have to say no just because no one who hasn’t known me forever, does not believe my age when I tell it.  When I’m with my daughter, people look at us and ask tentatively […]

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A New Cat!

January 23, 2014

Well, enough time has passed that my daughter decided it was time to get a new cat.  Part of the decision was for her, but part of her decision was for Roscoh, her second cat.  After Beebert died, Roscoh had been wandering around the house, trying to figure out what was wrong.  Beebert was always […]

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Unexpected Joy

January 16, 2014

I ran into an old co-worker today.  Someone that made me laugh easily, someone to whom I was sort of a surrogate mom.  From the moment we met, we just clicked and had so much fun together in the work place. She’s been living in NYC for a while with her mom, because she needed […]

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Good Day Gone Bad

January 9, 2014

You know when things are going well and suddenly you get bad news or something bad happens and you get that sinking feeling in your stomach?  Well that’s how I feel right now.   I was watching some TV with my daughter, trying to catch up on a show we watch, when the mail comes. […]

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The Start of a New Year

January 2, 2014

When I was a kid, the year 2000 seemed like it would only come in a science fiction story.  As an adult, the Y2K challenge (as a software developer) sort of over-shadowed the actual beginning of the year 2000.  A decade later, there was a lot of discussion around whether we would say 2 thousand ten, or […]

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What a Wonderful Christmas!

December 26, 2013

  Of course, everything didn’t get purchased or made or cooked but Christmas came anyway.  I was up until 2:30am on Christmas Eve and my daughter and son-in-law were up until 3:30.  Luckily the kids didn’t get up early on Christmas morning.  I slept until almost 9! My grandson saw all the packages under the […]

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Christmas is Coming too Quickly!

December 19, 2013

  All of a sudden I feel like I’m on a downhill coaster ride to Christmas!  There are so many things I still want to do! I haven’t cleaned nearly enough, I want to make cookies, I want to make some things for my granddaughter, I want to cook a couple of special dishes, but […]

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A Sad Passing In the Midst of Holiday Cheer

December 12, 2013

  We’ve all been gearing up for Christmas around here. We have 3 Christmas trees, ornaments, garlands, tree skirts, lights and all other sorts of Christmas paraphernalia around the house.  Every evening, before I get my hug and smooch from my grandson before bed, he sits in my lap at my computer and looks at […]

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