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Survival of the Fittest

I would like to share a few things that have been helpful to me lately, for all three of you that read my blog:

1. I need sleep. I am not the best version of myself when I am tired. If you are also running on empty, pulled in every direction and holding down a demanding job, maybe this post will help you. I just discovered breathe right strips. I feel refreshed in the morning instead of tired. I am pretty tuned in with breathing (see former professional career as flutist) and know that I am getting more oxygen and it is helping me sleep. Quality sleep. No machines, no diet detox, no vitamins. Just a band-aid-like thing that opens my nostrils. Full disclosure: it hurts like 10 Biore strips to take it off, but totally worth every lost skin cell.

2. Skincare. The simpler, the better. I love de Mamiel skincare and yes, it is expensive. I can’t say how expensive just in case my husband is reading this. But even if you can’t afford one single de Mamiel product, please read about Annee de Mamiel’s approach to skincare. Your skin is like leather or furniture or a plant and it needs moisture! I feel like maybe I am ready to take on turning 45, just a couple of weeks from now, and I am armed with de Mamiel.

3. Hair. I stopped dying it about 5 years ago when Prima said, “our culture was shallow and we should value wisdom over beauty.” Spoken like someone with a full head of blonde hair, but still, she’s right. Every time I hear I should dye my hair, I just think “I’ve earned this!” And now, cue New Wash. It goes on like conditioner and has helped my hair feel less frizzy. I’m not sure what my hair was supposed to be, but I think New Wash is good stuff and it does not come in a plastic bottle!

4. Tampons and pads. Organic cotton and delivered in pleasantly plain packaging on a regular schedule. Life changing. That is all. MyLola.com

5. Crave creativity. I try to nurture that instinct in little ways throughout the day. A scarf with my outfit, fresh herbs in my food, a book by the fire. It’s the little things that keep me going.

I know I am fortunate. I know I shouldn’t complain. The pace of life with kids and work and the pressure to volunteer for everything feels overwhelming. Take a deep breath, truly. It will ground you. It’s what my mom tells me all the time when I am stressed, prepping me for flute playing without even realizing it. Thanks mom! Or possibly Obama, I’m not even sure anymore.

Drink a glass of wine, don’t stress, take a deep breath, try to use less plastic, and then if you’re lucky, do it all over again.

© Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

This post was not sponsored by anyone or anything. I’d love to know what you can’t live without.

The General Store

Maybe your neighbors are not as great as mine. If that is the case, I am sorry for you. Mine, well…. they are my neighborhood general store, daycare, garden center, and lawn-mowing service. Do you need a lemon? A carrot? Or perhaps a stray can of beans? Can’t beat the traffic home? Need them to check on the teens? Or perhaps a place to hide the liquor? Don’t forget the lawn-mowing service and dog walking to boot! And why not? Don’t you have neighbors that mow your lawn and walk your dogs?

This is a teen that is up to no good.

If only everyone had a neighborhood like mine, where civility, jokes, and kindness rule. We have fires on their patio, drinks on our deck, and watch the flickering lights of the fireflies. We have stories and foot massages, gripe sessions and therapy.

I’ve always had good luck with neighbors, so I know this is not a one-off situation. Over the years, my neighbors and I have become the very best of friends. (Except for that one time when I suspect the neighbors had the Gimp tied up in their basement and ran a hospital for dolls.)

Find the dogs!

I challenge you to find a neighbor and chat them up. Try to connect with them as humans. That relationship may eventually prove to be your lifeline, and at the very least, may come in handy when you need a cup of sugar or a friend. It’s a little something we can do to invest in each other, and in our communities. To quote Mr. Rogers, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

© Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise 2019.

This Couch is Stalking Me!

It’s true. I surf for sofas. I know exactly what I want…. and so does my phone. Let this be a warning to you.

Even if I lost my brain, my phone might serve as a decent substitute.

The couch I have zeroed in on pops up in my fitness app. (I know, you’re shocked I use a fitness app. Don’t worry, this is how I communicate with my mother.) That gorgeous sofa is the first thing I see when I log my coffee calories every morning, right under the person SLEEPING on the fitness app. Seriously, how do they know?

My Fitness Pal!

My Fitness Pal!

Who knew that an incognito browser was now required for online shopping, among other things? If you want your heart’s desires to be constantly flaunted, but still unattainable because you can’t afford them, then please continue browsing for stuff online while sipping your coffee. It’s fun, and will drive you to delete your Facebook app, once and for all.

This is it! Again!

What would happen if I actually bought that couch? (Or TWO because I want a matching pair to satisfy my increasing desire for order through symmetry.) I never should have searched “How to clean velvet.” For that matter, I should never search how to clean anything.

Would the ads stop? Would my phone leap out of my hands in a suicidal dive for the floor, taking my brain along with it? I wonder.

Cocoa on the couch

Cocoa on the couch opposite me and my coffee.

In the meantime I am sitting on my old couch, as comfy as Bilbo Baggins in his hobbit hole, still sipping my coffee.

Maybe it’s time for new pillows.

© Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise 2019.

#shutdownstories

It’s hard to explain how the recent government shutdown impacted our family. It happened suddenly. In the few days leading up to it, it looked like a deal had been made, and by the King of the Deal himself.

Christmas is a time when we spend money. I love it. A more disciplined person, or wealthy person, might save up for Christmas, but we do the opposite. We buy with credit cards and then pay it back over the next few months. We’d planned to take the kids skiing for their present this year, and so we went. Shutdown or not. We all had cabin fever.

Our oldest was visiting home after her first semester of college, and we were anxious to see her, and not be bogged down with worry.

As the shutdown dragged on and the tone deaf statements coming from the wealthy cabinet members of the current administration dripped out, I started to feel angry. Angry because the timing was bad for our family with multiple tuition bills due, and angry because we were being subjected to repeated attacks by the government that we have chosen to serve. The articles I read about “entitled government workers” and how they make so much more money than the average other worker do not tell the whole story. The federal government workforce is represented by highly skilled engineers, atmospheric scientists, lawyers, and economists. My husband is one of only two lawyer/pilots in the Coast Guard and we had the student loans to prove it! If you compare those jobs to the private sector, the federal workers are paid less. This is a fact.

Anyone running a business knows the value of keeping your employees, especially those that are highly skilled. Federal government employees have been repeatedly demoralized and used as pawns. I have witnessed this over the last twenty years. It is a fun game to cancel out the raises of the federal workforce. It happens almost every year.

This does not even address the Coast Guard. I remember when I was a young Coast Guard officer’s wife. I remember going to the grocery store with my toddler in tow, not sure how I was going to pay for it. I got to the checkout that day, and was told I had won my groceries for free. I was astonished and went home with the organic milk I could not afford plus $100 in free groceries. That summer, I won my groceries at Harris Teeter twice. I still shop there in gratitude.

Every month the mortgage ate up the whole first paycheck. The paycheck that came in the middle of the month was for everything else. I generally tried to avoid the commissary on pay day because the line stretched passed the milk. It was so crowded. That second paycheck paid utilities, food, gas and diapers. My mom paid our student loans. We could not afford to miss even one paycheck.

This time was different for us because I was working. The backpay we will get will help. But the contractors will not get backpay. The restaurants and lost business revenue will not be paid. The mental anguish and hardship will not be erased. And we will dig out again, probably just in time for Christmas.

©Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise

2017 Year in Review

The college application process is revealing. Not just for the applicant, who has spent hours navel-gazing in order to answer their curious questions, but for her parents too. It revealed the administrative headache that is applying for college, the lack of patience I have in general, and the burning and eternal question on a 5-year-old’s mind: “Can I play Mario Kart?” “How about now?”

I can’t believe I survived 2017 because I am pretty sure it tried to do me in.

However the home improvement front was more productive. Spurts of activity driven by sheer agitation and desire for distraction led to projects getting done that have been on the back burner for years. We hired a contractor! Yes indeed!

  • My kitchen window was cut and made bigger. The masons that did the brick work were artists and it looks beautiful.
The new window by Marvin.

The new window by Marvin.

The view!

  • We (by which I mean said contractor) replaced the window sashes on our glass porch. Custom wood windows made by Marvin that are energy efficient and true to the 1941 style of the house.
My vintage tree.

My vintage tree.

The porch revealed!

The porch revealed!

  • I painted the upstairs bathroom, which was desperately needed. Take my word for it, it looks nice and I was too tired for pictures.
  • The chair in my kitchen was recovered. It belonged to my grandmother. New window+new chair=still un-renovated kitchen. But progress is good!
Kitchen wall and cozy chair.

Kitchen wall and cozy chair.

Humphrey!

Humphrey!

  • In a gravity-defying performance that was inspired by Cirque du Soleil, I whitewashed the ceiling over my stairs.
Whitewashed ceiling in blue: Benjamin Moore's Picnic Basket.

Whitewashed ceiling in blue.

Defying gravity.

Defying gravity.

The space on the porch is livable now. The view of the yard is seeable now. The house is quietly changing into the house I knew it could be. And 2018? I say bring it on. Here’s to wishing all of you, my dear readers, a joyous and happy New Year!

© copyright 2017 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.