Tuesday, October 8, 2019

To do lists or not to do lists (that's the question)

I was going to write a long post about how to make a to-do list. Not that I am very good at that, but usually trying to write about something, doing research and thinking about how I would implement it, helps to get a clear vision about something. But this Monday, having the topic of todo lists on my mind, I realized something else. Something that made me stop in my tracks.

Sometimes it's better not to make a list.

I know... I love lists too. I like to see things in writing, I like to check off the things I've done. I even like to make lists in my planner to be able to look back and see what I've accomplished in the past.

But this particular Monday I needed to do a lot of things. And I do mean an awful lot.
Some daily chores (clean up the kitchen after making breakfast, cleaning the toilet), weekly chores (changing the bed) and some general putting things back where they belong.
I don't know if it's just us, or if this happens to others too, but we tend to make big messes during the weekend. I usually put T.'s tools (I almost wrote toys ;-)) away when he's done using them, but in the weekend I just think "I'll do that on Monday" and go my merry way. I also tend to just drop my stuff on "my" table (a folding table that is a temporary place to store my planner, notebook, knitting, e-reader, books etc. - one day I will have a desk of my own), instead of putting them away as neatly as possible (I have some baskets and bags).
I also needed to fold an put away laundry, mop all the floors, write some emails, prepare some blog posts, work on my blogs and websites, start writing a book or at least a short story ... well, you get it. The list was endless. I know that most planner people say you need to do a braindump in a situation like this and I was getting myself some paper to actually do that. But I already felt overwhelmed and stressed out, knowing it would be a very, very long list.

And then I realized that maybe I should just start doing what I needed to do, instead of wasting valuable time and energy to write it all down.

So I started by writing that e-mail I have been putting off for weeks (you know, eat that frog), cleaned up that kitchen and then I started working from the back of the house. Changed the bed, started the laundry, dusted the bedroom, gave the bathroom a quick wipe, moved the shoe rack to the place I had been meaning to move it to for over a week, put away some tools, cleaned the toilet, reorganized my table, swept the floors, etc., etc. (I'm not going to list everything, that would be very boring, but I think this isn't even a third of what I did)
By the end of the day, I had done so much! And even though I love to cross things off lists, I did feel as satisfied as I would have if I had made a list. Maybe even more, because now I was just happy to look at my clean house and thinking that tomorrow there would be time to sit with my laptop and take care of the computer work.

So now I have a new strategy: I'm going to rely more on my brain and my eyes and less on my lists and schedules, especially for household tasks. After all, I know what needs to be done, I've been a housewife for almost three decades (Um, really? Oh my, time flies!). If I only write down the things I tend to forget or that are one time only, I'll not only save a lot of time writing things down, but I think it will also help with my stress levels.
And isn't life a lot more fun without stress?

(now if I could only trust myself to not make lists for my other work... I'm actually scared that I'll forget to do taxes, though that never happens)

Do you make lists for everything you need to do?

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Monday, October 7, 2019

Bon Siman!

Exciting things happened here this weekend! Our ceiling material arrived last Friday, so we finally could start installing them. It's silly. You don't need them. But they make such a difference visually!
(If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably already seen these pictures, but I really wanted to put them here too).
Remember the bedroom?
This is before.

This is after:

So much better! We also did the kitchen, but I planned a progress post about the whole kitchen to go online next week (I think) so I'll save those pictures for that post.

This week will be a busy one. Lots of computer work (editing two novels, writing some press releases, maybe work on writing my own book too) and of course more ceilings to install.

But I guess that's good since it will help to keep my mind off other things.

My mother will have surgery this Wednesday, and we hope she's strong enough to survive. But if she doesn't have the operation, she probably will never leave the hospital anyway, so it's more or less a loose-loose situation. The surgeon and the oncologist still thinks she can handle the operation though, so we try to stay positive.

Wishing you all a great week!
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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Three things I learned about lionfish and corals

Last Tuesday we went to the “Lion Fish Awareness Festival” at The Dive Shop. Not something we would choose to go to spontaneously maybe (we're not divers), but some of our friends were part of the organizing committee and invited us to come.
It was fun and I actually learned a lot, even though I wasn't completely unaware of the lionfish problems. I knew they are not native in this part of the world, but migrated here, and that they are a big threat to the reefs. That's why hunting and killing them is encouraged. They're trying to turn it into a sustainable industry by harvesting the meat for food and using the spines and the fins to make jewelry.

What I learned:

1. The reason why lionfish are such a big threat is that they eat the fishes (often before they get a chance to reproduce) that eat the algae that would kill the reef by covering the corals. Isn't nature fascinatingly complicated? Also, the lionfish reproduce incredibly fast, so the threat is getting bigger and bigger.

2. I learned how corals reproduce and grow. It was not a significant part of the festival (that turned into food and drinks and music rather quickly), but the singer of the band said: "If you want to see baby corals you need to go with that lady there."
I was a bit bored, T. was talking with someone else and hey... babies. Who doesn't want to see babies? So I joined the group.
We were led into a laboratory and got a very interesting lecture about corals from the lady who turned out being there to do her Ph.D. on that subject.
I already knew corals are animals and should have concluded that this means they reproduce by sperm entering eggs, but I never thought about how they would do this (corals are static like plants). Well, it's actually quite simple: they release everything into the water and that's where fertilization takes place.
But fertilization has to take place within two hours. So the corals actually synchronize the release with the other corals. After years of study, they found out they pinpoint the month by the water temperature, the day by the moon cycle and the hour by the sunset. Now researchers are able to calculate when the corals will release and they collect the eggs and sperm to make sure more eggs are fertilized than there would be naturally. They showed us the larvae (so tiny that you can only see small dots in the water) and baby corals. We needed a microscope for that, but only four days after the larvae attached themselves to an (in this case fake) reef, they already grew a mouth and tentacles to feed themselves and started to grow the skeleton we see as coral.
They also showed us a coral that was about five years old. It was only the size of a thumb. They grow really slow. That's why breaking off a tiny bit of coral as a souvenir is so devastating for a reef.

3. I didn't learn how lionfish tastes. You could buy it there and have it prepared in a few ways, but we never got to it. A few friends did taste it. One of them spit it out (said it tasted/ had a texture like raw fish), but most of them liked it. I was told it has a firm texture and doesn't taste too fishy. Someday I'll try it. I think. (I used to like fish, but here - with those high temperatures - it never tastes that good to me.)

I did learn though that there's only a small part of the fish that's edible. It's also rather time-consuming to clean the fish. You have to be very careful since the spikes stay poisonous for a while after the fish dies. You have to put them in the freezer for a week for the poison to disappear. But as I said earlier, nothing was wasted. The spines and fins were saved to make jewelry, the meat was eaten and the guts were fed to stray cats.

See an example of corals spawning here on Youtube
organizer of the event, pictures of jewelry made from fins and spines: Lionfish Caribbean 

Linking up with Carole's Three on Thursday

first photo from pexels.com
second photo also from pexels.com 
third and last photo by me (with my phone, and I cropped off the face of the person who was cleaning the fish, so not the best quality)

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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Progress report:: our bedroom

Our bedroom was one of the rooms that I really wanted to be finished before we moved in. We didn't make that happen though. No ceilings, no air conditioner. We also need to hang something on those bare walls. But it is clean and white and peaceful.
Especially compared to where we started...

We use plastic bins as nightstands. Our photo albums and memorabilia are in there for safe storage and easy access.

We decided to buy fabric wardrobes for our clothes. They are very cheap, so that's convenient, but I also find that chipboard wardrobes tend to get smelly after a while here (it's hot and humid). Until we can afford solid wood, this will work perfectly.

We have a second-hand air conditioner, but we haven't installed it yet. Even during this hot period, we manage to sleep pretty well with just the ceiling fan, so we're thinking about not installing the air conditioner at all. We're fully on solar power (I'll talk about that in another blog post), so using as little electricity as we can is important.

p.s. the window bars don't look so good, I know. But this room is on ground level and we need it for safety.
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Monday, September 30, 2019

Bon Siman!

I was going to post about goals and plans for this week and things accomplished last week. I had a lot to do (writing, editing, bookkeeping, cleaning) and I opened my laptop at seven o'clock in the morning to have an early start on a productive day.
But then one of my girls called and we talked for 90 minutes.
So now I'm behind on everything.
But you know what? I don't care.
Her phonecall made me realize that this part of my life - being a mom, a wife, a daughter -  is way more important than anything else. And if I get to spend most of my days talking to people I love, I'm just very lucky. Unproductive, yes. But lucky.
So this week I'm going to try to do the things that have to be done. And then some other things I'd like to get done. But I'll savor those 90 minutes and I hope the other girls will call too. Because that's what counts.

Wishing you all a great week!
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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Three things I need to get back to sewing

I may have (ha!) mentioned it here and in some comments on your blogs, that I really, really want to get back to sewing. So much that I shipped my sewing machine all the way to CuraƧao.

It arrived safely and I did take it out of its bag once, to do some mending (I ripped a curtain in our rental, so I had to repair that), but that was it. But I still was thinking about sewing.
But there were some things I needed to buy before I could actually start (and I'm determined to count three things to be able to link up with Carole's Three on Thursday)

1. Fabric

Two weeks ago I found myself alone in Punda (city center), waiting for my husband, so I decided to pop into a fabric store I knew. I have been thinking about sewing myself some dresses because I have only a few that I can wear in this heat, so I asked for 100% cotton. They didn't have much choice in that ("only African prints", they love their polyester cloths here), but I found two options I liked.

Step one taken. But then the fabric just sat there, waiting patiently for me to actually do something with it.

2. Pattern
Last week I was in one of the bookstores (we sadly only have two on the island) and decided to see if they had any pattern magazines. Of course, I was late to the game: they only have Dutch magazines and those have fall and winter clothes now, but I did find myself a magazine with patterns that can be adapted to summer clothes.

This pattern looks a lot like one of the (store-bought) dresses I'm wearing a lot here. I just need to make it sleeveless and I would like something like a drawstring in my waist, to make it less baggy (that other dress has one).
Here it is again, different fabric, different model. (By the way, I do like that these girls have normal sizes, but I happen to be a lot thinner, so I'd love to see it on a skinny model too. The pattern is for all sizes, so why not show it on all sizes?)

I'm also thinking I could just make simple skirts. Not too hard to do if I get the measurements for the panels right. And then I would have enough fabric left to make bags or pouches or other fun stuff.

3. More stuff I need
So, a happy ending? Show and tell?

Not yet. I still can't start sewing, since I don't have pattern paper or anything that I could use for that. Didn't bring that with me from the Netherlands. So now I hope that the little craft store I have found on Instagram has some. I am excited that I actually have a reason to pop in there, so I guess I'll do that the next time I go grocery shopping (the supermarket is really close to that store). If they don't have it, I'll have to try the bigger fabric store, but that's in a part of town we don't visit often. If I go there I'd have to buy some more fabric and maybe even some yarn (they have a small collection) just to make the trip worth it. Just kidding. Sort of.
Also, I realized when I was writing this, that I don't have an iron and I need to buy some interfacing. I did bring some zippers and buttons, but I'll have to look if those are the right size and/or color too.

Need to go shopping. While I'm at it, I think I'll try to find a nice knit to make this pattern too. I love this design (But why is this one shown on a skinny model only? Somehow these magazines still don't get it).

To be continued...
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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Planting roots

Remember this little palm tree we grew from a coconut?
Well, it just kept growing and started to outgrow the container we had it in, so we decided it was time to actually plant it.
And last weekend we did.

I was so happy to plant our very first tree at the house. It felt really symbolic like we were not only planting a tree, but also planting our roots, making this house into our home just one little step at a time.

T. has been working very hard on this part of our lot. It's directly in front of the house and the porch where we spent most of our time, so he really wanted it to be nice to look at. Which meant we had to somehow cover the concrete slab that's over the cesspit.
He had this vision in his head. It took me a while to actually see it, but now I couldn't be happier with the outcome. We still need to get more gravel for the path, but it's close to done.
We have a second little palm tree, that will be planted when it's big enough to leave its container.

And I got carte blanche to buy some more pots and plants to fill that flat space (that's the concrete slab I was talking about). That will be fun!

It's all artificial grass, by the way. Partly because it had to cover the concrete, partly because we wanted this to be low maintenance, but mostly because we can't afford the water bills to keep real grass alive. Water is very expensive here and you need a lot to keep the grass green. I heard people with green gardens easily pay 400 USD each month on water alone. Also, it would be a waste of drinking water. One day we want to have a deep well, but until then, artificial grass it is. Collecting greywater and rainwater to water the rest of the garden is a lot higher on our list of things to do though.

How to plant a palm tree (or any plant or tree)

1. dig a hole that is larger than the container the tree used to live in
2. pour water into the hole
3. fill the hole partly with potting soil and put the tree in. Press the soil down gently.
4. water carefully if the soil was really dry, but don't make overdo it. You watered the hole and you want to roots to find there way there. That will help to really root the tree.

How to root yourself into a new home

1. remember why you moved; bigger house, better location, closer to job, cheaper - there's usually a benefit and you got to remind yourself of that.
2. Move your stuff. Don't just unpack the essentials. Fill the house with books, knitting, photos, sentimental items.
3. Work, relax, cook your favorite meals. grow plants. Do the things you love to do.
4.  Be aware of the fact that this is your home now, but don't make too big a deal of it. It has to become part of your "normal" to really root in this space.

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