Sunday, May 22, 2011

Keeping busy

I'm at 9 days left of my current job. That's right, in 9 days I'm unemployed.

Now, as I've previously mentioned, this is unfortunately not the first time I've been in this situation. The last time it happened, I fell into a deep depression where it feels like I essentially wasted a year. I mean, I worked as a sub and a temporary data entry person, but I didn't really take advantage of the time I ended up having to improve my life in any reasonable way. The days between sub jobs would have been prime time to get stuff done, but instead I chose to wallow inside out of sadness and fear.

So I don't want that to happen again. Obviously, my first priority is the job hunt, but in the teaching field there's only so much one can do in that regard. If my job hunt only takes up about an hour a day, every other day... there's about 14 hours left per day to fill, preferably with something productive.

That said, here's what I'm considering, in no particular order:
  1. Health improvement! Now, I am not the healthiest person in the world. I need to be more physically active and improve my eating habits. 
    • Pros: It would def. help me out in two big areas: self-esteem and fertility. 
    • Cons: I eat when I'm bored AND when I'm emotional; I can't afford to join any gyms, but I am most successful when the exercise is social. 
  2. Writing! Not that you could probably tell from this blog, but I like to write, specifically fiction and poetry. I've never been published, so I'm hoping to work on submitting at least a few pieces to literary journals. 
    • Pros: Being published at least once is one of my biggest goals in life. Would also look good on an English teacher's resume I bet...
    • Cons: REJECTION IS SCARY. And some journals  request small fees for reading, which gets expensive. 
  3. Home improvement! Well, our "home' is a 1-bedroom apartment, but it could use a deep cleaning. Plus it looks like we're stuck here for at least one more year due to finances, so it'd be nice to make it a little more "home-y". 
    • Pros: A clean, welcoming home is a happy home; having more pride in said home would certainly improve morale around here AND we'd probably be less embarrassed to have people over. 
    • Cons: I hate cleaning. HATE. IT. Also, we can't afford to do much "decorating" unless I get really creative and crafty with it (which should actually be under the "pros" also...)
  4. Etsy! Yeah, I have an Etsy store. I didn't really push it hard, though, when I started it a few years ago... then got busy with work... so I'd like to try again. Maybe make it a weekly goal to add a new item? Also look into how to promote it more. 
    • Pros: could bring in more money, would give me something to do, I LOVE CRAFTING!
    • Cons: It costs money to make money (specifically supplies), it'll take some time to get customers - how the hell do I GET customers?
So those are my options. I could reasonably attempt all four, a little bit every day. Right now I'm thinking I need a schedule for every day, so it's like I'm "working" while I'm off. I know if I wake up and shower first thing, I tend to be more productive; it's lounging around in my jammies that gets me in trouble.

What do YOU do when you're unemployed? How do you keep some sense of regiment and responsibility?  I know I NEED to, if I just let myself lounge, that lack of focus and routine will turn into apathy and depression. =( Ideas? Tips? I'm open to suggestions and successful practices!

Oh, don't get me wrong, there WILL be SOME permission to lounge and be lazy - I'm planning to take the first week "off", and I'm also planning on staying at my mom's for a few days as a "staycation" at some point to craft with her AND visit my friends who live near her. =)

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    Hosting a party, the HMHW way

    So my husband turned another year older! I co-hosted a party to celebrate his breakin' out of his mom's uterus with another friend/ married couple, as J's bday is 2 days before The Hubs', so they wanted to have a joint bday/poker party.

    I talked to J's wife, who is renown for her baking, and she offered to cook the sweets - so naturally, I offered to cook the savory. J then invited his family; not a big deal, except J has a huge family, which means the guest list nearly tripled! I now had to cook for a crowd nearing 30 (when the original guest list was around 10-15), which I've never done before. It also meant I had to change my plan of poker munchies (mainly apps) to something that would feed a crowd a good meal. OY.

    Guess what? IT CAN BE DONE. In fact, not only can it be done, but it can be done to the point of overkill!

    So first order was to change the menu. Luckily, my heritage has given me an affinity and comfort with Mexican food, and most people won't turn down a taco bar - plus it's easier to make a bunch of food that people can mix and match to their heart's desires than set plates, I figured. Not to mention taco fixings are relatively cheap. Once the bday boys approved, I started looking into how to accomplish this. 

    The most helpful link I found was this one, which simplified the formula of how to account for how much to have of everything. I figured I didn't want to be a complete cheap jerk, so the bar consisted of refried beans, seasoned ground beef, and pork carnitas for the "fancy" filling. I also had nacho cheese, shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, and tomatoes for everyone to make their tacos as they saw fit. (Well, I say "tacos", but they were more soft tacos or burritos as the option; we also bought a mess of tortilla chips so people could make nachos if they wished.)

    The day of, I made the carnitas in slow cookers (7 lbs. worth! OY). I drove to J's house 5+ hours ahead of the party to get the slow cookers cooking, then ran the rest of my errands and got ready for the party back at my place before heading back there 3 hours ahead of the party to get crackin' on the rest of the food. It got a little intense as the party start time grew close, as I was in the home stretch but not quite done with everything yet and started to freak. J's mom, bless her heart, actually stepped in and helped me finish, which I greatly appreciated. I'd say about the time everyone had arrived about 40 minutes into the party, I was done and everything was ready! I was quite proud of myself.

    The spread!

    Close-up of my toppings set-up: I love that sectioned platter, so classy IMHO
    So for all the sturm und drang and stress, it went off fairly seamlessly (externally; internally, I was a basket case that took an hour to calm down OMG I was so stressed in that last hour). The carnitas were a big hit, and most of the guests dug in enthusiastically. I received lots of "it's great!"s from the guests.

    Only bad things: 1. I severely underestimated people's love of guacamole and should've made more, and 2. I MADE WAY TOO MUCH FOOD. I figured people would KEEP eating, but everyone had one serving and stopped. We even had leftover carnitas - which everyone claimed was their favorite! Of course, it didn't help that some people ate before they came (?!?), and although most of the guest list showed up, I'd say only 2/3 of the people actually ate.

    J and R declined most of the leftovers, of which there were a TON. For the rest of the weekend and the start of the week, The Hubs and I were eating nothing but Mexican food. After 3 days, we still had a TON of food leftover, specifically beans and taco meat, so I made a schnikey-load of burritos to freeze. I made 10 decent-sized burritos! (I used this link as a guideline for how to prep for freezing.) I love Mexican food, but I'm good for another couple weeks on eating anything other than the burritos, which'll be my lunch at work for the next week or two. Thank god I like my own cooking.

    All in all, I was REALLY proud of putting this out. It made me confident that I could do a bigger-scale dinner party once we have a place that can accommodate a larger group! (We live in a one-bedroom apt.)


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