Recycle for savings

I’m pretty good with recycling stuff. I know what can be recycled at our local landfill and sort it accordingly. I recycle because I believe we should be good stewards of what’s been entrusted to our care, including the environment and finances.

It’s difficult not to see the connection between being good stewards of the environment and good stewards of your finances. Disposing of many recyclable items is free, but if I toss them into the garbage I’m charged for their disposal. Why would I pay to do something when I have another option?

However, not everything can be recycled easily or without charge. Block Styrofoam is a real pain! Our local landfill won’t take it unless we include it in our garbage. That would not only be bad for the environment, but it takes up an enormous amount of space and would cost more than I’m willing to pay, so I began researching options.

The husband actually found a location that takes block Styrofoam, and the charge is very reasonable at $5 for a carload. Yesterday I loaded up my Acura MDX with the Styrofoam we’d accumulated and called my mom to see if she had any to add (doesn’t everybody?!). I filled the back cargo space and half of the backseat and headed off to Total Reclaim. I had an appointment in the same area, so I was saving time and fuel, as well!

It feels great to be rid of the space-hogging Styrofoam, and even greater to know I disposed of it in a manner that preserved the environment AND my money. Now that’s what I call *finesse!

My recycling finesse level:  Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your recycling finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Elbow PT

I’ve begun physical therapy for my tennis elbow, which I posted about in early June. The pain had subsided with the use of ice, heat and anti-inflammatory meds, but was still present. I’m not one to be content with healing halfway, so I advocated for physical therapy.

I’ve had two sessions, and while I haven’t seen any major improvement, I do feel like I have a better understanding of how long this may last and what I need to do to move toward being 100 percent.

I’m still using ice and heat and the occasional anti-inflammatory and have added stretching exercises. These simple movements, when done correctly, are allowing me to move my elbow and arm with less pain.

I’m also wearing a brace which limits the way I move the tendons between my elbow and wrist. I’m much more aware of what I was do that hinders healing. It’s a little uncomfortable to wear while sleeping, but I try to keep it on as much as possible.

According the my therapist, tennis elbow can take six months to a year to heal – so much for a quick fix. I’m not the most patient patient or the most disciplined, but I want to have the pain-free movement I had pre-injury so I’ll do my best to follow the treatment plan with *finesse.

Lesson learned is to listen to my body. When it’s giving me a “this is uncomfortable” signal I can push through, but when it’s giving me an “OUCH! That hurts” signal, it’s time to stop. Are you a good listener?

My wellness finesse level:  Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your wellness finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Writing research

I wrote about doing some research on the history of our property back in April (Playing detective).  I mentioned that it was requiring a “HUGE amount of *finesse,” but that finesse has paid off!

I was researching the family that had lived here in 1930 on, and was having difficulty following the information due to the number marriages between the two prominent family lines and similar names. I’d contacted two family members that had posted trees, but they did not have any helpful information.

However, I did receive an email from a family member I had not contacted. He turned out to be the great-grandson of the previous owner. He said his mother was anxious to speak with me regarding the horrific events that took place on the property that involved her mother’s family. Since that time I have exchanged many emails with various family members who all live in the Mid-west. I even received a packet of family photos, some taken on the property!

This afternoon I’m sitting down with two elderly ladies who lived in the area during the period of time that the previous family lived here. Funny, but I would have never known to speak with these two ladies (one still lives in the area, the other is here visiting relatives) without receiving that contact through

My research finesse level:  Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your research finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Perfect harmony

Music has always been part of my life. My mom and dad started singing together as teenagers in church – long before they were ever romantically involved. They passed down their love of music and talent to me and my two siblings.

We were all involved in band and choir in school, and continued to be involved with music as adults. My brother was a music minister before becoming a senior pastor. My sister is a music teacher and has sung with the Oregon Repertory Singers and performed in the Mikado. I’ve sung professionally and played the piano in a small church.

We decided a great gift for our mother’s 80thbirthday would be the three of us singing at the party. We sang together as children, but to the best of my recollection, we’ve not sung together in more than 25 years. We got together yesterday to practice. Even with our musical background, it took us a while to find our musical equilibrium. However, after 15-20 minutes, we were blending and making adjustments with *finesse.

Me with my parents and siblings at my cousins wedding – the last time I recall singing with my siblings. (1984)

Maybe it’s because we’re siblings and were raised with the same musical influences, but it’s surprising that we sound as good as we do and are still in sync with each other after all these years. Regardless of how we sound at the party, it will be perfect harmony to our mother, and that’s what matters.*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Blogging with Finesse

This week’s Friend with *Finesse features someone many of you know – ME! I’m not a self-promoting person by nature, but I want to share my **interview posted on Rene Syler’s Good Enough Mother blog.

You see, Rene is the reason I started a blog. I had read her story about making a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy, then being fired by her employer and was inspired by her attitude. Much to my surprise, Rene responded with very encouraging words and advice regarding my recent health challenge that led me to resign my much-loved position in media/public relations at the Oregon Zoo.

I started my Femme-de-Finesse blog because Rene advised me to “write, write, write,” which I have tried to do every day. I hope you enjoy reading the blog, but more importantly, I hope you feel inspired to comment. I miss the interaction of being part of a team, so please consider this an open invitation to be part of the Femme-de-Finesse team.

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

** read the interview here:

Creative meals

How do you plan meals for the last few days before you move a great distance? The last thing you want to do is grocery shop and add more to move, but is there really anything in your pantry, fridge or freezer to make balanced meals for several days? The answer may be a surprising YES!

I recently went to Arizona to help my son and his family move. His wife and baby daughter flew out a few days ahead of us, while we packed the last minute items (beds, bedding, toiletries – stuff you need until you hit the road). I looked at what food remained and tried to plan meals around the perishable items and supplement, if necessary with the non-perishable items.

We had great meals of grilled ahi and salad, pot stickers and stir-fry, barbecued hamburgers and fries, and Eggs Benedict, as well as other assorted items. We ate very well while using as much of the food as we could reasonably consume.

Even though I’m not moving, I’ve decided I need to do this at home. What great meals are lurking in my freezer and pantry? I organized them both about 10 months ago, so I’m thinking it’s about time to do it again. Besides, organizing the freezer sound pretty good on a day that the temperature is predicted to reach 102 degrees!

Organizing payoff

My dad at 10 years old. Probably a class photo from Binnsmead Elementary, Portland, OR.

Several months ago I wrote about the effort to help my mother organize her nearly 80 years of collecting ( We had made some progress in her kitchen, living room and family room before taking a much needed break from the enormous task.

Last week she had a leak around her water heater, so the husband stopped by to take a look. The sight of her garage filled with boxes made my heart sink. Now I fully understood why she was under the impression her garage was not really a two car garage. It was clearly time to take a stab at organizing again.

It was a little difficult to decide how to tackle the gargantuan amount of stuff. Because she had help when she moved from her late husband’s home, I don’t think she really knew what was in each box. We decided to start in one corner and work our way around. My sister joined us for a few hours and we worked together with great *finesse, keeping each other on task, which can be difficult when you come across “treasures.” My goal was to get a space cleared in front of the electrical panel so mom could check a breaker without breaking her neck and hopefully get as far as the cabinets, which I’m guessing is about 8 feet from the corner.

My dad, Richard and his older brothers, Russell and Del

We didn’t quite meet that goal, but we did get an unexpected payoff. Mom found some old photos of my dad from his childhood. There was a great photo of him at maybe six to nine months old with his two older brothers. What a treasure! We also came across letters from his sisters and other documents that will be a great addition to my genealogy research on still have a LOT to do, but with every load we haul to recycling and thrift shops, we are making progress!

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Oh, Brother!

Richard holding his newest great-niece (my granddaughter) Kaley Rachael at his 60th birthday party.

I shared a little about my sister in a previous blog, Sisters with Finesse, however I haven’t shared anything about our brother, Richard. The family got together this past weekend to celebrate his sixtieth birthday (well, his birthday isn’t until the latter part of Sept., but celebrating early was the easiest way his wife could plan a surprise party).

It was fun to listen to friends and family share their stories of knowing Richard over the years. Most of the family stories I either experienced or have heard before, but it was fun to relive those humorous moments of his life. It was also fun to hear from his friends from various parts of his life tell of practical jokes he played or those that were played on him, and stories revealing the softer side of my brother.

Richard is eight years older than me and four years older than my sister, Nancy, so it was a little difficult to grow up as buddies. Too many years and levels of interest separated us, but as we’ve grown and become adults, the barrier of age difference has melted. Most of the things I don’t have in common with my sister, I have in common with my brother. For example, our taste in music is more similar than that of our sister.

Richard and Nancy in their younger days.

Regardless, we all share a bond of being raised by the same parents, with the same family extended family and shared life experiences. We’ve been there through births and deaths, highs and lows, hilarious and tearful moments and we’ll continue to build memories together.

Balancing priorities

I’ve been MIA for the last few weeks, but that’s understandable when you consider that I’ve only been home nine of the last 26 days. I had great internet access while vacationing in Central Oregon, so I was able to keep blogging throughout that week. We were only home for five days before heading out to Springerville, Arizona, but I was still able to post a few times while trying to catch up with mail, housecleaning, laundry, bills and repacking.

While in Springerville, the internet access was intermittent at best. However, I doubt I would have done much posting due to the reason for being there. My son and daughter-in-love had a baby girl, and we were there to meet her. What a sweetheart!  We were also helping them move back to Oregon.

The husband had to return to work after a few days and took our daughter-in-love and granddaughter with him to Phoenix to fly home. I remained in Springerville to help our son finish packing, cleaning and loading the moving truck. Our son and his buddy drove the truck towing his wife’s car, while I followed in his car with their two dogs.

We drove about 1350 miles in two days, stopping for fuel and to let the dogs run around, but little else. We spent the night (about 6 hours) north of Salt Lake City, Utah and arrived home about 9:30 Saturday evening.

While I enjoy writing and missed posting, I realize that there are times when I will have to put the blog on hold.  Vacation, helping the kids and meeting a new granddaughter take priority over what I consider to be my job. The time away has provided lots interesting topics to share and I’m excited to get back to a regular schedule.