Categories
Decorating Happiness Organization self-improvement

The Amazing Power of Tiny Changes

“If you want the things in your life to change, you’ve got to change the things in your life.”

Kevin Trudeau

The above quote resonated with me when I stumbled upon it several years ago. I’d always told myself that I’d make the big changes to my home and my life after I’d achieved financial freedom but after hearing those words I realized that there were some things that I could change while I waited.

So I did.

I’ve written on this website about some of the changes, about how I’d decided to experiment with the Diderot Effect, to see what it would accomplish. One of the things I allowed myself to do was to spend more money than old me would even consider to acquire the items that I really wanted instead of things that would just get me by.

I’d forgotten about that decision until recently. The changes I’d made were so subtle that they weren’t noticeable. Investing in a higher quality pen instead of using a cheap freebie, buying a large computer monitor when I found one on sale instead of making do with the small one I had, treating myself to a video game that I loved instead of doing without. Even the act of allowing myself to embrace the small television that my daughter had gifted me instead of insisting that I didn’t need it was an action inspired by that quote.

This was why, once the shock of achieving financial freedom wore off, I faced a quandary: what did I want to claim as my reward that I didn’t already have?

If you want the things in your life to change, you’ve got to change the things in your life. If you want a simpler, cleaner home, instead of telling yourself that you’ll do something with the next move or when you can afford the fancy storage system, start cleaning up your house now.

If you have a choice between buying an item now that’s cheap and saving up to buy the one that you really want, save up the money. The act of delaying the purchase not only makes the acquisition more delightful, you get what you want instead of just making do.

This is a big thing, much bigger than I’d realized. Just a series of tiny changes can completely change your life in time and you won’t even notice.

Since I made my initial decision to upgrade the things in my life so many little things have changed that I find it hard to recognize the person I was back when I started. I suspect the same will happen to you if you allow yourself to start making tiny changes as well.

As for the reward I’d promised myself, instead of focusing on acquiring things, I’ve decided to focus upon how I want the home to feel instead. I want a wave of tranquility flow over anyone who enters this home so I am in search of the right paint color and physical arrangement to make it happen.

Even this early in the process, I can already tell a difference.

I’ll share photos once this project looks a bit more finished but to my surprise, we don’t have near as much to do or acquire as I expected thanks to the tiny changes I’ve allowed myself over the years. Never did I dream that such small changes could make such a large difference.

Have you ever looked back on your life and realized that the tiniest changes made the biggest difference? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Finances Food Frugality Organization

The Difference Between Stockpiling and Hoarding

“I’ve got coupons for the crackers!” Katie dug through her coupon holder as we entered the cracker aisle. “How much should we get?”

I checked the expiration date upon the boxes, holding one up to show my daughter. “How many boxes do you think we’ll go through by this date?”

Katie frowned. “Not a lot,” she muttered.

There is a difference between stockpiling and hoarding. It’s easy to forget that in the middle of a pandemic while facing an erratic supply chain. When we see something we use in stock, we instinctively want to buy it all because we honestly don’t know when it will be available again.

I struggle with this personally.

My life could be described as a financial feast or famine situation. I’ve had times of plenty and times of having not near enough. When I figured that out, I began to balance things a bit. During times of plenty I would stock up on bargains in order to survive the times of want.

For instance, a few years back I came across a back-to-school sale that had composition notebooks for an incredibly low price. Katie thought I was crazy as I hauled whole cases of notebooks home. I worried that I’d overdone things as storage and privacy concerns found me shifting my journaling habit to the computer instead of using notebooks but since those notebooks cost nothing for me to store I kept them.

And it paid off. My grandkids have used quite a few of them for school and play. I’ve used a bunch of them to make lists and take notes. My Katie is now working on the last batch, using them in college. Because they have been used, that purchase can be considered a stockpile.

Several years previous I faced an entirely different situation. I worked at a food plant for a while. They primarily made cereal and crackers. They kept a bin of the discards (imperfect boxes, wrong weight, etc.) that the workers were free to take home. I knew I would not have that job forever (I was a temporary worker) so I stocked up. I filled my pantry with those items.

A lot of it went bad before we could finish it. I felt like a fool for hoarding the stuff.

But how can you tell the difference? How can one know if they are simply stockpiling or if they are hoarding? Here are three general rules that I follow.

Can I Afford It?

This might sound silly at first but it is easy to blow your budget when you find a good deal on something you want to stock up on. I have done this more times than I can count over the years. I would see a stockpile of fabric in a thrift shop, arrange to buy the entire lot for cheap, only to realize that, while it was an excellent bargain that I spent all of my excess cash on the acquisition. While the fabric was used over time, I still remember my mistakes. I have adjusted my purchasing habits accordingly after that experience and others.

Sometimes it is better to pass up a deal, no matter how good due to budget constraints. While you can always save up a bit of money to have on hand with which to take advantage of good deals, depending upon when you stumble upon a bargain, your money stash might be a bit low to comfortably make the purchase. Bills and food must always come first. Remember that.

Will I Use It Before It Expires?

Many items like food and medicine have expiration dates. While the dates are just an estimate of how long the item will remain safely usable, those dates can be used as a guideline. When stocking up, check those dates. Estimate how much of the item you will use before the date on the container. Remind yourself that if the item isn’t used up by that date that you may not feel safe trusting it and limit the amount you purchase accordingly.

When it comes to items that expire, less is better in the stockpiling arena. It is better to use it up and purchase more than it is to invest in a stockpile that will go bad before you finish it.

BONUS TIP: Rotate your stock! The restaurant industry has a term for this: FIFO. It means “first in, first out.” Always use your old items first. This will ensure that nothing goes bad before you use it.

Do I Have Enough Room to Store It?

The catch to having a stockpile is that external storage is NOT cheap. Even worse, if you store your stockpile off site, you might forget that you have it and purchase even more. Look around the space in your home before you decide to stock up. If you can reserve a space that will allow you to access the items with little difficulty you are in good shape. If you find that area beginning to overflow, know that you need to stop for a bit and use up what you already have.

I recently had to do that with my book collection. It had outgrown the shelf I had assigned to it by at least a factor of two. Instead of being able to keep the books neatly organized I had them stacked in layers upon that shelf, to the point where it would take several minutes of hunting to retrieve a single book. In fact, when I thinned down my collection I discovered that I’d inadvertently collected duplicates of some titles. I’d collected so many that I’d forgotten what I had.

I will have a similar situation with clothing in the near future. Both of my daughters happen to adore clothes; whenever they thin down they bring their discards to me. Since the local clothing pantry is shut down due to the pandemic I will have to devise a solution. Since I now have a sewing machine, I will probably cut up the ones I can’t wear to either store in my fabric bin or recycle them into cleaning and family cloths. That will keep the storage space to a minimum and allow me to recycle them naturally. I may end up making a lot of patchwork items until the clothing pantry reopens but that’s okay – at least the items will be put to use.

Remember: if you find yourself beginning to trip over your stockpile, you’ve reached a danger point. While it is okay to stock up, it is painfully easy to start hoarding. If you cannot organize and keep track, you’ll find yourself with a problem.

~

While there are a range of other questions you can ask yourself, those are the three primary ones that I personally use. Do you have any questions that you ask yourself that I missed? Maybe you can teach me how to stock up more efficiently. Thank you!

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Decluttering Organization

Change Starts at Home

I may not be able to change the world but at least I am able to change myself. I’ve done a lot of thinking on that subject lately because the questions I’ve been asking have revealed a source of discontent within my life that I’ve been trying to ignore.

Try as I may, I could not put my finger on what was bothering me so I started looking back in my life, examining the periods when I was truly happy. I figured if I could identify the differences then I might be able to find a clue to my current dissatisfaction.

Do you know what I discovered? I discovered that the happiest point in my life wasn’t when I had the most money. It wasn’t when I was my busiest or my laziest.

The happiest time of my life was when I first moved here with almost nothing.

My bed was on the floor. I used the coffeetable of my childhood as a desk, sitting upon the folded up futon to write.

Almost all of my books were digital because I’d had no room to bring my physical ones.

My food was stored in a cooler until I acquired a refrigerator. I had a small but decent wardrobe. I owned my laptops, and that was about it.

Everything else I had hauled down here belonged to the kid.

But I was happy. I was so happy in those days even as I scrabbled to pay the bills and get sorted.

Why was that? Was it because I had less to clean? Was it because I had less things to distract me?

I don’t know the answers. All I do know is that something is amiss in my life and I want to fix it.

Today I took that first step. I decided to tackle the largest hoard in my house–my book collection.

I dug out every single tome in the house. My collection had outgrown the shelf I’d designated for it so my mission was simple: distil the collection down to where they would fit in their designated area with room to spare.

I spent the entire day agonizing over titles but bit by bit I whittled them down. I set the discards aside, watching first one stack, then another and another form as I continued the task.

I actually did better than I expected with this round. I’m quite proud of myself. After I stopped to eat, I invited some friends over to pick through my collection. As they left for the evening, so did the last of the selections.

I feel so much lighter now that they’re gone! I thought I would feel sad but I don’t. In fact, part of me wishes that I had eliminated more.

Over the next few days I will decide how to organize the titles that I’ve kept. When that is complete I will share photos. I believe I have at least one photo that was taken around the time they started getting completely out of control. If I can find it I will share it with you as well.

This makes me wonder if one of the reasons we are so dissatisfied with our lives is because we’ve allowed them to become too cluttered. Maybe the reason we buy when we’re unhappy is because we think that buying will make us happier, only to make the problem worse because the real reason we’re unhappy is that we’ve got too much stuff already?

I’m not even sure if that last sentence made any sense. I’ve been at this since early this morning so I am terribly exhausted. I’ll have to think about it tomorrow.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

One last note before you go. Due to numerous requests I created a donation link for those who want to chip in without buying a book.


Thank you for your support!

Categories
Minimalism Organization Personal Simplicity

Physical Vs. Print Books

Over the years I have waffled between print and physical books. I love having the ability to pull a book off of the shelf and flip to my notes or review certain sections. I don’t know if it is because I grew up exclusively with physical books or if that is the way that my brain works. Regardless of the reason, I’ve collected quite a few print books over the past few years, believing that it was the best path for me to take.

Technology has changed immensely since I made the initial decision to focus almost exclusively upon print books so I have realized that this subject needs to be revisited. This article will discuss the differences between the two formats as I decide if one format is better for me personally.

Ease of Acquisition

If you want to acquire an ebook it is a simple matter of downloading the title desired from the Internet. If you have access to an Internet connection you can acquire almost any book you desire within moments. Websites that specialize in creating ebooks from titles that are out of copyright are prolific these days. There are very few books that one cannot download immediately now–especially if the book in question is an older one.

Print books can be located easily enough from libraries, book sales, thrift shops, friends, and a myriad of other avenues. If a book you desire cannot be located locally you can always order it online. You will have to pay for shipping and wait a few days but you can still acquire them.

The primary difference (aside from speed) when it comes to acquiring either print or physical books is cost. A large number of ebook titles are older and out of copyright; these titles can be acquired for free in digital format but even the oldest print book may cost money to acquire. If the title is an uncommon one (like a first edition), acquiring a physical copy can become prohibitively expensive. While it may not cost much to acquire an older print book locally, shipping expense on physical books can add up over time.

Ease of Access

One of my primary issues with ebooks is the DRM that is so prevalent when you purchase books from major retailers. If those companies go under, what happens to the books you’ve purchased? Will you still be able to access them? Will the money you spent on the digital books be for nothing if the company decides to withdraw your right to access those books? This is a major concern for me. Many ebooks come packaged in a special format that would make it impossible to read the books if you lose access to your reader software or the company decides to revoke your right to read them. That problem doesn’t exist for print books; you don’t need special software to read them and never have to worry about some company telling you that you can no longer access the books you’ve purchased. As long as you have a physical copy, you will be able to read that book. Even better, you can lend that book out if you desire. Many ebooks do not have this ability. Ebook distributors don’t want people to share the ebooks they’ve purchased so they seriously limit–if not completely eliminate–your ability to share the ebooks you’ve purchased.

Search capabilities

Ebooks win in this area. If you can remember a few words from a section, a quick search will retrieve all instances in a book where those words appear. This is much easier to do with ebooks than it is with print books; if the print book doesn’t contain an index, you are forced to flip through the pages until you hopefully get lucky enough to locate the area you are searching for.

However, when it comes to actually locating a book that you are looking for, print wins out if you don’t know the exact title. Humans are geared to recognize things visually. It is a simple matter to sift through a collection of physical books to locate a specific cover, bookmark, or other identifying mark when searching for a particular book. Even with modern ebook readers that feature covers this can be difficult. Publishers (especially indie publishers) tend to change their ebook covers occasionally. When they change the covers on their ebooks, the ebook reader system will update the title with the new cover–rendering your visual ability to locate that book useless.

Space and Portability

You can store an incomprehensible number of ebooks upon a single device and carry that device with you. This grants you the ability to keep an entire library of books in your possession wherever you may go. The only way to comprehend what this means is to try carrying aound a 1,000-plus page book to read during downtimes. I’ve had to do that in the past. When I began learning about computers, many of the books I read were in this page range or even larger. These books can be a logistical nightmare. Just trying to open one up to read a few paragraphs while you’re standing in line is almost physically impossible if you don’t have a place to sit down. With a small computer or ereader, however, you can accomplish this with ease.

Moving can also become a logistical nightmare if you possess a large number of books. These books must be boxed and taken to the place where you have decided to relocate to. If you are moving some distance, this can end up costing a fortune. I’ve encountered this issue several times over the years as I’ve moved from place to place. It was one of the primary reasons I began shifting to ebooks before I settled in this house. I couldn’t afford the time or the expense of moving my immense library from a practical perspective.

Once you settle into a place, physical books add another layer of difficulty to one’s life. You need to acquire some sort of shelving or devise another method of storage for the books. Once you have that in place, you have to maintain your physical book collection by dusting it, rearranging it when the titles get out of order, as well as protecting them from moisture and other hazards. If your physical book collection outgrows the space that you have allotted for it, you either have to eliminate some of the books or expand your storage. This can become quite expensive, especially in light of how much it costs in our modern age to rent or purchase larger homes. Very few of us have the financial luxury of being able to afford a home large enough to store an extensive library of physical books.

In contrast, even the largest library of ebooks can be stored on a tablet, ereader, phone, or backed up on a hard drive. I have several DVDs worth of ebooks stored away that I’ve collected through the years. It takes very little space to store those discs in comparison to storing the physical versions.

Privacy

A modern discussion of the subject of books would not be relevant without discussing privacy concerns. Our world is slowly evolving into a state of constant surveillance. Many of us like to read books that those around us would not approve of if they saw those books on our shelves. I encountered this issue personally many years ago; I was a member of a religious faith that “discouraged” its members from possessing and reading any book that was not officially sanctioned by the leaders of that faith. In fact, that was one of the reasons I began exploring ebooks. It allowed me the freedom to read what I wanted without anyone in that faith to become aware of my unsanctioned reading preferences.

While as a society we may not have degenerated to the point where our reading material can get us in legal trouble, there are some instances where discretion is encouraged. Certain subjects like the Law of Attraction, spiritualism, and even certain reference materials can make family and friends uncomfortable or even hostile if they happen to see these types of titles upon our bookshelves. Because of this, it may be safest to keep certain subjects of reading and research exclusively in digital format–if only to avoid questions.

My Personal Situation

As much as I prefer print books, the space that I have to store them is limited. The shelf I acquired to store my library is overflowing. At some point in the future I will have to reduce my collection by thinning out some of the titles I own. Many of the books I prefer to read are older titles so I wonder at the logic of paying for a physical copy when I could download a digital copy for free instead. Does it make sense to spend money to purchase, say, Moby Dick in a physical book when I can download an ebook version for free?

While I’ve not been openly criticized for my reading preferences in close to a decade, I still carry some emotional scarring from that time in my life. There are some subjects that I refuse to even consider acquiring in print format because of my experiences in the past. Even with that precaution, I have raised a few eyebrows when a curious visitor has taken the time to examine the physical books in my collection. I’ve got a small number of books that I’ve hidden away because I know that there are those in my circle that would not understand my interest in certain subjects.

Privacy hangups aside, my primary concern at the moment is physical. I have no desire to relocate to a larger home; in fact, I may choose to move to an even smaller place in the future to save money on housing. How can I juggle this? I already know that, should I decide to move that I won’t be able to take my entire physical collection with me. If a flood hits this place, I know that I won’t be able to take my physical books with me if I have to evacuate. The DRM limitations on ebooks purchased on major retailing sites makes me nervous; when I acquire a book, I want to keep access to that book, period. There are ways around that but those ways aren’t exactly considered politically correct. Even if I don’t share a single copy of an ebook I possess I may run afoul of the law at some point in the future if I pursue this avenue.

I do have the equipment now that will allow me to read PDF files and even make notes in them on my devices. It’s not the same as holding the physical book in my hand but it’s close. Books acquired in plain text take up even less space than PDF books; if the files are named with some sort of convention, they should theoretically be fairly easy to locate even in a sizable collection. Computerized search capabilities have improved immensely over the past decade as well to the point where computers can even search inside some PDF documents and they’ve always been able to search inside of text files.

I love the beauty of physical books but I’ve reached the point in my life where I need to make a decision. Should I continue to collect physical copies, or should I gradually transition to ebooks? And how do I deal with the fact that my physical book collection has outgrown the space that I have available? Am I being overly paranoid about the privacy aspect? Do I accept the risk of loss if modern DRM controls decide to block access from my ebooks, or should I seek a DRM-free source of any ebooks that I acquire? And should I focus on formats that I can read on any device I happen to possess or resign myself to a single ereader device that may become obsolete?

What book format do you prefer? Why do you prefer that format? If you were in my situation, a situation where space and privacy are major considerations, how would you handle it? Any and all opinions are welcome. I would like to hear a variety of opinions before I make any decisions.

Thank you for your consideration.

Categories
Organization Productivity Time management

My Minimalist Daily Planner

I have spent a small fortune on planning and productivity apps over the years. I’ve vacillated between paper and digital so many times that it borders upon the ridiculous.

While I wanted to go completely digital, not one of the apps I purchased could accommodate my needs so I would end up purchasing even more apps, make the process more complicated, and give up as a result. If I found one I liked it would be out of date within six months to a year unless I paid even more for the new version or moved on to something different.

Paper planning methods were just as annoying. While the Bullet Journal method worked to a degree, I found myself having to migrate to new notebooks so often that it felt like I spent more time migrating than I did actually using the thing. The closest thing to paradise I discovered in the paper realm was a hard back planner that made my wallet scream.

Even worse with the paper methods, I quickly built up a large supply of used notebooks, which is far from ideal when you live in a tiny house.

After my last round of experiments I decided that enough was enough. My goal is to simplify my life, not make it more complicated with stacks of notebooks or constant app purchases.

I wanted a planning and record-keeping method that would use a minimum of space, could be easily viewed on different devices, not be locked into some sort of specialized software, and not cost a single penny.

Since that doesn’t really exist out in the world, I made one.

I modified the original idea in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. I created a series of folders, naming them in a way that would cause them to sort automatically by date. I eliminated the need for monthly folders with my naming procedure and got to work.

Daily Folders sorted by date.

Each day gets its own individual folder that is named by the date and day of the week. Within that folder I created a text file for my work shift, and individual text files for anything I needed to remember upon that day or tasks I wanted to accomplish.

As the day progresses I rename the task files, placing an “x” in the front of the file name to mark the task as completed. I file relevant documents within that folder by naming them accordingly. A quick search on my computer will bring up personal items, photos, or whatever I am searching for without having to dig through the folders individually.

Daily tasks and notes are stored in the daily folders. Note the “x” in front of the completed tasks.

On the days I have time to journal I create a simple text file in the daily folder to log my personal thoughts.

Recurring tasks get copied into each daily folder in advance based upon when I want to take care of them. While I do keep a separate file with a list of tasks that I don’t need to do on a specific date, that is simple enough to maintain. I just borrowed the old plain-text format from the Taskpaper app I purchased ages ago and access the file from any plain text editor now that Taskpaper is no longer supported.

It has been a few months since I started experimenting with this method. To my surprise, it meets my needs perfectly. I am able to not only keep track of my daily life even on the go (provided I sync beforehand or have wifi access), I can even scan in any journal entries I decide to write by hand so it has actually ended up being a bit better than any method I have tried in the past.

While it does take a few minutes to create a new set of files each month I have no doubts that task could be automated if one ever decided to write a script for the process. I find it meditative to create them manually at the moment so I’ve not been motivated to even bother.

Accessing the Planner on the Move

I recommend storing the main folder (named by the current year) in the cloud if you want to access your planner on the go. For simplicity’s sake, create a folder inside the annual folder named “@Upcoming Schedule” to separate your archives from your future plans.

When you want to create a note for a future date, create a folder for that particular date and insert the note inside. You can copy emails, PDFs, or anything in there as a reminder.

This method is extremely simple and quite effective once you develop the habit of checking your daily folder every morning. I move the previous day’s folder up one level into the annual folder before opening up the folder for the new day to get started.

If you are sick and tired of experimenting with planning methods or paying a fortune for apps and paper planners you may want to consider trying this method. It is simple, platform-independent, future-proof, and completely free.

Even better, you can customize the method based upon how you work and keep track of things in a way that you find most comfortable.


What methods have you tried to keep track of your daily life? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances Housing Organization

The Value of Household Inventory

I opened the last tote of kitty litter this morning. As soon as I topped off the litterbox I sat down and penned a note to my daughter, asking her to order more come payday. We had 1.5 totes of cat food on hand, so I informed her that we would be good on cat food for this round.

This is a slice of the inventory method my daughter and I use to keep track of supplies in our home. I inspect our consumables on a monthly basis, ordering my portions as needed and leaving reminders for Katie to order her portion.

Daughter and I have worked out this method of dividing the expense of consumables over the past few years since she started working. The person whose turn it is to order is free (within reason) to decide upon which brand they select and we take turns or split the expense depending upon our current financial circumstances.

This allows us to not only turn over our mutual household supplies on a regular basis, it prevents us from running out and eliminates the issue of brand preference that we faced during the early days, as well as the feeling that one of us is shouldering the bulk of the burden.

How do you handle your household inventory and expense? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Organization self-improvement Simplicity

How I Spent My Vacation

Last week I took the first paid vacation at a public job in almost two decades.

“What do you plan to do?” Curious friends wanted to know.

“Absolutely nothing,” I grinned.

I lied to everyone prior to taking those days off. I had something special planned to mark the start of my 49th year of life. While one day had been scheduled to completely rest, the remainder of the days would be filled to the brim.

I was going to sit down, think long and hard about my life, and make some adjustments to my course.

It was time to get serious. I’d proven to myself that I could actually make money in the stock market; I had seen firsthand that those who claim that only the “experts” could make money in the stock market were wrong. With a steady hand and a serene calm, I could use the lessons gained from a lifetime of poverty to grow my wealth to the point where I would never have to worry about working a public job ever again.

If I wanted to become truly free, however, I needed to make some changes. I needed to simplify my daily existence, review my annual and long-term goals, and organize my life accordingly.

It seemed delightfully appropriate to make these adjustments while on a paid vacation from public employment. I would get paid while I plotted my escape.

To prepare I set my normal reading aside to review the stack of productivity books I’ve collected over the years. I’m working more hours than ever at my public job so I need to maximize my productivity at home. This will become even more urgent should I decide to take a full-time job in the future. My book royalties are the key to my freedom; if I could figure out a way to grow my royalties, I’ll have more money available to invest towards my goal. Since it is the primary income source I possess that isn’t connected to how many hours I work in a day, I wanted to free up some more time to devote to it.

My question was this: What can I do right now that will simplify my daily life while minimizing expense and upkeep?

The answer: I needed to run my personal life more like a business.

I had become rather disorganized in my recordkeeping. As I explored minimalism, I’d stopped using files to organize my records, opting instead for a system of envelopes, folders, and notebooks that had grown exponentially more complicated as I began to track my research, investments, writing, and daily tasks. I not only had to carry a heavy daily planner to work, I used an even heavier journal to chronicle my thoughts, and I had to dig through a stack of notebooks over a foot tall in order to locate the proper one to record stock market purchases, observations, and other important information. I would spend hours pasting articles collected from the Internet into these notebooks, indexing them in yet another notebook just to keep track. Financial records were spread between a folder dedicated to my writing business, a folder and a notebook for my stock market investments, and my daily planner for personal stuff.

I could free up an immense amount of time and potentially a lot of money if I could devise one single, simple way to keep track of everything.

As my vacation approached I began to get nervous. Nothing seemed to click in any of the books that I was reading. The Internet was filled with planners and organization systems but I didn’t want to spend a fortune; I’d already spent a small fortune on my daily planners these past two years and they weren’t working. I had no desire to throw even more money away.

Two evenings before my vacation, inspiration hit as I was counting the tills and doing the closing paperwork at my public job. My trainer took that evening to show me their filing system. It brought back memories long forgotten of how, as a new single mother, I had invested a portion of my very first welfare check into a file cabinet in order to keep track of my records as I strove to improve my circumstances.

Over the next decade, that file cabinet morphed into a storage center for everything that had been important in my life.

Pictures of the kids? Filed in folders sorted by year. Tax records? Same. Inspiration had its own set of folders, sorted by my dreams. I even kept a series of folders to store my old journals and DayRunner pages. I could locate anything in moments by thumbing through my precious file cabinet, yet I had left that system behind due to years of teasing.

I am no longer the young woman who fell prey to social pressure all of those years ago. That kid has transitioned into an old crone who has learned the hard way that the advice of the people around her, however well-intentioned, is not always the best.

The first day of my vacation, I bummed a ride to Wal-Mart for supplies. Since I live in a flood zone I opted for plastic file totes. They will protect my files somewhat in the event of a flood and be easy to grab should I have to evacuate. I added some file folders to the cart, headed home, and got to work.

I spent the next three days reviewing every single piece of paper I had scattered throughout my home. I tossed the irrelevant stuff and filed the rest. To save time I simply tossed entire notebooks into file folders; as the days move on I’ll break those notebooks down to recycle the blank pages for notes and journaling paper.

I could feel the tension leaving my body as I filed things away. I hadn’t even realized that my old organizational method was causing me stress until I felt it begin to lift.

By the end of my vacation I had not only organized my files, I had devised a planning method that not only eliminates the need to carry around an expensive (and bulky) daily planner, it eliminated the need to keep a journaling notebook as well. I returned to work refreshed, recharged, and ready to handle the challenges of my 49th year of life.

It felt good.

How do you plan to spend your vacation? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Organization Productivity self-improvement

The Habit Chain

It takes time to form a habit. Positive habits are definitely worth the effort to build. They can slowly transform our life from the mediocre into an absolutely astounding existence.

When remaking your life it is best to start small. Analyze the things you want to change about yourself and select just one to focus on. This is how Benjamin Franklin did it. He would chronicle his success and failures in a journal for a time before switching his focus onto another habit, in a continual self-improvement program.

This year I have three habits I want to create. I want to read a little bit every single day, I want to write a single blog post, and I want to scoop the litterbox.

I added the last one because I didn’t want all of my habits to just be about me. One must curate a pleasant environment in order to be at their happiest, and I really dislike the results of skipping a day when it comes to scooping that litterbox. My litterbox may be large but I prefer it to be as clean as I can keep it.

In order to get a running start I began my project late last year. I would write those three items down on the daily pages of my planner each morning, checking them off as I completed them. I soon realized that I was spending time re-writing those three things that could be better utilized elsewhere so I began brainstorming a solution.

I recalled reading somewhere about a comedian who would place an X on an annual calendar every single day after he wrote one joke. His goal was to keep the chain going.

I decided to try it. I placed an X over the day after completing every blog post and circled the date when I completed my daily reading. I experimented with placing another mark over the date for the litterbox scooping but when I decided that it made things confusing I printed out a copy of my annual page and stuck it in my Book of Lists to mark off there.

That comedian was right. It is incredibly motivational to have a chain of marks that you want to keep going. I’ve found myself completing my unfinished tasks near midnight just to keep the chain intact.

If you have a habit you wish to acquire I urge you to try it. Use this link to print out an annual calendar and start crossing out the days as you complete the task. It really does help.

Categories
Organization Productivity self-improvement

Preparing for the New Year

Twenty-eighteen has been an incredibly eventful year. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the previous stage of my life is ending and determined a new direction for my life.

I may not know yet how I’ll get to there from here. That’s okay. All I have to do is continue to move forward with my end goal in mind; the rest will fall into place in time.

The primary way that I maintain my focus on a daily basis is through my planner/diary. The book allots one page per day to keep track of schedules, tasks, notes, and highlights. This not only allows me to keep track of the things that I want/need to do but to look back and remind myself of what I’ve already accomplished.

One major change I have made in this habit over the past year was to finally settle on the At-A-Glance Diary instead of just using the computer or a cheap composition notebook as I have in the past. My plans are extremely important to me, I can afford the expense, and I’ve realized that it’s high time that I break myself of the habit of going cheap on everything. It is time I began to utilize the Diderot Effect for a positive purpose.

I’ve fallen into the habit of using a modified version of the Bullet Journal method of notation to log my entries. This allows me to jot down things as I think of them in a format that is easy to review. My primary changes are using a “$” signifier for financial information, an exclamation point (!) for important items (as opposed to an asterisk), a lower-case “i” to note informative/inspirational notes, the letter “w” for my writing, and the letter “s” for self-improvement items.

As I’ve prepared for what 2019 will bring I’ve transferred recurring events to my new planner and dedicated an empty page in the back for both my annual and long-term goals.

They are as follows:

Long-Term Goals:

  • Multiple streams of passive income. More than enough to live on comfortably.
  • Own my own home.
  • Long, healthy, active life.

I made a note after this set of goals to remind myself that I’m just hitting my groove. I’ve got 50 years of life left at a minimum with modern medical technology so it isn’t going to hurt one bit to utilize 20 of those years to attain my goal of financial independence.

2019 Goals:

With my long-term goals in mind, I sat down to figure out just what I wanted to accomplish next year.

  • Have a will created. I need to get in the habit of keeping one of these. Wealthy people understand the importance of these; since I intend to become wealthy I need to adopt this practice.
  • Acquire dentures. I want a set of partials to correct my smile as I move forward. This will not only improve my ability to eat, it will also give me an advantage as I strive to increase my income.
  • Acquire new eyeglasses. These will aid immensely as I study and continue to write.
  • Re-acquire driving permit/license. This will be necessary if I decide to invest in real estate or enter a field that requires me to drive.
  • Continue investing. I must keep moving forward, doing what I can do with what I currently have, if I want to accomplish my long-term goals so I cannot allow this to fall to the wayside.
  • Determine if a career change is necessary. This concerns my public job. I know I will have to keep a public job for the next few years at the least so I need to decide if I want to continue life as a cashier or take steps to shift into a different profession. This does not concern my writing and investing whatsoever–just what I do to pay the bills and earn extra money to invest towards my future.
  • Continue reading/studying. I’ve got a lot of educational ground to cover as I change my mindset and work out the best way to achieve my goal. This will be a priority to me.
  • Continue writing. I want to share my journey with others in order to provide hope and prove that one can accomplish anything they set their mind to. It will also serve as a form of personal clarification and therapy. I also want to brainstorm and write a new book before the end of 2019.
  • Change the stories that I tell myself. Life is 99% of the stories we tell ourselves. I’ve realized that I need to change a few of my personal stories. I’ll discuss this in a later post.

Now that I know where I’m going it will simply be a matter of keeping on track. To close out the year (and eliminate the stress of drama) I worked out what I could personally do about a private situation, took a deep breath, and got it over with. Now that I know I have done all I can personally do I am free to let that issue go and continue with my plans to move forward.

I refuse to allow anyone’s actions to derail my plans for my future.

Taking Care of My Now

I’ve done all I can do to prepare for next year so it is time to focus on my now. I made another small investment in the stock market to celebrate, I’m composing a list of things I want to tidy and sort around the house (I’ve let things slide due to stress), and I’ve resolved to have this blog back on track with the coming year.

Starting in January I will resume posting three days a week come hell or high water. I refuse to allow myself to slack but I do need to reduce my current workload for a bit as I mentally prepare for next year since I want to hit the ground running.

***

What goals have you set for the coming year? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Organization

Making Changes

Life has been a whirlwind since I made the conscious decision to stay in this little house. The past seven years had been a holding pattern so I hadn’t invested much of anything into making this house look more like a home. There wasn’t any point in spending the money if I was planning to move, after all.

Along with the changes my old friend fear has raised its ugly head. Every single time I purchase something it rises, screaming at me to stop. What if you spend too much money? You’ll be broke! and What if you decide to move after all or get flooded there? All of the money you spend will be wasted!

I’m dealing with it. There is no point in shoving it to the side or burying it deep. I have to own it in order to move on. I’ve made the decision to live here, period. At most I’ll end up moving perhaps one or two more times for the rest of my lifespan; there is no sense in doing without the things I love and miss if I can afford them.

The first major task was to reorganize my computer area. It took up far too much space in my living room for the amount of storage it provided. I searched long and hard for a computer desk, one that would serve my small-space needs and be durable enough to last the rest of my life.

That was a bust. The commercially-available computer desks were either made of cheap composite wood that would fail in a few years or die miserably in a flood. The metal options had glass tops that would not hold up to long-term abuse…or my rambunctious grandson.

I decided to get creative. I located a wire metal pull-out shelf that could be mounted on my current wire shelf for sixty dollars and went to work. I pulled everything off of my gigantic shelf, rearranged the shelves, and converted it into a computer desk.

It’s absolutely perfect. My CPU is close at hand but out of danger and I now have space for my router and those annoying piles of paper that I allow to build up until I get around to scanning them for permanent storage.

Even better, I can shove my keyboard and mouse out of the way when I want to write something by hand.

Once that was complete I ordered a corner shelf to make up for the lost storage space. I made a mistake with that one; instead of ordering the heavy-duty NSF shelf that I intended I accidentally ordered a lighter-duty version of the shelf I wanted. It works but it doesn’t match up exactly and definitely doesn’t hold as much weight as I like. Since it was my mistake, I plan to use it until it dies and replace it with the shelf I originally intended to purchase. I see no point in returning something I ordered when it was my fault for not paying attention.

The kid decided she wanted a larger bed so we decided to save a bit of money in that area as well. Instead of the kid buying a full-size bed we just swapped out the sofa sleeper in the living room for her twin-sized bed. She gets to have a larger bed, and I get something new to sleep on. I placed one of my shelves at the head of it and plan to use it as a makeshift daybed/chaise lounge. In time I’ll locate some of those pillows that support you while you sit on a bed, but that will be farther down the road. In the meantime the kid gave me a few of her extra pillows since she has quite a collection. I pile them behind me when I want to sit up and read.

new bed

I’m rather exhausted at all of the changes so I’m currently taking a break. I’ve yet to clear off the table that I had used as a desk for many months. Since the table is smaller than the big plastic table on my front porch I gave the big table away so that I can shift the smaller table out there.

It will be nice to have more space on the front porch.

I’ve one more major purchase that I plan to make in upcoming weeks. I’m going to invest in one more shelf to hold the library of books I am rebuilding. I’ve missed my library so by golly I’m getting it back. I can’t count how many times I’ve kicked myself for eliminating it when when I minimized my possessions. While it made sense at the time (I moved six times in four years, after all) I miss it terribly. Ebooks and Internet sources cannot compete against just pulling a book off of a shelf to look up a word or reference something you’ve read in the past for this old-school girl. While I intend to limit my library to what I can comfortably store in the space I will assign to it, I’m getting it back. Period.

I’m including some pictures on this post to show my current progress. I am so thankful that this place is finally shaping up. I’ll be glad when I finsh with the big purchases, however. Despite the fact that I’m buying for long-term use, I really hate spending the money.

What changes have you made in your home lately? Please share your stories in the commenbs below.

Categories
Finances Frugality Organization

Moratorium

Everyone’s needs change over time. You may slow down or stop using an item, or you may start to use something else instead. It’s just a part of life.

For instance, I was a big fan of pencil and paper. I not only write copious lists, I also composed my book/blog drafts and kept a journal in paper format. To save money I stocked up on pencils and notebooks the other year when I caught them on sale.

Since then my needs have changed. My journals are now stored electronically, written in plain text format and stashed on my computer. I save photos, scanned papers, and other relevant items in an annual folder with the file names sorted by date. While I still use pencil and paper for my lists, my usage of these items has went down drastically.

While I’m delighted at the lower cost of maintaining electronic records, the change in my habits left me with a small stockpile of pencils, pens, and notebooks. Instead of having a year’s supply on hand as per my plan, I have a tote of supplies now that won’t get used up for several years.

Since the items will get used eventually it doesn’t make financial sense to eliminate them. In fact, I’m sure my daughter and grandchildren will make a dent in them over time even if I don’t. Even so, it would be stupid for me to add to my stockpile this year. A stockpile is only worth the time and expense when it actually gets used in a reasonable amount of time.

As a result I have now instituted a spending moratorium on certain office supplies. No more paper, pencils, or similar items will be purchased until we use up what we have.

Period.

It doesn’t matter if we stumble upon a cute little notebook with a funny little saying or a crazy-cheap sale during Back To School Season. I refuse to buy what I don’t actually need.

Spending moratoriums can apply to all areas of your life. If you have a sizeable collection of books, music, movies, video games, or whatnot that you haven’t used, it makes sense not to purchase any more until you’ve actually enjoyed what you already have.

If you have food in your pantry that is in danger of going bad, don’t buy more until you use it up.

If your closet is overflowing, stop buying more clothes!

That’s why we stay broke, folks. We spend money on crap we don’t need when we have more than enough already. It’s one thing to stock up on stuff we need and actually use, but when it gets to the point where we have more on hand than we can use up in a reasonable amount of time, we need to stop.

Buying for the sake of buying is stupid.

What areas of your life do you need to impose a moratorium on? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Organization Productivity

Pieces of the Puzzle

Sometimes we get overwhelmed when we look at everything that needs to be done. The dishes are piled in the sink, dirty laundry is scattered through the house, the beds aren’t made and the dog has left you a gift by the door.

It just makes you want to cry, doesn’t it?

Stop looking at that big picture.  It is merely a giant puzzle of many little tasks. You don’t solve puzzles all at once, you solve them one tiny piece at a time.

Make a list of those tiny pieces, and focus on just one piece until it is accomplished.  Then, and only then, worry about another piece.

Soon you will look up and discover that you have finished the entire puzzle. 

Time to celebrate.

Categories
Decluttering Organization

Corraling the Closet

I did it:  I managed to reduce the amount of clothing I possess to just enough to be contained in a single side of the closet!

Hooray!  No more clothes hangers draped off of the shelves!

I turned the hangers around backwards to better determine what I actually wear and what I don’t of the remaining clothing.  By this time next year (I don’t store out-of season clothing–it must all fit in the closet) I will know what I have used and what I have not.  What I have not is leaving, period.

The only things that I do not currently hang in the closet are pants, shorts and coats.  I hope to thin down my wardrobe where I can hang even these items there to simplify my clothing storage needs.

My sister is getting first crack at the closet gleanings before they get shipped to Auntie’s house for distribution among family and friends.  I’m not sure how much she will keep out of the pile.

Oh, yes–and I lost a pair of shoes today.  My cheap generic Crocs–the ones I slummed around the house in.  After three(?) years of heavy use they finally died.  Not bad for a $4 pair of shoes, especially considering the abuse I put them through!  Now I debate whether or not to replace them.  Since warm weather will be here soon I am thinking that I can make do with the sandals that I have though none of them will work with socks.  Those things were horribly ugly, but so handy, comfortable and inexpensive!

I also have the dressier clogs I purchased the other day, but the heel is a bit on the high side for tromping around the house and yard… Time to dig through my box of shoes to see how to make-do….

Categories
Organization

Reorganized Kitchen

I rearranged the kitchen the other day.  Considering how piled up it was before I consider it a success.  I am posting pictures of the “after” part here.

The laptop is not only my computer but my radio, television and telephone as well.  The PDA is used as a portable music player, portable video player and bookreader.

Reducing possessions–especially in the kitchen–just takes time.  True, I could go and just give the extra food away that I have stockpiled, but it is not going to go bad so I have decided to keep it and use it up, though some has been given to friends and family over the past few months.

I have not even attempted to decorate this place yet–I want to wait until spring so that, having lived in this place–I will know what to work on first that will have the greatest effect toward a more peaceful environment.

Categories
Decluttering Organization

Progress?

I eliminated several smaller boxes of stuff in the back room, plus pooled some other boxes together to eliminate 4 boxes from the pile back there, not including what got tossed.

I have a lot of stuff from where I work on computers stashed away, as well as overstock from supplies I’ve caught on clearance like notebooks, ink pens, liquid potpurri and bar soap. Yeah, and the paper towels I have still not used up since I started using cloth towels…

Some of this overstock will fade as it gets used up and some, like the paper towels, will not be replaced.

I made a sad discovery however: I have some of those bags you use a vacuum cleaner to pull all of the air out to compress things like blankets and quilts. One of these somehow managed to get water in the bottom of it when my pipes burst despite being sealed. The quilt my mother made me as a child and two quilts my grandparents made were molding in the bag.

I’m going to wash them and treat the mold . I’m confident I caught them in time, but disappointed in the quality of those space cubes. They weren’t abused–the plastic is just cheap.

Word to the wise: Don’t invest in those vacuum storage space cube bags. They do not hold up, and moisture will get into them with the right conditions… Much better to just invest in totes.

Sometimes the things and investments you make to create a simpler life just do not pan out. Oh well. Live and learn.

Categories
Frugality Organization

Accomplishments, Computers and Clutter

So far I have managed to reasonably maintain my goal of washing all the dishes before bed; the other night I did forget to wash the dog dish as planned and I left it until the next day. Once I was ready for bed and remembered my promise to myself, so bedtime was delayed while I washed up.

In some ways it seems to be getting easier, but in others it is still hard. Tonight I was getting ready for bed when I remembered – I washed them all then sat down to update this blog.

Today I tried another change in routine – I promised myself no computer until after I finished cleaning on my house. I chatted with my beloved Auntie while drinking my morning coffee instead of checking my email, and while on the phone with her made a pleasant discovery – beneath the ratty wallpaper in my kitchen lay another layer of wallpaper in good condition! While talking to Auntie I peeled the ratty layer off and gaped in delight at the treasure! I am so happy to have that stained wallpaper gone with such little effort, and the layer beneath is so much more pleasant to behold!

I washed laundry and actually managed to totally clear off the top of my dryer! It was piled high with miscellaneous items and was driving me insane! Now instead of scooping out a small amount of laundry detergent from my big bucket and putting it in a smaller tub on top of my dryer I just leave it in the big bucket, which is now placed on the floor beside my dryer. On top of it is another repurposed laundry detergent bucket which now contains my bleach pen, stain stick, liquid blueing and dryer sheets. The hamper is stowed in the bathtub with the shower doors closed when the bathtub is not in use. When we take a bath it will be a simple matter to place the hamper on the dryer. I would keep it on the dryer but that is what started all the dryer top clutter to begin with!

I also eliminated the useless curtain rod and the curtains I had mounted to hide the mess on the dryer. It’s funny – I mounted those curtains to hide the mess and make my life simpler instead of addressing the mess itself! I’ve now addressed the mess and feel so much better as a result!

I put the curtains that were attempting to hide the mess in the bathroom immediately into use. The door to my daughter’s bedroom is in sad shape; the previous occupants not only removed the doorknob but knocked several holes into that pitiful excuse for a door. I located a knob here but it would not fit in a functional manner (it was an outside knob). That door is an eyesore, and since space is at a premium we really don’t want to lose the space a door needs to open and close so I hung those curtains at her door. At a later date I will remove the door and either burn it or just put it in the storage building just in case I ever decide to sell this place. Should I manage to locate a bead curtain that would be perfect for her!

I also went out into the storage building outside and not only rearranged a bit to make it more accessible but gathered a few things that will be handy for the house. I have one of those microfiber “mops” that you can buy in the automotive department for washing your car that my daughter suggested we use as a dust mop for the kitchen floor so that item is getting pressed into service instead of sitting uselessly in the shed. The head on it is machine-washable so it will be perfect to use – just like a swiffer, but without having to buy any cloths!

In the hallway floor is mounted a return duct for a central air unit. It had been blocked off, but the tape used to hold the board up had given out. I wanted to seal this hole up and insulate it against the weather better than the thin plastic layer already there. Since it was obvious that tape was not a good long-term solution, I took some bricks I have laying around here and used them to brace the board against the bottom of the duct. Nice sturdy way to keep it sealed! Then I went inside, lifted the grate and filled the blocked-off recess with every single plastic shopping bag I owned as a layer of insulation, then took old newspapers crumpled into balls to finish filling up the hole before replacing the plastic covered grate. No one will fall in, the hole is sealed from both bottom and top and now there is a layer of recycled paper and plastic to keep cold air from seeping into my house. Life is good.

All that is left before bed is to fill a pitcher with orange juice for my daughter so she will have it in the morning. The sink is clean, dishes are done, house is tidied – I even managed to finish a book tonight and work on an article for Associated Content! Life is cleaner and simpler, and I still checked my email and updated my Facebook.

I really love this life!

Categories
Food Organization

Groceries

Tonight I watched my daughter enjoy watching the season of The Saddle Club that she checked out from the library today. She watched every single episode, and one episode twice!

We went to Sam’s Club to purchase potatoes, yeast, baking soda, brown gravy mix, vinegar and some meat. Total bill was $36 and change. Not bad for what we got. Everything but the potatoes and meat will last for a long time, some of it over a year. That may seem strange to stock up like that while trying to simplify but I consider it that many less grocery trips we will have to make – and the items won’t go bad if stored properly. As for brown gravy mix, I cannot make that from scratch worth anything or I would – and four dollars for a container that will make several gallons is a whole lot better price to pay than a dollar for a little pack that only makes two cups!

I have kept to the goal I mentioned earlier, so in the morning I will awaken to a clean kitchen. I also managed to wrap the windows in the living room with the bubble wrap, sealing off a decent-sized air leak around the air conditioner. A quilt has been hung up over the door leading to the back room to seal it off better, and in a few days I will care for the windows in that back room. It isn’t that cold yet, so no point in stressing and getting in a big hurry to finish.

I have turned the thermostat down to below 60F for the evening, and am preparing to snuggle down for the night. The kid is already in bed and I am enjoying the silence. Shortly she will be back in school and life will be back to “normal.” – I will miss having her around, but will also be glad to have my quiet time back again.

Goodnight!

Categories
Housing Organization

The Living Room

Once again I have managed to get all of the dishes washed after dinner. It is a relief to know that another day has passed in which I achieved my goal of having all my dishes washed before bed.

I have taken a few new pictures of my living room. I have a kiddie pool to house the guinea pigs that I spray painted black to blend in a little better with the living room. Much better to spend ten dollars on a kiddie pool then let them stay in an overcrowded cage – traditional cages are ridiculously expensive, and as I have no cats or animals that would harm them the kiddie pool is a perfect guinea pig pen!

I have placed my futon in the living room and closed off my bedroom in the back, reducing the area we have to heat this winter from 720 square feet to 576 square feet. I am seriously considering investing in a quality futon frame, but I really don’t want a full-size couch in the living room. Perhaps one of those frames that fold into three? What we have works for us right now, but I wonder if it would look better if it were off the floor a touch.

We moved the shelf into the unused back room and moved the computer desk into the living room. This is perfect because now I can better watch over my daughter while she watches her shows or plays games online. Also we can snuggle on the futon and watch shows together better now!

I now have stools for the bar area, and am considering eliminating the washstand. It is beautiful, but I honestly do not need it.

I am thinking of eliminating the curtains in the living room and going with simple mini blinds instead. I feel it would better fit with the minimal appearance I am working to achieve. I have already replaced the curtains in the kitchen with mini blinds and plan to live with them a bit before making a decision on that subject.

As you can see I practice what I preach as far as simplicity goes – that computer is our television, our phone, our electronic photo frame, our clock, our bookshelf, etc. What is the point in spending money on several items when one device like the computer will do it all? I personally see no logic in it. As for the movies, we are a big fan of watching movies, and I am in the process of copying all of them to a large hard drive so that we can put the originals in deep storage. Eventually we may eliminate the originals entirely but I worry about legal repercussions so if we do it won’t be for a long while!

Categories
Housing Organization

Success!

It is 8:30 pm here, and I have managed to wash all of the dishes for the evening. The kitchen is clean as a result, and I can breathe easy knowing that a night has passed and my goal has been met.

I look forward to the day when getting all of these dishes washed every night is a habit! It will be sooo pleasant to wake up every morning to a clean kitchen!

On that note, the two mini blinds I scrounged up looked so great in the kitchen I bought one to finish out the other kitchen window and mounted it this afternoon. This one I mounted inside the window frame as opposed to outside (like the ones I scrounged). It gives a cleaner look to the window now that all of the brackets from years of curtains and blinds have been removed! I had to remove part of the window trim to place it (and a really ratty piece of trim on top broke off as a result and I tossed it) but I really like the clean minimal effect. I chose off-white for the color instead of bright white, so it blends in with the paneling better. The best part is that the shade is recessed so we won’t be knocking it.

I plan to replace the trim on these windows after some more important things get accomplished. They aren’t pretty, but considering that I paid cash for this home, I am NOT going to complain!

I am going to live with the mini blind look in the kitchen for a while. If we like it then I will put them on other windows as well.

Categories
Organization

Coffee and Cold Weather

I have finally decided what to do about the coffee brewing dilemma: I do believe I’m going to attempt instant.

I have researched and read and frankly I’m tired of spending precious time debating over it. I don’t drink that much coffee – so why not try instant on those days I’m in the mood for a cup? I’m already a fan of the instant cappuccino, so what would it hurt? No percolators, no presses, no worrying about having stuff ground “just so,” just coffee.

There! One more issue solved!

I have relocated the desktop computer into the living room, where it has been appropriated by Katie whenever she wants to watch a show or play a game. That means I still use the laptop in the kitchen, but at least now she is close enough it is a simple matter to see what she is doing and watch over her!

For extra money I have taken a position as a Special Agent with KGB, the Knowledge Generation Bureau. The flexibility of the schedule will be perfect for life as a single parent. I can work a bit while she is in school, and a few hours at night while she sleeps. As much time as I spend on the internet I may as well make a little money, you know?

A mad thought has came to me to save on heating costs this winter. We live in a mobile home; my room is in the very back. Why not bring my futon into the living room at night to sleep this winter and close that room off? I wouldn’t have to spend the money heating it, and considering that the room is mainly used for storage these days I wouldn’t have to look at it lol! It would not be an issue to bring the futon in here at night and put it away each morning – I do that anyway in my bedroom – the only difference would be location. Definitely a thought for when it turns colder…