10 Things Challenge Update

I started a new list of things I eliminated from my life, not realizing that I would quickly go over the ten item limit.  Here is what I have eliminated so far last night and today:

  1. Lotion bottle (contents pooled with another container)
  2. Broken digital camera I know I will never attempt to repair.
  3. Old dropcloth.
  4. DVD video of a convention.  I ripped the contents to my hard drive so that I can pass the video on to someone who can use it.
  5. Old pillow.
  6. Post-it note pad.
  7. Stack of music CD’s I haven’t listened to in years.
  8. DVD of a movie I detest.
  9. 2 boxes of old matches that have apparently gotten damp at some point.
  10. Box full of old books, some of which will be listed on eBay.
  11. Damaged music CD’s.
  12. Miscellaneous shirts.
  13. Pair of leg warmers (where did these come from?).
  14. Short sleeve sweater (when I’m chilly I much prefer sleeves so this never gets worn).
  15. Easel (given to my sister who will actually use it).
  16. Pile of old and mismatched socks.
  17. Pile of worn-out cleaning rags.

What have YOU managed to eliminate from your life?  

Bottom of the Barrel

Here it is:  The bottom of the baskets infesting that back bedroom.

I am so happy and grateful to be at the bottom of the issue!  This particular basket was about half-full of socks, most of which were mismatched.  A quick sort and the rest were tossed.

The room looks lopsided because of all the shelves on one side of the room, but at least the clutter is getting under control.

It feels soo good to see the floor again!

I am going to reduce my clothing to where it will fit in the unaffected half of the closet to eliminate the clothes hanging on that poor shelf.  That will free the other half of the closet up whenever the workman gets here and finishes the work…

I was actually able to reach the bookshelf and place my books back where they belong, and arrange for my unused easel to go to my sister’s house where it will be loved and used.

This does not eliminate the need to go through each individual box and reduce, but it does eliminate a lot of stress regardless. 

I will post pictures of the tidied room tomorrow after I do some more work to it.  I would like to be able to lay out the futon once again, whether I sleep on it or not….

I Feel Like a Hoarder

I do.  I really do!

Here is a picture of the room officially known as my bedroom.  This was taken after I tidied it up a lot.

I must admit most of the stuff will go back into my closet when the workman is done there, and it was jerked out in a hurry to avoid moisture damage, but still this mess is terribly distressing.

There is just too much stuff.  I have been avoiding this room since the water pipes burst simply because of the chaos within, because I know that my options are limited until I regain the use of my closet…

In our previous place we had a LOT more things, yet everything seemed to have a place thanks to a dedicated utility room with lots of shelves. Combine that with lots of closet space and we had it made!

This spaciousness served only to hide the fact that we have too much stuff. How much stuff do two people need anyway???

She’s a kid, so she’s going to have toys.  I’m a geek so I’m going to have computer junk.  We’re both females so we’re gonna have clothes and shoes galore no matter how hard we pare down, yet this is getting ridiculous!

I look at this room and wish I had some of those organizers from that hoarding show.  I wish they would come in and help me deal with this mess that is my bedroom…and the mess that is my kitchen.. and the mess I’m afraid to look at in the building outside….

A fresh pair of eyes and a strong pair of arms to go through this junk though part of me wants to just chuck it all–but how can I toss the papers from my parent’s funerals? 

My children who are now adults can perhaps take over the care of their baby photos which will help, but just seeing these things all piled up really affected me today…Somehow, some way I have got to reduce my possessions… before they drive me insane….

I went back in there and worked on it some more.. It is a lot better, but has a ways to go.

How is it that we have so much stuff, yet feel the need to add even more to our lives?

I do not believe I will buy any clothing for a while.  While my closet was not overflowing it was tightly packed, and I have clothes that I have forgotten I owned.. It is time to re-think my wardrobe.  I definitely do NOT need to purchase any liquid potpourri until I use up what I already have, not including the surplus of bleach pens I purchased some time ago on ebay…

I am going to explore this evernote program to see if it will help corral the paper and memories so that I can pass some of that out of my life….

What is sad is the fact that people come to my house and they look at all facets of it, and they tell me I don’t have enough stuff, yet these piles tell me a much different story…

This is why I pursue simplicity.  I want the ability to know what I have and where I have put it–know what I need and want and know what I can do without.  I want the peace and security of knowing that someone can walk into the most private areas of my home unexpectedly without it being an embarrassment to me…

Yes, the sight of this room embarrasses me, yet here I am posting it for the whole world to see.  Why am I doing this?

Because I want to do better.  I know I can do better.  And I know that I am not alone.

What do you have that embarrasses you?  Do you have a room like this one?  What are you doing to fix it?  Send me before and after photos–even before and during photos–and tell me your story.  I’ll feature you on this blog so that you can be an inspiration for others to simplify their lives.

Simplicity and minimalism do not HAVE to be about getting rid of everything, but let’s be honest–we can all afford to pare down our possessions.

Let’s do this.

10 Things Challenge

David has posted a challenge:  Eliminate 10 things from your life every week.

Okay David, I’m game!  Let’s see what I can do!

I went through my house this morning and chose my 10 items.  In some ways it was harder than I imagined it would be, but the freedom I felt when done was so intense that I actually went over the mark a touch!

Here’s my list:

  1. Hat that I never wear.
  2. Mixer with a missing beater (I never used it even before I lost the beater).
  3. Stack of papers I planned to print on the back-side of before using as a birdcage liner (going straight to the bird cage now).
  4. Several pairs of old socks (why was I keeping these–I have a ton of new socks).
  5. Pair of old undies.
  6. Pack of cigarettes from years ago (I don’t even smoke, but they were stashed away nevertheless!)
  7. Stainless steel paper towel holder (no longer needed since we almost never use paper towels these days).
  8. Stainless steel napkin holder (has never been used for napkins and is no longer needed for holding paper cause I toss my paper now).
  9. Small pet transport box, saved for the guinea pigs to play in.  Now placed in their pen so they can enjoy.
  10. Unused oven mitt.  I always grab my cloth towels for this job–why am I keeping something I never use?
  11. Unused pot holders.  Same reason as #10.
  12. Old Convention flyer I found stuck in a book.
  13. Plastic banana stand.  I wanted one of these things for years then after the purchase discovered that wanting is better than having!  Good-bye, wasted money!

I took a picture of most of the items, but missed the couple of items I went over on.  Oh well–you get the idea!  

That was kinda fun, so I’m planning on keeping a running list of the things I eliminate in preparation for next week!

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.

Gadget Simplicity

One thing us geeks tend to have: Gadgets.

In such a digital world, how do we reduce the number of gadgets we need to carry around?  There are book readers, MP3 players, portable DVD players, cell phones, laptops… an endless array of devices to cater to our every whim…

For instance; I need a device to read books, play music and the occasional video, show off photos and help me keep track of life in general.

I tried using a smartphone for this but it was kinda hard reading a book on such a tiny screen–and hooking it up to the car stereo was not a fun experience…

I ended up going back to my Lifedrive.  I hadn’t totally retired the device because it makes an excellent Mp3/Ogg player and portable video device using TCPMP, besides being ready to surf the internet when bored at a restaurant that happens to have wifi (and small enough to be discreet).

Basically I went back to a bare-bones cellphone and my Lifedrive for everything else.

What does this eliminate?

  • ebook reader and physical books
  • portable music player
  • portable video player
  • portable usb thumb drive (has a built-in 4 GB hard drive for transferring files)
  • laptop for surfing the internet when out and about
  • paper planner
  • notepad
  • sound recorder
  • paper address book
  • alarm clock

It has a small built-in speaker, so I use it instead of a stereo to play music in the house when I’m cleaning, and connect it to my van to listen to it while traveling.  Katie and I sometimes go through the drive thru then park and watch a movie in the van. Yes, it has a small screen but my kid has yet to complain about being able to actually watch a show on the move…

I use it to transfer files when needed, and can even keep some portable applications on it for use on other people’s computers.

I still carry two devices when you add the cell phone, but that is better than some. It is definitely better than I used to do.  I would carry a paper planner, cell phone, notepads, books, mp3 player–you name it.  I have even been able to eliminate the alarm clock in my bedroom–and save electricity as a result.

Have you been able to simplify your gadgets?

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.

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!

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!

The Elimination Game

One thing my daughter and I love to play is The Elimination Game. The object of the game is for each of us to eliminate just one thing from our lives.

This is frequently played whenever there is a disagreement on what to watch or where to go – or even what to do. The one to figure out something to toss first gets to make the choice!

Can you play the game today? Pick out just one thing and toss it – perhaps list it on Freecycle if somebody else can use it.

Chances are high you will never miss it – and someone else will appreciate your generosity!

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!

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.

First Night Failure

When I posted that goal for all the world to see, I set myself up for failure.

Knowing that the whole world could read that I just wanted to have my dishes washed before going to bed, I put it out for the world.

Then I cooked a bbq chicken with tons of fixins.

Yup, big messy meal with big messy dishes.

I know better, but I did it anyway. Then after that, instead of getting off my butt and cleaning the kitchen, what did I do?

I watched a movie, that’s what I did!

So this morning I have washed and scrubbed, and have two pans left to wash after they soak a tad.

I’m kinda ticked off at myself.

Oh well – this too will pass. I wanted to be honest and let everybody know how I did on the very first night!

Funny thing is – I was doing pretty good about washing them before bed – before I posted it online that is!

Let this be a lesson as to why you should only pick ONE thing to change at a time – could you imagine how chaotic my life would have been if I had picked more than just one?

Alright, I can’t stand looking at them any longer – time to scrub up those last two dishes!

A Simple Goal

In order to simplify one’s life without going insane, one must start small. Only by taking small bites can one even hope to begin corralling the chaos that rules so many of us. Each of us has different needs, different lives – as a result our steps will be different from each other. What one thinks is laughable another will think essential. It is all part of our uniqueness.

I have decided to take one simple step. This is my goal for the next few months – a habit I wish to develop to simplify my life.

I have set a goal to have all of my dishes washed before going to bed every night. Period. Not washed and dried, not put away – just washed and placed on the drainer to air-dry.

This goal is the most important habit I wish to gain right now, for by having all my dishes washed when I go to bed I will not be greeted by unwashed dishes when I wake up, thus making a better start to each day.

This also means that I won’t have to wash dishes before cooking breakfast every morning (an unpleasant ritual when you’re hungry), and a more pleasant kitchen overall.

Each person has something that is important to them, and this is important to me.

For accountability I plan to post how well I’m doing here on the blog, and when this has become second nature I will move on – but only then.

For tonight the dishes are washed, the sink is cleaned, and life is good.

Goodnight, fair world!

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…

The Purse from Hell

I have the purse from Hell. I’m embarrassed to go through it here, but I’m opening it up and posting a quick snapshot.

Most of it is junk. Receipts, old coupons, loose change, extra napkins. . . Junk.

Whenever I need something out of it I am forced to dig. My cash/card purse constantly springs open in this chaos, spilling everywhere and making me desperate to ensure that I can account for all of my credit cards. Getting money out of it at the checkout is a total embarrassment. Forget answering the cellphone when it rings, I always have to call people back.

This has got to change.

Enter the Buxton Bag from those television infomercials.

My kid saw this on television and carried on so much about how perfect this bag would be for me that I broke down late last year and purchased it. I used it for a little while, but after deciding that it was too small to hold everything I handed it down to my daughter, who has been playing with it ever since.

I’ve been thinking. When I used that little bag not once did I have to hunt for anything that I needed. It was always easy to locate and put away anything. I was never unhappy about locating things in this little bag – I was simply unhappy about how much it held.

Really though – how much stuff does one person need to carry? There are some people carrying a single ID and some cash – and they are perfectly happy. Why can’t I cut down then?

We’re going to try this. I am going to sort through this giant bag, reducing to the point where I can fit all that I need inside that Buxton Bag without having to open the expanding zippers. By not opening the zippers I will have some extra space just in case it is needed.

Some things I would like to keep:
Identification
Insurance cards
credit card
cash
sanitizer
lotion
cellphone
ink pen
notepad(?)
aspirin for headaches, etc.
breath mints or gum

I don’t carry makeup because I rarely wear the stuff. When I wear it, I’ll carry some powder. If there is room I may add a small vial of perfume to the bag. Books will be digital in the smartphone, as will most all of my notes.

Oh my! I found $50 in the bottom of my bag! Whoo Hoo!

I am happy to report that I fit everything I needed with total success!


I ended up with:
checkbook
ID and papers
deodorant
keys
perfume
carmex
jump drive
hand sanitizer
map
bus route and schedule
bus tickets
money
spare keys
ink pen
smartphone (not shown – Used to take picture)
pack of gum
collapsible fan

All of this fit with room to spare! I was delighted!

Eventually I plan to go with a smaller thing of deodorant (yes, I’m strange), and I hope to either locate or replace my travel size lotion bottle. The map will be transferred to the van the next time I go anywhere. I’m also thinking of removing the checkbook since I so rarely write checks, opting instead to keep track of purchases on a spreadsheet in the smartphone. For deposits I can just carry a couple of deposit slips…

I not only managed to streamline my bag, but also my keys as well. Almost half of the keys on my keychain were unnecessary anymore!

Life is truly good.

The Gadget Bucket

This is what I call my “gadget bucket.” It contains the majority of tools I use when preparing food. It has become overgrown, so in the name of simplicity I am thinning it out today.

Here are all of the items spread out so they can be seen better:



This hodgepodge contains:

2 metal spatulas
2 sets of tongs
hand mixer
hand grater
2 wire whisks
3 wooden spoons
plastic slotted spoon
2 plastic dipping spoons
manual can opener
potato masher
singer beater from electric mixer (location of mate: unknown)
chef’s knife
boning knife
2 older tv knives
newer tv knife

Way too many gadgets for a single mom with a single kid. Let’s see what I can thin out:

There! I managed to pare down 7 items from that bucket. One spatula, the lone beater, a pair of tongs, one of the older TV knives, the boning knife, one plastic dipper spoon, and the smaller of the two whisks will be placed in the storage container out in my building.

I kept two of the TV knives, one old and one new because they have different degrees of serration and depending upon what I am cutting sometimes I prefer one or the other. The beater will be kept because I know I have the mate and the mixer stashed somewhere, despite the fact that I may use it once every couple of years.

One of the whisks went into storage, though I was ambivalent about that. I tend to use one whisk or the other depending upon the job but feel it is silly to have two of them. In fact the only reason I own two is because you had to buy a 2-pack at Sam’s club (I got these in the restaurant supply section).

I never use the boning knife – got it and several paring knifes as a bonus when I bought my latest set of TV knives. Why did I buy a new set of TV knives when I had several older TV knives already? I don’t know offhand – I guess because of the one-piece metal construction and the heavier overall guage of the metal – I am abusive to these knives so I may have just wanted spares, though honestly I have yet to destroy a single TV knife despite using them to even cut down small trees in place of a handsaw (I have bent one however). If you ever want an excellent all-around knife you can use and abuse, invest in a set of TV knives. They run around $40 dollars and are well worth every penny!

I have owned three sets – the first set was lost in the divorce, the second and thrid sets are going strong (why did I think I needed 2 sets?).

I kept out my favorite set of tongs and stashed the other set. Eventually I may feel safe enough to permanently let go of these items but for now storage it is…

One day I am in hopes of getting a wall-mount knife magnet to get those up and out of the way, then perhaps I will figure out another method of storing my gadgets besides that bucket!

For those who are curious, I have used a manual can opener for years for several reasons:
1) it doesn’t take up as much storage space,
2) it has an incredibly long warranty, and won’t break down and need replacing near as often as an electric can opener will (if it ever breaks down),
3) it cost a LOT less than an electric can opener,
4) it does not use electricity like an electric can opener (every little bit helps),
5) it doesn’t take any longer to open a can manually than it does with an electric can opener
6) it is quieter than an electric can opener
7) it is just plain classier to have a well-built manual can opener than those darn electric gadgets wasting space, electricity and money.

I have always used a manual grater. I have never owned a food processor, though once I was given a salad shooter (I hated it). This particular grater was inherited when my parents passed away.

The potato masher is the same way. It came from my parents. My mother had 2 but one disappeared over the years. When I got older she started using an electric mixer to make our mashed potatoes. I remember the noise, the mess as it splattered everything, always having to clean up after it, wiping off the machine and washing those infernal beaters (which were never together when you wanted them so dinner was always late) – and the potatoes never had the occasional chunk that makes homemade mashed potatoes so special.

I looked long and hard to replace the hand mixer that my mother used to have. I assume she tossed her old one when she bought the electric mixer, but I have fond memories of making cakes and dream whip using that handy little device! It was quieter, it never broke down, you don’t have to plug it in and you never have to worry about losing a beater? Hence my manual mixer. If I ever locate my electric one and both beaters to freecycle it will go – I detest that useless messy thing!

As you can tell, I have a preference for manual devices instead of electric gadgets. After years of watching things break right before the novelty wears off I have learned my lesson. Planned obsolescence and breakdowns can kiss my grits!

Continuing the Process

Simplicity is an ongoing, continuous process. You don’t just wake up and decide to live this way, it actually takes a bit of work, a bit of habit-changing.

Sometimes you discover that you aren’t as far as you thought you were.

Such is the state of my music collection. I have bragged for some time that all of my music had been placed on hard disk, and that I could toss all of my music discs should I desire.

I was wrong. Today I discovered that there was a large volume of compact discs that had yet to be added to the digitized collection. I have spent the afternoon working to not only rectify that, but also to ensure that I get ALL of them.

After this I will box up these discs and put them away in storage to prevent another mixup from occurring. Then, should I purchase more music cd’s (rare but it does happen) I can make sure they are digitized before adding them to the storage box. Perhaps one day I will feel safe enough to eliminate the box.

It would be a nice feeling, to get rid of all of that dead weight.

Alas, my goal of digitizing more movies will have to be put on hold so that I can get this music out of the way. One bright spot – I haven’t listened to some of this stuff for years, so I have some “new” tunes!

A friend has an idea that I feel has some merit. He suggests that I invest in an Apple Airport express and an external terabyte hard disk. The logic being that I would no longer have to keep a computer running to access my files, and I wouldn’t have to worry about dropping the hard drive, I could leave it in one place…

The expense of such an option leaves it in the consideration stage, as I already have a computer and an internal terabyte disk. I could reduce the expense by simply getting an enclosure for the internal one, or use it as a backup to be kept somplace safe off-site.

Either way, I still have these discs to digitize. I look forward to the day when I no longer have to sort through a pile of discs when I want to watch a movie or listen to some fresh music.

My Kitchen Table

My kitchen table serves many purposes: staging area, food prep area, meal area (when we don’t eat at the bar), work desk and household hangout.

As a result it seems to always stay cluttered.

Right now the table contains my laptop, some external speakers from where we were watching a show on hulu this weekend, a book about The Secret, notepad to jot things to do, a candle, a couple of letters, my cellphone, some tissues, and a three-ring binder.

Sheesh!

I clean it off, and within minutes it is piled full again. This is not a minimalist table.

Now I have cleaned it off, so it contains my laptop, cellphone, and notepad for chores. Much better. The trick is organizing this section of the kitchen to prevent the clutter from recurring.

Craigslist, Classifieds and Freecycle

I am awake this morning, not only to see my daughter off to school, but also to meet another Freecycler. Yesterday I met two more people, one of which lives just a couple of streets away.

It is nice to know that my things are going to good homes and will get used yet again. That feels even better than discarding them in a trash heap, which I have done in years past when I lived in areas that did not have Freecycle.

I have located the local webpage that acts like the local trading post. That webpage is vci.net, the classified section. I have had several people tell me that in the Paducah area that is your best and cheapest method of buying, selling, or advertising services.

I’m thinking of trying it, but I am not sure on what.

The craigslist for the area covers a broad area – all of Western Kentucky. I wonder if there is some way to bring about a page for the Paducah area only?

The second batch of tomatoes should be dehydrated today, and some of the green ones should be ripe in a few days for another batch. I look forward to using them in chili this winter.