Categories
Decluttering Frugality Recycling Simplicity

Freecycle

Somewhere, near or far, there exists a Freecycle group just for you.

Don’t believe me? Go to freecycle.org to see!

Freecycle is a wonderful way to find good homes for things that you no longer need or use. Why worry about what to do with that whatsit or how to haul it to a landfill? Give it away and let someone get some use out of it instead!

So far I’ve given several things away on the freecycle network, and I always scan the offers. One never knows when something you really need will appear in a post, like extra garden veggies or a vacuum cleaner to replace the one that just went south.

Sometimes there will be people needing something that you just happen to have, but never thought to offer. That has happened to me several times, and it always feels good to know you’ve helped someone out.

The last area I was in had a very inactive Freecycle network. If you find yourself in such a dilemma, don’t hesitate to try to drum up membership, and remember to explore groups in your surrounding area as well.

If you find yourself surrounded by stuff you don’t need or use, please consider offering it up on your local Freecycle group. Don’t let your stuff go to waste.

Categories
Decluttering

Dishes

Last night, I did something rare. I washed the dishes before retiring.

Usually whatever dishes in the sink are obliged to wait until after breakfast in the morning, but perhaps it would be more cheery to wake up to a clean kitchen instead of a cluttered one?

Perhaps if I change my routine, wash dishes twice a day instead of once life may actually become simpler, despite seeming like more work?

One benefit would be that I would not have to wash certain items before cooking breakfast in the morning, such as my measuring cup, spatula or skillet. That would save time in morning preparation, as I do not wish to have more pots and pans than I actually need.

I’m going to try it for a few days and see what happens. It definitely cannot hurt, and would be a great habit to start.

Categories
Decluttering

Shoes

This morning I opened my shoebox looking for something different to wear besides the crocs I’ve trooped around in all summer.

Within the box I found four pair of dress shoes, a pair of hightop sneakers, some croc clogs for winter, a flipflop missing it’s mate and an old pair of sandals that were still sound but had definitely seen better days.

My first thought was that I needed to watch the summer clearance racks for another pair of shoes until it hit me – how many shoes does one person need? Considering the fact that you can only wear one pair at a time, my current collection seems a bit much already!

In the end I continued to wear the crocs, and pledged to see if I could make the old sandals look a touch better. Why should I purchase more shoes when I don’t hardly wear what I have?

Oh, yes. I tossed the lone flipflop.

Categories
Organization

Small Steps of Progress

The knives weren’t as bad as I thought. There were only 2 that needed to be stored. The rest was composed of rubber spatulas I don’t ever use, some wooden spoons and miscellaneous items. All but one of the spatulas went into storage. If I don’t use the one in six months, they may all get tossed.

With the two gadgets out of the way, enough space was freed in the overhead cabinets to store some more of my overflow. Two boxes of tissues, some chewing gum, and my commercial sized roll of aluminum foil, which will come back in use after I use up the regular roll I have had for – well, since before I bought the commercial roll of aluminum foil, and I’ve had it since last fall!

I can actually see progress now. There is a large empty space on the top of the refrigerator, hooray! All the top contains now are the onions, the plastic wrap, and the small roll of foil. The papers attached to the front of the refrigerator are now placed in my binder for storage, where they look much better. I need to go through that clutter trap attached to the side of the fridge, but I’ll save that for another day.

Dinner tonight will be leftovers. I have some chicken salad from the other day that needs to be eaten. My daughter will not be pleased, but it is a shame to waste good food. Found my freezer bags, so some chicken thighs and legs will be placed in the freezer before the day is through.

I am really beginning to believe that Gregory Paul Johnson is onto something when he talks about outsourcing our lives more. Read his book “Put Your Life on a Diet” to see what I mean.

Think about it: I’m a single mom of one, and when I cook, a lot of times a lot is wasted. Is there a way to have food at home for just the two of us that is not only economical, but not so wasteful of time, resources, storage space, and energy? I don’t want to eat out every night, but most meals are for at least four people, and our two is just not cutting it. While I don’t mind leftovers they do get old on a regular basis.

While I could get a larger refrigerator or a small deep freeze and freeze the leftovers, that does not seem like a frugal solution to the issue. The goal is to have less to care for, not more – and this small refrigerator helps me to control my spending on perishables. I can’t purchase it if there’s no place to put it! This also gives me incentive to use up what my refrigerator or freezer contains rather than shop for more.. encouraging me to save money…

Some things that I use a lot of like flour, butter and bleach may be good to keep a surplus of, but I honestly do NOT need to keep so much of EVERYTHING!

It will come with time.

Categories
Organization Simplicity

Paring Down the Kitchen

Breakfast was homemade biscuits and sausage gravy, all from scratch. An inexpensive yet filling meal, one of the few that my daughter actually likes in this picky stage she is in….

My tub of flour is going down steadily. Part of me wants to use it all up then buy another large bag of flour, but I have been working on this last large bag for over a year, so do I really need quite that much? Can I perhaps pare down how much flour I buy? I must admit that of all my kitchen staples, flour gets used the most, for I bake homemade bread and dinner rolls, so I am torn. Perhaps I should at least move the flour to a smaller container until I decide?

Instead of lemonade, I have made another small dent in the giant tub of sugar by making some kool-aid instead. Another package of kool-aid bites the dust. I probably have over fifty packages of the stuff in my pantry. All for myself and one ten-year-old little girl.

I buy new things to try, and the old stuff stays stashed. If I like something, it gets purchased in bulk whenever there is a sale, without thought of how long it will take us to use it. On the occasions where I manage to resist the urge to stock up prices have skyrocketed, which acts as an encouragement to continue stocking up, but this chaos is driving me insane. I will corral this chaos however. One step at a time.

Within my cabinets I have a small deep fryer and an automatic can opener. Housewarming gifts from friends that simply do not get used. Today I plan to take those items out of my cabinets and place them in my storage building outside until I figure out what to do with them. I live near Paducah KY – does anyone have any ideas?

Also I will go through that bucket of knives and place some of the extras in storage. I don’t know if I can part with them yet, but getting them out of sight may help with the emotion part of it.

I know – I’m getting emotional over knives I never use. Dumb, huh? Not so much the knives – but the thought of needing them someday and not having them. The feeling will pass.

I hope.

Does anyone have some simple fried rice recipes to share? Or any rice recipes at all that a kid would like? I’ve thought about broccoli casserole to use up some of the rice and some broccoli I have stuffed in my freezer, but have yet to locate a tasty sounding recipe. Thanks!

Categories
Decluttering Organization Simplicity

The Goal

Okay, just wanted to clarify the goal here.

The goal is not to buy more stuff to care for the stuff I have. Some things, like a magnet to hold my knives would be wonderful, but I have been unable to locate one locally. I would purchase one of those if I knew where to purchase it for it would not only help to organise, but it would be used for some time.

The goal is to have less, and to figure out how to deal with what I have and perhaps use it up better and to keep from buying so much in the future.

Thanks for all of your help!

Categories
Decluttering Simplicity

The Kitchen

We recently moved into a 12×60 mobile home. It is two bedroom, but one of the bedrooms is quite small.

The kitchen is an average older trailer kitchen, with some cabinetry, but not too much, and a closet converted into a pantry.

Everything is stuffed, and the shelves are overflowing. I have Rubbermaid storage containers filled with large bags of rice, popcorn, flour, beans and other miscellaneous foodstuffs.

Told you that I’m a packrat.

I have a small bucket filled with kitchen knives, wooden spoons and other small gadgets. My cabinets are filled with food, dishware and other items.

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen just hanging out, but there is so much stuff in there I am becoming distressed.

I need help to figure out how to make this work, to make it simpler while I use down these staples, and support to not purchase quite so much in the future.

Can you help me?

Categories
Decluttering Frugality Organization Simplicity

My Journey to Simplicity

As a single mother, things have not always been plentiful. Add to that some unpleasant experiences from the past, and you create a packrat.

I am that packrat.

Several years ago during a rough spot in my life, engrossed in pain and self-loathing I began to throw stuff away. Enough stuff to almost fill the dumpster near my apartment.

Then came the epiphany. I felt better with less stuff. A lot better.

Since then I have researched both on and offline about a simpler life. I have also given and tossed a lot more things.

Yes, I would be better helping the environment by donating these items, but my first attempts weren’t exactly thought out – they came from a need to have less surrounding me, suffocating me.

Not only do I need to have less stuff, but I need to learn how to control this urge, this drive within me to constantly stock up, just in case. It is just me and a kid, how much stuff do we need?

Do I really need to buy a bulk of paper towels when we may use ten rolls in a year? Do I really benefit from that purchase of dozens of notebooks at five cents each that are now mouldering in my building outside? How many things does one small family need?

This is where I stand. I am in hopes that you, my reader will become my therapist and aid me on this journey to peace and simplicity.

Categories
Organization

Still Moving In

Katie and I are still in the process of moving in. The heat has slowed the process down to a crawl but we are still making progress, however.

The washer, dryer and refrigerator are here, as well as several loads of other things. I want to get the last two computers, the kitchen table, and some groceries today. Some friends have been helping some, which is wonderful!

My daughter is exhausted. I have tried several times in the past hour and a half to wake her up, but she is still snoring. Guess she needs her sleep. I cannot complain, she has worked really hard to help these past few days. The internet is still pending install. I have located an unsecured wifi network with enough signal to use the phone, check my emails, and blog a bit. Will post some more pictures when I get a chance.

Categories
Organization

Katie’s new futon



Here are some pictures of Katie’s new futon when she has it arranged in a chair. It gives her SO much more space than a traditional bed! I understand more and more why the Japanese are so fond of this method of sleeping! It just makes economical sense to allow one space to have multiple uses, rather than housing a single HUGE piece of furniture only used 1/3 of the time!

My friends are all trying to show me various beds and things that we may “want to consider” after recovering from the move. They just cannot comprehend that we are choosing this of our own free will in a desire to have more space, and to stop wasting space for something we use only part of the time. They don’t understand that we are tired of lugging all of this junk around, and are looking for a more minimalistic lifestyle, and are willingly taking a page from the Japanese. We have no idea how far we will go, but we will definitely enjoy the journey!

Categories
Decluttering Minimalism

Thoughts and Memories

As the mountain of boxes grows higher in the staging area, Katie and I both are considering the merits of Greg Johnson’s life diet.

Perhaps we should start putting OUR life on a diet. A serious diet.

Greg started by putting almost everything in storage, then getting things out as he needed. The things he ended up not needing, he eliminated from his life.

We will have a little storage shed on the property. I have lots of shelving. Perhaps we could try that? Load most of it into the storage building then sort it out and put it away from there! It would definitely be a good way to start thinning out!

I gave the queen-sized comforter and sheets away that went with the queen-sized bed I used to possess. No point in keeping them, especially considering that they were too big for anything we plan to possess in the future, and definitely not our style (they came with the bed).

I did keep the black sheet set. It is large, but will work on the full-sized futon I am currently using.

I dream of a home with no clutter, with few possessions cluttering up our life. My nightmares are filled with images of the home I escaped, with my ex and his “collections” covered in a blanket of dust everywhere one turned, pieces of miscellaneous trash lying around and I was forbidden to “touch” his stuff cause it was so “valuable” – never again will I be controlled by stuff. Never again.

Categories
Decluttering

Packing for the big move

Friday we paid the deposits for the utilities. Saturday we gathered some boxes from local merchants and began packing.

I am amazed at the bulk of stuff two people can possess. It is just amazing to look at, especially with the knowledge that we possessed SO MUCH more before we started downsizing a few years ago.

Katie now has a futon for her room, just an inexpensive foam one for present. She is delighted at the fact that she no longer has to deal with her oversized bed. I am delighted at the fact she will no longer be able to hide masses of trash and clutter under her bed!

Right now she is kinda using it like a chaise-lounge. I am debating on the purchase of a futon chair frame from ikea for her. It may be better to teach her how to put it away and get her a beanbag chair or a papasan chair for use while she plays.

We decided to eliminate the dresser from our lives as well. Katie has a dresser built into her bedroom and I haven’t owned a dresser in years and honestly don’t want the burden of one now. The bed and the dresser are awaiting pickup hopefully today.

I have figured out a way to create a custom futon shiki-futon (futon mattress) that would actually be washable compared to the ones that you can purchase. Purchase or make a futon cover in the size you desire (mine will be twin since I’m single), then purchase a couple of those washable mattress pads or pillowtops. Layer those pads one on top of the other, and insert in the futon cover and voila! A washable futon. You can increase or decrease the thickness depending upon your comfort and preference by adding or removing layers inside the futon cover. When you wish to wash your futon, simply take the whole thing apart and toss in the washer! May take a few loads, but that is a world better than those futons that you cannot wash, especially for those of us who are clean freaks or have allergies!.

We are really hoping that the couch and loveseat are sold, for after we get situated we will purchase a futon frame for the futon mattress I am sleeping on now to use as a couch/sleeper in the living room, then I will make a smaller futon for my room. The smaller size will be easier to put away during the day, and it will be wonderful to be able to wash it at will or adjust the thickness! This current futon mattress is solid cotton, and about eight years old but in excellent shape. Plan to get a cover for it and add some thickness with mattress pads when we get time.

Last night I dreamed of our new home. It wasn’t fully decorated, but a lot had been done. The walls were an eggshell white, and all the trim was done in black, with a few oriental pieces on the walls. There was an oriental-themed wallpaper in a couple of spots for accent, and our furniture was set up just so. It looked so peaceful!

Once I get in I will post pictures of how it looks now, and pictures of progress as we decorate. This is getting done on a shoestring so it may take a while!

Well, we still have lots more to pack, so time to get back to work!

Categories
Decluttering Housing Minimalism

Downsizing

In anticipation of the move I have downsized some of our possessions. Meaning, I have sold several pieces of furniture too large for me to move single-handedly in my van. As a result, my queen-sized bed is no more, along with a heavy solid wood desk, a matching nightstand and shelf, both with glass shelving.

Beautiful pieces, all. Beautiful. But the desk was heavy and unneeded, the queen-sized bed entirely too big for any average bedroom, and the mattress and box springs no only too large to fit inside my van but too heavy to move myself.

The glass shelf – beautiful but a dust magnet. Every speck of dust would find its way to that shelf and make it look as if I hadn’t cleaned in months! I plan on replacing it with some industrial stainless steel shelving, like the kind you see in restaurants and in Duncan MacLeod’s place in Highlander the Series.

I have to clean off the desk and shelf and move them over there tomorrow sometime, but the bed and nightstand are officially out of the house and out of the way!

I know – what am I thinking, right?

Tonight I will snuggle up on a futon placed upon the floor and have a restful night’s sleep, knowing that when I move I won’t have to beg and plead and pray for someone to help me move. All I have left to sell are my couch and loveseat. They are beautiful, the Ashley signature series, but just too large and awkward for me to move alone! Honestly, part of me wishes that I had never agreed to purchase them, despite the fact it was an excellent price – they have been giant sage albatrosses ever since they arrived home!

I love them, I truly do, but I love my independence more than I do a couple pieces of furniture. After I get moved and settled in I plan to invest in a futon couch for the living room, which can be easily dismantled and moved should I EVER decide to relocate again.

As for my bed, I am torn. The bedroom has a small alcove, which will be perfect for my office area, and I can make it dissappear with a curtain when not in use, but unless I go with a futon or murphy style bed, that room will not be very multi-purpose. Nothing is more annoying than to need some open floor space and there is a big chunk, all covered over by a giant unused bed!

I wish I had some ideas for the area. I want it to be a peaceful sleeping area, which means I will be able to conceal my desk and stuff when I’m done, but I would also like to be able to keep the bed out of the way if I have company and we’re working on the computer, you know? Perhaps I will end up investing in another futon couch for my bedroom as well.

My daughter has already placed her order for a futon couch! I am wondering if she would be happier with one of those futon chairs, however. As small as she is it seems as if it would be perfect for her!

If I am able to eliminate the couch and loveseat, then the living room will be quite oriental appearing until I get settled in and recover from all of the deposits and expense. I have a coffee table that belonged to my parents when I was a child, so use it with giant black pillows surrounding it for seating! Nice and super casual, especially since we really don’t get that much company!

As for a television – we don’t have one or need one. We use the laptops when we want to watch a movie or something. Eventually I would like to invest in a projector and screen for a bit bigger effect, but that is not a major concern.

I am exhausted, but still need to give the doggie her last walk of the evening before calling it a night.

Sweet dreams, world!

Categories
Decluttering Minimalism

Downsizing

Good Morning!

I hope all of you slept well.  We closed some windows, and added an extra blanket to our beds, and slept like babies while the temperature dipped into the forties last night!

After reading the book on small houses last night, I am considering the benefits of downsizing even more than I have in the past.  While I do not know if the two of us could live comfortably in a home that small, I do wonder if we could live in less space than we have now.

Years ago, I lived in a 10×50 mobile home with three kids and two dogs.  With all of those children combined with the fact that I wasn’t ready to downsize my posession, we ended up cramped, to say the least.  I own a lot less now than I did back then as far as personal posessions go, but a lot more as far as furniture goes.  

The saddest part?  Most of that furniture doesn’t get used.  It just sits in my living room looking pretty, wasting precious space.  

The truth of the matter is I really didn’t want the couch and loveseat when I purchased them, but I bowed to pressure from a friend to have “nicer furniture.”  

Sometimes it is better to stay off by yourself.

The living room looks much better with the aquarium sitting where the old television was.  The light on the aquarium will become our nightlight in there, meaning our electricity usage won’t go up any.  We are in that room only to travel to the other section of the house, and so keep a light on to see…  

I wonder:  if I put the tv on freecycle and rearrange the livingroom, if I could save some electric by putting my office area in the living room instead of having it in the laundry room?  We keep a light on in the living room regardless, and we are frequently in the office area doing something on the computers, so could we manage to keep some lights out by moving the office area?

Categories
Decluttering Freebies Frugality

Getting Started with Freecycle

After a few days lurking on the very quiet local freecycle site, I have decided to wake things up a bit with a couple of offers, just to see what happens…

I’m more accustomed to a local trading post you call into, which is what we had where I used to live, but I have some things to eliminate from my life, so freecycle it is.

I really want to put my old television on there to get rid of it.

I really really do.

Even my daughter wants me to get rid of the monstrosity.. Well, a small monstrosity.. Only a 19 inch, but huge compared to the monitors we have available these days!

Last time we watched it.. I think was when  a friend came over and wanted to watch a movie few weeks ago.. 

I don’t know why this decision bothers me so much!  We don’t use the stupid thing, and we could use the freed up space!

I know!  We could take the tv apart and set it aside, and if we don’t use it in a set amount of time (say a month) we put it on freecycle… I don’t think it is worth much cause it isn’t digital, and maybe it would help someone who actually uses a television…

I hate this.  Why does a logical decision have to be so darned hard? sed0 \ls

Categories
Organization Simplicity

Simplicity Side Effects

I have noticed something as I work toward a more simple, minimal lifestyle.  Something that may sound silly or may make perfect sense.

While simplifying my life and eliminating the dross a couple of things have happened.

One, my house stays cleaner. I guess it is because there isn’t as much to clutter the areas now—to get rearranged or dusty, but it takes less time to clean when I do clean, and I have to clean less. It just doesn’t get as dirty anymore.

Two, My dishes don’t pile up as much. I have posted in this blog about my dishes in the  past, even about failing to keep them washed as I want.  However, by simplifying what dishes and silverware I own I am inspired by necessity to keep things washed up, which means I am washing dishes more frequently and so there is less dishes to pile up waiting to be washed.  This is a big boon to this girl!

Yes, I could get a dishwasher but I don’t want the expense, I don’t want the maintenance, I don’t want the thing in my way, I don’t want another heavy appliance to move—I just don’t want one!  Doesn’t take much water to wash dishes if you use two dishpans and don’t leave the water running!

I get more accomplished. Even though I have stopped using disposables in favor of cloth and started using a clothesline even indoors to dry things. Even though I have gotten rid of my mixer and other “convenience items in favor of a cutting board. Even though I started a frugality blog so as to simplify my thoughts and not bore you, making for additional posts to keep both active—I still have less to do.

I don’t understand it, yet I do.  My life is much more peaceful with less in it. I think back to all of the years I would hunt and hunt for things—now I go to a single wall of shelves in my tiny room and locate it within minutes!

I think back to all of the years I tripped over things in the floor—nothing to trip over now!

I think back to all of the things that have been destroyed accidentally by being stepped on, knocked over or whatever—it just doesn’t happen these days!

I look at this shelf in the kitchen I placed here recently—it was stuffed full and now I may eliminate it from the kitchen entirely soon, for it is almost empty.

Amazingly during this whole process not once have I needed something that I have eliminated from my life! That’s a big one with me—when I was  a kid my father would hold on to almost everything!  He would become frustrated at all of the junk he had piled around and toss some of it—only to need something he tossed a few days later (it never failed).  Then there was the common occurrences of having to re-buy something that he knew he already possessed because he couldn’t find it when he needed it—only to locate the needed item a week or so later while looking for something else!

The last side effect I have noticed is that while my possessions have been reduced the quality has increased. I find myself using the “nice things” that I would never use because I have eliminated the cheap stuff from my life. I have also determined ways to increase the quality of my food without increasing my grocery bill.  Simply buying a small chunk of meat and slicing it myself at home has saved me an amazing amount of money—I purchased 5.5 pounds of beef round in a single section for a little over $13 and sliced it up into thin steaks that normally cost me almost five dollars a pound! It wasn’t hard, didn’t take any special equipment and I froze them on a pizza pan (it was the sheet I kept because it was newest and my baking sheet was in horrible condition) and transferred them to freezer bags for individual use. So now I have the quality of meat that I adore (the thin, versatile steaks) at a price ($2.48/lb) that fits much easier on my budget.

By investing less in junk food I have extra money in my budget for things I prefer, like mung beans from the health food store for sprouting and all-natural sea salt instead of the bleached regular table salt.

I’m even a bit healthier, by eliminating soft drinks from my daily diet in favor of water somehow I manage to wake up earlier without the help of an alarm clock.  Coffee is drank a lot less now, as water is my morning libation of preference.  Somehow I find that I don’t miss it.  This morning I brewed a single cup—only to find I wanted about half of the little amount I brewed!

I am quite pleased with these side effects thus far, and look forward to experiencing even more of this phenomena.