Electric usage and Mini blinds

For those who are curious as to how much electricity a device uses, I found a post where someone checked just that. I was surprised to discover that the microwave used less electricity than an electric oven, considering that I have heard that 110 will always use more than 220 in terms of electric devices. Hmm…

I have scavenged two mini blinds and placed them in the big window in my kitchen, where I spend most of my time. It seems soo much lighter and cleaner in here with just that small change! I have one more window here in the kitchen, and I am debating on whether or not to go ahead and purchase a mini blind for that window as well.

My concern is the dog. I fear she will destroy them as she has destroyed mini blinds in the past. Personally I prefer open miniblinds combined with a sheer curtain to not only let in light but give privacy as well, or just plain mini blinds in areas where people looking in are not a concern. In summer when you want the light blocked out the white is great for reflecting the heat, and sometimes I will put up simple black curtains. Before anyone asks, I gave up on colors several years ago due to an inability to mix and match the colors and patterns just so. Besides, simple solids are just peaceful.

Time to go back to cleaning. One benefit of minimalism is less to clean, unfortunately I’m not quite there yet.

Winter Conservation and Solar Homes

It was rainy this morning. My daughter had set her alarm and was getting dressed in hopes that I would let her go to school, for they were having a play today. The child slept most of yesterday and was obviously still ill, so I kept her home. She cried and was upset. I am so thankful that I have a daughter who wants to go to school!

It seems a bit quieter in here with one less computer running at all times. Every little thing I manage to turn off is one less thing adding to my electric bill. I tell myself this every day.

My microwave and toaster oven are both without those digital displays so common in the machines. My cook stove has an electric clock, but it is not digital. I wonder if digital one would use less energy but it would cost more to replace this perfectly functional stove than I would save. Perhaps one day should this one fail I can invest in a propane stove and oven. There are some videos about a man who has salvaged a propane stove and refrigerator from a camper and is now using them in a cabin he built:

“I have 6 video clips on you tube describing my simple solar homestead, solar cabin, and the systems I use to run the homestead.

Each clip is about 5 minutes long. you can watch them all or pick the ones you are interested in.

1- Solar Homesteading Introduction:

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=lXu45MHrnTk

2- Simple Solar Homesteading Intro continued…

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=QyPkT5P5ysQ

3- Solar electrical system:

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=KLnZLypphgk

4- Cabin Interior:

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=FacIm3bHbYc

5- Composting toilet and solar tv:

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=QdG6hOqFTd0

6- Loft and office:

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=UZLJ3CkgdZE

I hope you like those videos! I hope to use some of his ideas to reduce my current electric usage more. Perhaps if I create a small solar setup I can use it to provide electricity to my smaller devices like the laptop and the cellphone?

My electric bill last month, even using air conditioning on the rainy (and sweltering) days was $51. That also included running the clothes dryer for my obsessive cleaning. I do not have extraneous items like electric clocks – my alarm clock is my cell phone and our two wall clocks are battery operated, only requiring a AA battery once a year (which I recharge). We don’t have a television, DVD, VCR or game machines, but we do have a desktop computer that we use for radio, television etc. Eventually that desktop will be replaced with a more energy-efficient laptop. Since there are two of us and we both tend to use the computer simultaneously at times, two computers are a must at this point.

I am in hopes to keep it down year round, but all I have to go on is the previous occupant – he said the highest electric bill he ever had here was in winter – and that it was $184. The goal this winter is to keep from going over that amount. Perhaps by closing off the back bedroom I will accomplish that goal? The room is 12 foot square, so that will reduce the square footage by 1/5 if I close that room off.

I moved the coffee table into the back room yesterday, and have placed the rattan loveseat back there today and brought my futon out here and closed that room off. I will still have to go into that room for my clothes and various items, but if I keep the door closed it will still save energy. The living room looks quite bohemian! I took a picture of the new couch and uploaded it here. It is low-slung, but works for us.

I told my auntie what I was doing, moving my futon into the living room and closing off the back bedroom for this winter, and amazingly she thought it was a wonderful idea! At first that surprised me, but come to think of it my grandparents did the same thing in the winter – I remember going to their house and discovering a full-size bed in one corner of the living room – perhaps that is where the idea came from, just from watching my frugal grandparents!

I repurposed some white plastic bags to seal off the vent in the back bedroom, and plan to use more of them to insulate the area that contains an unused central air return duct.

I am researching more options to save on energy this winter. If anyone has any ideas please leave them in the comments.

Is Frugality Un-American?

If the heat kicked on any last night we did not hear, which is a wonderful change from the apartment we inhabited for the past several years. There is a bit of a chill outside at 55 degrees, but while it is cool in here it is far from cold. The thermometer in the kitchen says it is 68F in here, which is about where I plan to keep it during the winter, except at night when we will be snuggled up in blankets and won’t need so much heat.

Layer weather has officially arrived then. I am not one for wearing huge amounts of clothing, but in the winter I wear a t-shirt underneath my sweatshirts, though I sometimes rotate with a long-sleeved tee and a zip up sweatshirt jacket depending upon the weather and my mood.

My very favorite sweat pants are becoming worn and faded; I probably should dye them but I may just see if I can continue to lighten them instead. Some people would just toss them out given their condition but their just so darned comfortable I want to see if I can eke at least another winter out of them. It isn’t like I don’t have any other pairs of sweatpants, but these are my favorite, tattered though they may be.

With the change in weather has come a craving for coffee. I have used the percolator to brew a pot which I poured into a thermos to keep warm – why use electricity when you don’t have to?

Here in a bit I plan to start rearranging this furniture. It won’t be too bad – not near as bad as it would have been just a few short years ago.

I figured out how to make the guinea pig pen look a bit more stylish than a kiddie pool sitting in my living room. A small brick wall built around should give it some style and flair, and I can place my large mother-in-law’s tongue plant as a backdrop when I bring it inside shortly. I may try to make it a plant area, but I have to be careful to make sure none of the plants drape in with the piggies just in case they are toxic. I have some bricks outside already so I won’t have to purchase any.

I wonder: with the economy as it is and all the talk about needing to stimulate the economy, am I being un-American by wanting to use what I have and only buy when I don’t have a choice? That random thought occurred to me as I was falling asleep last night.

I don’t plan to change because I enjoy being more responsible, but I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts concerning the subject. Has it become un-American to want to save your money and live on less? What do you think?

Wants, Needs, and Urges

I want a vegetable peeler. I don’t NEED one. In fact, I haven’t owned one since I gave the one I inherited from my mother away years ago…

I never could figure out how to use it, so out of my home it went… but now I am thinking that perhaps one may be useful for the larger volume of vegetables I handle at this point in my life..

I currently use a knife for all of my peeling needs. Why can’t I just continue doing so? What is this sudden obsession for a new gadget? Is it just an obsession, or would it actually come in handy?

I honestly don’t know. I wish I did, for this is frustrating.

Until I get this urge under control I need to stay away from the stores. I do not like inpulsive purchases.

For now, I will get out my handy-dandy paring knife and peel some potatoes for breakfast. Ahh, potatoes and eggs.

Life doesn’t get any better than this!

How to Tenderize Meat Without a Gadget

If you have ever dealt with a tough piece of meat, you know it can be frustrating. The temptation is high to buy that hammer especially designed to tenderize that piece.

You don’t have to. In fact, you already have something in your kitchen that will tenderize that cut of meat just as well as a mallet. It’s called a plate.

Yes, the average run-of-the-mill ceramic plate. Turn it on it’s side and it becomes the perfect weapon against meat toughness!

I sprinkle my meat with a bit of tenderizer on each side before tapping it multiple times with the side of one of my plates. In the picture I use a saucer cause it’s smaller and easier for me to manage, but any type of plate or saucer will do, provided it’s solid and not plastic or paper. Then again, some of the more solid plastic plates may work as well!

Just whack on that tough piece of meat with the edge of a plate until you think it is good and tender all over. I enjoy taking out any frustrations so mine get beat up pretty bad, flipping mine over a couple of times just to make sure I’m done!

Remember whenever you think you need a new gadget – you may have something already at home that will already do the job, sometimes even better than that shiny new thingy at the store. One less thing cluttering up your drawers, and a bit more money in your pocket!



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.

Grocery Dilemma

Today the need arose to restock some perishables, so off I went to the grocery.

Pork loin was $1.69 a pound, but only if you bought the mega family size packs. The next best price? $2.99 a pound.

Such a dilemma. Do I purchase several pounds of a food we don’t eat regularly? Package it, freeze it, hope to skate through any power outages and maybe eat all of it before it succumbs to freezer burn? Or do I pay over a dollar a pound more for a lot less – with no repackaging, no refreezing, no concerns about power outages and no fears it will go bad before it is gone?

When my two oldest children were home, it would have been a no-brainer, but with just myself and one little girl…

I chose the smaller pack. That pack has enough for two meals of pork chops, so one meal may get frozen after all. However, there is no danger of a single extra meal going bad before we eat it – our current refrigerator is a small one so there are no places for food to hide and be forgotten.

For us, that choice was the simpler one, despite the fact that the per-pound price was more. Simpler in that there is very little repackaging. Simpler in being less to store. Simpler in being less to worry about this winter when the power outages hit. For each one of us, there is a different path on the way to simplicity. Where has your path taken you?

Deodorizing Carpet Naturally

I decided to try the baking soda idea on my carpet to see if it works.

For starters, this carpet is an older one that didn’t have a good life before I moved in. Translation: it stinks.

I want to replace the carpet, and would rather save the fifty dollars it costs to rent and use a cleaner and put it toward ripping it out and replacing it with an easier to clean surface, but I cannot tolerate the thought of a dirty smelly carpet.

One of the tips was to not only sprinkle baking soda on the carpet, but to use your broom to brush it into the carpet in order to gain the most effective odor removal.

I put baking soda on my living room carpet alone and brushed it in several minutes ago. Amazingly, I can tell a bit of a difference already in the living room smell. A lot of difference actually – my plug in is no longer getting overwhelmed and now I can smell it!

I’m thinking of simply ripping up this carpet and painting the floors for an interim solution. One, I don’t know exactly what type of floor covering I wish to put down, and two I don’t have the money in my budget. I really dislike carpet though. It is pretty, but holds dirt and odors to an unacceptable degree and costs too much to clean and maintain. This old carpet is worn anyway…

I have painted floors in the past, and they have a reddish floor paint that would go with the decor in here. They also have a battleship gray, but I’m just not a fan of that color, you know? Black would be overkill with the dark paneling, and I fear white would be too hard to keep clean…

Any ideas?


After dinner I washed up the dishes, then swept the floor and folded some towels. Since I use simple white towels instead of paper towels, those tend to build up in the hamper quickly!

To keep things simple yet tasteful, I have migrated to white towels, wash cloths, and kitchen towels. Bath towels and cloths are hotel quality from Sam’s Club. The kitchen towels were bought in bulk from the same place. Inexpensive, bleachable, and not bad to look at.

I do plan to continue to purchase bleach pens in bulk whenever I need them. I purchased two cases of them from eBay a while back for a dollar a pen including shipping, which is a lot better than one can purchase them in a store. At the rate I use them every penny counts! Whites are so beautiful when they are clean, and if you add blueing on occasion they stay so bright!

I used to have towels in every color of the rainbow, and every pattern too! Whatever caught my fancy was what I bought until I noticed how chaotic it all seemed. Through planned obsolescence if you purchase a supply of towels one year and need to replace one or two the colors will not be the same, and as a result anyone who wants to match their towels is either forced to keep mismatched towels, or buy complete sets every time.

I refuse to buy a whole set of towels when I just need one, and the thought of a set of towels just in case company comes is repulsive to me. Have something just hanging there for the one time a year someone comes over? What a waste, especially since they will probably be polite and NOT use the guest towels anyway!

After much thought on the matter I decided to switch to pure white towels, and have not regretted it one bit. I still have a couple of solid color towels in good shape I keep to dry the dog off, but when those are gone, they’re gone.

I may end up adding some solid black towels to the mix for variety, but I haven’t decided yet. I have plenty of towels right now so it’s not even a serious consideration. Since big business wants to plan obsolescence into towel colors, I will rebel by choosing no color at all!

I do wish I could get a job working for a laundry service, if only to see how they keep their towels so bright white. My whites stay pretty clean, my towels beautiful, but I would love to make my kitchen towels just a touch brighter if possible. Those poor towels get abused.

I once asked a hotel owner how he kept his stuff so white and he told me that he soaks his dirtier towels in this stuff called “iron out.” The rest he just washes really frequently. I have followed his advice ever since.

I read somewhere that cooks keep their aprons bright white by soaking them in dishwasher detergent overnight. I have done that as well and found it works great too. You take a quarter cup of detergent and mix it into a bucket of hot water, then add your towels. I assume that is what restaurants do to their towels as well, since they have to use them to wash dishes and everything as a result of regulations.

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.

Small Steps to Financial Independence

My gas bill came in today.  I have gotten it down to $15.66.  I’m hoping I can get it a little lower, but don’t think I can lower it much more than that.

We went to the store and to my amazement my daughter did not buy a single toy.  Instead she bought a little candy, and chipped in by buying her burger at McDonald’s.  We got chips and drinks at the store, and got us a sandwich apiece off of the dollar menu for dinner.  Nice, inexpensive meal – and a cheap way to eat out on occasion!

As I walked through the store and looked at all the things they had for sale I reminded myself that all my needs have been provided for, that there was really nothing in the store that I needed, only a couple of things that I wanted.  I picked up a few things, like some tomato plants, a box of borax, some sulfodene medication for the dog, a bag of chips on clearance and a pack of capri-sun for dinner, then it dawned on me:  we really honestly truly don’t eat that many tomatoes, so instead of paying money for the plants,  transplanting them, caring for them, dehydrating the excess why not just buy the couple I want to eat green, or better yet bum a couple off a friend of mine who has several plants in the ground already?

I also reminded myself that I still had a little bit of borax at home, and considering how little I use I could safely let the store keep their box of borax for a little while longer.  So I put the tomato plants and the box of borax back on their shelves, double checked our purchases, and left the store happier because I managed to put things back than I was going there thinking I needed all of these things!

Every time I buy less, every time I reduce our consumption will make the next time easier.  Yes we did not have to eat out, but it cost us just a couple of dollars at the restaurant, and a couple of dollars at the store for additions to the meal that will actually last us for days.  The chips will still be around for snacking next week, though the drinks will be gone with the weekend.  Considering that I could have spent that amount and only had a single meal but instead have a little more makes me feel better, especially since we have drastically reduced the amount we eat out anymore.  We used to eat out once or twice a week depending upon my schedule, but now we may eat out once a week tops.  It has been two weeks or so since last we ate out, so I am content with how well we are doing.

I mean, I want us to save money but I don’t want us to be totally deprived.

I have managed to pick up some hours to make up for the hours lost these last couple weeks.  I am having to give up my weekend, but such is life. You do what is necessary to pay the bills.  Once I saw they were drastically reducing our hours at work I hoarded my last paycheck, so I have enough for rent and stuff next month, but every single hour I can squeeze in at work will keep me from getting in the hole.

Besides that, when they send me home early I try to submit more articles at Associated Content.  Every advance payment, every single page view helps me to pay bills that much better.  My content producer page is here.  Will you please read my articles and leave a comment on them, for good or bad?  Every article you read helps me better support my daughter.  You can subscribe for free as well.  Thank you!

I wish that I had enough articles, enough page views every month that I could just write full time instead of worrying about a day job, but I am thankful that I have made it to clout Level 4 in less than six months! Then I would never have to worry about my schedule or my daughter’s schedule.  But it will come in time.

A long time ago I got a fortune in a cookie.  It says, “Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take small steps.”  I am making those steps.


I Love My Mower!

It is pretty, the grass is high, time to mow.

I don’t have the perfect yard but in order to save money I use a reel mower instead of a gas or an electric one.  It was not only cheaper to purchase, but I don’t have to pay every time I operate it.  If the grass gets too high it doesn’t do so well, so must keep on top of things lawnwise.  Made it really hard with this wet spring we have had, but such is life!

I love my reel mower!  It feels good to be able to listen to music or just think while I’m out there instead of hearing all of that noise!



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