Categories
Frugality Simplicity

Forgetting the Family Cloth

Some habits die hard. Bathroom tissue is among them.

Several times today I found myself grabbing off of the roll left in the bathroom for camouflage. Not good.

I will continue to correct myself as I work toward saving more money.

I have more cloths, purchased on sale so that I don’t have to worry about running out before laundry day. I hope I won’t anyhow…

Fortunately I try to do laundry at least twice a week because I don’t like my kitchen towels to soak for too long.

Which reminds me.. I washed the family cloths that I used during my cycle… not a single bloodstain remained on any of them. I am quite pleased.

Categories
Frugality Simplicity

Family Cloth Challenge

The first challenge came to my use of Family Cloth: my monthly cycle. Darn.

I had a decision to make, and I needed to make it fast.

I decided to continue with the experiment.

It is icky, but it doesn’t feel as icky cleaning that bloody mess with a damp cloth as opposed to a bunch of dry tissue. I’ve got a bottle filled with water, a drop of olive oil, a drop of tea tree oil and a drop of soap (it’s a really small bottle) that I squirt on the cloth before wiping. I feel much fresher cleaning this way than I did using the bathroom tissue.

I am concerned about the cloths staining. I keep them in a bleach solution until wash day, but I am still paranoid. I read on some menstrual cloth forums that blood stains generally wash clean especially if they are soaked and the water changed frequently. This morning to be sure I changed the water and swished the cloths around some and inspected them. A couple of cloths that had stayed folded still had a bit of blood on them but most were totally free of blood. Maybe this will not be a concern after all….

After going this far to save money I am wondering if I should go whole hog and start using menstrual cloths as well. One lady just folds up her cloths and uses that instead of making anything fancy, and gives an option for using some waterproof flannel(?) as a liner between the cloth and the underwear if one is concerned. Insane as it sounds I may have to research that…

Categories
Frugality Simplicity

Family Cloths

We got about four inches of snow here last night. When I went to open the door this morning for the dog I discovered a snow drift blocking the door!

I grabbed the broom and swept the area clean in a few minutes, however.

After reading posts for several months I have decided to try Family cloths, where you use cloth instead of bathroom tissue. I was not sure if I would like it so I just placed a small covered bucket of sanitizer (actually bleach water) beside the commode and used washcloths instead of toilet paper whenever I have urinated.

It actually isn’t that bad.

I haven’t attempted to use the cloth for #2 yet but I frequently think of dear Father and his “special cloth” he used and reused just for this purpose his whole life. He would wet the cloth in the sink before use then wash it out by hand and leave it to dry for the next time. I’m thinking that if I create a gentle liquid to dampen the cloths I could just toss them into the sanitizer bucket for the wash without harm.

To wash the cloths I plan to dump the sanitizer bucket in the washer, completely spin out the liquid then pre-wash them before adding my other towels to the mix. That would give them a good initial spin to get rid of the majority of yuck and a good wash to eliminate most if not all of the rest of it before combining it with the rest of my whites. Heavy bleach and a vinegar rinse should kill any and all germs that may be on them. I tried cloth diapers in the past – surely this won’t be much different?

The reason I started seriously considering family cloths was a blow to my frugal soul. While out of town not too long ago the thermostat died and the pipes froze and broke. Sixteen rolls of bathroom tissue were saturated and had to be tossed. Over a third of a box of bathroom tissue gone to the trash because of a little water!

If I used cloth I could have simply washed them and all would have been well.

I hated throwing away that much bathroom tissue. I hate throwing away that much of anything, period–especially without getting any benefit from the use!

I have read a lot of blogs where people are using cut-up tee shirts, flannel and all other types of fabric for the family cloth. I’m just going to use white washcloths instead of doing all of that. My reasons being that wash cloths can be used for so many different things and are easily added to my kitchen towel stash when they become too worn for the bathroom. This will save me time and effort because I will not be using a special towel I can store all of the clean cloths in a single pile. This will also help to camouflage the family cloth in the event of company.

I was scolded for making my own laundry soap by one friend, saying that if I was so poor and needed laundry detergent they would be happy to buy me some! I am routinely pressured to purchase things like televisions and cable subscriptions–even a couch–that we don’t want or need. At this point I really don’t want to listen to the poverty comments, and would just like to live my simple life in peace.

I will quietly use my family cloths and let my friends and neighbors continue to spend their money on stuff they use once and throw away.

Categories
Finances Frugality Simplicity

Shopping and Simplicity

When I go shopping, I see lots of people with shopping carts overflowing with stuff. I see myself several years ago, or actually not too long ago shopping at Sam’s Club.

Then I look into my cart. I had a 10-pack of Ivory soap, a gallon of milk, a plastic washtub, some drain cleaner and a bag of Timothy for the guinea pigs. I had picked up some mushrooms and some chocolate but put them back after some thought.

I really didn’t need the washtub, but the metal bowl I use to rinse my dishes in wasn’t very satisfying when the time comes to rinse larger items.

I found myself wandering the aisles just looking at the choices. Retractable clothes lines for seven dollars each when a 99-cent piece of cord would suffice. Chunks of wood packaged to stuff in your closet – when the spruce tree you had for Christmas could have been cut up and used to scent your closet just as well.

Boxes made out of fabric covered cardboard–the type of craft I’ve tinkered with since I was a kid–but my boxes said Eggs on the side!

I could go on but there is no real point.

I felt like an outsider watching a strange ritual today as I wandered around the store. I passed people debating on clothes and cleaning supplies alike, cringing because I feel like I’m carrying a deep dark secret.

The few people I have told about this – most think I’m crazy. I told one friend about making laundry soap and was scolded for not telling him I needed money to buy laundry detergent.

I feel lonely as a result of my frugality. Friends shake their heads because I sold my queen-sized bed when I moved here and now sleep on a small cot in an even smaller room. Instead of a couch we have a rattan loveseat–the dog is the only one who uses it so why waste money on a couch?

Somehow it is all okay however. I am marching to the beat of my own personal drummer. I am not going to give in like I have in the past and follow my spendthrift friends.

I hope not, anyway.

Categories
Frugality Simplicity

New Year’s Update

It has been a while since I posted last but I feel that it is important to share my progress.

I have greatly simplified the amount and number of cleaning supplies I purchase over this last year. I would purchase items like laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, window cleaner, all-purpose cleaners, floor cleaners, etc. in bulk from places like Sam’s Club.

It has been about a year since I purchased most of those items. I now make my own laundry detergent (I have tried both the powder and liquid recipes–I prefer the liquid). I still have some of the last container of commercial laundry detergent I purchased but I rarely use it these days.

Instead of all-purpose cleaners I now use Fels Naptha soap, borax, vinegar and bleach depending upon the cleaning job. That switch alone saved me a ton of money!

I still buy dishwashing liquid by the gallon, and it costs a little over $4 a gallon these days at Sam’s Club. I’m thinking of trying to make my own however. A gallon lasts a long time but if I can make a gallon for a dollar or less that is a $3 savings. In this economy that is a lot.

I still have a bunch of the fabric softener I purchased some time in late 2008. I have discovered that we just don’t need it. On whites I use vinegar in the rinse and on colors I use less than half of what the manufacturer recommends when I do use it. In the summer when it is pretty I hang my clothes outside to dry and on those days I use nothing but vinegar in the rinse if I even use that.

I am still working on that big gallon jug of window cleaner I purchased back in 2008. It gets used when I clean a mirror on occasion but for cleaning all of my windows and stuff I now do what the professional window cleaners do: I mix up a bucket of warm water with a small squirt of dishwashing liquid in it. I scrub the windows with a rag or the foam part of my squeegee, then squeegee it off, using a towel to dry the squeegee. Mirrors are treated like a “Karate Kid” movie–wax on with a wet towel, wax off with the dry. They shine when I’m done!

I bought a big box of paper towels last spring, and still have most of it left. I keep them out for messes that would stain my cloth towels, but I have surprised myself at how little we have used this past year. We were using them as napkins until my daughter Katie pointed out that it would “save more trees” if we just used our old kitchen towels for napkins instead. She was more excited about that idea than I was, but I fell in line pretty quick I guess. We used to go through two boxes of paper towels a year, so that is a significant decrease.

We still use bathroom tissue however. I have read lots of blogs and accounts of family cloths but we have yet to jump on the bandwagon. Katie was willing to try it but so far this mom has been reluctant. Maybe this year I’ll try it if I can find a small covered bucket for soaking them in–our bathroom is kinda small so whatever storage container we come up with will have to fit in the small area between commode and vanity. Unfortunately 16 rolls of tissue were destroyed when the pipes froze and broke this winter–I wasn’t home at the time and the thermostat decided to die. Not kewel. I hated tossing all of that tissue! If we had been using family cloths I could have just tossed them in the washer!

Has anyone out there tried family cloths? If so please leave me a comment or something. I would love to hear your experiences!

I actually do more laundry now than I used to, the result of using more cloth. Not too much, about a load a week if that. I keep a covered bucket filled with sanitizer water (bleach water honestly–in a restaurant you called it sanitizer and paid a fortune for it however) into which the towels are placed after each use. Dishcloths and cleaning cloths are only used once before being placed in the water to soak. Towels may get recycled once or twice before getting tossed in.

I spin them out and wash them in hot water with my laundry detergent (actually soap is the technical term) and more bleach. Occasionally I treat them with Iron Out to keep them really white, but mostly I use bleach and a few drops of blueing. Some of these towels are close to three years old and still pretty darn white, but you can tell a few stains on the older ones from the days before I used the sanitizer bucket. I was using a bleach pen on the spots but then decided I wasn’t going to stress over it–it’s cheaper that way!

I no longer buy sponges, but I do keep one of those plastic netting scratchie thingys around. I also keep miracle erasers, but they get used less and less. Stainless steel pads were purchased once last year in a small box of 6. I’ve maybe used half of the box. I keep the pad in the freezer to prevent it from rusting after use.

We greatly reduced our use of liquid hand soap last year by purchasing two little bottles of foaming hand wash, one each for the kitchen and bath. Once the wash ran out I poured a small bit from our gallon jug of hand soap in the bottom, added water and shook. We had about a half-gallon of liquid hand soap when I started that late last spring and there is maybe two inches left in the jug now. Katie loves the foaming soap and washes her hands more now, for which I’m grateful. I switch between the hand soap and a good ole’ fashioned bar of Ivory.

We no longer even look at the body wash section. I buy Ivory soap in the 10-packs and place the scraps in a piece of netting that Katie uses when she wants to get all lathery. She says she likes it cause it floats, while I like it cause it’s the closest to natural soap one can buy these days in your local Wally World.

As my ancestors did, I use Ivory soap for almost everything these days. I use it in my laundry detergent recipes as well as for basic cleaning of whatever needs to be cleaned. I’ve done some research and it is the exact same thing as Ivory flakes–and those flakes were used for everything from laundry to dishes to cleaning oriental rugs! All in all, for laundry detergent and everything I think we’ve maybe used a dozen bars or so, but that includes making up a couple batches of laundry soap for my sister in that estimate. I wish I could give a closer accounting. I’ll try to keep up this year.

One thing I do so that the bars will last longer is unwrap them as soon as I get home so that they can dry and cure. They last a lot longer and grate so much better if you do that one little thing!

I keep Fels Naptha on hand for heavier cleaning. I have had this bar since last spring but it is getting time to purchase a replacement.

To freshen my carpets I regularly sprinkle borax on them. I brush it in with a broom and let it sit for a day or so (you can’t notice if it is brushed in well) then vaccum. This not only seems to help freshen things but I understand it kills fleas and other insects when done regularly as well. It must do something, because when I moved to this place it was overran with fleas and other insects, and I haven’t seen a bug in ages–but I use the borax regularly and treated with insecticide when I first moved in.

We still use toothpaste, but we use less on our brushes than we used to. Sometimes I get froggy and use baking soda to brush my teeth, but not very often at all. I have to be feeling really cheap to deal with the taste! I honestly cannot remember the last time we purchased toothpaste.. It was a big four or five pack from Sam’s Club and there’s still a full tube under the sink!

Mouthwash is still used regularly here. When I was a kid Dad would make up salt water for a mouth rinse but Katie likes the taste of the store-bought stuff. I may make a small bottle of salt water and try weaning her from the other one day.

One thing I am trying this year even makes me shake my head. It’s the “no poo” experiment going around on the Internet. You know, the one where people stop putting shampoo on their hair. I’m still growing my mop back out from shaving it when my cousin had brain surgery in late June last year so I figured whattheheck! It’s going to look rough regardless so why not go whole hog?

It has been seven days exactly since I last used shampoo on my head. Sunday I used baking soda/acv on it–I was amazed at the gunk that rinsed out of what I thought was a clean head of hair! The water in my sink literally looked like someone’s bubble bath, and I used no soap, I promise!

Since then the only thing I’ve done is a bit of dry shampoo with a sprinkle of corn starch when it felt a little greasy last night (didn’t look greasy at all, however). My super-short hair is definitely light and fluffy so far into the game!

I don’t know how long I will last with this experiment, so if I write next week that I quit don’t flame me! I have a thing about being clean, so if I start feeling like my hair is not getting as clean as it should I’m going back to shampoo, ok?

I’m curious as to how this will turn out. My mother washed her hair once every week or so, and I’ve had older ones tell me that they only washed their hair once a month even in the summer! None of them mentioned their hair ever stinking, and from the blogs I’ve read no one has mentioned stinky hair other than a faint vinegar smell when they overdo it on the acv!

Let’s see… we no longer own a television or stereo, we watch shows and listen to the radio via the Internet–our phone is a MagicJack and goes through the Internet as well! We do have a cell phone but it is prepaid and costs $25 every three months.

I think that about covers the efforts we made to simplify our lives last year. If I missed something let me know in the comments and I’ll blog about it at a later date ok? Until then, I’ve got to get back to work.

Categories
Decluttering Minimalism

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!

Categories
Minimalism Simplicity

Life Without a Coffee Maker

Growing up as a child, I recall the time when my parents decided they were tired of instant coffee and switched to drip.

Every year or so they had to replace that stupid machine, sometimes twice a year. Every time the latest machine went belly up they would gripe about how cheap things were made. Even the expensive coffee makers would die in a short span of time!

When I reached adulthood, I ended up marrying an inveterate coffee drinker. He would drink anything, so long as it was coffee.

For the first few years coffee was brewed in an electric percolator – I guess it tasted alright for he drank it – I wasn’t in a coffee phase so I never tasted it!

Eventually we moved on to a “real” drip coffee maker. Determined to ensure my husband (and myself by that time) had good coffee I would clean the machine out with vinegar – only to have the machine die the next time we used it.

I thought it was a fluke, so we purchased another. I didn’t clean this one for almost a year, but when I did – alas, I killed it too.

When I stopped trying to clean the machines, they would last a long time before eventually going to coffeemaker heaven, but go they all eventually did.

Sometime after moving out on my own I realised that I didn’t really drink enough coffee to justify a coffeemaker taking up space on my counter, yet I did not want to have to keep instant on hand. For a time I attempted to find a consumer solution – single cup coffee makers, smaller coffee makers, coffee makers on clearance – all of these solutions still left some sort of monstrosity sitting on my precious countertop for the rare times when I wanted a good cup of coffee.

Currently I have a percolator pot, but instead of perking the coffee I generally boil the water in my teapot and pour it in to get the equivalent of a drip. It isn’t bad, but still I have this pot taking up space in my cabinets for the rare time I get the taste for coffee.

I have heard that a French Press would be a good space-saving solution for those occasional cups of coffee, but there you go with the consumer bit. Always we seem to think (myself included) that we have to buy something to solve a problem. I honestly don’t want to buy anything unless I have to, and considering that this metal stovetop percolator has no moving parts to die, I guess I’m stuck unless someone has a better idea.

The thing is, I don’t even know if I would like the coffee that a French Press makes. Why spend that money on something that I don’t know if I will like? It would definitely take up less space, and I could put my percolator on Freecycle. Hey, perhaps I could offer a trade in a classified – stovetop percolator for a french press? Then I could try it without having to “buy” it in the traditional sense.

Does anyone have any thoughts on living without a traditional coffee maker? What do you do in a minimalist kitchen when you want the occasional cuppa joe?

Update: I posted a “want to trade” ad on my local isp’s classifieds in hopes of exchanging this percolator for a french press. Hopefully someone out there has a french press they are willing to trade. If so, I have reached a non-consumer solution to the issue (fingers crossed.)

Categories
Finances Simplicity

Financial Simplicity

In the past to simplify my bills I have paid electronically via the individual websites. It was faster and easier than mailing all of those checks, but still a hassle to go to each of those websites and pay in turn.

Today I have set up bill payments via my bank’s website. A one-stop solution to paying bills. Instead of going to all of those individual sites I will go to one only to schedule all of my payments. Best part is that it is still free, even if they have to mail a payment!

I only set up two payees today, with plans to set the others up as I pay them. I am in hopes that it will make my life a little simpler than it already is. We shall see.

I am still in the process of digitizing the rest of those music CDs on a “think of” basis. I think about it, walk into the other room, and start ripping another to my hard disk. When I finish I will start back on the DVDs. I will be so glad to box all of these discs away! Should I put them outside in the building and get them out of the house? It is very tempting to just get rid of them…..

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
Finances Food Frugality Minimalism

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?

Categories
Frugality Simplicity

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?

Categories
Frugality Simplicity

Laundry

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.

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
Car-Free

Public Transportation

Today my daughter and I decided to explore the public transportation available locally. Translation: We rode the bus to the Mall. I calculated the cost of the trip for myself and my daughter round-trip we would have used at least a gallon of gas in my van, not including wear and tear on the vehicle.

The round trip cost us three bucks at full-price.

At current gas prices, we basically broke even, adding wear and tear into the calculation. When you figure up the fact that I got to sit and relax instead of drive, we were a bit ahead of the game. Considering that I prefer riding to driving, it was soo nice to hop on the bus and let someone else navigate the traffic while I sat and enjoyed the scenery, chatting with my daughter.

At the Ky Oaks Mall we discovered that Borders Bookstore is now closing, but we got some great deals. Katie got a bug catching kit complete with an insect identification booklet, a small gel ink pen set, a novel about horses, and a ruler with horses on it. I got a dead-tree edition of “The Secret,” a street map of Paducah and an imitation thousand-dollar bill.

We looked around the stores, played in one of the photography booths, grabbed a Frappachino at Starbucks, then headed back to the bus stop. We arrived in perfect time, for moments after we arrived we saw the bus coming our way!

Tomorrow the van needs to go in for some work (the electric window decided to stop working), so when we take the van in we plan to hitch a ride downtown and hop on the trolley to explore the library and riverfront some more.

I am looking forward to the opportunity to explore without having to worry about traffic! Got a book of bus tickets, 10 tickets for six dollars, and figure we’ll just have fun enjoying the fact that we now live in a place that actually has public transportation!

While I have read a copy of “The Secret” in the past, I have wanted to add a copy to my book collection and cuddle up and read it again. That book has really made an incredible change to our lives!

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 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?