Slowly, Slowly . . .

Some of you may know that I’ve been playing with a kitchen book for years, a decade or more probably. I’m finally getting one place, one space to put all the various bits & pieces I’ve had. ONE PLACE. It’s amazing.

Scarey, I couldn’t find some of my data earlier today. Found it, backed it up, you bet! But there’s other pieces of this that are personal that I’ve just (re)discovered. I had, many years ago, made a “in season” calendar for myself. When I went looking for one online, it didn’t exist for the part of the country where we live. I could find almost every other region of the US, England, Australia, and Canada, but not New England. So, being me, I made my own.

Now of course there’s dozens out there; there wasn’t, so I made my own. I pulled every list I could find and edited them for what I knew was nutty here. You don’t get fresh tomatoes in season around Boston in Feb., for example. Anyway, that’s what I did; it took me hours, no months. But I did it.

And, again, being me? I went and ran the ingredients in the recipes I use thru the “in season” calendar, so I knew when I should make them, both for flavor and  lowest cost. That file was one that had been missing for oh a long time. I found it. Yay! So I printed out the Dec. list today.

People who benefit from my December food gift (usually bread) may just get more this year, maybe!

This getting organized business has become what I do when I’m not working. I told DH and a friend it feels like paper dolls for adults. I’m moving stickies all over pages and making pretty stuff, or using pretty stuff. On the other hand, if the pretty stuff helps me unravel the decades of mess in this place, I’m all for it.

We’ll see! I’ve some to do on the cleaning plan tonight before I go to bed, I have to note what I cleaned today and I have a section to figure out. AND I have the Dec. and Nov. recipe lists to file too, but those go in a separate place, for now.

Life is kind of weird and interesting and I may just buy stock in 3M — I should I’m using their tape and stickies by the bagful! I’ve gone from doing lists by hand on notebook paper to specific items on stickies on a grid. (I modded a printable I found.) I know what I want to do for the final version too, but refuse to let myself get side tracked BEFORE I finish the cleaning plan.  I have 2 sections to go I think.

I came up with, a few months ago, the SEVEN LEVELS OF STUFF. And I’m using that as the basis for my cleaning notebook. If it works, hurrah! I may do a FB page etc. If not, I’ve spent about $20 to buy post-its and ink.

We’ll see!

J

Sleep on it?

We got a flat file,a large oak one, this past summer at auction. We’d been looking for one,  smaller than the one we had; but this one is BIGGER.

DH mended, sanded and shellacked it. He fixed its frame; it’s in the living room. There are two units one atop the other. We talked today about making it into the support under our bed. It’s almost exactly the right size, would utilize a dead space used only by the pets, stray books and dust bunnies at the moment, and doing so would give us a huge piece of real estate back in the living room/DH’s craft room. We’d have to buy a box spring and DH would have to change the framing. Weird? I suppose, but actually, I love the idea!

The living room didn’t get clean by thanksgiving alas, but it is cleaner. There’s less stuff in it, almost daily. The big push this weekend was a rack DH put up that stored a bunch of items which had been all over the house. So they’re not any more, they’re in one place, organized and tidy. Hurrah! The rack is in the living room, but it works, and until we can get the pieces made/built we’d planned or we change the plan, it will work WAY better than having these pieces scattered all over the house!

Happy holidays all!

J

Working On It

Okay, I’m trying to get where the house just gets cleaned and maintained (entirely different things I’ve discovered).

Cleaning something, really cleaning it, is what traditionally “Spring Cleaning” or other seasonal cleaning is for. I want to do that year ’round, as I’ve said, no seasonal gluts of heavy cleaning. However there are tasks that are driven by the seasons, no matter what. I haven’t quite figured out how to do this entirely, that’s still in progress.

I have found a cleaning product I like as I’m not allergic to it, like most products of its type. I’m so in love with this cleaning product that in one week I cleaned (not maintained) 6 door surfaces (pantry in/out, hall closet in/out, l bath/out, entry door/in, both entry walls, two leather club chairs, a side table and the coat rack, its shelf and the boxes that live on the shelf! The product is this stuff.

For someone who’d largely given up on commercial cleaning products because all the solvents get to me, it’s wonderful to find something that I don’t have to melt, concoct or do anything other than just use. Many antique dealers I know use their restore product, which is why when I found this at a mom & pop store not far from here, I grabbed it. I’ve used about 20% of the bottle and I expect to use a good deal more of it in the near future.

Last week I bought a “dish holder” one of those wall hung display racks, sort of like this one:

dish rack

I have no wish to steal someone’s image! This came from here. If the rack I found was the size of the above rack, I’d have kept it. It’s a double wide thing and much too big for the space where I wanted one! So, it’s getting painted white and will be put up for sale.

Paints, like cleaning products, have been a particular problem; I’m allergic to solvents in most latex paints too. I “found” milk paint and that’s better, but still not great. (They have a new “organic” line I haven’t tried, I will.) In the meantime, I discovered chalk paint. Most DIY chalk paint recipes are built on a base of plain latex paint, which of course won’t do. Annie Sloan paints are made in England and there were no sellers near me when I looked. I found Cece Caldwell’s paints, made in the USA and sold pretty close to me. Expensive? Yep,  but no primer and next to no smell at all. I’m using this one:

Also this past week, I finally figured out what to do with the “3 tons” (well a large quantity anyway) of left over shirt pieces and bits of tarn from rug making. When  it’s more than just an idea, I’ll take pics. Many of the “projects” I”m undertaking these days are to use up stuff, notably craft supplies. I have a room full and although I could maybe sell whatever (there are multiple websites for this) I’d really rather have the satisfaction of using the things I’ve acquired, admired, and hoarded for so long. What’s the point of keeping it if you don’t use it or won’t? I’m not Gollum or a giant sitting on my hoard! I’m a nearly old woman who’s trying to use up her stash.

I had some wool gift yarn, really I mean wool? Yep, it was wool yarn, but not for knitting. It looked like the chunky acrylic gift tying yarn popular in the ’60s. I crocheted flowers out of it. Only enough for 6 flowers, they’re  gift tags for family members. That emptied that spool. Next? Dunno, but I’ll find something, use it up, then go on to the next. I’m on a mission. I have a high school friend who wants to visit. Our “guest room” is my office/the craft room. I have to get enough stuff out of there so we can get a bed in it again. Hopefully by next spring or at the latest, next fall. So, I’m on a mission!

The living room project is still being whittled away at. There’s less stuff, probably every week and what’s left in the room is cleaner. Still not where it needs to be, but better. I have to accept better as the progress it is because I’m not likely to meet my personal goal: to have it done by Thanksgiving, next Thursday.

I’ve realized that no matter what, there’s a certain amount of organizational “bones” have to be in place before getting and keeping a house clean can be accomplished. To that end I wrote A-D on the inside corners of our bed frame, the matress, and the “feather bed” (actually an extra down comforter)  today, to aid me with “turning” them to even out the wear. A was in the far corner from where my head usually goes, B where my feet are, C where my head is and D at the last corner. At the moment all 3 sets of letters are in the same place. I’m going to make a chart so that I can turn the “feather bed” more often than anything else and turn the mattress every quarter or 2x a year. The bed frame obviously won’t change!

I hope you and yours have a happy, safe and healthy holiday season!

A “Free” Mortgage Payment?

“Family Food Supply” is the name of a pamphlet I got a while ago. This one is from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 1934.

Okay, I’m a sucker for publications like this, I’ve confessed that already. But my point about there’s not much new in the “How to save money” world is demonstrated, again, by this old publication.

In a section entitled “Further Guides to Food Thrift” it says: “It is the penny saved on a pound of butter, and the few cents saved on sugar, eggs, bread, which add up to a neat savings account, because these are the things most often purchased. (According to one inflation calculator, a penny in 1934 is equivalent to .18 in 2014 money.) It also says:

  • The most expensive food is not always the most nutritious.
  • Staple foods that keep should be bought in as large quantities as can be stored.
  • Spoiled food is usually a sign of poor marketing, careless meal-planning, or bad house-keeping.
  • Most families need to spend from one quarter to one third of their income for food.

All of which, with more modern framing are things you’ll find out there in the “how to save money on food” blogs, articles, etc.

The first one is still true exactly as stated. The second is the basis for people who stockpile. The third isn’t usually framed that way any more, as “poor marketing” and “bad house-keeping” are not viewed in the same fashion as previously. And the fourth? That’s the only one that’s actually really different.

The average  American, these days, spends  less than every other citizen in the world on food, or < 10% of their income for food.

See below.

http://www.ibtimes.com/us-spends-less-food-any-other-country-world-maps-1546945)

But of the money we spend, we toss 25% of the food we buy! See below.

http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2013/04/02/how-much-food-does-the-average-american-waste

I admit that’s only .25 on the dollar. But if you add those  up, then the .25 you toss from every food dollar can be used for heat or clothes or ? It’s not a huge amount, but when was the last time someone told you something you could do to save .25 of every dollar you spend, without spending an extra dime to do so?

Want to know how much you could save? Take a rough estimate of your income, for every $1000 you make, you’d get back $25. ($1000/10 = food dollars, or $100. 25% of those food dollars = potential savings = $25.) In our case, this adds up to a chunk of change that doesn’t seem insigificant at all. I could make a mortgage payment from it! A “free” mortgage payment once a year sounds good to me! Maybe you could do the same?

Behind, again, or Ahead, but Who Knew?

I listened today to a radio show about childhood traumas and how they can make you more resilient. Well, yes, I knew that already, thanks.

Most of the story and the folks they talked to posited the idea that a traumatized kid had some support network, albeit a nontraditional one: a friend, a grandma, a teacher, church, or whatever.

Me? My “support network” was a shifting network of people, stuff, and a LARGE dose of stubborn.

Since I only heard part of the show I thought I’d look for it to see if there was more info I could use. Can’t find the show. But in googling around trying to find it, a found a plethora of “help” out there. People think trauma is real, are doing something about it, and there’s resources. Wonderful. Almost none of it fits where I am; I’ve recovered too much. I was abused/traumatized too long ago.

Ain’t that just my luck? I mean here I had this thing decades before all these “experts” they know so much more than they did and almost none of it can help me.

I wasn’t depressed when I started the search, but — I mean after fighting something for 50 years there’s a huge amount of help which wasn’t there before, and next to nothing in what I’ve found is useful!

I wish that I wasn’t always on the wrong end of the curve, behind it or ahead of it? It seems I’m usually left behind or just bowled over/drowned out by the mob.

I’ve been looking for ideas

about how to unclutter here. Not much help out there. Oh there’s an abundance of ideas about if you haven’t used something in a year to pitch it, but not much that fits my situation.

I’m not afraid to toss stuff, I’m afraid of neat & tidy. And afraid isn’t the right word really. I get stressed in neat & tidy, well, that’s closer anyway.

All these people assume a few things, some of them dead wrong. You never read books on your bookshelf. (Well why keep them if you don’t?) Except for reference and some nostalgia, I agree, but I DO read the books on my shelf.

That you only keep notebooks because they contain your old school or meeting notes. Well, no. I use notebooks to file recipes, receipts, garden plans, story ideas, yada yada.

Maybe I’m running full tilt into old ladydom. I don’t have all my music, lit, and do all my writing on a computer or smart phone. I still use, read and store ideas, etc on PAPER, not surprisingly for a second generation bookseller (mother) and book collector’s (dad) kid. I’m a paper freak. I’m also of an age, I admit it. I don’t have a smart phone, will probably have to get one and resent it, but there it is. I really don’t want to carry a computer around with me all day.

Anyway, back to my original point, there doesn’t seem to be much advice out there that suits me. I found one post on pinterest that fit, out of dozens. I have a whole folder full of these “tips” and I read them and delete them, mostly.

It’s very frustrating; I’d really like some help. But most of these folks assume that 1)I’m adverse to purging things (not true) 2)that I have not recently culled my clothes (not true), medicine cabinet (not true), pantry (not true), games (not true) etc. I purge categories of stuff fairly often, and regularly. I tossed an entire box of cassette tapes tonight. So my problem isn’t getting rid of stuff.

  1. I have WAY too much stuff
  2. I have BAD habits
  3. I get anxious/stressed/my PTSD acts up when it’s tidy!

Neat & tidy feels nice, but unsafe. And there’s no pinterest posts, or very few, that I can use from where I actually am as above and with the addition that I have no problem culling things!

The world needs a pinterest post on decluttering when you have anxiety issues. I may write such a thing, at some point, but I have to get past mine before I’ll go dispensing advice!

Being Self-Sufficient & Not

It’s getting colder, thankfully, the furnace is finally fixed! We’ve been using the woodstove, a thing we’ve decided we’ll do much more of this winter. For one thing, it helps deal with the various downed wood on the property. For another, it uses the resources we’ve already paid for, like firewood, instead of incurring a bill with the local propane company.

We’ve wintered here without a furnace before and it isn’t fun to come into an absolutely frigid house, but it can be done.

I have for the first time put root veggies (carrots) in wet sand to store them overwinter. We’ll see how that goes. Being able to buy organic and then storing them without refrigeration sounds like the best of all possible worlds to me. Along that line, I found a Mother Earth News article (of course) about this. You can find that here;

http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/how-to-store-fresh-vegetables-zmaz04djzsel.aspx#axzz3Gn2iYEhy

Also, I’m making bread again. Making our bread all by itself saves us about $5 a week as we like hard crusted, “gourmet” type bread, not the supersoft cheap stuff. It ends up being about 2 loaves in a week. This time I cut up the end of the last loaf, to prepare it to become breadcrumbs.

I’ve been using a lot of breadcrumbs lately. I made stuffed mushrooms Sunday morning for both the political party my neighbor had and my writing group. Last week, I made a crustless quiche, why I’ve never heard of this technique before I don’t know, but I doubt I’ll ever make a quiche, at least for us, with a crust again! You just brush the inside of your quiche dish with olive oil, then spread a layer of breadcrumbs on that. Then add your quiche batter and bake. It was great, took WAY less time than a pie crust, was made with ingredients I almost always have at hand. Not to mention that it probably uses way less fat than traditional crusts too.

Otherwise, I did something I never thought I’d do. I gave up about cleaning the house. Last week I started to get really depressed, the house was a mess and no matter how much time I spent on it, it seemed it was still a mess. Or, I clean it up and then mess it up again. I finally asked 3 people to help. All of them know about my house, indeed two of them are neighbors. The other is one of my bosses (!). But I asked for help. I’m not getting it done on my own, I’m doing the same thing I’ve always done, fits and starts and forward & back.

I’ve had it. I’m stuck already. I asked for help, and thankfully, all 3 of them responded that they’d help. This is sort of scary for me, but I don’t really know what else to do. Professional help isn’t possible, it will make me panic AND we can’t afford it, so that’s out. And I’ve tried almost everything else I can think of, short of getting a dumpster, and that’s out for much the same reason the professional organizer is.

So, I swallowed my pride and asked for help where I needed it and otherwise, we’re working at being more self-sufficient.