Monthly Archives: February 2013

Using What You’ve Got and Can Get

This post although the title is similar to the previous post, isn’t about psychological stuff, it’s about saving money. I’ve said before that the only way to save money is to spend less, and that’s still true but there are resources to help you that most people don’t use.

The USDA publishes predictions of retail food prices for the coming year. The predictions for 2013 are that food prices will go up about 2% or more overall. The predictions work out like this:

  • 2-3% fats/oils, processed produce, sugars
  • 2.5 – 3.5% fish, non-alcoholic beverages
  • 3.0-4.0% all meats, all produce — especially fruit
  • 3.5-4.5% dairy, most fresh produce
  • 4.0-5.0% fresh vegetables

In other words, if you like preservative, GMO, pesticide laden, oil intensive food because it’s cheap (or you manufacture same) you’ll have the easiest time financially dealing with the increases. On the other hand, if you’re like me and love your fresh veggies & fruits and want to process your own, you’re going to be hit hardest.

For me that means the vegetable garden this year is less of a luxury. I’ve been asking myself: What do I do well? Can I do more of it? What do I need to work on?

I’ve been working hard at this the past few years, and the garden has been consistently getting better as I put more effort, time and thought into it. One of my biggest faults is that I tend to be inconsistent.

My end goal is to provide at least six months’ worth of fresh vegetables for us: late spring – early fall in the garden and early fall to mid winter in storage. I’ve never managed it. I’m lucky if I can get us a few things early spring. We eat pretty well mid-summer, and then it tapers off.

So new plan: toss less & grow more.  No problem, right?

I wish! I make GREAT plans, if I say so myself. My follow-through leaves a bit to be desired however. I am getting better though. I found my house notebook today along with the coupon binder and keeper. 😀 Things are getting better, just not as fast as I’d like!

I have a long (incomplete) list of questions for various people at the USDA because of the reports I’ve got. Given the current political idiocy, I’ll just hold off on that, even when I get all the questions formulated, find out who I’m supposed to ask. etc.

I wish Congress had taken their own f’n salary/benefits away before they inflicted their nonsense on the rest of us because they can’t do their jobs. If someone asked me to sign a petition to that effect and made it a constitutional amendment? I’d sign it!

I don’t know when Congress became a pulpit, the last time I heard their job wasn’t to preach at each other/us about how to live and enforce one view or the other, but to get the people’s work done. If I could, I’d fire the bunch of them! [Isn’t that what you do when people don’t do their job?]

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Being Parker Brown: Using What Works

Who’s Parker Brown? Parker Brown is a fictional character created by Nora Roberts. She’s a wedding planner and obsessively organized, etc. If you’re interested in the character, you’ll find her in The Bride Quartet books.

Many of my role models are derived from or are fictional characters because frankly, the people in my life family haven’t been people I wanted to emulate. In many cases, I don’t even want to remember the people in my life family. Is this their fault? To some extent. But what I do with what I’m given is up to me, not anyone else.

What media models do I use?

  • Dragonflight and Citizen of the Galaxy and other science fiction taught me as a kid that maybe I could survive hell and triumph in the end?
  • I’ve used “Hey Jude” almost since I first heard it.
  • I’ve used “It’s a Wonderful Life” most of my adult life too.`
  • I use romances, like the Bride Quartet books, to relax and recharge. My husband calls them my “mind candy.”

As long as I can remember, I’ve had people telling me, “That stuff is fiction, you have to deal with reality.” They didn’t understand that my reality was so awful that without fiction (or something) I would have been overwhelmed.

My point here is that you use what works.

For me academia/learning was a family trap. I  couldn’t ever learn enough: about literature, science, math, engineering, art, religious history, horticulture, animation, ancient art, etc. to be “worthwhile” as anything other than “the person to be better than” in my childhood home. Knowledge and data were commodities to be continually compared and contrasted (like living in a perpetual English essay!) — and I started at a disadvantage — I was the youngest by more than a decade. There was no provision made for me to catch up. I was supposed to be “interesting” and when I wasn’t? Well, obviously, I wasn’t worth spending time with or on. So, surprise? I did REALLY poorly in academia! Forget knowledge-based achievements.

Athletes were viewed as folks who were physical because they couldn’t do anything else (that is, use their brains). The fact that my close family consisted of two obese people and an asthmatic wasn’t discussed. I could have done athletics, but didn’t. When offered the chance, I hadn’t given up trying to measure up in the knowledge regurgitation stakes. (See academia, above.)

Money/Status/Power/Career was held to be more important than if you were happy/content/stable and was supposed to be the focus of your life. If you were nice to people, they’d be nice to you. If you made money and were nice to people, they’d be nice to you, and you’d be happy.

All of us endured some bullying, nerds do, obese folks do. And, although I was neither a nerd nor obese, I was tiny and emotionally flaky, and easy to rouse.

I’ve already talked about religion here. I won’t repeat myself.

The point of all of this is pretty simple: I had a dysfunctional family whose models didn’t work for me. It seemed impossible that I could ever do enough, be enough to be worthy, and in fact it was — because all of their insecurities would keep them from acknowledging that I’d done something worthwhile. I lived in a world whose models didn’t seem to work either. This left me few options.

Fiction worked when I was a kid and still does.

Do I want to be Parker Brown? Sure, I’d love it! Ms. Brown comes from a monied family, was loved, nurtured, and has the ability to love & nurture in return. She has 3 close friends and they’ve all been friends since they were small. She has a surrogate mother/housekeeper who is a caring individual. Sounds like heaven to me! Oh yeah, she’s also ruthlessly organized. She clears her desk every Sunday so she starts Monday with a clean desk and organized.

I cleaned my desk off last night thinking about Ms. Brown.

You’re welcome to get your role models where you’d like, most of mine come from fiction. And, given the background I’ve got? If you challenge me about it, I’ll likely get mildly nasty.

In my world? In my world, you grab whatever help you find, from any source, with both hands and are GRATEFUL. I’ll keep reading popular fiction; it’s the only way I ever believed I could have a happy ending.

You think it’s not worthwhile? Sorry, I know it is, for me.  (I’d have kept trying to kill myself or self-destructing another way without it.)

You can be a culture snob in whatever way you want. that’s on you. Just don’t stand in my light — I’m reading!

Not surprisingly,

I’m behind! [I originally wrote this Sunday morning.]

Since Saturday night was the first time I felt human in 5 days or so, that’s hardly surprising. However, it means that the elaborate plans I had went . . . elsewhere.

And since there’s what 4 3 days left of this month and I need to eliminate something like 1,500 pieces in that time — if I had nothing else to do I might be able to catch up. However, the book is due at the publisher. I have stories to read front/back matter to read/write, etc. That’s my job. The house is my private life, my husband-assigned job, not professional work.

Sooooooo, it’s likely I’ll end February at least 500 short. I guess it just took a little longer than the notebook to go awry? On the other hand, there’s hope. I managed to be on time, on target for about 5 weeks. I managed to keep/use the notebook for about 3 weeks.  Life isn’t only about finishing things, it’s also about starting them again after you get stalled.

And that’s where I am — stalled. None of my plans included 5 days essentially flat on my back or 8 days out of the loop altogether, including the weekend I was away.

There’s some good news though I lost about 5 pounds. If I can keep it off, that will give me more energy and self-esteem. I got the embroidery thread organizer up in my office (with some help from DH), I have 2 of 16 blocks made for a planned rug and I have a file to deliver tonight — which I need to get to I delivered the file on time.

Happy Monday! The work got done, so now we’ll see just how much I can get done around here today? Or, there’s a chance I’ll be able to go work in the storage. We’ll see!

Been sick

Went away last weekend, came back, cleaned like crazy Monday and Tuesday, went to the dump Wednesday and was sick Weds. night. Haven’t been good for much since. We think I got food poisoning.

Which, if I needed another (another?) reason to clean up this house gave it to me. I just can’t live like this.

It’s still a HUGE job, and I still have to do it, but being sick as a dog flat on my back just made me realize again how untenable this is. It has to change.

Soon. Better —

Now.

What I’ll do differently? I do not know, but it changed how I felt about things.

Still pretty weak, I’m going back to bed.

Craft supplies, crashes, purges, and what all

I spent almost all day today working on my office. I’ve decided that if I can just empty the books outta there that were put there “temporarily” (They’re to be sold.) I might be able to get most of the craft supplies organized and put away – – maybe.

But with the boxes of books and the shelves full of books for sale in there, forget it!

On the other hand, I have too many craft supplies too. It’s really hard to put everything away, even if I have a spot for it and a storage container. I’ve emptied enough containers now that I have a small shelf of empty ones AND I’ve started tossing those that are torn, not complete, etc. I have a shelf full of containers that aren’t the right size/type, but the office’s organization is getting better.

I have a few goals for this effort: 1) Put up the cast iron wheels (well 2 of the 3) and store the project bags and embroidery thread on them. 2)Get the craft supplies organized/culled enough that I can actually find what I want when I want it. (What an idea ‘eh?) and 3)Get the images, books, etc. that were “going away” gone!

I’d say you might not be able to tell I’ve been working on my office, but that really isn’t true. About 1/2 of my counter is cleared, which hasn’t happened in a good long time! Yes there are still piles of  “stuff” around the counter, the boxes of books that are stacked under the counter are still there, and the bookcase boxes are still full of books to be sold. But it’s progress! Give me a week — let’s see where I am then?

Tomorrow won’t be a super cleaning day, at least not here. I’ve got a doctor’s appt. in the morning and intend to work on the storage move after that.

I was gone at a show this weekend. I thought about taking books to put on a “freebie” table (they always have one) but I was afraid that I’d make the dealers mad if I did? Alas, there were books out on a freebie table ALL weekend. I could have put out 100 or more and no one would have cared. I’ll remember that next year, although I hope I don’t have any excess books next year!

I also finally put the ad in craig’s list for the sale at the old antique store. Let’s hope that a few people see it and buy 20 or more books so they’ll get ’em 1/2 off. Let’s hope! I have about 40 more ready to go. I’ll fill the box (around 60) and then take it down there on Weds.

Working on Stuff

My internet yesterday was down for much of the day, a dilemma I hadn’t realized would affect me so. Apparently, I spend a LOT more time on the computer than I realized. Anyway, because it was in the queue, I worked on the living room.

I took the loose stacks of books, added them to the 1/2 full boxes. Moved things about, tightened up this and that. Still no room to actually USE the room/furniture! Soon maybe, but not yet.

I also worked on my office. I separated, sorted, etc. various fabric collections: clothes to be dismantled for their fabric, yardage, fabric strips for crochet/braiding, felt. Decided to sell another piece of yardage. I have more of this to do of course, but it’s a lot neater and more organized than it had been. Decided I needed to stack all the drawer units. I have 6 units that were made for American Greeting cards years ago. Last year I got new mat board stock cut for the front of the drawers. They still look great.

I need to label them. The Martha Stewart “removable” chalk labels want to pull a bit of the color out, but not so badly I won’t use them. They look like this:

martha stewart labels[As last time, the image is  (c) by Staples, Avery or Martha Stewart. If I get where I can, I’ll post an image of the actual drawer fronts with the labels to replace this. I don’t have enough labels right now.]

I used two more crates yesterday too. One went on my new shelf (DH cut down a larger bookshelf for me) and the other in my office closet. I bought the crates years ago and used them as browsers for paperbacks Now I have one in the bathroom, two in my office, and a few in the kitchen. I probably have at least one more, somewhere  still with books in it. When I run across it, I’m sure I’ll find a use in the house for it. They’re handy! I’ve always loved wooden crates and they fit the sort of funky recycled feel here.

First thing this morning, I tossed two books and filed/culled/organized > 100 pieces of paper. I’d only been up about an hour! If the job wasn’t so big, this and the work yesterday would make a LARGE dent in the mess. But no. It took me years to get here, it’s going to take a largish chunk of time to fix it.

I bought a charming braided rug last weekend. It’s so charming, I think I’ll replace the purple one I’m not so fond of with it and put the purple one in a booth. The purple one came from a church sale last year.

I’m off! The purple rug needs to be washed, the other rug needs to come in from the car, etc. etc.

Writing this post reminded me of the binder and all the plans I’d had for being ORGANIZED this year. I have no idea where the binder is? So much for that, sigh.

2013 target smaller Feb 13

Living Room Contemplation

The space in our living room, like much of this house, is impractical, that is, the flow is wrong and the space is cut up badly.

The room is too narrow, bounded on one side by the wood stove and on the other by the furnace intake and stairwell/entry. The natural focal point of the room is the wood stove, which divides the rectangular space in 1/2 on the long side. This makes two rooms which aren’t big enough to really be separate rooms and awkward traffic flow. As I said, it’s a dilemma.

DH and I talked about the space, our furniture and what we want to do with the room last night. The furniture we want to use, except for the couch, is already in the room. We decided to sell the record collection, something we hadn’t before. (That will free up about 2 square feet of the room, the records are in plastic cubes, stacked right now, so they don’t take up much space.)

There’s still too much stuff in the room to do what we want, mostly boxes of books. The furniture isn’t arranged. But now I know which way we’re going, at least for the next step. There IS one less piece of furniture in the room, a small bookcase was removed and is now in the new booth. (It had not sold at the old booth and was being “stored” in the middle of the room.)

My next “house” goal is to walk across my living room. Or at least get a lot closer to being able to do so. That means moving the boxes to the edges again and placing some/all of the furniture so it can actually be used. Not sure how much of this will get done or how fast, but it’s a goal, ‘eh?