Monthly Archives: April 2015

Fixing Things

I’ve been rereading posts here. There are various details I need to fix. The link to the International Business Map re food costs as a percentage of income worldwide? The link doesn’t work. I think I know why and can fix it. [Fixed! 4/29/15]

There’s only sales calendars for Jan – June, not July – Dec

The food cost thing points out a fallacy that I’ve been concerned about for some time. The average US citizen uses < 10% of their income for food. However, when times are tight, it is one of the few things people really control, so it’s almost always the first item they cut. I’m guilty of that myself, it just seems obvious.

Except in the US, cutting almost anything else would probably be more effective, although cutting food costs are probably the easiest.

With this all in mind, I had decided some time ago to start trying to be frugal by cutting the highest cost items, first.

From the same data that the 6% food costs comes from, the highest gain in cost percentage-wise was automobile purchases. That went up a whopping 20%. Admittedly we can’t avoid driving cars in our present culture, but we can ride share, ask the neighbor if they want something when we’re going to the market (and hope they reciprocate), and stop going after the newest, greatest, etc. unless there’s some compelling reason to do so.

Along that line, I need a new cell phone. Mine was lost 3+  weeks ago and hasn’t been found. I had an old flip phone, worked fine for me. I have been confronted with smart phones, cameras, feature, feature, feature. My inclination is to scream, “I only want a PHONE!” and get just that, or as close as I can get.

We have a new law taking effect this summer, requiring hands-free cell phones in cars. And that needs, at minimum a really good speaker phone, which my old dumb phone didn’t have. (Not to mention that the vol. control was on the outer edge of the case and 1/2 the time I’d turned it of without knowing I’d done so.)

So, we’re looking at smart phones. Ug. I do NOT want a smart phone. I do NOT want to be wired in, connected  24/7. No. But I guess I’m getting one anyway. I resisted cell phones too. I didn’t want to carry a phone around with me. Knew someone who didn’t want a pager. I realize it’s archaic of me, but the idea that someone can call me whenever they want to 24/7 just appalls me. Forget the NSA, I don’t care about that, I just want to be able to retreat from society, part of the reason I like living in the country.

For the daughter and wife of people whose business is tech, I have a remarkable tendency towards being a Luddite. The older I get, the more I really want to retreat to a stone cottage in the middle of nowhere, growing veggies, baking bread and that’s it. I know I can’t drop out of the world, but there are days I’d sure like to try!

Another point, an oddity, or not, if you know me. Because I just didn’t have anywhere else to put them and I’m trying to clear out of the 1/2 of the living room that is DH’s craft space, I put a chunk of the books I want to keep away on the room divider bookcase yesterday. Some sort of tension, a spring almost, relaxed when I got that done. This was still my space. Weird? Maybe, but books saved my sanity more than once. It’s also a direct link to my parents, both voracious readers. Apparently, I need to make shelving books or reshelving books, as the case may be, the last step in any major home improvement. Quirky? Yep. Odd? Not if you’re a bibliophile I guess, or especially if you’re like me!

Although I’m not counting stuff out here

I have been counting books out, elsewhere. I sold/donated or trashed (usually  they’re falling apart) 1,000 books from 6/1/14 to 4/10/15. Which, considering the quantities of stuff I used to count “out” here, is nothing much. But it’s an update, just as folks here know that I had a LOT of books and I’ve been doing this purge business for quite some time now!

So, an update —


Memoir & Other Projects: Update

For those of you who know, the memoir has been “finished” for some time. I had a job that I concentrated on, it was part time going to be full time, I thought, but  it didn’t work out.

Anyway, I’m not doing that job now. So, I have the time to work on the other projects: the house, the memoir, the kitchen book, the cleaning plan, the vegetable garden — all of those have had a chunk of my time in the past few weeks. Along that line, I also have some website ideas which are in process too.

None of this is really brand new, it’s just been on hold for a while.

Here’s a rundown.

Memoir: needs the 2nd half rewritten. To that end I’m scheduled to go to a writing workshop in June.

House: the living room redesign, cull & clean continues. It’s getting there! The latest new piece is going to involve a major cull/clean in the bedroom too. That’s upcoming, probably this week.

Kitchen Book: I have ideas about publishing this, or part of it on my own. If I do that, I’ll provide a link here either to my shopping cheat sheets, or a write up or a link to a website, or ? The data is done. I need to hire some very talented ladies I know to do the graphics associated with it and possibly website design. It depends.

Cleaning Plan: Right now the plan is to write up an article or two, first. Then publish the plan itself. This is waiting on the house getting finished. Until it gets finished, I have a bunch of ideas that haven’t worked to talk about. I need a successful completion before I’ve got something salable!

Other Website Ideas: I’ve had 2 or 3 of these for some time. I need to buy the domains, and get the HTML done on them. I may get someone else to do them, DH may do them, or who knows?

Vegetable Garden: Some of this is related to the shopping cheat sheets. I realized I’ve got all this data, formatted, and why aren’t I using it myself? Growing food is part of this, only a small part, but it IS part of it!

So, Next?

The laundry is almost caught up.

The things I’d pulled out last week have been put in the attic. Some things have been pulled out of the attic as well. Rule about tossing/donating/selling SPACE BUDGET applies to the storage and the attic too. Every time I go into one of those places I have to remove things to cull or sell. Right now I have two more trays from the storage to go through with books in them. They’ll go to the flea market I’m doing Sunday. If they don’t sell, they’ll go into the MADD book donation bin the books went into last week.

I just added about 50 magazines to the antique booth. Last month I sold mostly magazines. This month I’ve sold mostly paperbacks. Two months ago I sold mostly paperbacks. So, I’m restocking stuff a bit at a time. As long as the sales continue, I’m good!

The other booth isn’t doing so well, that’s where I’d sell housewares. The rent is only 30% of the other booth, but I’m still not selling stuff.

What I did for the flea market two weeks ago was pull a lot of the stuff that hadn’t sold from both and took that as my stock. Throughout the day, I kept lowering my prices on the $20 and less items. Many of them wound up on a table marked $1. What was left on the $1 at the end of the day was donated to a thrift shop before I left town. The rest of it came back and is now in the storage. The last cull in the house, the living room specifically, wound up in the sell pile. Except for one piece that went to the big antique store, those items will go to the Flea Market this weekend.

My whole attitude about stuff is different than it used to be. At this point I’ve had it with selling my own stuff. I’m tired of lugging things around, trying to get more than I paid for it. At this point, I don’t really care. I mean I won’t sell a piece I paid $100 for $1, but selling it for $80 or $90 is not beyond me. If I lug it around long enough, I’d probably go down from there.

I just want some cash and less stuff. With luck, I’ll be out of the book business before the end of the year. Then I’ll go out of the antique business. No more hauling things around — how nice that would be!

How do you get rid of your excess stuff? Does your town/neighborhood have a yard sale once a year? (I keep threatening to organize one here. There’s a parking lot at the end of my street, and there’s another at the baseball field, and . . . .)

I have, after decades of therapy and contemplation come up with a few truths

I have a personal philosophy about what works when dealing with problems are these simple things: CONCRETE AND POSITIVE trumps almost everything else. I remind myself to “put a cap” on it when things seem to start to go out of control.

The other  is something I first articulated about six months ago. It’s the answer to a  question which I get sometimes, “How do you keep going?”

That question has two honest answers. The first is I don’t. I don’t go continuously. I go in fits and starts which is what works for me. The second is the piece I came up with a few months ago. To get through any long-term problem, you must do one thing: start one more time that you’ve quit or failed.

I know intellectually that I’m finishing up the work I’ve spent 5 decades on. Believe me, I know exactly how long it is. But if I look at what I have yet to do dragging that along, I could NOT do anything, I’d be exhausted and pissed. If I focus instead on the NEXT step. Now that? That I can do.

There you go and you didn’t have to live with daily pain for 50+ years to get it either!



I have been working on my house, a lot.

As per usual, I work like mad, then stop. It’s not a regular effort. Dismantling the piles of stuff here still has all sorts of emotional booby-traps for me, so I’m dealing with stuff, dealing with the emotional fallout, dealing with stuff — you get the idea.

Last week I pulled all the laundry out of the laundry room. I had an idea bout the boxes on the kitchen counter (the counter is 9 feet long or so. The boxes are 4 feet long. I had previously moved one into the laundry room where it became two shelves. I wanted to put another on the other side of the room, but it won’t fit with the ironing board. Okay, rats! But our washer/dryer are away from the wall and I am SICK of dropping stuff behind them, so I took down part of my box wall today and moved one of the boxes on top of the washer & dryer. My plan was to hang it with the L brackets I bought today. Would work, except.

Except? Except there’s a water filter line in the way. I can turn it off on the washer side, but have no idea how to shut the valve down at the filter. So it has become a DH project. Even if my mounting idea doesn’t work (L brackets) I have an alternate which will use the brackets already there. But even then the water filter line is in the way. So, it’s a DH project no matter what DARN IT!!!

To do this today I tore apart a major storage area of my kitchen. I moved the vase collection up to the top of the kitchen cabinets. I pulled some things off the cabinets and put them in the “sell” stack. I pulled some things out of the dining room and put them aside to be hauled up to the attic and others also got added to the sell stack.

When I tackle a new area or an area I haven’t for a while, there’s a new rule. I have to find THINGS TO SELL OR DONATE! I am enforcing  a SPACE BUDGET every time I do this. Between the two, There’s a lot less stuff in the house.

For example. My darling husband for Christmas a few years ago gave me a dehydrator. Our new stove has a dehydrate setting. I am giving the dehydrator to my SIL. It isn’t a huge machine or anything, but it’s  a duplicate function and I don’t need it.

The only problem with dehydrating in my new stove is that no one either at the company site or the store where we bought it could find and order the screens the company made for this, so we couldn’t get any when we bought the stove.

On the Figure This Out list are stainless screens to fit in my stove, for dehydrating. I want 3: 1 full size and 2 1/2 size. If we can’t do anything else, I’ll just buy the screen material and figure out how to store it so it doesn’t get bent and use it without cutting my hands to ribbons.

Last year I used my cake racks, which worked, kind of, but not well enough to do anything in bulk. And I want to do bulk drying. I’d rather dry food than can it, it’s easier to store, lasts longer, and I don’t have the worry about messing it up, like I do with canning. When food isn’t dried enough and it’s going bad, you know it; it molds!

So, I’ve been working on the house. Mostly in the living room, but obviously in the laundry room and kitchen too. I wish this was faster or more consistent, but it’s getting done a bit at a time and it IS getting done and mostly staying done. The emotional backwash isn’t fun and is in fact pretty scary for me, but I’m doing what I can do at one time and honoring myself when I have to quit for a while. This includes the days when I am working on things. Writing this was a break I needed. I’m frustrated the shelf idea won’t work, but okay it won’t. I have more of the kitchen/dining room to pull back together and more laundry to do.