Category Archives: Life Lessons

REAL Zero Waste

Because it’s summer, we’ve been using our freezers a lot. We have a small, non-defrosting freezer we bought as a back up when the fridge was dying/not dying the second time. The long-term plan has always been to get rid of it, probably next year.

That said, one way we work to keep it more energy efficient (and less of a PITA) is that we keep an ice scraper in it and when the door is opened, we scrape off some of the extra “snow.”

I debated what to do with this and found a solution. I toss it on the ground, push it around and use is as a sweeping compound. It picks up the dirt, leaves a very slight skim of water on the wood floor and when it’s dirty gets tossed into the garden. Water + dirt, and that’s it. No soap, no extra cost, no extra power used, nada.

I had used snow as a sweeping compound on the concrete floor of the bookstore, but it never occurred to me that I could partially defrost the freezer AND do this mid-summer!

I wish I could find 100 things like this, but 1 counts ‘eh?

J

So?

We sold a bunch o’ stuff and donated a bunch more. My biggest frustration is that I either 1)donated the accounting with the things we donated or 2)put it into the storage unit with the items we returned there. At any rate, it isn’t in the cars. Fortunately, I DO know exactly what I took in money-wise, as I was doing a running tally with every sold item. I had $x until just before we packed and I thought that was it, and sold another item for $5 last thing. The money checked out the way it should (start cash + sales = expected $) and I would have been very surprised if it hadn’t.

But it’s annoying in the extreme that I don’t have the actual tally. I can only recreate about 1/3 of it out of my head, what sold and for what, and I’ve done that. Hopefully the stupid piece of paper is in the storage and I’ll find it tomorrow. Otherwise I have the partial tally and I’ll have to put something like (unknown qty/items) sold for $xx.xx in my accounting, and I really don’t want to do that.

The flea market was a success, both in terms of selling things and doing a major cull o’ stuff.

receipt book

Obviously, however, I have some work to do yet on actually getting organized. Or, more accurately, getting organized for not in a store event. I will probably just go buy another receipt book as that always worked before. It isn’t records I have a problem with, it’s when they’re on odd sheets of paper. I’ll fix it.

Going Down for the 3rd Time

I can’t do this.

No matter how much stuff I get rid of, there’s more. No matter how many books I get rid of (and I’ve been doing that for 13 years now, ‘eh?) there are still more.

It will never end.

I have (literally) gotten rid of 1,000s of items. And I’ve done it for years. I’m still drowning in stuff.

See? I can’t do this. It will never end.

The old storage unit still has stuff in it. I don’t have anywhere to put it. I don’t know what to do, donate boxes to Salvation Army tomorrow I guess. I have a bookcase in the old unit which came from S.A., I can donate it back. The library is taking books again. But that’s one piece of furniture, there’s at least 3. One of which has to come home (no room for it either). There’s about 25 boxes of books, maybe more still in the old unit. I have given away books every-single-day for the past 3 weeks. EVERY day. As few as 3 and as many as 3 boxes at once.

drowning

This isn’t quite as bad as figuring out I couldn’t beat the PTSD (or whatever it was, before I •knew* what it was) by just being stubborn and being willing to work at it, for 42 years to diagnosis, 50+ for most of the rest of it. So, the last piece, the very last piece is this stupid, neverending purge o’ crap, which believe it or not hurts on occasion, and is terrifying on occasion too. I do better and worse and I’ve kept going. I have been determined that I’d win — at least this battle.

But I think the abuser won instead? Can I just blow my brains out? (No gun.) You can bury me under a pile of books and papers and put on the headstone: she never actually accomplished anything and couldn’t finish anything, except her life. I really have no desire to commit suicide, but if suicide is the absence of pain, yes, that I DO want! How squishy does your brain have to be from beating it into the wall before you just give up?

Maybe the abuser was right after all? There just is something “not right” about me. I can’t do things.

Or maybe I’m just discouraged? I wonder why! And I suppose that tomorrow will be different. One of my largest life lessons was that I learned to “skate” when things are bad. Just let it go and don’t do anything permanent or dramatic: don’t break up a relationship, don’t hurt yourself, don’t drink & drive. Just find an emotional rabbit hole (for me that’s a book) and jump in, and hope you keep falling — at least until tomorrow. And tomorrow? Tomorrow you may find your life is completely different?

It usually is.

Let’s see, tomorrow starts in three hours. Can’t be here soon enough!

J

Note: Tomorrow, having come, isn’t perfect, but I’m not as overwhelmed as I was yesterday. Of course I didn’t sleep well, which never helps, but it is what it is.

Attitude Adjustment

Things are definitely different here. We’re off to work on the storage today. I have a large bag of papers to take to Staples for shredding. It’s expensive,but will get the approx. 1 file box of papers out of our lives for good.

paper trash

Had to move a box for DH this morning, so I went thru it with the idea of culling the books down. Came up with an immediate 2 books to get rid of, they’re going out today too.

These days, I toss something in the trash and think, “2 cubic inches more of my life free!”

Sure is different!

J

Also different: 3 more bags of garden materials were bought today. They are already spread out in the garden, the packaging dealt with, the cart and tools put away, and did some raking before I put everything away. The materials are in their permanent home, the trash dealt with, and not only did I do the “new” stuff, but the remaining upkeep has been lessened too. DEFINITELY DIFFERENT!

10+ Ideas for Saving Money

We bought some garden supplies yesterday. A while back I discovered how and where to get the supplies cheaper than I had before. The regular retail price of what we bought was $12. I paid $4. The $8 difference isn’t huge, but do that 5 or 10 times a year? Yep, it’s significant.

frugality image

These  are my “secrets” although none of them are secret.

  1. Be willing to buy something that isn’t in pristine shape, frequently you can get it cheaper, maybe a lot cheaper. We’ve done this with all sorts of goods: luggage at the L.L. Bean outlet with the wrong initials on them, used diner dishes from a thrift shop, etc. I buy clothes, china/glass at thrift shops. I go to my local salvage (scratch & dent) market before I go to the supermarket. (See #2 below.)
  2. Go through sale items before you shop elsewhere in a store. True at L. L. Bean’s outlet, the supermarket, the salvage store, a consignment shop, thrift shops, etc. Most stores have a regular sale corner or shelf. If you learn where that is, or where the markdowns go and go through them first, you avoid buying 4 new rolls of paper towels instead of 3 and one with a rip in the plastic cover for 1/2 off.
  3. Don’t buy things just because they’re on sale. I wanted 2 things yesterday: cloth paint tarps and the garden materials. Got everything for just under $20. I know I can find the garden materials on sale, it’s just locating them, so if I hadn’t found them on sale, I would have passed. The paint tarps (not on sale, but usually smaller and cheaper than other tarps) are to put over the ever-larger leaf piles, so leaves aren’t blown back into the yard and to speed up composting.
  4. Be willing to walk away or have an alternate plan if what you want isn’t on sale. First time I looked for the garden materials this year I couldn’t find them on sale. The alternate plan for this is a lot of weeding. or using a home-grown substitute for what I bought, but it’s messier and doesn’t work as well.
  5. Be willing to do some work to get the bargain. I had to go look though the store for my bargain yesterday, then find someone to talk to. Needed help from the cashier too. If you’re always in a hurry, this will probably keep you from getting those bargains.
  6. Don’t damage items or try and bargain with the retailer, unless you know they’re okay with it. I had a retail store for years. I hated people who would pick up a $5 book and ask me to sell it to them for $3. Asking for a break at the end of the season is one thing. Or, if you truly need to buy a lot of something, talk to them beforehand. Don’t ask for extra discounts during sales.
  7. Buy in or out of season. In season for perishable items, like produce. Out of season for nonperishable items, like winter coats. The bargains in nonperishable items usually start as the seasons change, and get larger (with less selection) as time goes on.
  8. Know what customary retail is on an item before you go bargain hunting. If you’re paring down your food bill, frequently people make a “price book.” No one (or very few people) seem to do the same thing for durable goods they’re interested in: sofas, tires, prom dresses, etc.
  9. Find websites which will help you save time/money. I will tell you as a person who has spent a lot of time finding these, there are too many to review in any kind of timely way. If you want food coupons, there’s some really outstanding ones. If you want info re organization, same goes. If you want to save money in general, there’s a bunch of those too. If you go looking for general “save money” websites, you can quickly be overwhelmed. Be specific what you want help with before you go looking.
  10. Learn about cheaper substitutes: chicken thighs instead of breasts, for example.
  11. Limit what you’ll buy. For us, that’s six month’s worth of something which isn’t perishable, if I have the room. I bought shampoo a while back. I had coupons good for $2 off 2 and it was on sale as well. I had 3 coupons. I got 6 bottles. Normally, I’ll only buy 3 extra, max., but the shampoo won’t go bad, and my coupons were about to expire. Also, I’d just cleaned out the space where I’d store these, so I knew I had room.
  12. Be willing to comparison shop by phone if you’re buying either a large quantity or something that’s expensive. I just read an article by someone in the business who recommended this for caskets, etc. dealing with the death of a loved one. I’d never considered that, but why not? If it’s true of caskets, it’s certainly true about 4 dozen azalea plants or 1 tonne of gravel or 3 cases of tomatoes or 25 lbs of ground round. (See Jill Bond’s Mega Cooking if  you’re interested in strategies re food bulk buying.)

 

Unexpected

I have Desha Peacock’s decorating book. I just missed seeing her at a bookstore event. Found out about it the week following. Anyway, I was intrigued and I bought the book: Create the Style You Crave on a Budget You Can Afford.

Off and on I’ve dipped into it. Most of it seems to be articles about hip bloggers, which doesn’t interest me much. I don’t care about their blogs, their lives or how popular they are. Many of them, because they are on average 20-30 years younger than I am, are talking about things I already know to save money: the dump’s swap shop, upcycle, antique stores, flea markets, swap, etc. I do all that and have. So, a half a dozen times I’ve resolved to get rid of the book, donate or sell it.

I’d gotten there this morning, again, and found one of her “quizzes” which are supposed to help you figure out your “sweet spot.” I write in books I buy for information, and had various notes in this one about colors, but nothing else. But today? Today I wrote this about a “mood board” (I’ve never managed to make a mood board, or creative board, or whatever work. I’ve tried!)

“Seriously? Decide to feel a certain way and you make that in a room?

HAH!

Fat chance!!!

Part of this was “Ask yourself these questions:. . . (My pencilled notes are in boldface.)

How do I want to feel in this room? How do I want my family to feel and others who visit?” My comment here was: How the F do I know? Never thought I could control how I feel in a room. Rooms victimize you.

“What colors would I like to see in this room? How much of this color or colors can I envisage?” No envisaging. NO visualization. None. Forget it!

I feel a little like I did when I discovered I’d been traumatized by knitting. My lack of visualization was deliberate, once. I decided I had to do that because thinking in pictures yanked me around emotionally, and my emotions made me crazy.

Of course, that was almost 40 years ago, but I’ve discovered that flipping the switch I did, from thinking in pictures to thinking in words isn’t easy to do, or to undo.

 

desha peacock book

I’m not sure how to fix this. I like our new living room, mostly. I learned a lot doing it. But other than having an idea about how I want to combine colors in the house, spending as little as possible, and getting DH’s overall approval, I have no idea about what to do or how. I only know the next piece usually, if that.

The living room’s paint needs touch up and to be cleaned up in some areas. I want to take a strip out of one room to make a hallway, so I have a wall with a large bookcase. Aside from that? I have no next steps.

The back roof has to happen this year no matter what, and much of the available money will go to that. After that? I have no idea.

It annoys me that this is seemingly so simple for some people and so difficult for me. I know why I did what I did. It was necessary, when I was 20, but it isn’t necessary now and it makes my life difficult in all sorts of ways.

I can’t write fiction. I can’t plan craft projects without doing a “sketch” because when I imagine a finished project, it never turns out that way, etc. Not being able to imagine what something might look like is a total PITA!

New Rules

  1. Handle things as little as possible.
  2. When items are for sale, if they don’t sell at some previously set time frame, try to remove at least 75% of the items from inventory.
  3. If it’s in the house, you don’t use it, haven’t used it, and you have no idea when or if you’ll use it, get rid of it or reuse the components.
  4. Ask for help when you need it.
  5. Take advantage of good weather.
  6. Talk to the people you do business with. If you’re personable and reasonable, it can save you money. Maybe not a lot, but some. We drove the rental van about 8 miles yesterday. Because we were personable with the folks we rented from and the person before us had put in a little more gas than they had to, the guy told us if the gas hadn’t gone down below x level, to not worry about it. It hadn’t, and so we didn’t buy gas.
  7. Make use of the resources and tools you already have. This one actually cost us money. We forgot our hand truck yesterday and so had to rent one, sigh. We didn’t use it much, but we still paid for the one we rented. Today I’ll throw the one we own in the car.

full hand truck