Category Archives: minimalism

Productive Monday Morning

I haven’t made up my 6 list today. But here’s what I’ve done this morning:

  1. Washed dishes
  2. Washed rags
  3. Swept the hearth, entry, living room, and hall.
  4. Polished the fire screen.
  5. Depilled my muffler. (wonderfully soft/fuzzy, wants to pill!)
  6. “Mopped” the hearth. (Spray bottle and rag on my knees, no mop.)
  7. Gotten down a block of soap to be cut into bars.
  8. Went through a stack of mail, cull/shred/file.

It’s 10:15 a.m., I think this counts!!!

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Herbal Zero Waste

I grow herbs and spices here: parsley, sage, mint, oregano, chives, etc. I dry some every year. I do this because if you look at the price per lb. of spices at your local market, you’ll discover that they are among the most expensive, if not THE most expensive foods by weight.

The way I dry them is mostly in lunch bags, plain old brown paper lunch bags. I write on the bottom: the herb, date, and source. (The CSA grows herbs/spices too!) and hang them with rubber bands around the bag’s neck and a peg rack.

After about 2 months, I have dried leaves of whatever: parsley, sage, oregano, basil, etc.

I took down all but the last two of these today.

The spices/herb leaves were added to the appropriate containers, the stems were added to the kindling box, and the rubber bands were returned to the appropriate container as well. The bags? The bags got filled with the “trash” that sits in the bottom of the wood or kindling box (leaves, small twigs, dirt from the logs, pieces of bark, etc.). The bag’s neck was retwisted and

Shazaam! 

You get instant, free, zero waste all-natural fire starters and a clean wood or kindling box!

It makes the messy business of cleaning the wood box kind of fun.

I felt the same years ago: we put corn out for squirrels and I used the dried cobs as fire starters. I thought that idea was original! My MIL told me that one of her jobs on the farm, when she was growing up, was to get the cookstove’s fire going, with dried corn cobs saved for that. [I didn’t grow up on a farm in the midwest, but in L.A.; it was new to me!]

This idea, of stuffing the kindling “trash” into lunch bags will probably also be old to many, but it was a new idea for me again. I’m glad I thought of it, whether it’s a new, or not.

Zero Waste Idea

On my long-term goal list is the idea of buying shelf-stable foods in bulk. I want to do this for several reason: to reduce trips to the market, reduce the waste we create (and thereby trips to the dump) and stress reduction too. I think I have a great resource for figuring out what to use other than plastic or the consumer packaging to store things in my home: my old housekeeping books.

One of the best for this is a book published in 1921. She has what she calls “marketing charts” which are mostly useless as they tell you to do things like buy “washed raisins,” but there’s a column of how to store foods too. Here’s the information I pulled (my comments are in italic).

Buckets or Cans: Whole Wheat Flour, Rye Flour

Cool, Dry Place: Buckwheat, Canned Goods, Chocolate, Salts (table, cooking & ice cream)Tea, Vinegar

Cool, not Too Dry Place: Nuts

Dry Place: Bar Soaps, Sugar

Tight Container: Cooking Fats (in cool place), Cornstarch (in dry place), Macaroni (pasta)Olive Oil (in dark, cool place), Soap Powder, Spices, Syrup

Jar: Shelled Almonds, Dried Cereal, Cream of Tartar, Currants & Raisins

Glass Jar, Covered or Stoppered: Bay Leaves, Citron, Cocoa, Coconut, Molasses

Rack 2″ from Floor: Flour, white & pastry (One assumes in a barrel or at least a cloth bag? Certainly NOT the paper bags flour comes in today!)

Tight Container: Dried Beans, Crackers, Extracts (in dark place)

Tin*: Baking Powder, Coffee, Cornmeal (covered), Matches

*Any foods stored in a tin I’ll put inside a food safe plastic bag or container which I will reuse.

 

barrel

Image from fixturescloseup.com via google images.

My other observation is that this isn’t likely to be very useful unless I start buying  shelf-stable foods in bulk. Many ideas here are reflected in supermarket packaging: extracts in brown glass and olive oil in green glass bottles, for example. But if you buy them in bulk? Extracts come in white plastic bottles (or at least the commercial packages I’ve seen) but you can purchase olive oil in any bottle you wish.

Now that I’ve created this list, I’m not sure how much I’ll use it? But the idea of it made me stop and think about what I’d need to store household consumables, purchased in bulk. I consider that valuable, even if I don’t actually use the chart!

Destroy!

Well we demolished the bathroom closet. It was a floor to ceiling closet, but located in such a way that its door and the bathroom door could bang into each other in the doorway. There is also a cabinet door and a drawer which open into or block the door way.

We bought a fawncy bath vanity at the Habitat Re-Store. But, it won’t work as a replacement for our current vanity. However, it has more storage than the vanity we’ve got. So? We demo’ed the closet to put the new vanity (without a sink) into the closet space as useful storage. Removed the closet door. Vanity is in the closet “niche” which was primed and painted, first. Feb. 10

We have talked about for years putting in a pedestal sink or wall-mounted sink because of the space crunch in the room. That’s likely what we’ll do, because the vanity as built-in storage solves the biggest problem with that idea: loss of storage.

We haven’t decided what sink we’ll get or what we’re going to do with the floor (which will have to be redone), and so:

the new vanity cabinet will get a temporary plywood top [We bought a fancy piece of limestone for the top.]

while we figure out the rest of the closet configuration [We know what we want, the vanity’s top is higher than we expected, so it may change?]

…and then the sink, mirror and then the floor. I’d love to nuke the bath/shower too, but that’s another whole order of magnitude money wise. What we’ve bit off we can do in chunks. A tub/shower tear out and replacement isn’t a small chunk….

That’s what’s going on here!

Paper Cull

Worked on the attic today for a bit. Found a box which no doubt came out of DH’s office when it closed down — at the company who moved us here, 20+ years ago. This box was in the MIDDLE of the attic, on the floor, so it was behind and under everything else, and had been missed, multiple times no doubt! 90+% of it went to the dump’s recycle bin this afternoon.

Later on, I started going through a bin of my papers, some of which were as old, or older (and business related). They went. I got to near the bottom of the box and found things which needed to be filed, but not tossed, they were that current. I quit.

That said? We recycled 100+ or probably more like 300 pieces of paper today, including catalogs, magazines, sales receipts, etc.,

I talked to DH about taking vacation between Christmas & New Years’, with the idea that we do this or something like it, at least once in that time. It all helps — and tomorrow? Tomorrow’s another day to tackle more.

The bath mat is currently 6.5″ 7.25 wide. I changed out one of the colors at 6″. Will change another when I get to 12″. That’s 20 17 rows from now… each row is .25″. Now you know why I will NEVER make another of these, like this! (Updated 11/26)

Rug Ruminations

I have the same slubby fabric I talked about (here). I decided this is just enough to do the stairs and maybe, just maybe something else, but I better do the stairs first. I know who to take the fabric to, to get it prepped. I will ask for and take the woman’s advice. I know where to get a rug pad for the stairs, when I get that far. The stairs need to be painted first anyway.

I found the price tag on the bolt, I spent $32 for it. The stair runners I’ve found which I like are all around $200, so I have a way to go before I’ve spent that much.

With the stairs taken care of, that leaves the 5 x 8 foot or 6 x 8 foot rug for the hearth.

I like this, a LOT. My only problem is that it’s printed, not woven. So in 5 years or so I’ll have to buy another, sigh. I try to not buy printed fabrics for the house, I like woven patterns, as they wear 2x as long. My opinion, but it’s my house & money.

print rug

My second choice is another one at Birch Lane. (I can’t get an image to save so I can load it here.) (birch lane rug link)

My problem with it is two-fold three-fold. 1) It looks thick and comfy to walk on, and messy. 2)It’s jute & cotton (so is the first one) and because it’s so thick, I’m afraid it will stink, like the other mats did. [I’m less afraid of this with the printed rug, ironically, because I think they’d have to clean the fibers well to get the printing to work.] And 3) DH doesn’t like it.

Thought I had a solution. I found a rug at Ikea which would work.  But they aren’t in stock: in MA, in CT, in IL. . . . trying to find the same piece another way, found 0. Sh*t!

All of which leads me back to trying to make my own. I do not want to make a 5 x 8 foot rug. The last 2 door mats I did, I crocheted out of jute string, took about 2 balls of string and 8 hours to do, not to mention “airing” the string and having to stop because the fumes were getting to me.

I bought the last door mat at Home Depot for $8 on sale. Being sick for a day to make a door mat is one thing. Being sick for a week or two, month? to make a 5 x 8 foot rug? Not going to happen. And that’s not counting however long it would also make me sick living with it.

Since the last time I wrestled with this, I (finally) found a place which sells natural fiber rug warp and yarns. I can buy a cone of rug warp and use some fabrics I have prepped here and/or buy some and see what I think. I could crochet one, it would take a long time, but I could do it. Or, if I could find someone to teach me how to warp my loom, I could just weave one!

Also I will buy a small amount of the warp and other materials and see if I can come up with a way to make a rug with materials which don’t make me sick. If the printed rug at the store stinks? Then the warp, etc. is what I’ll do.

However, for the moment, I think I need to go to the store which has the printed rug and see if it stinks? If not, I may buy it, for $199. (That’s on sale, sigh.)

I will take the bolt end to the woman who can prep it and see what she thinks. She no longer has a store front but works out of her home. 11/15

Thirty years ago I would have gone to Pier One and bought a sisal mat. Actually, 30 years ago I bought a blue, flat woven, cotton rug from Conran’s. It’s in the attic. The color was uneven, so I stopped putting it out. In Tampa, I had wall to wall  med. gray carpeting in the living room, bedrooms, dining room, etc. The blue rug was used in my library, a large open area. The faults were obvious and I put it in the attic here. But the hearth area isn’t an open area, it’s fairly crowded.Our huge living room is divided into three functional areas. Hm. If I can get the rug out of the attic, I could maybe put a rug in the hearth area for $0.

I’m off to go look at the attic!

 

Becoming OCD: Symptoms

I have many indicators that I am slipping to the other side:

  1. I’m scraping off the “dirty” part of the soap bar and using that when I wash my hands.
  2. I’m thinking that scissors and other tools with dark handles save cleaning fingerprints from them.
  3. When I toss something, almost anything, I think, “One less piece of clutter . . . “
  4. I started wrapping the cord to the upright vac with crossed loops. Fewer loops, much neater!
  5. Our TP holder has room for a 2nd roll behind. I stopped putting the 2nd roll hole forward and instead put it the same way as the roll we’re using… less visual clutter.
  6. I’ve been cataloging, pricing, and tagging items before I leave home. No more wondering if I’d paid $2 for something or $4? I know the mark-up is adequate, and since I know my pricing schema, I know enough when I start mark downs what I likely paid for the item.  $3 is my bottom price, if I can’t sell something for $3 in a week, it’s not worth bothering with. That is the hard-won knowledge of years of retailing and my old inclination to keep things. I’m getting ruthless!
  7. Becoming OCD is catching, did you know? DH is reorganizing his workshop. He’s using a Space Budget (although he doesn’t call it that).
  8. I’ve decided that I love contractions, abbreviations, ampersands & question marks: shorter and tidier writing. (I really am OCD! Tidy writing??? )

Any minute now, I will become that monster: the woman who won’t go outside because her hair gets messed, who wipes the table whenever anyone lifts a cup from it!

If you know me IRL, please TELL me if when I go too far. Please! How do you avoid falling off a cliff?