Tag Archives: techniques

Insurance Company Hero!

The pharmacy auto calling was driving DH nuts, so he told me to do something already!

So, I did what I had intended to do, that is, I called our insurance company. In the process I learned a few things, at least one I will probably use the rest of my life.

  1. The price on the drug out-of-pocket was so high because we haven’t met our deductible. (I’m still not going to get it.)
  2. That there are coupons for prescription drugs available? You can get them  here or try googling the drug name.
  3. The auto caller from the pharmacy gets stopped from the pharmacy, but may not be stopped immediately, it IS automated.
  4. If I want to talk to someone with an accent I understand, call in the morning.

drugs and money

It had NEVER occurred to me that there might be coupons for prescription drugs! I use coupons and try to be frugal in almost every way I can, but this is a new one on me!


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


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.

Lapful of Warm, v 2.0

I had a second skein of the yarn I used to make the muffler. I’ve been using the muffler, but it’s a bit narrow. I started playing with that second skein and had a slightly bigger pair of needles and wondered how that would change it? Well, after a few days of knitting, I have the following to report:

  • It’s wider
  • My knitting is better
  • and, because I quit deliberately when I did, it’s a bit shorter.

I intend to use this one rather than the other. It’s better made and slightly more practical. I may (or may not) rip the other one apart and make a pillow cover from it. I haven’t decided.

No shaking, cold, etc. until this morning when I was casting off. Of course, I kept myself distracted while I was knitting. This time I’ve been watching episodes of the original Ironside on youtube. Whatever the trauma related to knitting is/was, it definitely is its worst during casting off!

The frustrating part is that without an actual memory of what occurred, I can’t do more than I have to combat it. For me to “erase” a trauma, I need to know/understand wtf happened so I can rewrite the scenario, filtered by my adult understanding. It’s the same process I talked about with cleaning the house, here . The “easy” traumas, the obvious and clearly remembered ones, have been dealt with as much as I can. Otherwise, it’s shadow boxing, you guess and try — lather, rinse, repeat — hoping to narrow down what the issue is/was.

The second lapful of warm is a deliberate repetition and a better variation, if I say so myself. Happy holidays to me!

Happy holidays to all of you too, whatever midwinter festival, holiday, or break you practice.

Minimalism: Learning

I already did a post on holiday minimalism, but I have learned or figured out a few things since:

  • Ornament hangers are not necessary. Use a piece of thread or monofilament, whatever you have. Then you can stop buying those packages of little bits of wire which break, you never seem to either have enough of, or there’s too many. [I took the few I had off the ornaments, they’ll be recycled Weds.]
  • I had an open box of tinsel, so I used it up. I also have an unopened box. I decided that I would never use tinsel again, whether I already had it, or not. It’s a complete waste of storage space to keep something that I’m against in principle. If I have principles, I do, and I should act on them. The full package is going to the dump’s swap shop Weds. too, with a mini Santa mug, and other odds & ends I don’t have any idea why I kept, many times for decades.
  • Because the little cat daily has spells we call “crazy cat,” we decided not to put anything breakable on the tree. We have enough plastic, wood, and paper ornaments to cover it. No Christmas balls, but other things. Although it’s a bit odd not to have balls on the tree, it’s just fine without it. I have a new to us box of Christmas balls, which is also going away.
  • The Christmas balls I am using are on a charger or in clear glass vases on the couch’s side tables. Two “artist” balls were broken in storage, they’re off to the dump, and most of the others are in the glass vases. Decorations? Yes. On the tree? No. Also less need for “other stuff” to decorate for the holidays.
  •  When my helper and I pulled the Christmas things out of the attic a while back, I had piled it up discreetly under the couch and one side table. After the tree was decorated, I returned the small boxes to where they’d been. I hated the visual clutter. I thought of putting all the small boxes into a larger box. I did. Then didn’t like the way that looked and “wrapped” the larger (small moving) box. (Like everything else, if I have something I usuallly have too much of it. That’s true of the paper I’ve been using the past 2 years. It’s black & white stripes. I got it to put on the back of bookshelves and/or cabinets, on sale. I decided if I used it that way, it would feel like a prison, so I was stuck with 9 rolls of paper. I have 3 left now.) Now we have this large “wrapped” package in the living room, under the tree, without a bow, marked “empty ornament boxes” and no printed Home Depot cardboard carton(s) to ugly up the place.
  • What I learned from wrapping that box?  That I can ditch the trunk where I’ve always stored Christmas stuff. Obviously, I don’t need that much room! I’ll look for and/or make a box with a lid, and make a pattern so all I have to do it wrap the lid next year and years later. The ornament boxes will have a permanent home, and it will be neat/tidy. It will be able to be put out under the tree year after year. I do NOT know why I never thought of putting the small boxes into a big wrapped one! (The little boxes always made a mess before.) No need to tidy the little boxes away, no extra step. Win!!!
  • No gift tags this year either. I have this correction tape, it’s white. I used it for years for price tags and other things, used some of it as labels for foodstuffs (doesn’t work well in the freezer), and have the end of it now. (See comment about too much stuff in wrapping paper bullet.) I’m using it to make labels this year. Sticks right on the package, no strings, nothing to buy. I’m using a silver pen, but I had it already!

My conclusion from all of this is that minimalism is a process, not a destination. I will never really get there, but my mindset is different than it used to be, and it shows.

PURSUE Happiness

This is what I used as a reminder and still do, when appropriate:

Put Up, Remember, Shut Up, & Endure

When things got really bad, I’d use the “pursuit of happiness” idea, with this as an acronym, to get myself through. I’d remind myself to be greedy and/or fiercely vigilante, that I deserved happiness, it was something I’d wanted and worked for, for decades.

This is for dealing with others’ actions. Sometimes I had to grit my teeth, shut up, and deal. (Often my being able to “deal” wasn’t being able to deal with whatever was going on currently, but a focus on the future, the possibility that things would change at some undefined future point.) I expect this to be true for the rest of my life.

When people have called me “brave” or “strong” I’ve always said that’s not true.

It isn’t true — I am STUBBORN. I use PURSUE to remind myself that stubbornness, an unwillingness to accept that the world is F’d up beyond hope is my “superpower.” It’s my form of being passive aggressive. I put up, shut up and endured, while dreaming not of hurting the person harming me, not of a world where whatever wasn’t happening, but of a world where what was happening here/now was a distant and unimportant piece of long ago.

I encourage you to be stubborn, in appropriate ways. The world doesn’t owe you anything, others don’t owe you anything. But you owe yourself to try and make your future the best and brightest you can. That means not hurting others, not lashing out, not blaming, but getting on with your life with joy — when you can.

It’s what George Herbert said: “Living well is the best revenge.”

Changing the way I do this?

Okay. I stopped doing daily tallies because frankly, it’s boring to read. [Boring to write too!] BUT without them I just don’t think I can actually do this. The reason I wanted to go to a badge was so that I can do a tally post daily AND not bore my readers 1/2 to death.

The badge idea, unless I want to spend hours making the thing every day needs the Silhouette machine. I can set up a template on a computer, figure it out on a daily basis and then just print it. Anyway, that’s the plan. (You know what happens to plans.)

Here’s a tally. Despite the fact that my “to the dump” bin is FULL, it isn’t enough to make a dent. If I did the 35 things out like I list here, daily? Yah, that adds up to around 250 a week.

DH bought me a mini version of Photoshop for other things I want to do: scan books, old cards, etc. I’ll see if I can’t come up with a “template” that I can use there. If I can, then I can use my badge idea without having to buy the Silhouette (win?) and it will help me learn the Photoshop stuff I need to anyway.

Haven’t done that yet, sorry, this is just a boring tally!
needed to be 8344 82.9% 2/29 (1716 things gone)

To dump (swap shop): 2 trays, 2 stone containers, plastic drawer thing, colander, bowl
To dump (trash):
Sold: 1 book, 2 plates, 1 decorative thing, 1 tin bank, 1 flower frog
flash cleanup 2
Reveal 3

Donated: wine carrier
Used: 4 pcs PVC pipe

Returned: rug, gravy boat, bowl, inscense burner, box, bag
pantry consolidation 2

Paper Trail
3/12/12-3/14/12 0 (not home) 3/15/12-3/16/12, 3/18/12 0
3/17/12 17

Bought: bucket, 5 pcs PVC pipe, 1 roll plastic, 1 robe, 2 suits,
1 sweater, adjustment from last tally 3
From storage:
To a landing pad:

today 18+5+8+17-13=48-13=35

old 8749 86.9%
new 8714 86.6% (1346 things gone)

needs to be 7559, which is 2502 things gone
by 3/31 (24.9% of the year’s done, 91st day)