Thursday, June 30, 2011


Time to kick back and enjoy, just like Piggy!

Tonight marks the start of my five day mini-break from work, wahoo! There's nothing like the beginning of a break, when there is nothing but work-free possibilities ahead. I really, really need this break.

We're not planning to go anywhere, at least not anywhere far, but there are several things ideas I have for how to while away the hours:
  • Tackle a DIY project or two. There's plenty to choose from. My original proposal to the boyfriend was to spend two days working and three days relaxing and having fun, but at this point point I'm leaning more towards more fun and less work. We'll see.
  • Go swimming
  • Grill out
  • Take long bike rides
  • Read a lot
  • Write a blog post or five. I've got a backlog of ideas and they just keep coming!
  • Make these painted glass bottles
  • Sell the books and media I've decluttered
  • Learn how to propagate lavender. You can never have too much!
  • Try more green cleaning and personal care recipes. After my success with this simple, cheap and green homemade dishwasher detergent powder from Bonzai Aphrodite I'm anxious to try a few more. I might try this alternative dishwasher detergent recipe for starters. Anyone have other recommendations?
What are your weekend plans?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bedroom Fan Update: Let It Shine, Let It Shine

Since this 2008 post on the new bedroom ceiling fan is one of the more popular ones on this blog, I figure it's only fair to provide an update now that my major complaint is resolved. In case you aren't familiar with the post (and really, who is?) after a long search in 2008 we found a ceiling fan that looked great, but didn't put out enough light to read or even say, get ready in the morning by. And that was with using the max wattage the fixture allows, 40W bulbs. The only possible solution was to find 60W equivalent CFLs. We searched everywhere, and the Boyfriend even ordered CFL bulbs online, but nothing fit in the small space allotted in this fixture.

Until finally, a mere three years later our problems were solved by micro-mini bright white 13W CFLs in bright white, which are equivalent to 60W incandescents. We picked them up here, but I've started seeing them in all the home improvement stores now.

Bam! Now it's so bright I almost have to wear shades. And as a bonus, the three new bulbs use slightly less power than just one of the old ones. So if your ceiling fan light isn't cutting it, or my original post gave you qualms about this fab fan, fear no more.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Use It or Lose It Challenge

The last time I bought soap I found four new bars I had completely forgotten about hidden away in the bathroom and linen closet. I don't even want to tell you how many bottles of perfume I own, or how many bottles of shampoo I have in the shower (although, I've been working on that particular area). I keep buying new my favorite body wash (Tom's of Maine lavender, if you're curious) instead of using any of the perfectly good unopened bottles I already own.

Every time I try to declutter my linen cabinet or my half of the bathroom cabinets, I find "perfectly good" personal care items I just haven't finished or even gotten around to trying yet.

It's time to stop the insanity.

That's why I'm putting myself on a use it or lose it challenge, starting now.

The rules:

1. No buying more personal care products when you have perfectly good, unused versions at home.

2. If I don't like a product, I don't have to finish it (I'm not the suffer in silence type, as the Boyfriend will attest), but I do have to pitch it. No more keeping items around "just in case."

While I'm mainly concentrating on personal care products for this challenge, I'm also going to extend it to books. I want to downsize my book collection, but there's so many I haven't gotten around to reading yet. Instead, I find much more interesting reading material when I visit the library. So same rules apply to books, no buying or bringing home new books from the library until I read or donate the unread books I already own. And this starts today since I just hit the library again yesterday. Doh! Ouch, it hurts just typing the no more bringing books home from the library bit.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Declutter Inspiration and Other Good Links

Some favorite links I've come across this week:
  • 100things100days - If like me you can't get enough of reading about OPP (other people's purging) then you need to head over to this new-to-me blog. I'm in awe of Christine who is on a quest to, you probably guessed it, purge 100 things each day for 100 days. Impressive and interesting!

  • Secrets of Money and Life Success - Great reminders, especially for all those recent grads.

  • 320 Square Foot Home - The video tour of this 320-square-foot home has made the rounds, but maybe like me, you didn't discover the blog right away. I'm not sure I'd ever want to live in a place this tiny, but I find the lifestyle fascinating.

  • How to Stage Your Home for Living - I couldn't have said this better myself. It's never made sense to me that our homes usually look their very best right before we leave them. Reading this article was a good reminder for me to finish the unfinished projects around min hus.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lessons Learned from a Garage Sale

Our second garage sale this year was a bust. In the three hours we were open on Saturday, before the downpour started, we had a whopping 20 or so customers. I sold three items.

Granted, I beat Friday's total sales of $6.50 and made $27 total. Plus we split the proceeds from leftover items my mom contributed to the sale, which added another $9. The boy made just over $100 and a friend who joined us made $30. I guess it wasn't a complete waste of time, but it's definitely not my favorite way to spend a Saturday.

The silver-lining to another less-than successful sale is that it did provide a lot of food for thought.
  • That stuff you had to have? It's almost worthless to everyone else. Once you buy it and take it out of the store it easily loses 50-75% of its value. It amazes me how little people are willing to pay at garage sales, even for new and unopened items. I'm not sure why we value an item on a store shelf so much higher than one at a yard sale or thrift store, but we do.

    One "customer" complained at the 50 cent price tag on a brand new, never used wine corkscrew (it wasn't a super cheap one either). The sweater I bought and never wore? $15 may have been a fairly good buy at Eddie Bauer, but I couldn't even sell it for $2. Result = $15 wasted. The shotglasses I collected in college? Worthless. I could go on and on. I don't even want to think about the money I've wasted over the years on stuff I didn't even use or wear.

  • Reevaluate every purchase. You can't change the past, but you can make different choices in the future. We waste so, soooo much money buying things we don't need and don't even really want. Stop shopping for recreation. Use a 30-day wait list before making purchases. Reevaluate everything you buy. Do whatever works for you to make sure you only bring things you need and/or really love into your home.

  • What's gone is gone, just donate your clutter! No more garage sales, ever! This advice is really a personal reminder. Everyone's situation is different, but for me, garage sales are completely not worth it. Garage sales are a lot of work. You have to find items to sell, price them, pack them up, haul them to the sale, unpack the items, arrange them, spend time at the actual sale, then repack the items and either store, sell or donate them. All that for $27? Completely not worth it, especially since I don't enjoy garage sales in the first place.

    I've donated carloads of clutter over the past few years, and from now on, unless something is very valuable, it goes straight to our local charity thrift store, Volunteers of America. Donating clutter is much quicker, might help someone who needs it and you get a tax deduction (if you itemize). It's a win-win-win. Even as I was packing the yard sale leftovers last night I was tempted to save things to sell later. But by keeping this tip in mind and repeating it internally like a mantra, I was able to remember that for me, the time spent selling items isn't worth it. I put almost everything into the donation box, so very few items will be coming back into the house.

  • Getting rid of the clutter is way more freeing than keeping it. I know it's tempting to hold on to items just in case, because of the money you spent on them, etc., but I can say from personal experience that getting rid of items you no longer need or love is far more satisfying than keeping them.

  • The more you declutter, the easier it gets. I've finally been able to get rid of some stuff that I kept for round after round of decluttering and now I wonder why it took me so long. By getting rid of the items that no longer enhance you're life, your relationship with stuff changes and it has become much easier to clear out the clutter and stop the inflow of more stuff.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Want It

So about that whole, not buying anything for the mantle idea I posted about last time? Umm...

I want these.

Creating them is even an earth-friendly craft! Martha says so (instructions here). Although "glass enamel" doesn't sound so earth friendly to me, but who am I to argue with Martha?

Still, if I buy thrifted (read: cheap) vases and cost them myself, it seems fairly harmless. Hardly like going to Pottery Barn and dropping major dough. Right?

Apartment Therapy featured a different version by We A.R.E. Randalls; they used latex paint which is even better because I certainly have latex paint.

I'm not usually drawn to crafts, but this is going on the must do soon list!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How My Garden Grows

A twenty-one mile bike ride, followed by more than three hours of gardening equals one exhausted chica. But it's a good kind of exhaustion. It's 75F here, with no humidity to speak of (rare for an Ohio summer) which makes it perfect gardening weather.

I did a ton of weeding, planted some tiny flower seedlings, cleaned my gardening cabinet in the garage and--most importantly--took time to read and lounge on the deck.

sweet william

My rambling rose is bursting with blooms.

The vegetable garden is exploding. There are tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, jalapenos, habaneros, and ghost chili peppers. The Boy is the one with a penchant for blazing hot peppers. -

I can't wait to taste these baby romas!

That's my idea of a good day.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mantle Remix

I've never quite managed to create an arrangement on my fireplace mantle that I really liked. Other people seem to manage it easily enough, but I have problems. So over the weekend I played around with some new ideas. The catch? I had to use items I already own since going out and buying trinkets solely for the purpose of displaying them on my mantle seems silly.

This is more challenging than it seems since I never really owned tons of decor items to begin with. And many of the ones I did own have since been purged.

Reject #1: While I love having the shells displayed, something about this didn't feel right..
maybe it needs a little somethin' somethin'?

Reject #2: Too much, tooooo much!!!

I'm taking it easy on you and only showing you a couple of the rejects. I arranged and rearranged for at least an hour. Vases were unearthed from the dusty depths of my cabinets, shells were pulled out of hiding then returned, attic boxes were raided. It was an ordeal.

But eventually, there was a winner.

The white says summer to me and, well, what can I say, I'm a simple girl at heart.

Oh, and the shells found a new home as well. Finally, all the shells I've collected at the beach and been given are displayed in an appealing way!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Can't Live Without: Air Conditioning

I'm melting, meeelllltttiiinnngg

As much as I'd like to be ultra green and frugal, there are certain little luxuries I'm not willing to live without. Not without being forced to anyway.

The first of these is air conditioning.

I know it's horrible for the environment. I know it's one of the biggest energy hogs in my home. I know millions live without it now and have lived without it for hundreds of years. But the thought of facing a 90+ F day, with high-humidity, without AC? Um, no thank you.

We got a taste of AC-lite life over Memorial Day weekend when the central air conditioner in min hus suddenly started working at about 80%. Of course this happened on one of the hottest weekends we've had all year. It was a painful 1.5-2 days until the repairman came this morning. The AC was constantly running just to keep the temp steady at 77-79. The cats were miserable. The Boy wouldn't leave the basement, where it easily stays 5-10 degrees cooler. It made my frugal little heart tense just thinking about all the kilowatts we were wasting just to make it barely liveable in the house.

I know there are people who keep the AC at 78F all the time. My grandmother is one of them. No freaking thank you. It's bearable if you sit still, under the ceiling fan and don't move other than to say, click a mouse or something. Forget about cooking, vacuuming or doing anything else that generates heat.

I know people who go without AC all summer, in much hotter stickier places than Ohio, but I don't understand how. We didn't have central air conditioning when I was growing up and I remember being hot, sticky and miserable at times. Some nights I would sleep on my parents floor, as close to the window AC as possible just to get some relief.

In my first apartment after college I only had a window AC. I practically lived in my bedroom.

Life without central AC just isn't for me. Without it I'd be a fatter, stinkier version of myself because I'd never cook, or dry my hair, or vacuum. Forget biking for exercise if I didn't have a place to cool off at afterwards.

Luckily my little AC problem cost $250 to solve (at least, I hope that was the end of it. Did I mention it's a less-than-two-years-old system that I bought to avoid these issues in the first place?!?!). So until someone pries my AC away or I can't afford the bills, it'll be on.

Do you live without AC easily? What are the last things you'd give up, no matter how ungreen?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Clean + Organized = Happy

I'm so pleased with my kitchen now that we completed two mini-makeovers, one of which I showed in the last post and one that I'll show you some time next week. Probably. I'm surprised that taking out the bifold doors makes the space seem so much more spacious, but it does.

In fact the whole house seems lighter and brighter lately. I am really starting to notice and appreciate the end result of all my past decluttering efforts.

The decluttering urge has been particularly strong this weekend. It's becoming one of my favorite things to do really, and is most an obsession lately. I was even more inspired by a few posts I read, namely reading about the Minimalist Mom's overseas move and this post at the trephine.

The themes of these posts really resonated with me, because one of my major roadblocks to getting rid of stuff I kinda like, or might use, or might want someday, is that currently I have plenty of out-of-sight space to store it.

It's cheaper to keep it just in case you need it one day, besides you have plenty of room, whispers a voice inside my head.

But this weekend I realized that some day I'll likely want to move, and like every other move I've ever made, it will probably involve too much to do in too little time. It's to hectic to purge and pack, so I usually pack everything, thinking I'll declutter as I unpack, or after I'm in the new place.

Really, the best time declutter is now. When I'm not rushed, when I have the urge and when I can take the time to do it when and how I want to. This realization has made such an impact.

So far this weekend I've decluttered some letters and mementos, some of which I've had for 17+ years. There are others I want to scan a copy of before I let them go. I almost like this photo collage better than I liked the items.

Along with 18 items from my kitchen and half a trash bag of expired food. These items survived past purges, but still weren't being used, so it's time to let them go.


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