Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's been a long time

And my housekeeping can tell. The one thing I really liked about doing this blog is that it kept me honest about the state of affairs around the house. So I'll be honest, it has been bad around here. I have barely even kept pace with the clutter the last few months. I think I have been in a funk.

I know I would feel better if I picked up around here, but somehow I haven't been able to motivate myself to do it. Well today, I am taking inventory of what I've got to do, and I'm getting started.

So here is the current situation:


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Feeling Good

I love food. I love recipes, cookbooks, cooking, ingredients, everything. This has been a major source of clutter in my life. I used to have a whole bookcase full of back issues of recipe magazines, and about a year ago, I started a process of reducing that to a manageable amount.

First I went through all the magazines and clipped any recipes that I thought I might make. This ended up being hundreds of clippings, but that was still less than several years worth of back issues. This became the Recipe Pile, and it sort of hung out for the last year. Every now and then I would try to go through the pile and type up the recipes so I could print them out on notecards and put them in my recipe box.

Well about 2 weeks ago I realized that this was crazy. I mean totally crazy. First of all, I clipped these recipes out of magazines. They are all completely legible. I do not need to retype them all. Secondly, I haven't made any of these recipes. I don't know if I even like them. Why should unproven recipes get to make it into my recipe box?

So, the last 2 weeks I've been procrastinating finding some sort of file folder dohicky to store the hundreds of clippings until I have a chance to try the recipe and see if it deserves a space in the recipe box. Well today I finally got it.

There are colored folders, and I split out the types of recipes to:
Light Blue - Dinner
Green - Dessert
Yellow - Breakfast
Orange - Dips and Snacks
Dark Blue - Drinks

Everything slips into this pocket thing.

And the pocket fits right into the cookbook shelf.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

This is not really a decluttering life-hack, but it is a simplifying one. Especially for those of us who don't care much for store bread. For the last few weeks I've been nourishing a sourdough starter in my fridge and then dividing it and making bread. It's fun and all, but the bread isn't all that good. I am reading some great things about this book, and everyone seems to like the bread. So I just put in a request to my local Border's to hold a copy for me.

Now I just have to figure out if I have a container that can serve as my "dough bucket" already, or I am going to have to get one. If this works out, I think it means I can pass along my bread maker. Although it is the first present DH ever got me, I am trying not to be so sentimental about stuff.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Flash of Brilliance

We have a metal front door. It is for fire safety I think. Anyway the point is that it is magnetic. Somehow this fact had escaped my thought until just now. THE DOOR IS MAGNETIC. That means I can stick things to it with magnets. Things that I need to remember on my way out of the door. How did I never realize this before?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Less is More

Recently, due to the economic situation and various other scary things happening out in the world I am seeing a lot of momentum building towards stockpiling. As a clutterbug, I admit that it is comforting to have my security blanket of excess to snuggle up in. But what is that excess protecting me from? And better yet, what is it costing me?

In general normal non-clutterbugs stockpile to prevent fluctuations in cost from negatively affecting them. They buy extra stuff when the prices are low to last them through when prices are high. If you are a clutterbug, you probably think you are good at this. You are probably an expert at finding really good deals on things. You can probably list off a hundred times where you saved at least 50% off retail. But there is a difference between a stockpiler and a clutterbug. Stockpilers Save What They Use, and Use What They Save. They don't just buy things because they are a really great price. They also require that spectacular deal to be on something they actually will use. They can walk away from Buy 3, Get 3 Free because the product is not something they would ever eat 1 of, let alone 6.

There is a cute commercial for Discover cards that asks a bunch of people if they know how much they spent of coffee that day, and of course nearly everyone raises their hand. But when they are asked how many of them know how much they've spent on coffee all year, not that many hands stay up. How much money have we all spent on products we aren't using because they were good prices? How much money have we all spent on things that were donated or sold at a garage sale in practically brand new condition, if not actually in the original packaging?

When stockpilers buy extra things, it is like buying a high interest CD. It's a safe investment. They know it's going to pay off for them. When clutterbugs buy extra things, we're at best gambling, at worst diminishing our ability to aquire the things we really need when we really need them. You can't transform cans of off brand tuna fish into money when one of your car windows gets broken by a rock on the freeway. Yes, we can eat that off brand tuna fish. And if things get bad enough we'd think about it. But being honest with ourselves, would we eat the tuna or put the new window on our credit card and buy even more groceriers?

In 2009, I am working on getting my excess stuff down to reasonable, usable levels. I'm using what I have, and if something is really not ever going to be used, I am donating/selling/trashing it to get it out of here. When I'm out shopping, I work from a list that I make from things I need or plan to use right away. If something is a good price, I aks myself a few questions:
  1. Do I have room for this?
  2. Do I have a plan for using this in the next week, month, year?
  3. If this takes the place of something at home, am I ready to get rid of the one I have at home?
To be honest sometimes things go for a ride in my shopping cart, or for a walk with me around the store with me while I work those 3 questions out. But if the answer to even one of the questions is "no" then the item, no matter how fabulous of a deal it is has to stay in the store. Because money I spend on 75% off shoes is money I don't have anymore. It's money that can't become food, or mortgage payments, or gas, or even something really fun that comes up suddenly.

I am not 100% on this. I bought new underwear becuase I was on a work trip near outlet malls and there was a really awesome sale going on. I justified it as at least it was underwear which has joined my rotation. As far as unnecessary purchases go, it could be worse. But I think if I can win against that compuslion to buy an an unnecessary bargain most or even some of the time, then I'm on the right track.

Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to take out my money in cash so I could stuff it into mason jars and put it in the pantry. Then I could visually see all the saved money accumulating. Hehe, I could hoard money like Scrooge McDuck.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

I am not a very good blogger. I need to dedicate some time each day to actually writing my posts, instead of just throwing them together whenever I have time.

Well, today is Tuesday, so this is about money.

If someone calls you penny wise, you might think that it's a compliment. It sounds like they might be saying that you're smart with money. Well, actually it is a backhanded compliment. It means that you know how to save a few pennies, but that you choose the cheaper option, even when it is the worst option.

The challenge in life is to know when you need value and when you don't.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It pays the bills...

I have an interesting job in a field I like. I am also pretty good at what I do. But sometimes, it just sucks my will to live. Then on top of that I have a 50 mile commute. Each way. To say it is a struggle to find a work/life balance is an understatement.

Right now it isn't too bad because it's the beginning of the year and it's pretty slow around the office. All of January I should reliably be home by 7. Unless I want to exercise. And since I have some extra holiday pounds making my pants pretty tight, I think it would be a good idea.

So there is the dilemma. Do I want to push my come home time back to 8? Do I want to wake up an hour earlier to either go work out or go to work earlier? What about when work picks up again?

Unfortunately my employer doesn't want to provide onsight exercise options (which they have at the corporate office) and my YMCA membership doesn't include the Y close to my office (it's in a different county). I hate waking up early. I hate getting home when it's dark. I hate having no clothes that fit right. I just can't figure out what I hate the most.

I think as long as it's still winter and my lunch time yarn buddy is in Arizona, I will take a short lunch so I can leave early and then go exercise. I think that is a decent balance for now. I just wish the days would get longer already.