Thursday, March 31, 2011

Brooklyn Thrifting Heaven

How lucky am I to have a sister in Brooklyn? Best place for thrifting in the world!! Today's goal was finding a few things for her home here to make it as comfortable as possible before her baby boy is born in the next couple weeks. We found a large basket for front door shoe storage, a great tea tray that is going to be used for organizing either jewelry or something like that. We also found an amazing panel from a set of drapes. Suddenly we felt like making play clothes for a group of motherless children in Austria, but instead it will hang on a wall in her unfinished basement as we (I) turn it into a livable space for soon to be visiting family members. Now if only this little boy will come while I'm here! Otherwise I'll fill my time with thrifting and spending more than I should...what?

 A Suitable Basket
Brooklyn Tea Party 
Curtain Call

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Scrimp Chat: Jill Spills

Welcome to "Scrimp Chat" where I ask and some lucky reader tells. This week I sat down in Costco (on top of the beans and below the condoms)with Jill to talk a little about her spending habits. She's a single girl living in Portland, Oregon and is currently a full time student so those pennies must be pinched hard.  

Hello Jill! Would you mind giving a little background on your thrifty upbringing?
My mom is the Valedictorian of being thrifty. She did not make our clothes but I think that's only because we were very lucky to have an aunt who liked to outfit us, and to be a part of a church community that gave us a lot of hand-me-downs. I remember my mom using coupons, for almost everything. We had homemade bread (which sadly I did not appreciate at the time), homemade jams, homemade play-dough, the list could go on and on. When I was in high school my parents got chickens, and now they have so many eggs my mom tries to give them away sometimes. She also keeps a garden and cans so many fruits and veggies, seriously you would be shocked at her pantry.

Did any of your parents spending habits (good or bad) rub off?
Some of them did. But I also find myself buying snacks (other than pretzels or animal crackers) "because I can". But one good habit they passed on to me is not owning a credit card. I also don't feel like I need to by the name brands, I am totally ok with the store brands (except I love me some Jiff peanut butter)

How would you describe your spending habits now?
It's hard to say because even though I'm a "grown up" I am also a student. So right now in my pantry is some ramen noodles, Jiff peanut butter (that I took from my mom's pantry last time I was home), cans of tuna (also from my mom's pantry), and store brand popcorn.

What would you like to change regarding your monetary life?
Right now I would like to change just about everything. Because I am a student I'm not able to save like I used to be able to when I had a full time job. However that was one of my favorite parts of having a full time job- being able to save money every month. I set up an automatic transfer every month, and it's a good thing I did because there have been times when I really needed it. 

Do you have any scrimptacular tips you could share?
Sometimes when I think I want something I walk away from it just to make sure. For example: I have ring that I wear everyday, the first time I saw it I loved it. I wanted it. But, I walked away because it was more than I usually spend on rings. But, I kept thinking about that ring. So the next time I was in that area I went to the store to buy it...but the store was closed, so I walked away...still thinking about the ring. I went there again, specifically to get the ring (I couldn't stop thinking about it) but again, the store was closed. Now I knew I really wanted that ring. It had been about 3 weeks and I still was thinking about it daily wanting it, afraid that by the time I got back it would be gone and out of my life forever. It wasn't. On my third trip back I was able to purchase my ring, and I love it. I get so many compliments on it, and every time  I look down at my hands i love seeing it there, my left middle finger looks and feels like a nudist without it.
So, I guess what I'm saying is that if you want to buy something but it's more than you usually spend, walk away from it. And if you find yourself obsessing about it then you should probably go back and get it, it was meant to be yours. However if you don't think about it once you walk away then you'll have saved yourself some spending guilt later on.
Also, I recommend for most items never buy full price. Not even for underwear, there are always sales on things. Just don't try to buy underwear at goodwill or anything - that's just going too far - but there are plenty of things that are just as good if not better used. Like used bookshelves - better - that way you won't feel bad if you want to paint them or cover them in book pages. I won't buy things at full price (well except for my ring) I feel so much better when I spend the least amount possible for something I need/want.
I also think it's important to give yourself permission to buy something for yourself every once in a while just because you really want it. It might not be practical, it might not be necessary, but it might just make you inexplicably happy. And being happy is priceless. So if buying that ring/book/dress/pair of shoes/jacket/necklace gives you joy every time you look/wear/read it then don't feel bad for one second about spending your dollars on it. You're worth it.

Thanks Jill! It's been fun hanging out here in Costco with you but I think I'm about done with the strange looks from shoppers and I'm sure you've got studying to do...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Praying For Time

"Hanging on to Hope, When There is no Hope to Speak of"

Hope is a thing with feathers. I know this because it often flies away. We wonder where it's gone, if it will come back, what to do if it doesn't. Days can follow days that line up and up and up and still no feathers to be seen. The dreams of "someday" and "what if" stop and instead are replaced by sleepless hours of "never" and "what now". Today I want everyone, especially myself, to consider saving something other than money. The rainy day fund I would like to start is one of a non-monetary kind. Hanging on to hope. Filling a jar or a box or even just a pocket full of reminders that, given time, things will get better. This morning might find you on top of the world. Flowers are blooming and everything is going your way. Put a little memory of that in your hope savings account. A day will come when you'll need to make a withdrawal and if no deposits have been made, you'll come away empty. Imagine a bank full of small items that make you remember the good and magical parts of life. Morsels of times to taste during the famine. 

This treasure box of hope should be an actual vessel.Begin today by filling it with scraps of paper, theatre tickets, notes, receipts, photos. Fill it with items that make you smile, stones, pressed flowers, charms, memories. When the moment comes when you're sure you've run out of hope, open your box. Look at each thing you've saved and remember that time will keep ticking away. It always does. Hope may have flown the coop but you've held onto a memory of it to hold you over until it comes back. And it will come back.

Please gather your bits and scraps of hope and love today. You don't realize it perhaps, but the day will come that you're glad you started a hope savings account.

Hope is free and free is cheap.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Not Going Postal

Today began with a surprise from a friend. 
Ironically a gift in the post kept me from going postal.

 A lovely little Edward Gorey book called 
The Eclectic Abecedarium. It's perfect in every way and spoke right to my heart the way she knew it would.

And I know even so far apart she's still got her eye on me.
It's little things like these that remind me how important the people we love are.(oh Rebecca I miss you)

Let's all do something nice for someone we love today and every day. Nice is free and free is cheap.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'll Make It Myself: T-shirt Scarf

First I cut 6"x 6" squares out of random t-shirts I had already started cutting for other projects.  I ended up with 17 squares.

Step two was lining them all up and pinning them together. I wasn't very scientific about it knowing how it would just drape down when it's being worn meant I stressed less about the details.
After the squares were pinned, it was time to brave the sewing machine...I have a terrible habit of what I call "Pulling a Rachael" which is when I jam the sewing maching every single time I make something. It only happened once this time. So I just sewed a basic stitch straight(almost) down the lined up squares.
Voila! Recycled T-shirt Scarf.  I can't wait to wear this simple little scarf with a tank top and jeans maybe while I'm out riding my bike so It can blow in the breeze behind me.  You should try it too! I can't wait to try out other ways of dressing it up and playing around with this basic pattern. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

"Here in Status Symbol Land"

We care about what other people think. Some of us more than others, a few of us a bit less than some, and a handful of us barely at all. Then there are those that care so much it devours them whole. They morph from human beings to merely walking advertisements for all the things money can buy.  The blinding Cartier, the fabulous Mercedes Benz, the newest Lois Vuitton, the sky high Manolos, the striking Armani, the perfectly quaffed Shih Tzu...

These "status symbols" are merely items that usually aren't any better than their inexpensive counterparts.  They are simply a name. When did we start putting all of our self worth into the tag on our shirt and the brand of our shoes? It's hard to imagine, but there was a time people only acquired things based on need. Yes there was probably still that caveman with the extra large cave all the other brutes were a little jealous of. Probably a few pioneers pimped their wagons. Maybe an explorer here or there had the latest and greatest survival gear just in case he ran into that other guy in the wilderness. But, over-all I believe it's only now that the rich folks are throwing birthday parties for their kids that cost more than an average wedding. 

Take a walk in your neighborhood today. What status symbols do you see? Unnecessarily large vehicles? Houses big enough for three families that only house two people? Little dogs walking down the street with a smug look because they know they cost more than a tropical vacation? Now look again. Are some of these things within the boundaries of your own property? 

I admit I'm giving the drastic examples here to make a point, so let's step back for a quick second and talk about any of you reading right now patting yourself on the back because you clearly don't require any status symbols. Before you get too high and mighty, take a closer look at your life and tell me you don't buy some things simply based on how it will look to everyone around you. Next time you find yourself about to make a purchase ask who you're really buying it for. Is it for you, or is it for them? 

Let's all do a little soul searching today. Don't just scan the surface. Dig deep into that corner where the truth is hiding. Treasures may be found there and aren't we all just wannabe pirates?

May you all have a truly pleasant Sunday.
Pleasance is free and free is cheap.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Go Green to Save Green

We all want to save money and most of us want to save our planet (you there, the one that doesn't care about our lovely little Earth? go away).  The great news is that almost all of the things I've done to be kinder to my home are also things that save me money.  If ever there was a total win-win situation, I think this is it.  So on this greenest of all green days (you there, the one who doesn't look at the calendar, it's St. Patrick's Day. go put on something green).  

Here's a little list of things I've done recently or maybe have in the works (the works being my brain so no guarantees):

  • Ride a bike to your destination instead of driving or just for fun and exercise.  This week I've done both. I've ridden to the store for groceries and I've ridden out into the country for entertainment.  Pedaling as fast as I could down the sidewalk with the wind in my face and a giant field off to my right was the most alive I've felt in a long time.  
  • Eat vegetarian or even vegan if you think you're up to it.  You may wonder how this saves the planet but the amount of energy and water put into raising animals for consumption is over the top.  Just sayin.  
  • Re-purpose old clothes for new uses.  I'm making a few things out of old t-shirts that will be posts of their own soon.  One of the easiest is making re-useable shopping bags out of them by sewing the bottom shut, chopping off the sleeves and a bit of the neck.  Wait I'll just get you the tutorial link...hold on....        There you go!
  • Old towels that have seen their last shower can be cut up and used as cleaning rags.  Instead of going through a billion paper towels when It came time to clean my old apartment before moving out, I just tore up a few towels and used those instead.
  • Buy more "un-prepared" "un-packaged" foods.  I try to buy everything in bulk even if it means a half hour of cleaning and chopping at home.  Some things I do buy pre-packed but if I can do it myself for less, I opt for that.  

These are just a few random things I've done in the last few weeks but there are so many! Have any of you done anything lately that saved you money and was good for the planet? Please comment and share with the rest of the class.  

If you aren't wearing green, pinch yourself.  I'm too tired after all the vegetable chopping. The only thing I have the energy for is pinching pennies.

Pinching is free and free is cheap.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

it's like riding a bike...

I'm standing here on the ground
The sky above won't fall down
See no evil in all direction
Resolution of happiness
Things have been dark
For too long

I found a love I had lost
It was gone for too long
Hear no evil in all directions
Execution of bitterness

Message received loud and clear

Don't change for you
Don't change a thing for me

Don't Change - INXS

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Cleaning Fever

Spring has sprung in my new neck of the woods and I've suddenly caught that spring cleaning fever.  However, I have nothing of my own to clean unless I go clean my stuff in storage and that just doesn't seem as fun(okay it sounds a little fun but I refuse to be the crazy cleaning lady doing a spring cleaning in the storage units). Organizing is like therapy for me. I know, I'm a little crazy. Lucky for me, my lovely hostess says I can organize her home to my hearts content! Let the therapy begin...

This morning I did a quick mini refrigerator make-over. It only took me about 25 minutes. You don't have to spend an hour deep cleaning the monster, just take it all out and quickly dump the things that are bad, combine a few things that are taking up space (I combined two half full ketchup bottles and three bottles of partially used Ranch dressing). The shelves got a quick soapy water wipe down before I put everything back in.  I tried to group "like" things together as much as I could.  

(okay admittedly the pictures don't show the huge difference but TRUST ME it's there)

Now I feel like I've exercised the demons and can go about my day. I might need to go for a bike ride soon just to breathe in all that springy air.  I hope you find time to take a nice deep breath of fresh air today too.

Air is free and free is cheap.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Don't Stop Believin'

"Hold on to that Feeling"

One of my best friends in the universe is going through what may be the hardest time in her entire life. It better be. Nobody should be playing the game of life with the hand she's been dealt in the last six months. Another friend of mine told me this week that she feels like she's in so much emotional trauma that she is physically falling apart. When faced with life at its ugliest, how do we remember to keep believing in ourselves? How do we keep  our fists held tight around that sliver of hope? 

Emotional troubles can soon turn into full blown physical ailments if we aren't taking the time to address what's going on in our lives. Article after article in health magazines and online will tell you that stress quickly manifests itself as sickness of the body. Healthcare is one of the most expensive things we have to worry about in America.  After all, if you havn't got your health what have you got? I believe that the first step to saving money on medical bills is preventative maintenance. Take care of yourself. Some of you may feel like your family needs to come first. You wear yourself down taking care of the people around you until you get sick and can't take care of anyone. Be okay with taking an hour to go for a quiet walk or sitting with a book you've been dying to read. Maybe you find fulfillment in gardening or hunting down new awesome music online. Whatever it is that makes you smile again, do it! I'm here to tell you that you are worth it. You are amazing and unique and wonderful. Keep your soul healthy and your body may follow suit. 

To my friends out there fighting a hard battle right now I just want to say I love who you are. I find your strength a true inspiration. As you continue to believe in yourself, remember you are teaching those of us looking on that if you don't stop believing, neither should we.

Believing is free and free is cheap.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Picture This

It started with goodbye and ended with hello.  This week has been nothing short of life-changing. I'm still very busy trying to get all the puzzle pieces to fit together but thought I'd share my week in pictures.  After all, a picture says a thousand words and I really don't have the energy (or the time) to type up a thousand words.

"Goodbye. This is not Goodbye"

help me tell the truth you see
that's all i'm trying to do is
tell the truth
i'm not that shy
this is not goodbye
and later on i won't know how
i don't know who else to be
more and more i'm secretly just me
open your eyes

"On the Road Again"

Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends.

"Into the Great Wide Open"

Under them skies of blue
Into the great wide open
A rebel without a clue

"Welcome to the Jungle"

We take it day by day

"So Far Around the Bend"

Take a bath and get high through an apple
Wanted to cry but you can’t when you’re laughin’
Nobody knows where you are livin’
Nobody knows where you are"

Song Lyrics from top to bottom:
Over The Rhine
Willie Nelson
Tom Petty
Guns N Roses
The National

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Learning To Fly: Crash Landing

Every muscle in my body was screaming at me to stop.  None of my music sounded good anymore. Nothing on the radio.  Trying not to kill myself or on-coming traffic by playing Words With Friends (best free app on my phone!) but not knowing how else to fill up the hours left without losing my mind.  I'm happy to report I made it safe and unsound (if you knew me you'd agree) to my new home. Two days of driving full of chain gum chewing and trying to pace the liquid consumption all ended with hugs and a cozy bed.  

So did I learn anything I could share here with my fellow scrimpers? Traveling is NOT cheap so I asked my sister, Stephanie, to guest blog yesterday about a few things she had learned while on the road. I hope you all payed close attention because she knows what she's talking about! Aside from bathroom stall yoga i'm ready for a nice long R.V. trip now myself. 

Boredom is possibly one of the top reasons for needless spending. I fall victim to it especially when traveling whether its by train, plane or automobile.  Every gas station shop is full of wonders to delight the senses when you've been sensory deprived. Sunglasses call to me even on a cloudy day. I can't possibly leave without buying a new flavor of gum (like I said, chain gum chewer here).  Oh and don't forget the regular water and flavored water or soda and maaaaybe I can't live without trying to get that stuffed animal out of the claw machine. You know the one. 

The Ticket? BUDGET!

What I recommend is that you actually give yourself a little envelope of cash that is just for fun during your adventure. If you can afford ten dollars of fun along the way, make it last.  If you want to allow for fifty bucks of fantastic voyaging treats thats great! Just plan ahead and don't go over your limit.  

Figure out what you'd ideally like to spend on food and beverages along the way as well and keep track of your purchases so you're able to stick to your budget.  If you don't want to keep track, just stick your cash in an envelope for food and drinks.

Gas is going to cost you an arm and a leg so just chop those off now and get ready to hand them over in pieces at every gas station. 

Basically, I allow myself a little fun because any trip should be like a new adventure and there's no need to worry over every cent if you plan ahead of time and have already given yourself permission within limits.  This will free up all your thoughts for the more important things while seeing the world. Thoughts like, "I wonder If I'd make a good trucker", "Do I have to pee or am I just bored", "I wonder if I can drive with my left foot".

The best part about being on the road is all the thinking time.
Thinking is free and free is cheap.

the answers are: no, just bored, and yes

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Girly Travel Tips

Last year I spent three months on the road in a tiny RV and learned a thing or two about living in small spaces and out of campground bathrooms on a small budget. “Roughing it” brings to mind images of not showering for weeks and growing leg hairs that rival the farm animals you drive past. I found that you can still be a girl while roughing it. So here are some of my top tips for girls on the road.

RE-wearing clothes
Lets face it, you don’t really need to wash your outer clothes every time you wear them unless you spilled your lunch all over while driving or have a serious body odor problem. You can re-wear clothes for days saving you money on laundry and allowing for lighter packing. But honestly, no girl likes feeling like she is wearing the same old thing every day. It’s important to feel good about yourself even when you’re on the road. You’ll find it’s easy to keep wearing the same basic clothes while still feeling fresh and original if you bring dark simple colors that don't show the dirt and then accessorize them with different hats, scarves, belts, jewelry, jackets or sweaters to change up your look. Throw a bandana on over a messy updo. Roll up your pants, paint your toes red and wear flip flops. Grab a trucker hat and some cheap new sunglasses at your next rest stop and put it on over pigtails. That way if you end up driving back to the same campsite the next day, everyone won’t look at you in (what you imagine to be) horror at your repeat outfit. 

If you’re on the road for an extended amount of time bag up the clothes you’ve grown tired of wearing over and over and find a local thrift store to donate them to or get a few bucks for them, then find yourself a few new outfits for cheap. That way you get a fresh look and a souvenir while saving money.

Hand Dryers 
The campground hand dryer is your friend! Besides saving trees, here are some ways to put it to good use …
1. Dry your wet hands with it. Well, duh.
2. No place to plug in your hairdryer or you just didn’t bring it along (good for you!)? Get your yoga practice in for the morning while turning your head of wet hair under the hand-dryer. Yes, you will have to keep pushing the button but your hair will have more body than it ever has before once it’s dry.
3. When you are between laundry days and need clean undies, just wash the ones you wore into the shower with your shampoo and then dry them under the dryer. This is super fast and easy. Alternately, you can hang them somewhere in your car/RV to dry out as well.
4. On cold days when you just cant get warm there is nothing like pointing the dryer spout down your shirt or at your cold face and ears to get a quick warm-up. (Whiskey also does the trick but that’s another blog)
5. Are your shirt and pants wrinkled from last nights toss to the floor? You’re re-wearing your clothes which is big points for you, but in order to look a little more fresh you can hold the wrinkled parts under the dryer for a few seconds and, voila! No wrinkles!

Wet Wipes
Though not as green as one would like, they do come in quite handy. Get the flushable, generic ones and keep a small bag of them close at all times. When there is no time for a shower, or no shower in your campground, you can use these babies for a quick wipe down in a bathroom stall or in your vehicle. Bring along some smell-good lotion to rub on and no one, but you, will know the difference. These also come in quite handy if you need to clean up a small spill while driving. Face wash wipes can be lifesavers for those mornings and nights when you don’t have access to running water. If you want to be more creatively green, there are ways to make your own wet wipes, Google away.

Keep It Small
Girls typically have lots of things, girly things. It’s hard to get everything down to the smallest essentials and still have everything we (think we) need. I usually like to buy the larger versions of toiletries and cosmetics because I get more for my money. But when you are on the road its best to either buy small travel sizes of generic essentials or pack small containers of your favorite lotions, make-up and shower items. Many times campground showers are small and there is nowhere to set things. It’s best if you pack a small day bag with mini-containers of your essentials (a hanging one is best) so that you aren’t bringing an entire suitcase in with you every time you shower. You can always keep bigger bottles in your vehicle and keep refilling the small containers.

Try to think of different ways you can use one item and eliminate another. For example: Use lipstick as blush, shampoo can double as body wash, etc., be creative.

Last words of advice... leave the curling/flat iron at home (no one needs to be that girly!), find ways to style without it or wear hats. You'll have more time for the important things by eliminating time spent on things like this. Also, a lot of driving can leave your body feeling out of sorts. Its not all about how you look but also how you feel. Try to skip the salty snacks at the rest stops. Stop at a grocery store and stock up on fruits, nuts, raw veggies and water ... yes it's a pain to pull over every hour to pee but you will look and feel better if you stay hydrated (and no, soda's don't count). Finally, take a few extra moments when you stop and at night to stretch, walk and maybe even do some standing yoga poses. If you feel a little too shy to pull out your down dog in front of all the people pumping gas, find a bathroom stall. There are lots of different standing poses and breathing techniques you can do in a small space.

This blog dedicated to my sis Rachael, who is currently on the road.
— Stephanie

Sunday, March 6, 2011

All You Need Is Love

"Love is All You Need"

I used to be terrified of fire. I would lay awake and wonder what I would save if I woke and only had seconds to get out of the house because it was burning down. Even as a young person I found ways to keep myself awake at night.  When I was ten, the items I worried about saving were my favorite books and treasured gifts.  The list grew to add things I learned to value such as pictures, video's and other mementos. By the time I was in my late 20's, I had no idea how I could possibly save all the things I thought I could never replace if fire were to strike my home. Then I moved to California where fire is a real threat on a nearly annual basis.  I have now actually had the experience of packing up my car and evacuating my living space until the flames and smoke subsided. When it came time to choose what to take and what to leave, I realized that the only irreplaceable things weren't things at all but people. The people I love.  Last year I watched my own sister whittle down her earthly goods to only the things she could fit with her in a small R.V.  It was a long and difficult process but once she had rid herself of almost everything she'd acquired in her life thus far, she was finally free.  She cemented in my mind the idea that at a certain point the things we own end up owning us.  We buy big houses and find the need to fill them.  We buy fancy cars and need a garage to park them inside.  We purchase furniture and electronics and clothing and artwork and pots and pans and books and jewelry and and and...

If you woke in the night and smelled smoke, would you wonder how to get the giant flat screen out the door? Would you worry that you wouldn't have time to rescue your new Prada shoes? I doubt it. As the sun comes up today and you start to wonder where you'll go shopping on this lovely Sunday afternoon, I would encourage you to remember that all of that "stuff" you love to buy will never love you back.  

To quote my favorite movie which is really quoting a whole bunch of other stuff: 
"Love is like oxygen! Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong... All you need is love!" (Moulin Rouge)

Alright my dears, let's all make it a point this week to tell the ones we love how much we value them above all else in this world.  Go. Spread love.

Love is free and free is cheap.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Learning to Fly: Baby Steps

This morning I went for a walk.
I followed the path I've been taking for months.
I said goodbye to plants.
I said goodbye to houses.
I said goodbye to dirt and birds.
Today is full of endings.
Tomorrow is full of possibility.

Have a wonderful day everyone.
Possibility is free and free is cheap.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Learning to Fly: Cleaning Up

It's time to clean this place up before I leave it for the next inhabitant.  I don't like using toxic sprays and scrubs to clean with.  Seems sort of counterproductive to kill germs and replace them with harmful chemicals.  Do you have any idea how bad most of the things you use daily to clean with can be to you and your family? I highly recommend doing a little research and then trying to transition to natural ways of cleaning. It's proven that the natural cleansers are just as effective and usually they are cheaper and better for the environment too.  I'll give you a few easy ones I feel are good to start with and I tossed in a couple recent articles I found informative.  

All Purpose Cleaner
1/2 cup Borax
1 gallon hot water

Mix until the borax dissolves and then use to mop or wipe down (non wooden) surfaces.

Glass Cleaner
1/4 cup white vinegar 
2 cups of water

Mix and spray on glass surface to be cleaned.  Don't forget old newspapers work great for keeping it streak free!

Floor and Wall Cleaner
1 cup white vinegar
1 gallon hot water
optional: one teaspoon - 1/4 cup liquid soap
optional: pine or lemon scented oil (a couple tablespoons)

Mix it all together and wash those floors and even walls (wood is fine) as you normally would.  If you opt to add the liquid soap for a little extra cleaning power just use a clean water rinse after.

Don't forget to whistle while you work.

Whistling is free and free is cheap.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Just Breathe

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us." - Alexander Graham Bell

Sometimes life can become a little overwhelming and we have to take a self imposed "time out" to remember to breathe. In and out.  Just breathe.

Breathing is free and free is cheap.

Toss It !!

The Toss It Game

We all have Stuff.  Look around you right now.  If you're at home, almost everything your eyes rest on belongs to you.  Does it bring you joy?  Do you see the coffee mug on your desk and remember an afternoon spent with a friend in the best coffee shop you've ever been inside? Do you love the framed print of your nephew's hand that he made you in pre-school? What about the collection of books tumbling out of a basket in the living room? Are they all full of words you would devour over and over again? These are the types of questions you should ask yourself as we play a little game my friend Ashley so aptly calls the "Toss It" game.  It can be played anytime you feel the need to rid yourself of unwanted things that have found their way into your life.  I'm currently playing this game daily as I pack up for my big move, but I've been known to play it randomly throughout the year as I see that my clothes need weeding or my knick knacks are slowly building an army that would surely overthrow me as queen of the house.

First things first.  Put on awesome music that puts you in a frame of mind that is energetic and happy.  If you feel like making yourself a delightful beverage, do so before you get started.  Keep in mind that during this game things get thrown around and drinks that could spill and stain should be kept out of the way.

Next, pick the category of "stuff" you would like to go through. Now you must look at every item in this category and ask yourself some hard questions.  Some good ones to ask..

Do I use/wear/look at this item often?
Will I use/wear/look at it within the next few months?
Is it in good condition?
Do I love it?
Could someone else get more joy and use out of it?
Could I sell it?

That shirt you've been holding onto because it was such a great deal but frankly makes you look ridiculous? TOSS IT!  The book that was a gift from a co-worker that is full of pictures of cats in silly costumes? TOSS IT! The shoes that pinch your toes if you have to actually walk in them? TOSS IT! The sixteen different candle holders that have made their way to the top of your television but are not your style at all?  TOSS IT!  Are you getting the hang of it? You have to be pretty brutal and cutthroat about it.  Sometimes it helps to have a friend near to tell you that the shirt does, in fact, look ridiculous, that the book is horrible and the shoes are not worth the pain.  This friend may want to take some of these things off your hands too!

Oh ya, the biggest rule of the "Toss It" game is that you yell "TOSS IT" every time something gets tossed into the pile.

Once you've purged yourself of all the unwanted, unneeded, unloved, unworthy items and they are all looking at you so forlornly in a big pile you may wonder what to do with it all.  My suggestion is that you let your friends have first dibs, then re-sell anything you think will make you a few dollars.  Take clothing to a store like Buffalo Exchange or a consignment shop of some sort.  Everything else should be donated to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army store.  This week I've taken books to donate to my library, a load of knick knacks and such to the GoodWill and loaded up a few bags of things I know my good friend (self named hoarder)(you know who you are) wants.

Have fun playing and remember that the winner is always you! 

Playing is free and free is cheap.