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Archive for December, 2016

decluttering is hard to do

December 27th, 2016 at 05:42 pm

Don’t take my stuff away from me, don’t you leave my heart in misery. Smile

During my holiday break, I’m attempting to tackle some mounds of clutter that have accumulated in my house over the past 12 years. It is so hard for me to get rid of stuff!

In a recent post, I shared photos of boxes in one of my closets and commenters wanted to know what was in them. Well, those boxes mostly contain piles of unmade decisions.

Of course, I’m breaking all of the cardinal rules of decluttering. My house is a disaster as I move from one area to another pulling stuff out and sorting. I just can’t focus on one thing at a time although I know I should. Oh well – it is what it is, as they say. Smile

Something I struggle with is the fact that I want to donate and toss everything, not try to sell any of it. I feel guilty that I’m not trying to make some money and that I’m taking the easy way out or something. But, I know that I won’t ever get around to selling and, honestly, nothing is worth much. I’m trying to focus on the time and space that I will gain and feelings of freedom and relief. I’m also trying to let myself feel sad and disappointed about the money that I may be missing out on. There are pros and cons to each way of decluttering. Getting stuff out of the house is my main goal. I admire my fellow bloggers who sell items on eB@y and FB and at yard sales. At this point, I just can’t wrap my head around organizing any of that.

I also worry that once I clear out the junk, I will have the head space to deal with selling and then I’ll be disappointed that I don’t have anything to sell! It’s a vicious cycle that spins in my head.

So, I’ve made the decision to donate usable items. There is a consignment shop in a nearby town where I thought about taking some decent clothes, but it turns out that they only give store credit, not cash, for sold items. There are consignment shops in the closest city to me, but it’s almost an hour away and I don’t get there much these days. So, I’m going to split my stuff between three thrift shops in the town where I work. One supports the local hospital, one gives grants to local non-profits and one helps families in need. So, I will at least be giving back to my local community with the donations. Oh, and I have a few items to donate to the local animal shelter, too.

If I can acknowledge and then tolerate my uncomfortable feelings about “giving it all away” and do it anyway, then I will be free! I have to get things moving along – I’m stuck in so many ways and time is flying by. Life is short.

If anyone reading this has decluttered by donating and tossing rather than selling, please share your experience in the comments. I don’t know why I’m struggling with this scenario, but I am and I’d love to hear others’ stories.

Part of the problem is I imagine that if I lose my job, then I will regret not having the discarded items to wear, use or sell. I seem to be missing the belief that I can persevere and take care of myself no matter what happens in my life.

A few years ago, I got rid of a bunch of stuff by using a personal organizer whom I paid to help me sort and discard, and I seemed to have lived through that experience. Now that I think about it, once the items are gone, I probably won’t remember any of them since my post-50 memory is not as sharp as it used to be. Smile

OMG, my mind is still arguing with me about the consignment clothes…keep them and take them up to the town that has consignment stores. I also started to look on line for places to sell books and CDs. Most of my book titles aren’t sellable and the CDs would net about .40 each. I don’t have that many, so I don’t think it is worth my time to punch in the IBN or barcode for each item.

I’ve been going through clothes and toiletry articles and some boxes with papers and other various junk.
So far, I have gathered:

One bag of garbage and a small box of recycling that I will dispose of on Saturday

One bag of clothes and shoes to donate to local thrift shops

One bag of worn out clothes for textile recycling

I have to go to town for an appointment on Thursday and will drop those two bags off during that trip.

I also have a big box of clothes that I would have tried to consign and am now deciding what to do with.

I feel kind of embarrassed to share all of this drama and craziness, but this really is a very difficult challenge for me. I’m hoping that I’ll read this post next December and realize that not only did I accomplish my goal of doing some decluttering and my house is easier to live in, but that I survived giving the stuff away (and without the potential extra money) and that I’m ok. And, that if any feelings of loss, sadness, regret and anger about it surfaced over the year, that I felt and accepted them with compassion and kept moving forward as much as possible.

Back to sorting! Smile

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, etc.!

December 25th, 2016 at 11:30 pm

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable holiday season in whatever way you celebrate.

I spent most of the weekend relaxing by the tree with my cat. Smile

It is very late here and time for bed. To all a good night!


my christmas tree 2016


my sweet pea loves the tree!


christmas joy, 1965 style Smile





How is the weekend already over?!

December 11th, 2016 at 09:28 pm

Weekends go by way, way, way too fast. Frown The last two days were fairly productive and relaxing. I was mostly home, puttering around while listening to Christmas music and playing some on the piano. I love Christmas music!

As planned, today I prepared food for the week. For lunches, I made four salads (Thursday is a holiday lunch out at work) – lettuce, spinach, red cabbage, carrot, celery, baby bok choy, and shredded beet.



I will add a piece of roasted sweet potato and some chunks of feta cheese (had both on hand) to each salad and dress with a basic Italian that I bought Friday on sale.

For breakfasts, which I don’t always eat, I’ll chop up hard boiled egg and serve with steamed broccoli and carrots over cooked oats with olive oil, salt and pepper. I cooked the eggs and washed and chopped the veggies, so they are all ready to go. I also washed off grapes to use for snacks.

For dinners, I created some vegetarian pea soup. I cooked the split peas in water, but then dozed off and they scorched! Thankfully, I caught it in time and was able save most of the peas. I added more water to create a broth. I tried something different by roasting in the oven chopped onion, carrot and celery drizzled with olive oil and adding the mixture to the pea soup. It tastes great! I’ll eat this over sorghum that I also cooked today. I might sprinkle on some paprika for a smoky flavor. I was happy to use up celery and an onion that were almost past their prime. I also roasted some old Brussel sprouts and squash seeds that I’ll use for snacks.

After making the pea soup, I realized that I had some black beans in my fridge that needed to be used up soon. So, I sautéed chopped carrots and celery in coconut oil, added the black beans and their liquid and lots of cumin, thyme, salt and pepper. After heating, I spooned it over some of the sorghum and stirred in fresh spinach, chopped scallions and feta cheese. It was pretty good – I love cumin. I’ll eat the rest of that concoction tomorrow night and then the pea soup starting on Tuesday evening.

Since I brought home some free desserts from a holiday party last night, I decided to forgo making an apple crisp as originally planned. I don’t need more dessert options than I already have. I thought about making applesauce, but just didn’t want to spend the time.

So, I’m excited to have healthy food prepared which will save time and money this week and should last into the weekend. I need to work on shortening prep time, though. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen today – prepping, cooking, and cleaning up. Ugh. I can see why people spend money to eat out. It’s so much easier! I recently bought an instantpot, but haven’t had the energy to break it out of the box and learn how to use it. That might help.

I imagine part of the problem is that my kitchen is very inefficient and so am I. I need to bite the bullet and start the process of renovation. I’m considering taking out a line of credit (not sure if that’s the correct term). I have money in savings that I could use, but I don’t want to lessen my liquidity. When I read other blogs, it seems like people with loans are super motivated to put all available money towards paying them off, which might be a better option for me than saving the full amount needed in advance. I’d probably end up using some savings to pay off the loan, but only if I felt ok about it. Having the goal of paying off a loan might help me to focus on my money management. I’ll have to ponder this.

While I’m thinking about healthy food prep, I’m making a note to myself here that I haven’t been sick yet this fall/early winter. I’ve seen a lot of colds and other illnesses going around, but so far I’ve been very lucky and haven’t caught anything.

I finally tackled Christmas tree decorating this weekend. I put up the tree right after Thanksgiving and did the lights, but have not had the motivation to hang the ornaments.



Oh my, I didn’t realize that this photo was so blurry!

I was hoping to do some decluttering this weekend, but I didn’t. I got rid of garbage and recycling from some sorting I did in the past few weeks, so that’s something! I also straightened up my office, which was a complete disaster (embarrassing photos below!). It’s much more functional now, but it’s kind of a false scenario. I have done this many times – organized my office, but without getting rid of anything. I shove items into boxes with the intention of sorting later, but never get around to it. I eventually revert back to messiness and the cycle starts again. Having the office tidy feels good and gives me a clear space to start sorting, but now I need to commit to starting the process – a little at a time. I struggle with letting go of stuff – I can always come up with a good reason to keep something.


office before

office before

office before

before

before

office after

office after

office after

reality - so many boxes of junk to be sorted!

It’s supposed to snow up to six inches tonight and tomorrow morning, which reminds me that I haven’t put my snow tires on yet. Darn. I was going to venture out into the shed this weekend to find them. I’ll have to remember to do that this week and to make an appointment. If the roads are dicey, I’ll work at home in the morning, which is fine with me. Smile

Yikes, it is really late and I should go to sleep!


foodstuffs

December 10th, 2016 at 07:52 pm

The past few weeks have been very busy and stressful at work, so I am glad it’s the weekend. My company’s holiday party was this evening. I met up with two friends and their husbands. We had a nice time and the buffet dinner and beer/wine bar were delicious (and free!). I came home with some yummy desserts to enjoy later. Smile

Like CCF, I’ve been avoiding stores recently! In my case, food stores are my downfall. I find it very easy to buy food – it’s comforting, familiar and fun for me. But I end up wasting a lot of food and money. So, I’ve been staying out of my favorite food stores and eating what I have on hand. But, I was running out of fresh veggies, so I went shopping last night after work at the local health food store.

I bought salad ingredients for this week’s lunches. My small department will go out for a holiday lunch on Thursday, so I will only need four salads total. I was out of dressing and my favorite was on sale, so I got a bottle. I will probably buy a few more before the sale ends. I also bought some cumin, chili powder and thyme in the bulk spice area.

A few weeks ago, I bought some organic red grapes at my local health food store and they were terrible – very strange tasting and bitter. I finally remembered to talk one of the produce people last evening and she suggested that I take two bags for free to make up for the inconvenience. I knew that I couldn’t use that many grapes, so I asked if I could take one bag of grapes and something else. I ended up with four organic red pears and two organic kiwis. That’s a lot of free fruit! Well, a lot of fruit for $4.79 which is what the original grapes cost. I also took two free clementines from a plate of fruit that was left in the lobby area of my office yesterday.

I also finally remembered to return some shampoo and conditioner that I bought on sale a few months ago. I didn’t like them at all! Thankfully, I had the receipt and was credited $10.68 toward my grocery bill. Yay!

I had a rain check from September for organic olive oil for $9.99, so I got two bottles since I’m almost out of olive oil. I checked to make sure there wasn’t a better sale before using it. I learned that the rainchecks for this store never expire. Unfortunately, I recycled a small pile that I found in my office recently because I figured that they were too old to use. Frown

I purchased four cans of food – kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas and corn, all organic, for a food drive at tonight’s party. There were a lot of donations which will help the local food shelf.

There was a local brewer serving samples of his beer, so I tasted four different varieties.

After I finished shopping at the small health food store, I went to the larger grocery store to get local butter, which I thought would be on sale. It wasn’t, so I returned to the first store and bought one stick of organic butter for an apple crisp that I want to make. I found two dollars on the floor in front of the register – yay! Then I found a penny as I was leaving the store. This morning I scrounged up .49 to add to the found $2.01 to pay for my $2.50 trash disposal fee. Smile

Grocery purchases (all produce and olive oil is organic):

2.99 lettuce
2.47 half a head of local red cabbage
0.64 baby bok choy
1.50 local spinach
0.48 one local carrot
2.00 broccoli

free red grapes
free two kiwis
free four red pears

3.75 raisins
0.62 bulk spices

19.98 two bottles olive oil
2.69 salad dressing

6.16 four cans for food drive

2.99 favorite Belgian butter (only available once a year and was told they were sold out last time I was there. Saw one package last evening, so I snagged it – so delicious!)
1.50 stick of butter

(10.68) returns

37.09 TOTAL

After shopping, I went home, heated up some free frozen flatbread-style pizza from a work event last week and steamed the last of my cauliflower and broccoli from the last time I went shopping. I also had some leftover popcorn and a chocolate cookie that I saved from a holiday stroll the night before. The town where I work hosted a holiday evening on Thursday. Stores were open until 8 and many offered special deals and served snacks and drinks. I, of course, wandered around for the snacks and drinks. 

This morning I prepared a crispy fried egg served over oats with steamed broccoli and carrots for brunch, had some popcorn for an afternoon snack and then enjoyed a big dinner at the holiday party.



I’ve been eating homemade applesauce that I got from a friend last week and free cider left over from a recent work event. I think I’ve figured out how to keep cider from fermenting so quickly – keep the lid off in the fridge – seems to have worked this time.

I have been successful at packing lunches for work most of this year! This really helps me to save money and maintain my weight. I hope to continue this trend. It helps if I prep food in advance each week, but that doesn’t always happen.

Tomorrow, I’ll make the salads for work and perhaps a small pot of pea soup with ingredients I already have on hand. I’ll cook a grain (maybe sorghum?) and maybe make an apple crisp with some of local apples that I have in my fridge (free from a few work events and a friend’s tree). I did just have to get rid of about six spoiled apples that I never got around to using. I’ll also hard boil some eggs and wash and chop broccoli and carrots so that they are ready to go when I need them. That should take care of food for the week. Smile

weekend in nyc

December 8th, 2016 at 11:07 am

I took a fairly spontaneous trip to New York City this past weekend and did it as frugally as possible! The main reason for my visit was to see an Annie Leibovitz photography exhibit, which I’ve known about for a year as it traveled the world, but it is only in NY from November 18 – December 11. Such bad timing with Thanksgiving and the holiday season in that window! This weekend was the only chance for me to go.

I haven’t been to the city during the holiday season since the 1980s, so I thought it would fun to go for the exhibit and then walk around and enjoy the festive atmosphere. A friend was tentatively going to join me, but she had to cancel, so I decided to go by myself. The best way to get to NY from my area is to drive anywhere from 1 hour to 5 hours and then take a train into the city. For an overnight trip (it’s just a tad too far to make a day trip worthwhile), the best option is to drive for 2.5 hours and then train for about 2.5 hours. But since I made my travel plans so close to the weekend, the best train times were either very expensive or sold out. So, I opted to drive to a commuter town closer to the city and take a train from there. Parking at the station is free on weekends, and the ride costs $8.75 one way and is just under an hour.

I didn’t want to invest a lot in lodging and thought I would have to stay outside of the city. But, after some research, I found a room in a basic little place in Chelsea that had good reviews. One drawback was shared bathrooms, but it was significantly cheaper than the cheapest hotels with private bathrooms. I opted to pay $10 extra for the choice to cancel up until 6:00p the day before in case I changed my mind about taking the trip. The total cost for the room was $168.74 including all taxes. It worked perfectly for my needs, was in a great location and I liked it! Very clean and the staff was friendly. My room was Spartan, but the young owners made the place as hip as possible so there was some creative flair.

I practiced packing light, which is difficult for me! I wanted to walk from Grand Central to my lodging and was able to utilize the backpack that I bought for a walking trip in Portugal that I took in October. This was so much nicer than dragging luggage through the city. The hotel room had a fridge, so I took some food that I already had on hand – two salads, rice and roasted veggies, hardboiled eggs, apples, applesauce, peanut butter, and some walnuts, almonds and raisins.

Leaving my house on Saturday morning at 7:00a, I drove 4.5 hours to the train and was in the city by 12:45p. I love New York! I exited the station and started walking down Park Avenue taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the city. The first time the Empire State Building comes into view is always exciting. It was a gorgeous brisk sunny day. I strolled around for a bit and stopped to eat one of my salads at a café table on Herald Square across from Macy’s, which was all decked out for Christmas.



I found my hotel, checked in (my room was ready early), dropped off my things and headed back out. I walked along the High Line, then down into the Village. I wasn’t going to eat any meals out, but decided to splurge on a burger and a beer at The Spotted Pig in the West Village. I’d heard that their burgers were really good, but that the place gets crowded. I was able to snag an empty window stool and just made the cutoff before the kitchen closed at 4:30p to prepare for dinner. The burger was delicious and the fries were amazing – super thin shoestring fries with garlic and rosemary. The local beer was good, too. Yum! I filled up fast and took the leftovers to go. Total cost of the meal was almost $42.93. In retrospect, I wish I had skipped this meal or just ordered fries and a beer and put the money towards something else that would have brought me more joy than eating out.


A rare unoccupied section of the High Line





I then walked over near Chelsea Piers to the photo exhibit, which was free. It was mostly digital, which was fairly disappointing, but I enjoyed it. I left when it closed at 7:00p and returned to my room for a quick bathroom break. Then I headed back out and walked up to Times Square to marvel at the over-the-top media, then on to Rockefeller Center to see the tree, enjoy a light show at Saks Fifth Avenue, and walk through Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. So many people! Everywhere I went, the streets were packed, but I noticed that I didn’t see one incident of aggression, arguing, or rudeness. I then headed back to my room. By this time it was about 11:00p. I was exhausted after walking all day. I wonder how many steps would have been recorded if I had a fit bit? Smile


times square


light show at saks


cool dress - saks


the tree


offering candles at saint patrick's cathedral



The next morning I slept in for a bit, then relaxed in my room and ate my other salad and an egg for brunch. I packed up my stuff and checked out around 11:30, leaving my bag with the front desk. I then walked over to the Fifth Avenue and then up to Central Park, about 30 blocks. So many fun window displays! I noticed lots of police as I got closer to the park and realized that I was going to pass Trump Tower. I decided to go in, through all the security of course, and check it out. Yuck.


ny public library lion decked out for the holidays


saint patrick's by day


dolce & gabbana display


i need new sneakers!


central park

I then continued on to the park where I strolled around for a bit before catching the subway back to my hotel. The subway cost $3! I found a dime in the change slot when I got my receipt from the ticket machine, but then I lost a dime in my car yesterday! I felt old as I remembered when the subway used to be a dollar. Smile I grabbed my bag and walked back to Grand Central for the train out of town. Then I had a very long 4.5 hour drive back home. In the dark. Yuck. At one point, I stopped for some fries at McD’s.

I really enjoyed my time in the city, although I miss the grittiness of 80s New York – it’s pretty tame and homogenized now. The consumerism around Christmas was intense!

I broke my 23-day no-sugar streak last week with some really good (free!) cookies left over from a work event. I got a craving for a chocolate caramel candy bar on the walk back to my room on Saturday night, but didn’t pass any drugstores. There was a 7 Eleven on my block, so I spent $2.60 on a small candy bar. The next day I found a 2 for 1 sale on a bigger size of the same candy bar at a drugstore. Well, 2 for 1 if you had the store’s courtesy card, which I didn’t, but the guy at the register gave me the deal anyway. Smile I ate one on my walk to the train and on the train and the other during my long car ride, but the caramel had leaked and the bar stuck to the wrapper so it was hard to fully enjoy. I should have skipped all of the candy bars and ate the apples and nuts that I brought with me! I did start no sugar again this week and am on day 4. My work holiday party is Saturday, so I will break it again if the dessert selection is worth it. Smile

I tallied up my expenses and my weekend cost just under $300 – not bad for 24 hours in NYC!

42.87 gas
17.50 train roundtrip
11.10 highway tolls
3.00 NYC subway

1.00 lit candle in St Patrick’s

168.74 lodging

43.00 Saturday early dinner
5.53 3 caramel candy bars
2.82 McD’s fries on ride home

1.17 Repub Wireless temporary data upgrade (my phone plan costs 11.47/month for cell calls and text, but only wifi for data. I upgraded to a 3G data plan for the two days for only $1.17. Was so convenient to have full data while finding my way around the city).

TOTAL SPENT 296.73