Saturday, February 27, 2016

Depression Era Folks & Tools

For some reason old things just seem to find me.
It doesn't really matter if it's things or folks actually.
My friend Shirley used to say we were both born in the wrong century.
I told her we weren't, because if all those who said that
were born in whichever century they desired,
there would be nobody to appreciate that era today.
She just laughed and said she hadn't thought of that.
She passed away last March, and I still miss her dearly.
Though she, having lived through the depression,
appreciated even older and usually more decorative items (which I do as well,)
I appreciate the resourcefulness of those who lived, worked, 
and even found moments of joy during the depression.
Shown above: at top is a potato peeler, middle a pear corer, and at bottom a cherry pitter. 
I am particularly anxious to see if the cherry pitter works.
That chore is such a pain.
Weather it was farm implements or kitchen gadgets,
items seemed to be made to last from a construction standpoint,
they were user friendly, and served a valid purpose.

The other half of the Bob and Shirley duo was Bob.
He was born in 1920 and is the friend who shared some 
Depression Era Sustainable Ways with us which to date
is still my most popular post.
Bob passed away this month.
I feel like there is a huge hole within me and about me where they once were.
I don't mourn for them.
They each had a long and mostly happy life together~
married 72+ years!
I know he was ready to go join her in heaven. 
He said many times he thought God put him on this earth
 to take care of Shirley.
I do mourn my own selfish heart - wanting to keep them here with me.
Yes, I recognize my foolishness.
I know there was so much more knowledge they each had to share
if only I knew the questions to ask.
That's how it's supposed to be right?  
One generation passing their smarts on to the next in line.
I used to tell Shirley she was my wealth of knowledge and my most valuable resource.  She would tell me I was in trouble.
In so many ways they always will be with me, and my hope is
that someday I am able to be to someone else all that they have been to me.
(I am looking at some big shoes to fill.)
I have been pretty quiet in bloggerville as of late and
felt you all deserved to know why.
They had no living heirs so another long time friend and I
are trying to take care of things.
If you are new to this blog or if you just happened to miss them,
both of the links above share some wonderful wisdom you might enjoy.

I am beginning to sleep nights again, getting my feet back under me
and my head attached at top so hopefully I'll be back 
to posting a bit more regularly.
After all spring is almost upon us and
with it comes rebirth.
Let us see, appreciate, and make the most of it.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

On Saving Some Green ($)

Interestingly, a couple things happen when you delve into a topic and research what seems to be every book, site, and source on a subject.
I have done so much research on the topic of saving money,
I too could write a book - but I won't.
Instead, I'll just share a few things with you and hopefully
save you from filtering through the 
"quit drinking lattes" lectures and get to the valuable information.
If you don't stop to get a latte every morning
and you already eat at home and/or pack a lunch,
and have the thermostat so low you can see your breath,
then how do you save?
(Yep, that's the grocery money for the rest of the month.)
This has always been the first question that comes to my mind when
such advise is given.
The other thing that strikes me as odd
is when it is suggested that you buy a specific item rather than an
item that you are assumed to be buying currently.
Again this seems sideways to me.
That's not saving.  That's still spending.
There are a few things I've figured out.
This is a great spot for that disclaimer that states that
I am not a financial advisor,
nor am I an account nor a lawyer for that matter.
The other thing is that I am human and susceptible to flaws.
This is information that I have found and am sharing for you to ponder
and think about as it would pertain to you and your situation.
If saving is made difficult, 
your chances at failing sky-rocket immediately.
Why would you set yourself up for failure?
There are a few things you can do to simplify.
Paying yourself first might be okay.
If available, have a % of your check direct-deposited into an account
to which you do not have an ATM/debit card.
This is a great option, but you might be able to save more one
month than another in which case this system can be inefficient.
Next, have as few bills as possible.
Yes, I know this sounds like a 'duh' comment, but think for a moment.
Can you bundle your phone, TV, and internet?
Do you have more than one credit card? - consolidate if possible.
Can you have your power, bundled ph./TV/int. bills automatically paid
by your credit card?
That got your attention didn't it?
This might sound a little odd, but with some cards,
you get a small percentage back or in bonus credits.
Example: We have to drive to work 5 days / week.  We have a card
that for one quarter of the year offers an extra 5% off gas purchases.
During that time, we fill up in town and fill our barrel as well.
This card also gives us a small percentage back on all other purchases.
We pay it off every month!
That's the clincher - don't do this if you are already carrying a balance.
The other part of this step is psychological.
You see one lump sum and perhaps see what you can do to decrease
the number which is the step most resources discuss but without
the inspiration wrapped up in one tidy spot (your credit card bill.)
Managing this one bill is far easier than half a dozen.
And who wants to sit down to a pile of bills and
keep track of when they are due etc.?
For groceries, give yourself a realistic sum for the month
(or every two weeks.)
Stick that amount of cash in an envelope or your wallet 
with a paper clip so you know it's grocery money.
(In 2015, we spent $1500-2000 less than the average American household of our size on food.  I include things like canning jars and pressure cookers in my grocery budget, not just food so what we spend should decrease as we need fewer and fewer items.  We don't believe in meatless Mondays.  
We buy very few sugars/carbs/grains.)
That's it really.
You are essentially paying for groceries only 1-2 times per month
rather than multiple times for haphazard amounts that may or may not work out for you at the end of the month.
It again decreases the number of bills to keep track of.
All this said, if you look at your income as a whole,
these things comprise a relatively small percentage.
The two items that require the largest percentage of funding for most people
are housing and transportation.
Decreasing the amount you spend on these two items will save you the largest
percentage of money.
How to do that becomes personal; however,
there are a couple things you can consider.
Have you reviewed your insurance recently?
Can you combine home and auto insurance?
Yes, again with fewer bills.
If the assessed value of your home hasn't changed since before 2008,
you might carefully make a phone call to the tax accessors office - 
(if you are certain the actual value has gone down.)
Right size your home.
Are you an empty nester with 3 spare bedrooms?
If you have children at home, and think each child needs his/her own bedroom, have you ever stopped to think about why we believe that?
Boys in one room and girls in another is a simple solution
depending upon the ages, genders and number of children in the household.
I know moving isn't an option for everyone,
but thinking about the various costs of your home might bring to light ways to save on your largest expense category.
One other thing that has surfaced of late is to do a spending freeze
for one week or one month - whatever.
Here again, I see this as setting yourself up for failure.
What if you blow a tire?
It's not a bad idea as a whole, but why not set yourself up for success?
Rather ask, "How long can I go without giving those marketers any of my money?"  Ha! The challenge is on!
If it's 3 days, Wahoo!  Good job! Now try to beat that.
You might go 8 or 9 days, who knows.
What this does is trains your brain to think ahead and gets you into the habit of holding onto your money as long as possible.
Example: You have to get groceries today.  Is there a bill to pay, a part you need, something you know you will have to have on Tuesday?
Get it all done today.
By doing all errands in one day, you have an agenda and will be less likely
to lolly-gag or browse and won't have to go back to the store until you run out of (_fill in the blank_.)
Do what works for you, in your situation, where you live.
There is no one way that's right for everybody.
Set a goal and try for it.
If by chance, you don't quite make it, you're not a failure.

Keep at it, you'll be far better off than if you just throw in the towel.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mrs. Calabash~ All the Work We Cannot See

Some time back,
I shared my ol' sweet trailer with you.
If you missed that one, here is that post.
Mrs. Calabash
Over the course of the past year,
it would appear as though I have just 'dinked around' with her.
But let show you what goes into this 'dinking around' business.
She didn't look too bad, right?
That is until you dig in and begin the work.
The last post were the "before" pictures.
These are the "during" pictures.
I have a feeling the during part is going to be on-going.
She had been 'updated' sometime around 1990- remember that?
One of the first things I did was pull out the cream and 'country blue' floral linoleum that was peeling up on the edges and seams, because
they didn't clean the original floor first.
It was put in in sections and was not done under the table.
It also made the bathroom door scrape.
The little blue flowers don't really show in the photos, 
but they're there, I promise.
The floor underneath is actually in pretty decent condition
and is much more neutral.
All of the cupboards featured a "lovely" 
(read tacky, low quality, poorly applied, stained, and dried out)
country blue tack paper.
This came out little piece by little piece.
If it were better quality, it might have at least come out in larger pieces.
Removed the plastic strip along here.
That little ladder rail that was there fell off - it was only hot glued on.
There was also country blue carpet hot glued to the shelf.
It's not there any more either:)
We knew the pump ran, but when we put water in the tank,
and turned on the pump, it sprayed water out the seal.
This is the picture I took before I pulled it out & cleaned etc.
I do that so I know which wires go where in case I need that reference.
The pump is now re-sealed and works properly.
I then went to drain the tank from the outside.
A little drip/trickle came out.
It took all day for the tank to drain.
Once drained, I removed the faucet, cleaned the corrosion out,
removed a ratchet head piece (I'm guessing fell in the tank and worked its way down,) replaced the faucet, and retested.  Works great now.
And last but not least. . . .
I have to say, I have a more intimate relationship with the potty
than I would like to admit.
I have disassembled and reassembled it.
It still has a drip, but at least water doesn't just run right through it.
It is functional:)
As a treat, I got an exterior black water holding tank.
Where we camp, there are no hookups so in order to use the potty,
we needed a holding tank.

I'm going to be a little ornery and stop here.
I'll show you 'after' pictures next time.
I know - cruel indeed.
It is amazing though, all the work involved that is really unnoticeable.
I think there are a lot of things like that.
We don't recognize the efforts of others, because we haven't
been there to witness the hours of labor.
That's just one of those silly things I think about on occasion.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Just a Note

Hello my friends.
Just a quick note to let you know I haven't dropped off the face of the earth.
I am working on some site updates
and having a few issues.
Sorry for the repost.
I should hopefully be back on track within the next day or two.
Thank you for baring with me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Decluttering Benefits ~ Dos and Don'ts

A few years back, I went through and did what I referred to as 
"cleaned to the corners"
at which time, I did get rid of quite a bit of 'stuff.'
It felt good to know things were clean and in order.
But there was always more.
Since then, we have inherited items from passing grandparents,
been gifted items for holidays, and brought other items 
into our home just by breathing in and out it seems.
Generally speaking, our house hasn't appeared really cluttered
with knick-knacks and dustables, 
but to us it began to feel that way.
A few months ago, a phrase came to me.
I don't know if it's something I once read or if God just put it there,
Make room in your life for the things you desire.
it has stuck with me like PB on the roof of my mouth I might add.
Please note, I am not a minimalist (nor a hoarder)
and have no desire to be either.
I don't want to live in a tiny house or only own 100 items.
My canning and food preserving items would make short news of that number.
But like I said, something clicked or resonated.
I began to "look" at items - really seeing them.
I have items from my youth (they aren't either antiques!)
They serve me no purpose, and I just keep them packed.
Why?  Because that's what I've always done.
I had middle school year books from before we moved out of state.
I don't even know those people, but I've packed those books around
for however many years.
They simply went in the garbage.
My high school year books, I didn't want to just throw away.
Within a week of getting them out, I ran into a classmate
I hadn't seen in a long time.
He was a transfer-in about our junior year so I asked if he would like them.
He was thrilled.  He said his ex-wife had taken his.
That's just one example of many.
I now have space between my clothes, several empty shelves
in the kitchen cupboards, as well as more floor space, and only enough 
books to fit in the bookcase.

A couple of scenes of the
"during" stage.
You'll be glad to know,
it no longer looks like this.

So what is so remarkable about all this?

Think for a moment if you will about how many organizing and cleaning
solutions you routinely encounter in the way of products, books, magazines, containers, paid professionals, etc.
When you have only the things you love and use,there really is no organizing to do other than keeping like with like.
(Clothes in the closet, food in pantry and so forth.)
Things just seem to fall into place.
Clothes make it onto hangers or into drawers,
dishes get done and put away, surfaces are clean,
and within, there is a peace that is difficult to explain.
The never-ending and foreboding to-do list gets such a haircut,
it's the whole "weight off your shoulders" cliche.
Picture a counter top piled with stuff.  If your mission is to wipe off the counter,
all of that stuff must first be dealt with.
Now picture a cleared counter top and think how easy it is to wipe it off
with the damp towel as you go to throw it in the hamper.
That's the difference physically, mentally, and emotionally.
If you're having troubles getting rid of certain things 
you know you don't need, try asking yourself,
"If I had a friend who lost everything and I knew he/she wanted it,
would I give it to him/her?"
If yes, then deep down, you are really okay with letting it go - for free even.
If you sell it for even a fraction of it's worth, you are doubly ahead.
One other thing that is often promoted in books about decluttering
is that if you are undecided about something,
put it in a box and if after 6 months you haven't opened the box
then get rid of it.
Do not try this!
It will just become a box of clutter and it won't bring you peace because, 
you will dread the day you have to decide weather or not to get rid of it.
If there is truly an item you are undecided about, set it on the kitchen table.
It will be there with you at every meal so you will really have to 
recognize your ownership of it.
If you love it, you will keep it.
If you don't, it will go and you will be okay with it because
you made that decision.
You will be at peace, because you have made the decision
and don't have to dread making it 6 months from now.
 If you are feeling like you are up against road blocks, look around.

Are you making room in your life for the things you desire?

Mr. LB and I have goals and things we enjoy both together
and as individuals.  Removing the barriers allows us to focus
more thought, energy, resources, and time on those things we deem important.
We had a huge yard sale this weekend (it poured all day.)
I have a car full of things to go to the bargain counter.
There are some larger items still out in the shop.
Mr. LB asked if I wanted a couple of the things back in the house.
It was hard not to yell "NO!"
It's all going one way or another.
Some decisions have been more difficult than others,
and I still have a few more things to go through,
but it's manageable and doesn't seem so overwhelming.
Now our house can breath, and 
we too can breath.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches