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garbage money , free shoping spree, and other musings...

April 22nd, 2011 at 01:04 pm

The new house is working out swimmingly. We met the parents who have an adjoining unfenced backyard. Love them. They are totally on the same page with us, and their kids are only 2 years older than ours. They have played together for hours in our (now shared) yards for two days in a row. It's very nice!

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At our old house, garbage was free and we had to pay $11 a month for recycling. At our new house, recycling is free, and we have to pay $2.90 for every 35 gallon trash can we put on the curb every week. Yard waster bags also cost $2.90 each.

I'm not thrilled at the prospect of paying per can, but I am excited that I live in a place that has it's priorities straight. They give you a really clear incentive to compost and recycle.

So, of course, all of this got my wheels turning about how we can reduce our waste. I'm finding I think about the money I will have to pay, ever time I drop a garbage bag in the can.

That said, I am trying to come up with some simple and effective composting options. We have a small, drum composter for household items, but we screwed up our first batch and it has to be disposed of. I'm willing to give it another try, especially now that there is money on the line. We produce a lot of plant waste in the summer, thanks to our farm share and the garden, so this could save us some dollars. And, we'll produce a lot of leaves in the fall, and composting them somehow will also save money.

We're already pretty heavy recyclers, so I'm not sure there is anything I can improve there.

In a weird way, I'm kind of excited about the challenge, especially because I can put actual dollar amounts on our savings. This is also in line with our values as far as reducing the clutter and waste in our own lives.

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I'm trying to come up with a new menu of healthy, home-cooked lunches and dinners that the kids and I can eat. Part of buying this house is belt -tightening, as in less eating out and take-out. And, I really want us to have healthier diets. I feel like the kids eat too much processed and junk foods, and I'm finally to the point that I feel like we need a serious change.

Do any of you have any tips for meals, or places to find meal ideas?

In the meantime, I have used a dry erase board for our weekly schedules and dinner menus. I'm going to add a line for lunch menus as well, so I don't always feel like I am scrambling to feed them when 11:30 a.m. rolls around.

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The decluttering is going REALLY REALLY well. Almost too well, as the current stash of boxes destined for goodwill will take more than one car trip. And I'm not even finished unpacking. I don't know why, but change of scenery has made it so much easier to get rid of things, and to really really assess what is important and what we'[re just hanging onto for some other silly reason. I think the "Clean House" crew would be very happy with me.

Organization is my big kick in the new house. I've already installed more metal shelves and drawers than I ever had before. I don't know why I never did it in the other house. Even just a few of them has made the spaces so much more functional. Our kitchen is actually smaller, but thanks to clever use of existing space and decluttering, we have empty cabinets. It feels really nice. Peaceful, almost!

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Designed to Sell starts Saturday. I'm renting a steam cleaner to do the rugs and carpets in the other house, and buying all the paint. I don't know how far I will gt, considering it's a holiday weekend, but even if I just get the carpets cleaned, that will be a start!

The big weekend of painting, cleaning and repairing is the following weekend. Then, a week later, I plant some flowers and get the last electrical project finished (box replacement, to pass inspection), and we should hopefully be ready to list. Best laid plans, though.

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I also just got a new bookcase for the kids, for almost free. Our kids' books are out of control-- taking over. In pile everywhere. We have one small bookcase that has canvas pockets so the books face out and the kids can see the covers. That one works great. But the two others where the books are spine out? Not so much. They just pull all the books off until they find one they want. Not working. So, I bought another one--albeit larger, canvas pouch-style one on Amazon. It was $45, free shipping, but I had tons of free gift cards built up from Swagbucks, so I only had to pay $1.99. Sweet deal.

Hubby and I also realize we have hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards in a box in my closet, and it's probably time we started spending them. The house always needs little things, so why not use up the gift cards, and feel like we're treating ourselves, even though we are on spending crack down?? Two of them -- $100 each at our favorite retro 1960s steakhouse-- we are saving for anniversary and to celebrate the night we sell our other house (whenever that may be).

So yeah, I guess we are planning a free shopping spree, starting tonight, when I hand over three gift cards hubby can use to buy his favorite gourmet fancy-pants coffee.

8 Responses to “garbage money , free shoping spree, and other musings...”

  1. patientsaver Says:

    Hundreds of dollars of unused gift cards sitting around?? Oh my, I can't let one go unspent more than a few weeks after receiving it. I mean, what if the place goes out of business?

    On the recycling and garbage fees, either way, that's cheap! In my CT town you have 2 options for garbage: spend $80 for an annual sticker to access the town landfill, or pay a private hauler about $30 a month to pick up your trash, and when I did that, I was limited to what would fit in 2 trash cans; anything more was extra.

    Recycling here has always been free.

  2. ceejay74 Says:

    I'm so glad to hear you're excited about your new home, and things seem to be going very well! I know AA is much younger and so I don't know what I'll feed her when she's your kids' age, but here are some ideas of what I do now:

    She really likes rice and bean dishes, so we do a lot of that--mostly Mexican flavors because that's one of our favorite "flavor profiles." Also pasta with veggies--you could do pasta salads with a salad dressing as the sauce, or marinara, or a simple olive oil, garlic and herbs toss. Mac 'n' cheese gets the biggest response, of course, but we only do that homemade and not too often!

    AA also adores having some form of a "ploughman's lunch" for any meal--an egg (she likes scrambled but hard-boiled is more common), a hunk of cheese (we get organic string cheese but cheddar is traditional), fruit (apples or grapes) and a slice of whole-grain bread. Sometimes if they're on hand I might add fake meats and soy cheeses (which I give her only sporadically because like you I'm concerned about too much processed food).

    She also likes quesadillas and burritos, grilled cheese sandwiches and French toast, sometimes tabouli (we buy it premade from the deli so it depends on the preparation that day), mild curries, sweet potato (or regular potato) oven fries...

    I feel like we do really well with the amount of grain, dairy, protein and fruit she gets, but veggies are a work in progress--we kind of prefer things (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, salad greens) that wouldn't work for her yet because she hasn't got all of her teeth. When I feel like I haven't given her enough veggies in a couple days, I microwave some frozen peas or steam some baby carrots with a microwave steam bag.

    For when she's a bit older I envision a lot of sandwiches on whole-grain bread, with fruit and veggies as sides. There's a reason it's a classic kids' lunch--so many varieties that you're sure to find a sandwich/fruit/vegetable they like; it's all portable finger food; and you can easily get every food group in there!

  3. MonkeyMama Says:

    I swear by Taste of Home. Probably tasteofhome.com or something like that.

    Jut TONS of simple recipes - which is where we get most of ours.

  4. ThriftoRama Says:

    Mine are 18 months and 3 years. Mac and cheese is a hit, but I'm just trying to make sure I have healthy interesting food that has vegetables, fruit, protein, and starch(carb) with every meal. Just don't want them to have a total garbage diet, but sometimes it's hard to come up with ideas, or it's easy to let the day get away from you and feel wide-eyed and lost when they are stomping around hungry.

  5. mjrube94 Says:

    I'm glad it's all working out well at the house. Congrats!

  6. ceejay74 Says:

    Thrift: I totally get the "stomping around hungry" thing; the ploughman's dinner is what I do when I don't have any quick leftovers and she is giving me that hungry cry and our dinner is far from ready! I give her the toast, cheese and fruit to start on while we make the egg and maybe some peas or carrots.

  7. scottish girl Says:

    Glad your new home is working out well for you Smile

  8. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I'm glad you're enjoying your new home. Smile

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