Home > Archive: April, 2011

Archive for April, 2011

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

April 22nd, 2011 at 08:04 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!


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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

transforming chaos into order

April 20th, 2011 at 03:01 am

Mom came up to help me two days in a row. We're finally starting to make a dent in the moving boxes, finally started to put some furniture where it goes, and finally got all the clothes, shoes, and coats, food, and bathroom supplies where they need to be. I am happy to say I'm surprised by the amount of storage in this house- at least upstairs, it's been great.

I admit I did "enhance" this a little bit via two shelves, a drawer, and two pull-out trash/recycling bins in the pantry and four shelves in DS2's playroom closet.Side note: shelving and organization supplies are soooo overprices and expensive. It's a racket. really. It's motivation enough to stay organized just to remember how much all those shelves and drawers cost you!

And, while unpacking all of those boxes, we've been sorting, tossing, donating, and recycling. We have at least five very large boxes for the Goodwill. it feels good to let go of things. I've donated things I never would have even considered giving away before. Maybe something about the new scenery is inspiring me. Or, just making me realize I am in a new phase of my life and I can't hold onto the old life and all the stuff that came with it.

This is the first night, too , that little man stayed in bed after bed time. The last few nights, he's been up saying "this isn't his room" and wanting us to stay in there with him until he fell asleep. Poor little guy. Moving is hard on us, but it must be even harder when you are 3.

On a side note, we have giant backyard. My plan is to plant substantial veggie and fruit gardens. I heard the record scratch noise on Saturday. Three deer apparently live in my backyard, and stomped around all day like they owned the place. Deer, given I live way inside the city limits and next to no actual nature, did not figure into my plan. A complication. What to do?

I'm also still waiting for the dust to settle on our finances. It's hard to say what we will be able to save, spend, do etc. until we get used to having a mortgage payment.

We're okay right now, so these next couple of weeks I'm just going to concentrate on unpacking, then on getting our paid for house painted, scrubbed and ready to sell.

Still moving

April 18th, 2011 at 03:03 am

I clearly remember why I hate moving! It is sooooo much work. We moved all the big stuff Friday. We moved boxes, bins and bags over slowly for two weeks prior. Today, I moved the cats, as well as another carload of odds and ends over. And there is still more!

How did we acquire sooooo much stuff?

I really am nostalgic for the days when everything I owned fit into the back of my hatchback. Moving was easy then. Who needed a sofa anyway?

On a positive note, the thrift store boxes are piling up. As we open every box, we are sorting. We've got at least two more large boxes for Goodwill, and we haven't even scratched the surface.

I also finally got the washer dryer hooked up. It was an ordeal, as I had to rewire the dryer from a 3-prong to a 4-prong cord ( I was dreading it, but it was easier than I thought.), replace the existing dryer venting, because it was a linty-fire hazard, and install new washer supply lines. Also, the washer drains into an old cement sink. I've never seen this before, and I'm not super comfortable with it. Next time the plumber comes by, I'll just ask him to double check it for me.

Laundry is great. One more level of function! We are living in limbo still, as we still have so much to put away.

The big day

April 16th, 2011 at 03:36 am

Just about to go to sleep. Today was the big day. We rented the Uhaul, paid our friend's 18 year old son to help us move, and moved ALL the big stuff into the new house. It's our first night sleeping here. It's a little weird. Still miss the old place. And so so so so much work to do.

First mortgage payment in 5 years...

April 14th, 2011 at 03:02 am

Today, I made my first mortgage payment in 5 years. And we don't even live in the new house yet. Seriously. It feels weird and overwhelming.

The payment wasn't due until May 1, but I had the cash on hand, so I thought I may as well pay a little early and see if that knocks some interest off the balance.

Our mortgage is through our primary bank, so when I logged in today, the mortgage account now shows up on my accounts summary page, right next to the checking account. I like that it's convenient, and I don't have to log in to yet another Web site to check the balance or make a payment.

Hubby thought it was funny to see the checking and mortgage side by side. a "Here's what you have, here's what you owe" approach.

I sent $400 extra on the payment. This is part of the early pay-off plan. IF we can sell our current house, all of the equity will go to pay off the loan. That, plus $400 extra a month, and we will have the new house paid off in about 5 years. That is the idea.

IF we can't sell our current house, we will rent it out, build a rental maintenance cushion with the rent money, then start applying all of it to the mortgage. Hopefully, we will not become landlords. I don't feel I'm up for the hassle, considering how full my plate is with the babies.

Tomorrow, I have to meet the cable guy at the new place to install the internet, phone, etc., I will hopefully sell a few big items via some craigslist appointments, and I have to drop the kiddies off at grandma's in prep for moving day, which is Friday.

The movers were way way way way more than we felt comfortable paying, so we enlisted our friend's 19 year old son to help us move. He can use some extra cash, and I'd rather pay him to work like a dog than pay 10 times that much on by the hour movers. His mom--our friend-- is also coming by to help.

I'm still overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we own, but I'm feeling a little better now that I have a plan to deal with all of it, and to eliminate the clutter the minute it comes out of the box. Storage and stuff management is an A-1 top priority this weekend! I predict many trips to the shelving department at the hardware store....

Fresh eyeballs help.

April 13th, 2011 at 02:08 am

My mom came over to the new place today and saw the inside for the first time. She had some storage ideas I hadn't even considered, some that might even work out better than what I had planned. I.e. adding some more shelved in the pantry and dedicating it to food storage only, and shifting all the mops and brooms to the second front hall closet.

A fresh set of eyeballs on a problem can certainly come in handy!

I also dropped four big boxes of stuff off at the thrift store today. And, I sold a ceiling fan that's been sitting in the garage for $25 on Craigslist. It went into the house-stuff piggy bank.

I also started a fresh donation box at the new house. As I unpacked, I put a couple of things in there. It's easy to get sentimental about stuff, but eyes on the prize. With two small kids, we have minimal extra energy, so energy we don't have to spend dealing with the everyday fallout of clutter can be spent on bigger and better things. If we haven't used it or there isn't room, it's going. No questions.

I will say I am totally exhausted. The kids have been sick for going on a month now, two rounds of pink eye, an ear infection, and now two colds that have lasted about a week. It's been hell. And, the baby is cutting more teeth, ergo screaming his head off the last two nights. And, little man is stalling going to bed and then keeps coming out of his room. This, on top of moving, work, etc. and I am exhausted. I think I got about 4 hours sleep last night, and that is being generous. I know I'm on deadline, but I might just go to bed early tonight. I know I should work, but I am totally spent.

Clutter resolve...

April 12th, 2011 at 04:12 am

Or declutter resolve, I should say.

After the kids were asleep, I drove over to the new house. I managed to rescue the three boxes of thrift store donations hubby accidentally moved over there. AND, as I unpacked a few kitchen boxes and perused some boxes in the basement, I managed to cull enough stuff to fill two more big bins. It's in the bag of the car, pending drop off at Goodwill.

The new carpet we had installed in the basement (after my new paint job), looks pretty good. I'm happy with it. And, in the mail today I got a bit of a surprise. a refund for $116 from the title company for overcharging for county recording fees-- I've never gotten a refund before. I was floored. If they had kept it, I never would have known.

I also discovered that the main bath in the new house has a laundry chute. Score. I always wanted one of those, and yes, it drops right next to the washer. Let's fast forward 10 years and see how that's going to work out with an 11 and 13 year old boy....

The new house will be a challenge though. The kitchen has significantly less cabinetry and storage space. I'm pretty bummed about it. I love my current kitchen. (no lie. I love my current house. It's just the schools. Sad to leave.). This one, meh. Just have my fingers crossed I can tone down the stuff enough to make this one functional.

And, the basement basically has zero storage, unlike my current house which has built-in cabinets and a walk-in basement closet. Oh well. The new house has the potential for great storage, we just have to add it. On the glorious day our current house sells, I will hire someone to frame out some awesome storage closets.

Clutter is bringing me down.

April 11th, 2011 at 02:18 am

I was hoping moving to a new house meant we could turn over a new leaf. I was hoping we could be organized, live clutter free, and be able to keep it cleaner. I'm wondering if it's even possible.

Hubby has realized we have significantly less ready-to-go built in storage than we have in our current house. We have plenty of space to build storage, it just isn't there yet, which at least in the short term, means more chaos. The bins of seasonal items and holiday decor we have moved over have nowhere to live, as of yet, and are starting to pile up. Hubby and I are both kind of down about it. We have moved so much, but we still have so much more to move!

The moving process has really shed a lot of light on the fact that we just simply own too much stuff. Too much. I have no idea how it happened. I feel like I am constantly donating, freecycling, selling or giving things away. But it just isn't enough. We still just own too much stuff.

And considering we are terrible organizers and terrible housekeepers, we'd probably be better off if we owned less. Much much much much much less. Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed that I just want to throw everything away. Some days, I put every toy I step on into the recycling bin. It's so frustrating.

I am hoping to turn over a new leaf of organization with the new house, but I am wondering if that is just wishful thinking. Really, all I want is a simple, clean, functional house where everything has a place to live. No clutter. No junk drawers.

It's already an uphill mountain. I went out of town for a couple of days and my MIL decided to pack for me. (I was planning to sort as I packed.) So, I know that two boxes of things I had designated for the thrift store are now somewhere at the new house. I know it's an innocent mistake, but it felt like a big blow. Our lives are so busy, I don't want to have to count on sorting later. With two toddlers, there is no such thing as free time!

It just feels impossible, short of throwing everything away. But that doesn't seem like a real solution. I don't feel like I am a big buyer of stuff, but I must be. I'm the one who brings most things home because I do most of the shopping. Clearly, I must be more mindful of what I'm bringing home.

But what is the solution for the mountains of stuff we already own????