Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blog Archives

When I initially started this journey, I had a different blog about my family, so I did all my posting there. After a few posts, I decided I needed to separate the two blogs, thus I created The Cluttered House. I realized that I left behind some of my early posts, so I'm archiving them here.

The Frugality Experiment, Part 1
Monday, August 9, 2010

I just finished reading a great article, Side Effect of the New Frugality: Happiness, and am inspired. I really do want to start living frugally.

Stop laughing.

I know I have an astonishing Target addiction, coupled with a penchant for Acapulcos' happy hour, a strong dislike of cooking, and a love of shoes that caused a college roommate to refer to me as "little Imelda," all of which will make living frugally difficult; however, I like the idea of getting off of the "work-spend treadmill" and living and working for things that make me happy, instead of just "things."

My idea of living frugally amounts to taking baby steps towards a less materially driven life. The simple act of cutting out those things we don't need and valuing the things that we already have. Moving towards making our wallets not hurt and bettering us as a family.   So, for the next few months, I'm going to challenge my family to try cutting out/down on unnecessary expenditures.

The first challenge starts today: Two weeks without eating ANY meals out. NO meals out whatsoever. That doesn't mean we will never again eat out, but that, for the next few weeks, restaurants, drive-thrus, diners, food courts and the like are off-limits to us.  No quick pretzel & Diet Coke at Target, no Acapulcos' happy hour, no Foster Freeze Twisters... NADA.

This will take a lot of forethought. Dinners need to be planned & shopped for, lunches must be prepared before work (though we usually do this anyways), car trips and shopping trips need to be planned so that we have food at hand if our path crosses with a meal or just random hunger. It will be more work, but I think in the end our bank account (not to mention our waistlines) will thank us for it.

On the parenting side, I think about how few & far between our visits to restaurants were when I was growing up. Dinners out were always a special occasion and something exciting to do. I'd like that for Little Man. I don't want him growing up thinking it is normal to go out to dinner all the time. I think about how this is depriving him of a very simple pleasure that I had as a kid.

I don't know what our next frugal adventure will be, but I'm actually excited about the prospect of cutting out the unnecessary and creating new adventures as a result!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Daily Mini-Goal(s)

As I am trying to simplify my life & home, I have decided that on top of my large "FruGoals" (the term I came up with, which my friend abhors, so I am now using it just to irritate her), I'm going to have at least one daily mini-goal.

Yesterday I declared the dinner table (both at home and in restaurants) a cell-phone free zone. I am in love with my iPhone and am somewhat addicted to it. Our iPhones tend to be frequent guests at our meals, so that rather than talking to each other and engaging with our son, Diesel and I are busy surfing the web or texting or whatever. Last night I realized (as Diesel was e-mailing during our meal) that this is interrupting our ability to connect with each other, so I declared the cell-phone free dinner table  (for the record, I am MUCH worse about being distracted by my phone at the table than he is). Now, the only reason a cell phone may be used at the dinner table are as follows: #1 using the calculator to figure out the tip or how to divide a bill when eating a meal out, #2 to take photos of something adorable that the boychild does, #3 some type of actual emergency.

Today I had two mini goals.
Mini-goal #1: Clean out the cabinet under the kitchen sink.
I've broken my house up into "zones" that need cleaning & organizing. Using a floor plan of our house, I denoted what needs to be done where. Rather than trying to set aside an entire weekend to try to clean and organize my house-- which hasn't happened since the week before Little Man was born-- each day I'm going to try to clean out/reorganize one of these zones.
Today's zone was the cabinet under our kitchen sink. I forgot to take a before shot, but imagine it crammed to the top with plastic grocery bags, spray bottles, drying racks, etc.
NOW it looks like this:

I feel a great sense of accomplishment just by cleaning and organizing ONE cabinet. I look at this photo and I am happy to see things all neat and tidy and in their places! HOORAY!
Mini-goal #2: Reduce "eDrain" (on-going goal)
eDrain is the term I came up with for the way that our electronics can suck us in and eat up huge chunks of our time. You know how one "quick" check of your email can suddenly turn into two hours before you know it? THAT is eDrain.
This goal came to me last night as I was sitting on the couch, using my laptop to Facebook and check on my thread on Babycenter. As I was sitting there I could hear my boys reading and playing on the bed in our bedroom.  Suddenly I had an epiphany. I constantly complain that I don't have enough time with my boys, yet here I am frittering away that time because I want to see what is going on in my social network. This appalled me, so I shut off the laptop, got up and engaged with my family.
Since trying to simplify and minimize isn't just about reducing what we own and what we spend, but also about creating more quality interactions with the people & things we love, I'm also going to try to focus on reducing my (and my family's) addiction to all things eDraining and thereby increasing our meaningful engagement with each other.
How are we reducing eDrain right now? On weeknights, no computer/TV until after the baby goes to bed and AFTER all the necessary tasks for that evening have been completed. I haven't come up with a plan for weekends, but I'm working on it-- I'm thinking set "okay" times to watch TV and use the computer, but haven't nailed that down yet. Like with the cell  phone rule, there will be some emergency usage allowed, but going forward my family will be the priority before my Facebook status!
So far this has been a fairly peaceful evening. It was such a difference to sit on the couch and chat with my husband while the boychild play; however as soon as he went down Diesel is on the laptop & I'm blogging. But, as soon as this blog is complete I'm going to go crack open the good book I'm reading and enjoy that!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mini-Goal, Day 2

Today's mini-goal was to tackle one kitchen cabinet & its accompanying drawer. However, I was home alone tonight, and I had a fire lit under me! I cleaned out all of the lower cabinets-- except the bay of drawers-- PLUS the drawer under my stove.

I ended up with a HUGE pile of stuff to give-away, sell or donate (and a sparkling counter, sink & stove, because once you get going it is hard to stop).

As productive as I was, this mini-goal was pretty difficult for me. I had to part with some things that I lovingly chose to register for 5+ years ago, and which I truly wanted at that time. You see, when we were getting married, I had visions of being the kind of wife and mother who entertained & had need for tiny ramekins and porcelin Bodum casseroles with pretty wire racks to stand in. In my head, I was finally going to get to be that woman I wanted to be.

Fast-forward 5 years and we live in a 730 sq ft. condo, which was supposed to be our starter house. We were going to trade-up for a larger place after 3 years. Alas, this did not happen. Our condo is too small to do the grand-scale entertaining that I had hoped to do (or even medium-scale), so there has never been a need for the beautiful ceramic "stuff" I registered for all those years ago. 

Our family has also grown by a dog & a boy and we're constantly in a crunch for space. By parting with these unnecessary items, as tough as it was, will provide us with some much needed room. After I have finished cleaning out the entire kitchen (the upper cabinets will be even tougher), I will need to embark on rearranging what we have to better fit our needs.

So that was my wild and crazy night!! I think tomorrow's mini-goal will be a more mellow goal, but we shall see! I have some before & after shots that I'll post tomorrow. For now I'm going to sign off and say "hi" to the hubby who arrived home a little bit ago (with our sacked-out boychild who is now in bed).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday randomness

Being somewhat forgetful, I sometimes throw a load of laundry in the wash & forget that it is there, so it doesn't make it into the drier. Then the worst thing in the world happens-- funky, mildewed clothes/towels/sheets, etc. I hate that smell more than any thing! Yesterday I discovered that I had done this with a load of kitchen washcloths & towels. Gross. Then I had a brilliant brain bubble and I have solved my mildew funk problem forever!!


I added several drops to the pre-wash tray of our washer (along with detergent in the regular wash area) and when the wash was done, everything smelled fresh & lovely! I'm so excited about my discovery that I had to share!

Mini-goals for the weekend:
Yesterday I tackled the kitchen drawers and got rid of some odds & ends that I'm not currently using.
Today my goal is to come up with my "Grateful List"-- a list of everything I'm grateful for in my life.

I managed to get through some of our shredding today and to rearrange a few items for better organization & storage. I've decided to part with rolling scrapbooking box and tote bag. I haven't used them since Diesel built me my scrap-cabinet and I started doing a better job of planning what I need for crops. Now I'm able to use my "free-with-purchase" diaper bag to take everything I need when I go out scrapbooking. I have a collapsible rolling cart that I used for teaching that I can use if ever need to take more with me than fits in my bag.

Reaffirmation that cutting out the dining out is a good idea: Today we were headed to Trader Joe's. Across the street was a Target. Little Man saw it and said "Pretzel combo!" Yeeeaaaaah. Not happening kiddo! (Though when I ran into Target to pick up one necessary item, I did get a coupon for the cafe, so I reckon we'll visit some day-- but for cheaper!)

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