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Scaling back – how I’m doing my part to stop being a fat bastard consumer of goods!

9 Nov
A hoarding hell from TLC series Hoarding: Buried Alive.

Image courtesy of CBS News

Brace yourselves….Christmas is right around the corner. Ouch. I know, it hurts, but it’s true. And the retailers? They’re already celebrating it. Halloween wasn’t even out the door and they were already getting the shelves set up for Christmas goods. Thanksgiving is just coming onto the horizon and the stores are filled with Christmas related goods – gift baskets, decorations, pj’s and tableware. Christmas music is being pumped through the store sound system. It’s speaking to our need to have THINGS, to fill our homes with STUFF. Christmas themed dishes that I’ll only use once per year? Why yes I DO need those! Christmas colored Ziploc containers? YES!!! I MUST have these! I can’t store leftovers in those plain old containers I already own. These are just a couple of examples of our need to feed the consumerism monster. And then I watch episodes of Hoarders: Buried Alive and think, OH.MY.GAWD!!! That could be ME someday! And then I see the dead animals that the homeowners somehow forgot about, the bugs, the dirty diapers, the old food –  and I feel grossed out but calm. My house is not like that at all. My dog is alive and well and usually napping somewhere nearby. We do get bugs in the house, but it’s spiders – gag – or fruit flies. There are no dirty diapers thrown into any corners, piling up. There isn’t any OLD food in the house, but we do have a plethora of home canned and frozen foods from the garden (which we will consume over the next year until preservation time 2013) Whew.

But then I think about the amount of time it occasionally takes me to sort through things to find THE thing I’m looking for and I’m like duuuuuude, we need to get rid of shit. So I’ve made an end of year resolution. To go through the house a little at a time, and pick through the things we don’t need, the things we don’t use, the stuff that is broken and we planned on fixing years ago but now has a layer of dust an inch thick – and donate, sell or toss it. The stuff that we can make a quick buck on we will try to sell – things like tools, electronics, miscellaneous car parts. Things like clothes, books, shoes and household items will be donated, so that someone in need can get use out of them. Bonus – we get to write them off on our taxes! And it means that the stuff that I sort through doesn’t have to sit around for long waiting to be sold or picked up.

My hurdle? Parting with clothing and shoes, in mass quantities. Don’t get me wrong – I give clothing away all the time. Big human body sized garbage bags FULL. Yet somehow, I still have too much stuff. Are my closets breeding? I doubt it. I think the part of the problem is that I end up back at the store, buying a new top, or a new pair of pants because I have more closet space for them. I need to stop that. I’m a girl, and I love new stuff. Especially clothes and shoes. But do I NEED any new stuff? Not really. A few items a year to freshen up the wardrobe or replace something that’s worn out, sure. But not a bunch of stuff. And shoes….sigh. I don’t buy expensive shoes like I’m on an episode of Sex & the City, pretending I’m Carrie in my Manolo’s. But I certainly dig a pair of stiletto sandals, cute ballet flats, or knee-high boots. But I have shoes I’ve only worn once. Some shoes I don’t wear at all because they are uncomfortable. Should I be keeping them? Nope. Someone, somewhere, is going to love the hell out of those ballet flats that cut into the tops of my feet. Someone is going to totally rock a pair of my hot pink stiletto sandals. But it’s not going to be me.

When the hubs said we need a bigger house for all our stuff, that was a wake up call for me. No, we don’t need a bigger house for the 2 humans, 1 small dog, 7 hens, 1 rooster and 2 ducks. What we need is less stuff. And the time for getting to the less stuff portion of our lives is now. Moving forward, if I purchase or receive as a gift a replacement for an item that is broken or worn out, I am going to toss the broken worn out item. If I donate or give away a bag full of clothes, that does not mean that I need to go out and get 5 new outfits to take up the space they created in my closet. If I haven’t worn it or used it (and it’s not a holiday item, like say, Christmas ornaments) in 6 months, it’s gotta go.

And for the holidays or birthdays when people insist on getting me a gift I’m going to ask them to only (well, mostly – homemade gifts are thoughtful and generally useful! As are replacements for worn out items) get me things our home needs. My gram asked me the other day what I wanted for Christmas, and I told her bathroom stuff! Like a toilet! We are getting ready to gut and remodel it, and those are things we will need to complete that, so a gift card for a home improvement store would be lovely, and greatly appreciated. I am selling my Wii and all it’s various extras(interested in purchasing it????) so to replace the Netflix function it provided I asked hubs for a Roku – something much smaller than the Wii, and portable for all the tv’s in our home.

I’m still sorting through the house, and no doubt will have more after the Christmas decorations come down from the attic, but I already feel like a weight has been lifted. Like I’m dodging the bullet of hubs calling the Hoarders show producers saying they have to come do an intervention with me. Hope for a clutter free life is on the horizon. And I don’t miss all that stuff that I gave away. So I didn’t really need it in the first place.

How are you trying to scale back?

And for fun, here’s some Grinch!

The DIY Life: Mason Jar Storage and Organization

29 Aug

If you’ve been reading this blog since it started or just browsed it for the last 5 minutes, or know me personally,  it’s pretty easy to see that I have an obsession with all things mason jars. I just can’t help myself! BUT it’s not like I need an intervention or will show up on an episode of hoarders any time in the near future. I hope not anyway. There is no other item that you can have in your home that has SO MANY USES! I use mine for the obvious reason they were created – for food preservation. But I use them for a multitude of other things. The older jars I use for things like foaming hand soap dispensers or homemade sugar scrub storage. The antique blue ones are used for storing sugar, splenda and ground coffee beside the coffee maker. I also use them on my shelving rack to store pasta, beans, and corn for popping. A big jar holds baking mix. Inside my cabinets, they hold all of my baking items: sugars, flours, grains, chocolate chips, nuts, baking soda, homemade vanilla extract, rice and other grains, homemade taco seasoning, dehydrated herbs. They are our drinking glasses for everything from beer to wine. Small portions of leftovers get nestled into them so they can easily be reheated for lunches the next day. Our freezer contains (freezer safe)  jars full of yumminess like pesto , squash spread, and creamy limoncello/tangicello. I have a light fixture by the sink that has old mason jars with stars on them as the glass over the bulbs.

I did this consolidation a couple of years ago because I was tired of all the boxes, bags and various containers holding all of our foodstuffs – raw material and ready to eat. I was so over going to grab the box of rice or pasta for a meal only to find there wasn’t enough. With the limited cupboard space we currently have, it was well overdue to start getting down to organizing everything. And not just the boxes. Because let’s face it – those box/bottle/bag laden shelves only stayed nice and organized for roughly 1 week after all that work. Being in a hurry to get dinner on the table meant things just got shoved back in where they fit. The canning jars saved the day! I’m not stuck on using only canning jars. The clear glass jars from Target are large enough to hold a 5lb bag of flour or sugar. Bigger barrel jars from the discount stores hold bulk egg noodles. A large apothecary jar holds homemade oatmeal.

The beauty of this type of organization is that it’s very easy to see how much of an item you have. There’s no guesswork if you have enough rice on hand for dinner that night. You’ll know if you need more flour for weekend bread baking just by looking into the cabinet. Because the jars are uniformly sized, there will always be a niche in your cabinet to put the jar you were using back where you found it, making it easier to keep your pantry organized.

I have a label on top of each lid that tells me what the jar contains. I will cut the directions off of the bag or box for items I’m not confident I’ll remember how to make and stick them inside the jar. Jars that contain items I don’t use weekly will have an additional label with the expiration date or I’ll cut that off the box/bag and tape it to the interior lid.

Always remember to use the items up before refilling – oldest out first. What I sometimes do is transfer the older contents to a smaller jar and put it on top of the bigger jar so I know to use up the small jar first and can get rid of those bags and boxes before they have chance to clutter up anything. This system has worked out so wonderfully for me. Christmas baking has become so much more efficient with everything so easily seen. People ask me how I don’t freak out about the jars sitting out because they are so easily seen and can get dusty. It’s simple – when I go to use the contents of that jar, I wipe it down with a wet dishcloth. The jars that sit out are the ones that I use pretty regularly so the odds of them getting visibly dusty are slim. They become part of the kitchen decor, but they serve a purpose.

How do you use mason jars in your home?

The DIY Life: Hand crafted cake stand

17 Jul

My name is Heather and I am a pinterest addict. There. I said it. Now, having said it I must also admit that I pin a whole helluva lotta things that I am probably:

1. Never going to craft

2. Have room to store said craft should I manage to craft it as most of these crafts would require multiple households to display these items

3. Not manage to sucker the hubs into  “helping” me craft every single thing I’ve pinned (helping translates to creating anything that requires a saw or accurate measurements of ANYTHING!)

BUT, that being said I did feel compelled to immediately craft up THIS from over at Why? Well, it’s a very simple and cheap craft to make. And my sink needed it to organize my dishwashing crap. I’ve got a 1/2 gallon old blue Ball canning mason jar that has my dish soap in it (I know, shocking. I’ve got a mason jar holding my dish soap!!!), a mason jar containing my Lemon Kitchen Sugar Scrub and a scrubby (yes, ANOTHER MASON JAR! I have a problem. Whatever).

I went to the store and purchased a 4.25in clay pot as well as a 10in clay saucer in the outdoor department. I then picked up a can of indoor/outdoor spray paint – since it’s going to be by the sink, the paint needed to be able to handle water – and got down to business.

I measured and marked off the center (what I thought was the center, and is center enough for ME. Hubs told me I was 3/8 of an inch off. I told him that was good enough for me. psh.) Then I traced a ring on the underneath of the saucer with the bottom of the pot, laid down a ring of clear window silicone because that is what was open, and stuck my clay pot on. I smoothed out any silicone that oozed and let it dry overnight.

Over the next 2 days, because I’m a craft slacker, I applied 3 coats of spray paint to the top and bottom.

Voila! My new organization for beside the kitchen sink. Loving it. For those in the Need to Know – The paint I picked was Krylon in gloss – Blue Ocean Breeze. The ocean blue of old Ball canning jars is one of my accent colors in my kitchen, so this worked out to be a bright and lovely shade. Very complimentary! I dig it.

If you want a more detailed tutorial of this simple yet awesome craft, please check it out here.

I’m thinking these would make fantastic housewarming gifts when paired with something edible, or even with items like I have sink-side.

Got jewelry?

27 Oct

I admit that i’m one of those people that impulse buy jewelry. Especially if it’s on clearance.

Originally $35, marked down to $1.99 you say??? Well, I don’t know when i’ll ever wear it, but i’ll take it!

Sigh. But at clearance prices, it’s not like I’m breaking the bank. And then there are the jewelry parties. I’ve got a menagerie of bling from these as well (and just recently received some more since I had a party). And then there is the heirloom jewelry and fancy stuff passed down or purchased as a gift. And what did I do with all of this jewelry? I store it all nice and neat in my jewelry box, which is a decent sized piece of FURNITURE, not a little box on the dresser. It’s got two sides that pop open to display necklaces, a section for boxed jewelry to live, ring sections, earring sections…you name it. Yet somehow, despite all this lovely jewelry organization to properly keep my necklaces from being tangled and my earrings from losing a mate, I continued to wear only two items – my wedding rings and diamond studs. Let’s face it, in the morning rush to get ready for work, jewelry is always the last thing on my mind. If my wedding bands and diamond studs weren’t always on me, i’d probably forget to put them on in the morning too. So most of the time, all of my jewelry gets neglected and sits in it’s proper spot getting no love. I had had enough. I needed to start wearing all of my purchases, so I started looking around at all the different display type organization out there. I knew I wanted something I could hang on the wall to display earrings and necklaces, but I didn’t want it to be big and bulky since it was going to be hanging on a very small section of wall near the bathroom in my bedroom. I gave up on looking for traditional jewelry storage and opted to check out my local craft store. I found exactly what I was looking for!

This little cutie is the perfect size for the small area I wanted to hang it in, the chicken wire backing is just right to hang my earrings off of while the little knobs work great at displaying my various necklaces. Now I have everything easily accessible and visible so that I have no excuse to not wear my stuff. After having this up for a few months, my jewelry wearing has increased tenfold! And to be honest, the only drawback I can see is that sterling silver items can become tarnished since they are exposed but this isn’t a big deal to me since I can just gloss them up with a polishing cloth.

If you’re sick of not wearing your jewelry, here’s a great way to display it so it’s easy to see and get to. And it doesn’t look bad hanging quietly in a corner.