the more storage you have, the more stuff you have [minimalist challenge item #223]

[item] Dark wood dresser

[purchase info] Purchased at the thrift store

[time in my possession] Approximately 5 years

[last used] A few months ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Sold to a friend

[replacement item] Nothing purchased, I rearranged.

[info] I needed a desk space.  This piece of furniture was the ‘chosen’ bye-bye piece.  I moved a storage piece from my garage into my closet.  Cleared out this dresser to make room for a dining room table, that looks like a desk, to put in it’s place.  It looks great and works great.

If you have storage space you will fill it up.  If you think I’m kidding, how many completely empty cabinets, drawers or shelves do you have in your house?  If it’s a space, we fill it.  As I get rid of things, I’m downsizing my storage space.  It works.  BTW, this has drawers.  I just forgot to snap the pic before I took them out.

hardware junk drawer stuff [minimalist challenge item #222]

[item] A huge lot of small hardware / housewares items

[purchase info] Purchased new or at thrift stores

[time in my possession] Anywhere from months to years

[last used] A long time ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Freecycle

[replacement item] None

[info] If you didn’t use freecycle for any other reason than this, that would be okay.  Most “junk drawer” type leftovers like this end up in a landfill.  There’s stuff in here that others can use.  The awesome thing about freecycle?  People take what they want or need, then pass it on to the next person on freecycle.  This is simply awesome.  I have no idea why we hang on to all this stuff, as everyone has a junk drawer of some sort.  No, I’m never gonna need the fireplace gas collar since I tiled the fireplace.  Yes, I have three tubes of liquid nails.  The water line doesn’t fit my sink…

I could have used it somewhere else… [minimalist challenge item #221]

[item] Black/brown Ikea wall shelf that was my fireplace mantle

[purchase info] Purchased new at Ikea

[time in my possession] Approximately 2 years

[last used] A couple of months ago until my cat knocked it off the wall

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Freecycle

[replacement item] None

[info] I had to modify this shelf to place it on the wall without drilling holes in the middle of the tile.  In doing that, I messed up the integrity of the shelf.  When my cat decided she needed to jump way up there, it all came tumbling down.  Surprisingly, the shelf was still okay.  Problem was, I put it in the garage.  Ikea stuff does not fair well in extreme heat.  The veneer started coming off.  I could have probably fixed it, but in that small room, I decided not to put it back up.  I had an extra large art piece that was needing a new location in the house.

choker [minimalist challenge item #220]

[item] A flower beaded choker necklace

[purchase info] Given to me by a jewelry client

[time in my possession] Approximately 8 years

[last used] Several months ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Gave it to a friend

[replacement item] None

[info] I just don’t wear this often enough to justify keeping it.

I only have a kitchen because it came with the house… [minimalist challenge item #219]

[item] 2 Napkins with funny sayings and a plastic wrapped paper towel

[purchase info] All give to me

[time in my possession] Approximately 2 years

[last used] Never

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] I used them, you know, like regular napkins and a paper towel.

[replacement item] None

[info] I Got the napkins as a gift.  All the rest were used but I really liked them, so I hung on to one of each design.  Napkin hoarding.  I’m ashamed to say that.  As for the paper towel, that was given to me as a joke because I’m so anti-paper towels.  Plastic?  In case of emergency, tear it?  Seriously.  Everyone should use their sleeves like my kids do.

$206 was my highest electric bill this hot summer

Yes, that’s my thermostat.  It’s reading 92°.   No, I don’t want to turn my air conditioner back on.  One cool day is all need to motivate me to turn it off until the heat is needed.  I’m tired of the high electric bills.  I’m fine in the low 90’s down in Mexico, why not here as well?  Honestly, for the record breaking hot temperatures we had, my utility bills were substantially lower than many people I know, even with similar sized houses.  How is that?  My highest bill this summer was $206.  That’s with a non-efficient 1,780 square feet.  What I mean by non-efficient is that I have 18′ ceilings with a loft floor plan, cheap windows with broken seals, exterior doors that don’t fit properly and crappy insulation.  So $206 isn’t bad at all really, but it could be better.  How did I achieve that low bill?  Here’s a few things:

    • Programming the thermostat.  I keep the programs high, like 82°.  Sometimes that’s comfortable, sometimes I turn it down.  If we’re not home, at least it’s not cooling the place to low temperatures.  Good to change your filter each month too.
    • Involve my kids.  Their incentive is any utility bill under $50, they get $10 each.  No doable in the summer, but it is in the winter.  I also charge them for leaving lights on.  Sounds mean, but it works.  Sometimes they turn off the lights, other times, they’re willing to contribute to the cost of the utilities.
    • Cook all at one time & outside.  Cooking several meals to freeze and microwave works well.  We limit the oven use too.  Sometimes we use one or two burners on the stove and rotate pots off the already heated cooking elements.  We also use the outdoor grill much more than cooking inside.
    • Laundry limits.  We do laundry after dark when it’s a tad cooler.  Full loads only with a partial dry cycle.  The damp clothing dries very quickly in the heat, but the clothes are still soft to the touch.
    • Use fans.  Only when in the room.  I don’t run them unless we’re in front of them.  I also added a fan in the kitchen, which helps while cooking.
    • Energy-efficient lighting.  90% of the bulbs in my house are the energy-efficient type.  This costs a bit more, but well worth the conversion in the long run.
    • Fix the ridiculous stuff.  The attic access in my house was putting out so much hot air, you could feel it when you walked under it.  I spent $6 and added weather stripping to it.  And even though my doors fit terribly, I replaced the weather stripping around them.  $40 made them a lot better until I can afford to replace the doors.  I sealed and caulked the large gap under the door that goes to my garage.  It cost me nothing, as I used leftovers found in my garage.

These are a few simple things we did that must have worked, because in the past, I’ve had electric bills well over $300 when the heat wasn’t near as bad.  Every little bit helps.  :)

we’ll leave the light on for you [minimalist challenge item #218]

[item] Old brass porch light fixture

[purchase info] Came with the house

[time in my possession] Approximately 5 years

[last used] A month ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Thrift store

[replacement item] A new brushed nickel, modern porch light purchased at the Habitat ReStore.

[info] This still worked, but looked really bad.  When I got my house painted, I put a new one up.  With a paint job, this on will be good for someone.  My decor is more modern than this or I would have done that instead.

food with more color than the package…

I don’t usually blog about food, but clearly this is a topic that falls into the “living differently” and “downsizing” categories.

Flashback to 6 years old.  I remember eating cereal called Kaboom.  Do you remember it?  The cereal itself was more colorful than the box it came in.  “100% minimum daily requirements of vitamins and iron in 1 oz. sugary oat cereal with marshmallow stars!”  As a child, I always wondered where they were hiding the vitamins in this stuff.  If I saw a funny shaped piece or a burnt piece of cereal, I would avoid it because surely that was the vitamin.  I didn’t need it, I already took my Flintstones vitamins, so leave my cereal alone.

My mom didn’t leave my cereal alone.  Apparently she didn’t think there was enough sugar in the sugary oat cereal, so she dumped 3 or 4 tablespoons of sugar into it.  When I was done with the cereal, I ate spoons full of purplish milky sugar from the bottom of the bowl.  I’m pretty sure I never got the hiccups.

So what’s the big deal?  They don’t sell this anymore, right?  As of about 10 years ago, I did find some at Big Lots.  An what makes Froot Loops any better?  I would love to get my hands on the nutrition info for this stuff and compare it to other cereal.  Here’s an interesting article I read this morning on the use of food coloring in food:  The dangers of artificial food colors  There’s always been lots of controversy about this topic.  Why chance it?  If there are non-colored foods available, why not buy those?  They taste the same.  The color is only for presentation and marketing.  Yes, I buy foods with coloring, mostly because I don’t pay attention to this very much.  I do buy low fat and healthy foods when there’s an option for it.  Honestly, I spend more time price shopping food rather than nutrition shopping our food.  I should be doing both.

The thing that made me think of all this food stuff is bacon wrapped asparagus.  I love grilled asparagus and I can even get my kids to eat that way.  My friend that was coming over to cook dinner with us said he would bring bacon to wrap around the asparagus I was cooking.  My kids would love this without a doubt, but I don’t want to even let them know this is an option.  If they like it grilled, without butter, fat or covered in cheese, why would I mess with that?  Trust me, I let them eat plenty of unhealthy stuff, but I do try to teach them to eat low-fat and low-sugar options when they are available.

This is an area where I really need to be rethinking good.  And if anyone can find me a box of Kaboom cereal, I would be forever grateful!

it was so big I got stuck in the attic [minimalist challenge item #217]

[item] Christmas ornaments & more

[purchase info] Most purchased new

[time in my possession] Approximately 8-10 years

[last used] A couple of years ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] ???, ummm, not sure where these ended up.

[replacement item] None

[info] I not only got rid of some old Christmas ornaments, but I also got rid of my 10′ pre-lit Christmas tree.  I don’t have a photo of the tree.  I gave it to a friend of mine.  It’s not only too big for my house, it’s difficult to get in and out of the narrow attic opening.  One year, I got stuck up there for over an hour!  The lights got caught on the metal stair piece.  I’m done fighting with it.  We might get a new smaller tree or we might use our 2′ silver fiber-optic tree.  I might go dumpster diving and build one out of old books.  I don’t yet.