Someone Else's Words

One of the problems with being a regular blogger is the realization that so many other people can state your thoughts and dreams better than you can. As a blogger, I try to observe the world and then with introspection and sometimes struggle digest the information in a way that makes sense for my life, and, in this case, for my ongoing journey towards simplicity. What pieces of information have come across my field of vision that inspire me? What things have I read that have given me insight? What circumstances in my life have culminated in learning experiences that will nudge me, challenge me, or open me up to a whole new world of thinking? And, most importantly, how do I put that into words so that it solidifies its message for me and may in turn help others? Sometimes I can't. Sometimes I just have to pass on the words of someone else and just say, "Amen."

I keep an ongoing log of quotes that I find significant. Some make me smile and nod. Others just take my breath away with their discernment. Some I could read every week for the rest of my life and still not absorb all they have to offer. Obviously, I gather these from various sources, but this week I want to highlight two quotes that have stopped me in my tracks.

One of the pleasures of being a word-lover is the ability to subscribe to the "word-a-day" emails from It's always enlightening to learn a new word, of course, but sometimes an even greater serendipity is to read the thought-provoking quote at the end of each email. This week I had just had to share this one for all of us on the long to road to simplicity, peace, contentment:

"For money you can have everything it is said. No, that is not true. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; soft beds, but not sleep; knowledge but not intelligence; glitter, but not comfort; fun, but not pleasure; acquaintances, but not friendship; servants, but not faithfulness; grey hair, but not honor; quiet days, but not peace. The shell of all things you can get for money. But not the kernel. That cannot be had for money." -Arne Garborg, writer (1851-1924)

The second quote is from Oprah Magazine:

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act listen to stars and buds, to babes and sages, with open heart; await occasions, hurry never....this is my symphony." - William Henry Channing

Wow. I'm not going to take the time or space to try to paraphrase or explain or add to these beautiful words. I think they speak for themselves. They strike at the very heart of what I believe our lives are about. I offer them here in the hope that they will bring you the blessing they have brought me this week.

Corraling the Closet


I did it:  I managed to reduce the amount of clothing I possess to just enough to be contained in a single side of the closet!

Hooray!  No more clothes hangers draped off of the shelves!

I turned the hangers around backwards to better determine what I actually wear and what I don't of the remaining clothing.  By this time next year (I don't store out-of season clothing--it must all fit in the closet) I will know what I have used and what I have not.  What I have not is leaving, period.

The only things that I do not currently hang in the closet are pants, shorts and coats.  I hope to thin down my wardrobe where I can hang even these items there to simplify my clothing storage needs.

My sister is getting first crack at the closet gleanings before they get shipped to Auntie's house for distribution among family and friends.  I'm not sure how much she will keep out of the pile.

Oh, yes--and I lost a pair of shoes today.  My cheap generic Crocs--the ones I slummed around the house in.  After three(?) years of heavy use they finally died.  Not bad for a $4 pair of shoes, especially considering the abuse I put them through!  Now I debate whether or not to replace them.  Since warm weather will be here soon I am thinking that I can make do with the sandals that I have though none of them will work with socks.  Those things were horribly ugly, but so handy, comfortable and inexpensive!

I also have the dressier clogs I purchased the other day, but the heel is a bit on the high side for tromping around the house and yard... Time to dig through my box of shoes to see how to make-do....

10 Things Challenge Update

I started a new list of things I eliminated from my life, not realizing that I would quickly go over the ten item limit.  Here is what I have eliminated so far last night and today:

  1. Lotion bottle (contents pooled with another container)
  2. Broken digital camera I know I will never attempt to repair.
  3. Old dropcloth.
  4. DVD video of a convention.  I ripped the contents to my hard drive so that I can pass the video on to someone who can use it.
  5. Old pillow.
  6. Post-it note pad.
  7. Stack of music CD's I haven't listened to in years.
  8. DVD of a movie I detest.
  9. 2 boxes of old matches that have apparently gotten damp at some point.
  10. Box full of old books, some of which will be listed on eBay.
  11. Damaged music CD's.
  12. Miscellaneous shirts.
  13. Pair of leg warmers (where did these come from?).
  14. Short sleeve sweater (when I'm chilly I much prefer sleeves so this never gets worn).
  15. Easel (given to my sister who will actually use it).
  16. Pile of old and mismatched socks.
  17. Pile of worn-out cleaning rags.
What have YOU managed to eliminate from your life?  

Bottom of the Barrel

Here it is:  The bottom of the baskets infesting that back bedroom.

I am so happy and grateful to be at the bottom of the issue!  This particular basket was about half-full of socks, most of which were mismatched.  A quick sort and the rest were tossed.

The room looks lopsided because of all the shelves on one side of the room, but at least the clutter is getting under control.

It feels soo good to see the floor again!

I am going to reduce my clothing to where it will fit in the unaffected half of the closet to eliminate the clothes hanging on that poor shelf.  That will free the other half of the closet up whenever the workman gets here and finishes the work...

I was actually able to reach the bookshelf and place my books back where they belong, and arrange for my unused easel to go to my sister's house where it will be loved and used.

This does not eliminate the need to go through each individual box and reduce, but it does eliminate a lot of stress regardless. 

I will post pictures of the tidied room tomorrow after I do some more work to it.  I would like to be able to lay out the futon once again, whether I sleep on it or not....

I Feel Like a Hoarder

I do.  I really do!

Here is a picture of the room officially known as my bedroom.  This was taken after I tidied it up a lot.

I must admit most of the stuff will go back into my closet when the workman is done there, and it was jerked out in a hurry to avoid moisture damage, but still this mess is terribly distressing.

There is just too much stuff.  I have been avoiding this room since the water pipes burst simply because of the chaos within, because I know that my options are limited until I regain the use of my closet...

In our previous place we had a LOT more things, yet everything seemed to have a place thanks to a dedicated utility room with lots of shelves. Combine that with lots of closet space and we had it made!

This spaciousness served only to hide the fact that we have too much stuff. How much stuff do two people need anyway???

She's a kid, so she's going to have toys.  I'm a geek so I'm going to have computer junk.  We're both females so we're gonna have clothes and shoes galore no matter how hard we pare down, yet this is getting ridiculous!

I look at this room and wish I had some of those organizers from that hoarding show.  I wish they would come in and help me deal with this mess that is my bedroom...and the mess that is my kitchen.. and the mess I'm afraid to look at in the building outside....

A fresh pair of eyes and a strong pair of arms to go through this junk though part of me wants to just chuck it all--but how can I toss the papers from my parent's funerals? 

My children who are now adults can perhaps take over the care of their baby photos which will help, but just seeing these things all piled up really affected me today...Somehow, some way I have got to reduce my possessions... before they drive me insane....

I went back in there and worked on it some more.. It is a lot better, but has a ways to go.

How is it that we have so much stuff, yet feel the need to add even more to our lives?

I do not believe I will buy any clothing for a while.  While my closet was not overflowing it was tightly packed, and I have clothes that I have forgotten I owned.. It is time to re-think my wardrobe.  I definitely do NOT need to purchase any liquid potpourri until I use up what I already have, not including the surplus of bleach pens I purchased some time ago on ebay...

I am going to explore this evernote program to see if it will help corral the paper and memories so that I can pass some of that out of my life....

What is sad is the fact that people come to my house and they look at all facets of it, and they tell me I don't have enough stuff, yet these piles tell me a much different story...

This is why I pursue simplicity.  I want the ability to know what I have and where I have put it--know what I need and want and know what I can do without.  I want the peace and security of knowing that someone can walk into the most private areas of my home unexpectedly without it being an embarrassment to me...

Yes, the sight of this room embarrasses me, yet here I am posting it for the whole world to see.  Why am I doing this?

Because I want to do better.  I know I can do better.  And I know that I am not alone.

What do you have that embarrasses you?  Do you have a room like this one?  What are you doing to fix it?  Send me before and after photos--even before and during photos--and tell me your story.  I'll feature you on this blog so that you can be an inspiration for others to simplify their lives.

Simplicity and minimalism do not HAVE to be about getting rid of everything, but let's be honest--we can all afford to pare down our possessions.

Let's do this.

10 Things Challenge

David has posted a challenge:  Eliminate 10 things from your life every week.

Okay David, I'm game!  Let's see what I can do!

I went through my house this morning and chose my 10 items.  In some ways it was harder than I imagined it would be, but the freedom I felt when done was so intense that I actually went over the mark a touch!

Here's my list:

  1. Hat that I never wear.
  2. Mixer with a missing beater (I never used it even before I lost the beater).
  3. Stack of papers I planned to print on the back-side of before using as a birdcage liner (going straight to the bird cage now).
  4. Several pairs of old socks (why was I keeping these--I have a ton of new socks).
  5. Pair of old undies.
  6. Pack of cigarettes from years ago (I don't even smoke, but they were stashed away nevertheless!)
  7. Stainless steel paper towel holder (no longer needed since we almost never use paper towels these days).
  8. Stainless steel napkin holder (has never been used for napkins and is no longer needed for holding paper cause I toss my paper now).
  9. Small pet transport box, saved for the guinea pigs to play in.  Now placed in their pen so they can enjoy.
  10. Unused oven mitt.  I always grab my cloth towels for this job--why am I keeping something I never use?
  11. Unused pot holders.  Same reason as #10.
  12. Old Convention flyer I found stuck in a book.
  13. Plastic banana stand.  I wanted one of these things for years then after the purchase discovered that wanting is better than having!  Good-bye, wasted money!
I took a picture of most of the items, but missed the couple of items I went over on.  Oh well--you get the idea!  

That was kinda fun, so I'm planning on keeping a running list of the things I eliminate in preparation for next week!


is a small word
compared with You
is all alone until You make it two.
We is always together,
and is sometimes You and Me;
but sometimes We is more than that
when She makes three -
or even more
when He comes two
without saying who four.
And I is never lonely
when They is here with Me;
that’s I and You and He and She,
becoming Family.
And I is never really lost
when You has made I We
I has become a multitude
when They stands strong with Me.

© Penelope Wilcock 2008

Reorganized Kitchen

I rearranged the kitchen the other day.  Considering how piled up it was before I consider it a success.  I am posting pictures of the "after" part here.

The laptop is not only my computer but my radio, television and telephone as well.  The PDA is used as a portable music player, portable video player and bookreader.

Reducing possessions--especially in the kitchen--just takes time.  True, I could go and just give the extra food away that I have stockpiled, but it is not going to go bad so I have decided to keep it and use it up, though some has been given to friends and family over the past few months.

I have not even attempted to decorate this place yet--I want to wait until spring so that, having lived in this place--I will know what to work on first that will have the greatest effect toward a more peaceful environment.

Shoe Simplicity

I finally found a pair of shoes yesterday.  I finally found a pair of clogs that look like this but in black.  Simple enough to wear with jeans or a dress, and comfortable to boot.  Made of leather so it will last longer than that plastic stuff.

I am so glad that is done!  I would rather have one pair of comfortable shoes to wear everywhere than a pair for every occasion... Why keep up with 20  pairs of shoes when one pair will do?

I confess:  I have more than one pair of shoes.  I have my crocs for everyday wear, my black leather tredsafe sneakers for working or casual wear when the crocs will not do, a pair of black ankle-boots that have seen better days (never buy the fake stuff - it does not hold up), a couple pairs of sandals for summer and a pair of dress heels that are beautiful but hurt my feet and can now leave my life thanks to the new addition.

I would love to reduce my shoe collection down to a pair of dress shoes that can go from casual to dressy, a pair of everyday shoes like the crocs, a pair of sandals for summer and a heavier pair of nice shoes for either working or such.  Ideally I would love to go down to a single pair of shoes but I fear being a total fashion disaster if I do that, you know?  Is there a single pair of ladies' shoes that can do it all and still look good?


As I get older, mirrors seem to irritate me. Most of the time I avoid them. Sometimes their presence draws me in a magical sort of way, where I take some time to examine my face or body closely. On most of those occasions, I start the inevitable fault-finding; at other times, though, I try to keep my negative opinions out of the self conversation and instead approach my face with a kind of wonder. Who is this older lady, anyway? How many of those wrinkles came from worrying? How many from children? How many from worrying about children? How come makeup loses more of its efficacy with every birthday? How come hair leaves places it’s supposed to be and grows where it’s not supposed to be? It is too late for braces? No, Mr. DeMille, I’m certainly not ready for my close-up.

Mirrors aren’t pure evil, of course. They come in handy when you think you might have chocolate on your chin or broccoli in your teeth. They’ll confirm that you shouldn’t have applied lipstick while riding over a pothole-filled road or that you should have bought that waterproof mascara.

The picture above is Daddy holding me in front of a mirror that used to hang in our living room. I remember how special it felt when I was a little older and he would hoist me up to the mirror - something I couldn’t reach on my own at the time. Mirrors are fascinating objects to babies. Seeing yourself and others in a different way can be most entertaining. I think one of a parent’s first responsibilities is to introduce their children to mirrors and, ideally, to teach a child that the image she sees is a reflection of a person of value, deeply and unconditionally loved. My parents did pass this self-esteem lesson on to me, but alas, ensuing life experiences and the ubiquitous wounds of societal influence made considerable headway in tearing it down.

Ed says that prophetic preaching holds up mirrors to congregations - and for some, there’s no worse thing that can happen than looking in that spiritual mirror, for the image seen there can be quite distasteful. On the other hand, he says preachers tend to preach most vehemently about their own sins, so in essence, a preacher’s sermons are mirrors of shortcomings of the preacher’s own self, and a wise minister will take heed of that observation.

Every once in a while, a book or film will come along and function as a mirror for our society. Food, Inc is one of those films. The majority of this documentary is not pleasant to watch. It simultaneously vindicates, horrifies, nauseates, educates, and inspires. It gives us a mirror to watch how the food we eat is grown and made, processed, engineered, and in many cases genetically altered and in most cases unregulated as to its safety. It’s human nature to have no desire to see ourselves in a mirror such as this, but it is an important task, as this particular mirror has much to teach us. I highly recommend it. But wait until after you’ve eaten. It will spoil your dinner like no dessert ever could. If you like Food, Inc, you can go on and read Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma. Who needs Weight Watchers to lower your appetite? Just visit your neighborhood bookstore and start reading these best-sellers. I'll guarantee you that you will be smarter - and probably lose a few pounds in the bargain.

Gadget Simplicity

One thing us geeks tend to have: Gadgets.

In such a digital world, how do we reduce the number of gadgets we need to carry around?  There are book readers, MP3 players, portable DVD players, cell phones, laptops... an endless array of devices to cater to our every whim...

For instance; I need a device to read books, play music and the occasional video, show off photos and help me keep track of life in general.

I tried using a smartphone for this but it was kinda hard reading a book on such a tiny screen--and hooking it up to the car stereo was not a fun experience...

I ended up going back to my Lifedrive.  I hadn't totally retired the device because it makes an excellent Mp3/Ogg player and portable video device using TCPMP, besides being ready to surf the internet when bored at a restaurant that happens to have wifi (and small enough to be discreet).

Basically I went back to a bare-bones cellphone and my Lifedrive for everything else.

What does this eliminate?

  • ebook reader and physical books
  • portable music player
  • portable video player
  • portable usb thumb drive (has a built-in 4 GB hard drive for transferring files)
  • laptop for surfing the internet when out and about
  • paper planner
  • notepad
  • sound recorder
  • paper address book
  • alarm clock
It has a small built-in speaker, so I use it instead of a stereo to play music in the house when I'm cleaning, and connect it to my van to listen to it while traveling.  Katie and I sometimes go through the drive thru then park and watch a movie in the van. Yes, it has a small screen but my kid has yet to complain about being able to actually watch a show on the move...

I use it to transfer files when needed, and can even keep some portable applications on it for use on other people's computers.

I still carry two devices when you add the cell phone, but that is better than some. It is definitely better than I used to do.  I would carry a paper planner, cell phone, notepads, books, mp3 player--you name it.  I have even been able to eliminate the alarm clock in my bedroom--and save electricity as a result!

Have you been able to simplify your gadgets?

Good Days

I have made a decision.

Every day that takes place where nothing negative occurs is a GOOD day.  If something positive, however small occurs, the day is upgraded to a GREAT day.

I have became tired of having OKAY days, or just DAYS.  These just seem to make the bad things worse.

So today has been a good day, though others may deem it otherwise.

For the simplicity I desire I need to work on the inside as well as the outside, so this is my start..

How was YOUR day today?

Simplicity of Habit

Some habits can aid the pursuit of simplicity.

The morning coffee, for instance.

When you wake up in the morning and drink your dose, relax and plan the day ahead.  Write down on a notepad what you wish to get accomplished.  Ruthlessly mark out the things you do not NEED to get done immediately.  This is not a lesson in overtaxing yourself--we are just wanting to cover the basics of the day.

Just relax with that cup.  Don't read your emails or check the news--make this part of your day relaxing to set the tone and get started right.  Sip, make a general plan and relax.

Make this small routine a habit each morning and watch your days change for the better.

Simplicity of Menstrual Cloths

As I have stated in earlier posts I now use family cloths instead of bathroom tissue.  I decided to research using menstrual cloths as well when I stumbled upon this article at Associated Content about using regular wash cloths folded in a certain way.

This makes sense in an incredibly simple way.

Think about it:  you already have wash cloths you use for cleaning.  Use those cloths you already have for family cloths, then when you cycle and need protection grab one of those cloths, fold and place in your panties.  Change the cloth each time you use the restroom and you always have a clean pad on.  This would be perfect for pantyliners or anything!

You wouldn't even have to buy any special cloths, you just use the washcloths you already possess!

The simplicity of that method amazes me.  No having to buy this or that special item--just use something you already have, something that is ubiquitous in the bathroom!

This doesn't even have to be about frugality, about saving money or helping the earth.  This can be about simplifying life in general. 

No more worrying about an early period or unexpected spotting, or about leaking when you sneeze those last few months before the baby is due.  Just fold up something you already have and change it whenever you do what you normally do (use the bathroom).  How easy is that?

Life is really good.  It is even better when you can figure out a simpler way of doing things....

Boys to Men?

I've got babies on my mind. One of my coworkers just delivered her first, my friend Sally in California will welcome her first grandchild next month, and my own son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first baby (our third grandchild) this summer.

I, of course, love babies. I love their smooth skin, their baby smell, their tiny lips, their long eyelashes, and their fuzzy heads. I've had two babies myself - only they aren't babies anymore.

And that's the rub. As families, we're so wrapped up in having a "baby" that we don't realize we are giving birth to a toddler, an adolescent, a teenager, and a full grown human being. That's the journey we are beginning at delivery. I know it can sound scary to new parents, but it's actually an exciting thing to think about.

When I was in junior high, my teacher made us memorize poems. There are two I remember quite distinctly. One was The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. "And the highwayman came riding, riding, riding...the highwayman came riding up to the old inn door." Such a classic - but very long to memorize. The second poem that still beats in my brain was by William Wordsworth. It's very short:

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
Although we had extensive discussion in Mrs. Regan's class about the meaning of this poem, I never did understand most of it. I'm reflecting today, though, on one line: "The Child is father of the Man." That's what will happening to us this summer - Our Child will be father of the Man (or Woman).

Some people have a knack for looking beyond the present into the future. A family friend bought savings bonds for our babies, for instance. I myself have bought diapers for new parents that were a few sizes bigger than newborn size, knowing they would need them eventually. When Rachel had Caroline, a teacher friend of hers gave her a pink frilly ballerina-style dress that Caroline would not be big enough to wear, of course, for several years. I remember visiting that hospital room and seeing that costume hanging on a door. That's when it hit me. We aren't just having a baby. We're having a little girl - and some day a grown woman. The picture above shows Caroline when she was finally big enough to enjoy the dress. How much pleasure that brought her! All her other baby gifts were forgotten, but that dress was still enchanting.

It is a blessing to be a parent or a grandparent or innumerable other "titles" - and to be able to see a child born into this world and to participate in their journey toward adulthood. There is happiness and sorrow, but most of the time, the joys far outweigh the disappointments. At least, that is my story.

Welcome, babies (going-on-adults) of the world! Your future awaits!

Information Costs More than Food?

I just stumbled upon an article saying that we pay more for information than food!

You gotta click on the link and check it out -- cause for a lot of people he is exactly right!

I know people who have almost all of those things--the internet, the cellphone, the internet on the cellphone, the satellite radio, the satellite television, the DVR (modern TiVo)--even the wireless card for Internet on the go besides the internet they were paying for at home! I read the article and the comments and wanted to laugh!

I pay for a mid-grade DSL connection. That connection is my television thanks to Hulu and other places. It is my phone thanks to MagicJack. It is my radio thanks to Shoutcast. If I want instant replay I just wind back the controller on the page, so I have TiVO as well!

My two cellphones are both prepay, and combined cost $50 every three months to keep active, but we rarely use all of the time we purchase for them. We mainly keep a texting package on them and use that.

I splurge with having two cellphones, but feel safer knowing that my daughter can contact me wherever she is and regardless of where I am. That is a blessing when she is at her father's house or out playing--or we get separated in a store.

It is cheaper to have the two prepay phones than it is to have even the smallest family plan.

So, no cable, no satellite radio--not even a television or a game machine in this house to pay for XBox live or whatever game is hot these days...

Read the article please, and leave in the comments here how much YOU are paying for information--I would honestly love to know!

Good Morning!

I will be so happy and grateful when this weather breaks so that the guys can crawl under my house to fix these pipes!

Until then, I am very happy and grateful that the outdoor spigot was on the live side of the house shutoff!

Word to the wise: Invest in an outdoor spigot that will not be affected if you have to shut the water off to your house for plumbing repairs. It is so much easier to deal with things that way!

I connect a water hose to the spigot and run it through a window during the sunny part of the day (the sun is to keep the hose from freezing in this weather). I connect this water hose to a y-connector. One end of the y-connector hooks to the cold water line on my washing machine, and the other has the repurposed hot water line attached so that I can fill up my jugs and clean things while doing laundry.

It actually isn't that bad. I keep the hose indoors so that it won't freeze solid--another lesson learned. I have a small antique washstand that I am now keeping in my kitchen (no room in the bathroom) with water to wash my hands and take sponge baths (called whore baths during my mountain childhood when the well was low in summer).

All water gets used in the commode to flush as needed. I put wash water when I wash my hands into the back reservoir on the commode so that I can flush as needed. Hey, it works!

All water is currently getting heated on my stovetop. Thank goodness for large pots, metal bowls and teakettles!

I must admit I am looking forward to a long hot soak in the bathtub. That is the one luxury that I seriously miss. However, I am clean, I have plenty of water, I can do laundry, and this situation is a LOT better than it could be! I mean, the spigot could have been on the wrong side of the house shutoff--though for the record if that were the case I would have cut that stupid pipe and installed another shutoff to have a water source--and let the guys fix my chop job how they may!

If one was living in a rustic setting it would greatly reduce expenses to have a wellhouse built over your well, where you install the pump and washing machine (and a generator if you aren't connected to the grid). Fire up the generator and run the washer while filling up all of your water containers, then shut off everything when done. You would have to arrange some type of heat to keep the room above freezing in winter, however. I would not put windows in the building, opting instead for using the two-liter bottle method as skylights.

You take clear two-liter soda bottles and fill with water and a spoonful of bleach, capping well. Over the regular cap you glue a film canister to keep the sunlight from degrading the lid, the mount this in your ceiling of your buildings. There is a video about it on YouTube that is amazing. Here, check it out for yourself!* See Note

This way you would not waste electricity with a pump running all of the time, as well as being there when you ran the pump to avoid a dry well in case of a burst pipe.

You would also avoid having to plumb your house this way, meaning you would not have to worry about frozen pipes in the winter and the resulting water damage.

You could use a composting toilet and a gray-water disposal setup at the house. I would have at least a single drain indoors to conveniently dispose of water using this method.

Heck, with this as a beginning, you could eventually put a hottub or something in the wellhouse, gradually filling it with the wellwater. Once you got it filled you wouldn't have to bother filling it again, just topping it up. Then you could luxuriate in the hottub while doing your laundry!

Best part would be the fact that no one would dream that you would have such a sweet setup in such a rustic place!

When my daughter turns 18 and moves out, Mom may see about doing something like that. I could have my rustic environment and my luxuries too!


I got to thinking about this:  For my location water in the two-liter bottles would not be practical because of freezing, but rubbing alcohol would work!  Yes it would be more expensive than plain water and bleach, but it is clear like water, would not grow things like algae, and would not freeze in the winter!


I eliminated several smaller boxes of stuff in the back room, plus pooled some other boxes together to eliminate 4 boxes from the pile back there, not including what got tossed.

I have a lot of stuff from where I work on computers stashed away, as well as overstock from supplies I've caught on clearance like notebooks, ink pens, liquid potpurri and bar soap. Yeah, and the paper towels I have still not used up since I started using cloth towels...

Some of this overstock will fade as it gets used up and some, like the paper towels, will not be replaced.

I made a sad discovery however: I have some of those bags you use a vacuum cleaner to pull all of the air out to compress things like blankets and quilts. One of these somehow managed to get water in the bottom of it when my pipes burst despite being sealed. The quilt my mother made me as a child and two quilts my grandparents made were molding in the bag.

I'm going to wash them and treat the mold . I'm confident I caught them in time, but disappointed in the quality of those space cubes. They weren't abused--the plastic is just cheap.

Word to the wise: Don't invest in those vacuum storage space cube bags. They do not hold up, and moisture will get into them with the right conditions... Much better to just invest in totes.

Sometimes the things and investments you make to create a simpler life just do not pan out. Oh well. Live and learn.


It just dawned on me that one of my goals has actually been going against living with less...

I have been looking at the mess in the back room and thinking how I really need another shelf to deal with the chaos..


What have I been telling myself? If there is too much stuff for the space, some of it needs to go!

So time to get cracking! I have no idea what will make the cut.. not even sure what all is in the mess..

Cleaning on the Cheap

For most surfaces, Ivory soap and water cleans just fine.

For windows, take a bucket of warm water, add a small squirt of dishwashing liquid and swish to mix.

Wipe on windows with a cloth, then either use a squeegee or another cloth to dry. I generally clean all of my windows and mirrors at once using this mixture.

I tried using Ivory Soap to wash dishes and while it cleaned fine it left a bit of a film on the glasses after rinsing them. I am wondering if I'm not using enough vinegar in the rinse water.

Back in the old days people used just regular soap like lye soap or Ivory Soap to clean almost everything, so I'm trying to learn from them and save money in the process.

Also if I can eliminate a bunch of cleaners from under my sink that will simplify my life greatly!

As I use up these cleaners I don't plan to replace them. Instead I want to use things I already have to do the same job.

I gave my sister a bar of Fels Naptha and she now swears that it is the best grease cutter she has ever used, so I will have to try it.

Does anyone have any ideas for not only simplifying the cleaning process, but eliminating the huge variety of cleaners we are told we need?

Family Cloth Savings

I figured it up: When we use bathroom tissue it normally takes about 2 rolls a week of average tissue in our house.

I buy 40 packs of Pom tissue at Sam's Club. The current price is $18.88 plus tax for those 40 rolls, meaning each roll costs $0.41 each before tax.

I make my own laundry detergent, which costs about a nickel a load. However, I prewash the family cloths before I toss them in with my normal load of whites so at most I am spending a quarter extra to wash them. In the summer I hang them out to dry so that is free, but in winter they are dried with my normal load of whites, which costs me nothing extra cause I have to dry that load anyway.

With all that in mind I think I am saving at least $0.50 a week by using the family cloths. I would be saving more if I used the more expensive tissue, but I'm cheap. That works out to about $26.00 a year savings to me personally, provided I only used 2 rolls of bathroom tissue every week.

That may not seem like much, but every penny counts in this economy. Frankly I see no point in giving Big Business that money if I can use it on something I enjoy more, like a good steak or for seeds for a garden (which will give me something back).

We work to make money then give it all back to the businesses who hire us. It's like a form of slavery. The more we think we want the more we have to work to get it. The more we work, the more we think we want.

Hmmm.... I think it is time to research menstrual cloths. I may be on to something here...

Please check out this petition

Avaaz contacted me today.

This is what Avaaz says about itself: is 3.8-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (The word "Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages.) The Avaaz team works from 10 countries on 3 continents, and Avaaz members live in every country in the world.

The communication today was about a new law being prepared to put before the Ugandan parliament, proposing to make homosexuality punishable by death.

This is what Avaaz says: The bill proposes life imprisonment for anyone convicted of having same-sex relations and imposes the death penalty for “serial offenders”. NGOs working to prevent the spread of HIV could be imprisoned for up to 7 years for “promoting homosexuality”. Even members of the public face up to three years in jail if they fail to report homosexual activity to the police within 24 hours!

Avaaz further tells us:

Initial international criticism drove the President to call for a review. But after a well-funded and vicious lobbying effort by extremists, the bill looks set to be passed -- threatening widespread persecution and bloodshed.

Opposition to the bill is rising, including from the Anglican church. Ugandan gay rights advocate Frank Mugisha writes, "This law will put us in serious danger. Please, sign the petition and tell others to stand with us – if there’s a huge global response, our government will see that Uganda will be internationally isolated by the proposed law, and strike it down".

The bill’s advocates claim that it defends national culture, but its strongest critics come from within Uganda. The Reverend Canon Gideon Byamugisha is one of many who’s written to us – he says, "It is violating our cultures, traditions and religious values that teach against intolerance, injustice, hatred and violence. We need laws to protect people - not ones that will humiliate, ridicule, persecute and kill them en masse."

Avaaz works by spreading the word all around the world, to enable the voices of people throughout the international human family to be heard.

Today they are asking us simply to sign the petition they have prepared, asking the Ugandan parliament not to go ahead with passing this brutal law. With the decision in Uganda expected within days, Avaaz is working to build a petition of a million voices in protest against the proposed bill. When I signed this morning, they had about 40,000 names so far.

I do encourage you to add your name to the petition. You can read about it and add your voice to the protest here.

Family Cloth and Company

Guess what? I had some people come over, and my one kid spent the night.

They used the tissue and I still quietly used the family cloths.

I even washed the cloths in front of one friend. She had no idea what I was washing. She knows I keep a sanitizer bucket for kitchen towels in the kitchen so she may have thought I started keeping a bucket in the bathroom for wiping off the counter and other surfaces.

The main thing is, no one even suspected!

I do believe using the washcloths are a wonderful thing. No one suspects a pile of washcloths in a bathroom!

Forgetting the Family Cloth

Some habits die hard. Bathroom tissue among them.

Several times today I found myself grabbing off of the roll left in the bathroom for camouflage. Not good.

I will continue to correct myself as I work toward saving more money.

I have more cloths, purchased on sale so that I don't have to worry about running out before laundry day. I hope I won't anyhow...

Fortunately I try to do laundry at least twice a week because I don't like my kitchen towels to soak for too long.

Which reminds me.. I washed the family cloths that I used during my cycle.. not a single bloodstain remained on any of them. I am quite pleased.

The Road Less Traveled can be isolated

I've always been, well, different. I have always been aware of this, and many times I have wished that I could fit in here or there, but alas, most of my life I've felt like a fish out of water - or at least one dumped in the wrong aquarium.

Don't get me wrong - I've had a remarkably happy life. Thank goodness one can be different and still be content.

I am different because, for one, my interests are not conventional. I can't even read People magazine anymore because I have no idea whose these "celebrities" are. I would rather listen to Mozart or big band tunes from the 1940s than what is considered "popular" music. I'd rather enjoy a black-and-white movie from 1935 than see Avatar. As a girl, when my classmates had posters of the latest male teen idol on their bedroom walls, I had a giant poster of Abraham Lincoln. When others were bemoaning English class, I got my kicks by diagramming sentences.

It's that latter part of my personality that keeps me out of the mainstream of society. You see, I love anything to do with words - spelling, grammar, construction, punctuation - the whole lot. I migrated to a medical transcription career due in part to my love of language. I have my favorite words (cream is one) and words I can't stand (puce is one). I have favorite authors (Agatha Christie) and authors whose writing put me to sleep (Thoreau).

See? Just imagine it - all of my favorite composers and authors are dead. Does this mean I'm an old fogey at 55, or does this just mean I've been out of the loop for a long time? Does this mean I am self-righteous about what I consider to be good music or good writing, or does this just mean I started stagnating at about age 14? Considering the fact that I wasn't a typical 14-year-old, that wouldn't explain it either.

This feeling of my being outside the mainstream culminated this week with some dire news: SPELL is going out of business. SPELL will be no more within the year.

Now, because you readers are probably popular and good-looking and wealthy and all the things I'm not, I'm sure you don't know what SPELL is. If you did, you would be weird like me, and, man, in that case, I'd feel sorry for you.

SPELL is the Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature. They send out a newsletter every couple of months for us word junkies. They have clever articles on puns and word origins, and invite members to send in their language pet peeves. In the middle of the newsletter, there are two full pages of items that members have submitted showing grammatical and punctuation errors from all sorts of signs, magazines, newspapers, and other media. Yes, we SPELL members laugh and roll our eyes and make fun of all the mistakes. My husband Ed thinks we're all judgmental and quite insane. But in that SPELL group, I feel that I belong. Why, I've discovered folks just like me! Folks who care whether it's peaked or piqued! People who double over in agony at a "tomatoe" for sale! Individuals who realize there is a time and place - and not - for an apostrophe! I basked in acceptance.

But the latest SPELL newsletter said they would have to stop publication. Why? The number of subscribers had dwindled too much to make SPELL financially viable. Which, of course, puts me smack in the minority - again.

I can't say I would want to change, even if I could. It can be quite pleasant in my little world. But it seems as if it is getting lonelier every year.

This old town that I love

Ganeida asked to see some pics of Hastings after reading my description of it the other day. So many possibilities for photographs! I took my camera through the town centre into the Old Town, and took some snaps until its short memory was full.

10.02.10 This slide show has been moved to the bottom of the page - scroll right down to find the pictures.

Family Cloth Challenge

The first challenge came to my use of Family Cloth: my monthly cycle. Darn.

I had a decision to make, and I needed to make it fast.

I decided to continue with the experiment.

It is icky, but it doesn't feel as icky cleaning that bloody mess with a damp cloth as opposed to a bunch of dry tissue. I've got a bottle filled with water, a drop of olive oil, a drop of tea tree oil and a drop of soap (it's a really small bottle) that I squirt on the cloth before wiping. I feel much fresher cleaning this way than I did using the bathroom tissue.

I am concerned about the cloths staining. I keep them in a bleach solution until wash day, but I am still paranoid. I read on some menstrual cloth forums that blood stains generally wash clean especially if they are soaked and the water changed frequently. This morning to be sure I changed the water and swished the cloths around some and inspected them. A couple of cloths that had stayed folded still had a bit of blood on them but most were totally free of blood. Maybe this will not be a concern after all....

After going this far to save money I am wondering if I should go whole hog and start using menstrual cloths as well. One lady just folds up her cloths and uses that instead of making anything fancy, and gives an option for using some waterproof flannel(?) as a liner between the cloth and the underwear if one is concerned. Insane as it sounds I may have to research that...