April Update: Minimalism Edition

I finished the 12-week Uncluttered course. It was interesting, motivating, and irksome.

Interesting: Seeing how other people live. Despite demographic and geographic differences, I had a lot in common with a widow in a tiny NYC apartment and new parents in a UK two-up-two-down house. We minimized cherished belongings to free time and space for the here-and-now.

Motivating: The weekly goals and participation helped a lot, particularly when another participant would confess, “I’m behind.” Plus, occasionally someone would balk at a weekly assignment and other attendees offered work-around ideas.

Which leads me to…

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Minimalism Progress Report: Week 5

BE MY GUEST!

I just started the fifth week of the 12-week class Uncluttered, run by American minimalist Josh Becker. It’s the wardrobe clean-out week. I figured I could skip it after the autumnal closet-cleaning.

Looking again, I found scarves and a thermo-insulated gloves that other people could use. I also tossed a beautiful blue-and-pink sweater. It’s comfortable, warm, and matched other articles of clothing. I have worn it weekly since December, but keeping it presentable is too much work. Every single time I wore it, let alone washed it,  loops of yarn came loose and had to be pulled to the reverse side with a crochet needle. 

It’s interesting to see photos of other people’s homes and swap stories. Many people thought all Americans live in big houses, until a “shutgun house” owner and a NYC resident posted photos.  I will say this: we like big living rooms even in small homes. 

An Englishwoman explained what “two-up-two-down” means. When we compared our respective square footage, we weren’t surprised that mine is bigger – but not by much.  Our proportions differ greatly. My kitchen is luxuriously spacious; her two bedrooms are larger than my three (one of which is technically a nursery).  

When I posted “after” photos of the guestroom (above), everyone commented on the black-white-and-red color scheme. Evidently, oxblood is unusually bold. 

 A funny aside:  The more we minimize our belongings, the more we rationalize purchasing more.

Our instructor and our peers reminded to hold off on buying anything – organizers, paint, etc. – until we finish the course.  The impulse was certainly running through in our group, like a bargain-hunting phantom. 

I’m glad I committed to another year of Mindful Buying. Temptation was trying to talk me into  purchasing a really nice belt to replace the cheap ones I threw out. I already have a nice belt. Just not a REALLY nice belt!

An Invasion of Arachnids

Last week, I killed three spiders in my bedroom and another yesterday. It is now a bedtime routine: I put on my nightshirt, turn on the TV, and prepare for an hour or so of entertainment. Then a familiar shadow moving on the wall or the doorframe, just enough to draw my attention.

Blammo! with a shoe or a tissue box.

I killed a black marauder (not its name; I don’t know what they are) in the bathroom. It was enjoying a siesta on the paper roll when I reached over… That one ended up going on a flume ride.

A delicate cellar spider died in the shower under mysterious circumstances. (Note: “Mysterious circumstances” connotes “a full-blast faucet and a squeamish bather’s feet.”)

Today I surveyed the garden – the delicata are coming along nicely, but the tomatoes are lazy. Afterwards, I hopped in the car to do some errands. And banded garden spider was hitching a ride on my thigh.

Immediately I jumped out of the car and started doing the Get-Off-of-Me Dance, complete with brushing my pantleg and yelling “Get off me!” (Which is rather silly, because spiders don’t understand English; they speak Italian sotto voce, naturally.) The spider bungee-corded into the grass.

After regaining my composure, I opened the car-door and began sliding behind the wheel…. The unwanted passenger had cleverly moved to the inner side of my pantleg.

Gah!

(Flashback: Biggest Brother mercilessly refusing to kill spiders for me. I thought he was Being Mean. In hindsight, he was like the drill sergeant forcing the new recruits to toughen up and face the enemy head-on. It was For My Own Good.)

I think it’s time for chemical warfare. After all, I can sympathize with spiders craving a bath and a nice place to sleep. But hijacking my car? No.

Saturday Night Check-in

Writing: Meh. I spent a lot of time sorting files, looking for handwritten notes on the next chapter. I have  a LOOOOTTTTT of notes. As a result, only about 1500 original words this week.

Work: Two weeks after the contractual end of the year, The Factory finally closed for two months. I’ll be heading back early. The second week of August is a training session in, ironically, Kagan Cooperative Learning.  So far, the CDC guidelines for reopening schools don’t allow students to be facing each other and advises that social distancing be maintained in the classroom.

Garden: A single radish plant has supplied me with three harvests of seedpods. The first squash blossoms have appeared – on the plants grown from the last-minute seeds carelessly tossed into a sinkhole, naturally. A dearth of landscape fabric forced me to use cardboard boxes as weed-block around the shed, which looks terrible but can’t be helped.

La Casa de Tontería: Inside, the house looks like a cyclone hit. I returned the last box of work material to The Factory, except for two boxes of reading materials I purchased to supplement a class. This weekend, I’m tidying and deep-cleaning – a real chore.

Mindful Spending: I was privately messaged about this, but a blog-answer is best. I stopped posting monthly updates because the Shutdown changed the cost and availability of everything. Not to mention a new category of expenses appeared: working-from-home. I begin July anew.

 

 

Five Planned Expenditures for 2020

In anticipation of my 2020 challenge A Year of Mindful Shopping, I put together a list of above-and-beyond expenses. I was going to estimate their cost, but I really can’t.

  • Four nights in hotels. A family reunion and a weekend trip are in the works.
  • Materials for sprucing up the powder room. Labor is free, thanks to BabyBro’s generous nature. (Honestly, I think my MacGuyvered flooring pulled at his heartstrings.)
  • Admission to at least three museums and five gardens.
  • A new water heater.
  • A new headboard for the guest room.

Year of (gulp!) No Shopping

It’s that time of year again. The season of Black Friday sales and the slow trickle of tax documents.

And a horrible urge* to try a Year Without Shopping (YWS). according to my field notes, it consists of the following “rules”:

  • No new additions to the wardrobe
  • No new _______ until current supply of _________ is used up
  • No entertainment purchases with the exception of experiences (This seems to be popular loophole; for example a learning experience or roadtrip.)

If anything breaks or wears beyond prepare, there is a process:

  1. Substitute.
  2. Borrow.
  3. Buy used

I have already incorporated some practices into daily life. However, I’m daunted by the idea of committing to no sales or no stocking up.  And there’s the haunting sense that once I commit to it, sinister stars will align to break various necessities…

But I’m going to do it anyway. This coming week, I will make a list of five (5!) planned expenditures.  Wish me luck.


*By “horrible urge,” I mean a horribly sweet Puerto Rican has been urging me to follow his footsteps, if not hus vagabond ways.

 

Odds and Ends of House Upkeep

Usually winter is my relaxing season because, despite an increase in paperwork and often-hectic holiday preparations, the pace of life slows. There is little yard maintenance, the local roads have less traffic, and there are no mosquitoes.

Early snowfall, however, created its own problems. I had to get the birdfeeders squirrel-feeders set up early, so I grabbed two bags of the very limited selection at a soon-to-close retailer. The wildlife do not like it. It has too much corn, judging by the slowly-growing pile of kernels beneath the feeder. At least the suet is a hit, as well as easy to stock up; a local grocer carries it in the seasonal aisle. Continue reading

Diet Wardrobe

Warning: Fashion blather ahead.

Two weeks ago, the change in weather made me take a wardrobe inventory. My modest weight loss has changed the fit of everything except socks and shoes.

As an added annoyance, while I was clearing out the old shed, I dumped a sprayer of what I thought was a soapy cleaning solution but turned out to be mold-and-moss remover; the bleach splattered my work-worthy trousers. Luckily, I needed work-around-the-house clothes.

However, finding replacement clothes has been difficult. Several years ago, I had to  come up with a complete winter wardrobe, so I visited final-sale stores and charity shops. Currently (or as my brain insists en la actualidad), those discount stores are closed and the charity shop’s selection is of low quality.  That means I end up shopping online, in the few brick-and-mortar stores an hour’s drive from home, and the picked-over charity selection.

The decline in quality is obvious.

Why the change?

Fast fashion. Continue reading

Shedding the Shed

On rainy Wednesday I got the news: the old shed will be dismantled Friday. Today after work, I cleared it out – much to the chagrin of the chipmunk living under it and the spiders within. Tomorrow morning I must turn off all the breakers so the wire is effectively “dead” and leave my preferred roof sample atop the still-wrapped new shed kit.

Will give an update tomorrow evening!

Going Out and Coming In

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Treasures that need a little TLC, but the previous owner kept the blades sharp. The plate beneath them is one of my own creations.

Last week I dropped a carload of books, household goods, and the remainder of my DVD collection to the parish rummage sale. Last year I was reluctant to let go of some things, so I kept them but resolved to read, watch or use them.

I didn’t, so away they went.

Later I went to the sale and (of course) looked for my former possessions.  Other than an electric teakettle and a few philosophy books, nothing remained. There’s a kind of thrill in knowing someone else has found a use for one’s donated belongings.

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