Bold Choices

It’s been almost three weeks since my last post.  Yada, yada, yada.  The following is a mish-mosh that could have been three different posts, but whatever.

It was a helluva move.  In the rain.  With waaaay too much crap.


I’ve already decided  that next time (and remember, next time could be in as little as 2 years!) I’m going to get rid of all my crap and only move my grandmother’s antique bedroom furniture and 2 other boxes per person.

Okay, not really.  But I’m going to get rid of a LOT of crap.  Promise.

So, the move itself was awful, but with the help of wonderful friends and family we got it done.  And we’re here.  Yay!!!!!

Now there’s the unpacking and arranging and more painting and picture hanging.

And there’s been new furniture buying (leather couch, chair and ottoman) and new grill buying (our old one was disintegrating) and various and sundry other large expenditures (service contract for the renters of our old place, insurance policy on the old place).  I don’t like large expenditures.  They make me itchy.

And there’s paint color to choose.

And choose we have.  The house was painted in varying colors of white and eggshell, with a little brown paneling for contrast.  We’ve made some very bold color choices – ones that may give my father (who really went out on a limb when he painted his new condo a very, very, very light tan) a coronary.  I’ve already told him about the bright green in Son’s room   (his response:  “Why?”).  The playroom is a buttery yellow – not that bold a choice, especially considering that 80%  of our last home  was painted the  exact same shade.

The guest room is a dusty green – bold only in that I bought 2 cans of different color oops paint (paint mistakes, sold at Home Depot for $5 a gallon) and gambled that they’d look okay combined.

The master bedroom is a goldish-camelish color, chosen in 5 seconds when I opened the color wheel at Home Depot.  Scary, that.  I was worried when I saw it in the can, but looooove it on the walls.

All of those will likely give my poor father angina.  But what’s really going to get him is the kitchen.

We’ve gone for a very orange-red Behr’s Volcanic Blast over the cabinets and on one small wall, and the very mossy-green Behr’s Herbal Garden on the adjoining walls.


The orange-red is more orange than I hoped – likely partially because of the underlying semi-gloss paint.  Man, is it orange!  I’ve been worried, even considering getting it toned down a bit.

But no.  It looks terrific next to the green.  It’s bright and happy and bold.  All great ingredients for a kitchen.

Bold choices – moving, renting out our home, buying new furniture in a down economy, painting very saturated colors.

Scary choices.

Good choices.

Still, best have a chair ready when dad sees it.


Garage Sale Finds Make My Day But Leave Me in a Frugal Conundrum

There is so much to do to get ready for this move, and so much we still need.  It’s somewhat ironic that after spending lots of time and energy to get rid of things from my Dad’s house – like a microwave oven, a kitchen table, televisions and a patio set – what we most need to replace are the microwave oven, kitchen table, a television and a patio set.  I don’t feel the need to fill all the rooms, but there are some things we’d need and/or want right away.

My community’s annual garage sale was today, and since I decided not to participate as a seller that means I was free to be a shopper!  I love to go “garage saling”.  Son and I will get up early, go to Dunkin’ Donuts and make the  rounds.

We’ve not gone in awhile – part of my campaign to divest us from clutter instead of collecting more – so this was a treat.  Heck, this move has almost made it imperative that I hit the garage sales.  Snort.

Son and I were up and ready to go by 7:15 am.   I put a huge “FOR RENT” sign on our front door as we left (hey, you never know), armed with cash,  my cell phone and my huge Vera Bradley tote.  Son was armed  with a Hotwheels car.  Priorities…

There are 300 homes in my community, but only about 40 owners participate in a good year.  At 7:30 this morning I only saw a handful, but from experience I know that some people skip the professional garage-salers (or sleep off one too many Cosmopolitans) and set up as late as 10am.

In my first (of four) tours of the property I found someone offering a microwave oven for $25.  I was going to buy a new one, but after pricing them at the size we need I realized it was going to cost over $100 – something I was not doing. The oven being offered was white, it was clean, it was big enough.   The owner had never even removed the protective plastic covering over the keypad, making it seem in worse shape than it was.  I bargained down to $18, and the first thing I did when I got it home was remove the plastic covering.  The darn thing looks brand new! Cha-ching!

I needed to take Son to his Karate class, and after we returned I took another tour.  This  time I found a 19″ television that will be perfect for either Husband’s office or Son’s playroom.  They were asking $25 – I got it for $15 and they threw in a VCR for free.  Cha-ching!

On my third tour I picked up four DVD’s  – two Thomas the Train and two Spongebob Squarepants for $5.  That’s better than the usual going rate of $2-$3 per DVD, but I think I got the “cute kid” discount.  Whatever works!

On my fourth tour I came across a kitchen table and chairs that may work for us.  It’s  from Pier 1, made of Brazilian  wood and I could  probably get it for $150 or less.  Here is a very lousy photo showing some of it:

Garage Sale Table

It’s very rustic looking, and  it comes with 4 chairs.  The table is marked up a bit, but it is a great deal.

I didn’t buy it, but I did get the owner’s phone number.  Why not?

Well, I don’t love it.  I love this:


But THAT set will likely set us back $750 – $800.  But it does include the hutch and 6 chairs.

But I love it.  It’s so preeeeeeeeeeetty.  And well made!

I want to make a good decision, and sometimes that’s hard to do.

We may only be living in my Dad’s house for 2 years.  Do I spend an extra $600 for something I love, something that won’t  fit well into my townhouse (if we wind up moving back), or do I buy the inexpensive, not quite as nice rustic set?

That’s a good question.  What would you do?

What a Waste

Our community has bulk pick-up every week.  I know I’m lucky, as many communities have no bulk pick-up at all.  Heck, my Dad’s tony city has none so residents have to schlep it somewhere, which can be a real PITA.

This morning I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful wood bed at the end of someone’s driveway.  It looked to be in very good condition, and even if it wasn’t I’d have schlepped it home if I had the room to store it.

It’s truly amazing to me what people put by the curb.  Perfectly usable items, and occasionally they find their way off the curb and into my car.  Some I sell, and some I keep, but either way they aren’t taking up unnecessary space in a landfill.

Just because you don’t want to take the time or spend the money to repair something doesn’t mean it’s  trash.  Unless your dog peed on it or it’s smashed into a hundred pieces someone else can probably use it, and be thrilled to have it.

I understand wanting to get rid of unwanted items, I really do.  But  how much effort does it take to donate something?  A phone call will see the veterans, Salvation Army or one of a thousand church organiations come to your house and pick it up.  You can even get a tax deduction!

There’s also Craigslist, where you can sell your item and make a few dollars.  And Freecycle, where someone who thinks your trash is treasure will come and take it off your hands.  Both of these options take minimum effort, as it takes about two minutes to post a listing.  Yes there can be pitfalls to using these services, but even though I’ve been burned I still think they are very much worth utilizing…

And you can make someone’s life better or easier or prettier.

And you don’t have to schlep it to the curb.

And there will be more space in the landfills.

And my garage.

That Ain’t No Singer

Every Wednesday is bulk pickup day in my neighborhood. In the past I’ve been known to profit from my neighbors’ garbage. People throw away some seriously good stuff.

Lately, though, I’ve not even been looking. We are trying to downsize and declutter as we get ready to sell the house. We’re already overstuffed because of the items I’ve brought home that were from my Dad’s old house, things that he couldn’t bear to see leave the family. And Husband tends to get a little crazed when His Domain (aka the garage) gets cluttered.

All my good intentions flew South as I walked out of my house two mornings ago. There by the curb my next door neighbor had placed several items too good to resist. Items that should not be taking up space in a landfill. Items that should be used, or sold on Craigslist.

There was a perfectly good girl’s bike. There was a perfectly good dog crate.

And there was this:

Do you know what that is? Yes, it’s a sewing machine. But it’s not an ordinary sewing machine. It’s a HUSQVARNA VIKING Sewing machine. Selling for $800 and up.

And she was tossing it. A lovely, lovely woman who is obviously slightly insane.

My current Singer sewing machine has…issues. This one needs a new needle plate, but according to my neighbor it is in otherwise good condition.

I’m thinking Mama has a new sewing machine. But the other part of me is screaming, “SELL IT!”

The bike and the crate will definitely be sold. It makes Husband feel funny. He wonders if perhaps I should give the money to the neighbors; I don’t think that’s necessary – they were tossing it. Besides, a “Surprise! Here’s $30. I sold your garbage for you,” might not be received so nicely…

On the other hand, someone very close to me was once selling brand new $50 wood blinds from Home Depot, in an unopened box, at a garage sale for $5. They didn’t sell, so I fibbed and told her I’d take them, that a friend might buy them. I then hightailed it over to HD and returned them. She seemed pretty happy when I handed her the gift card, and I was very happy to do it…

I know what I’m going to do.  What would you do?


The other day Son wasn’t listening when we asked him to clean up his Lincoln Logs, so Husband told him that if he didn’t clean them up he was going to take them away.

I stood there and shook my head, knowing that this would be no incentive at all. Because Son doesn’t get attached to his toys.

He enjoys them. He plays with them. He particularly loves his trains and cars, but more as a class than individually. There will be periods of attachment when a particular toy goes everywhere with him. But these periods are always short-lived, and no deep attachment forms to a specific toy.

This made no sense to me. I’d always seen evidence that kids form strong attachments to their toys. Many of the parents I know clean out playrooms and toy boxes only when their kids aren’t home in an attempt to avoid the histrionics that would be inevitable if the children knew their toys were moving out.

Not so here. I found this out the first time I tried taking away a toy as a consequence for not cleaning up after himself. He could have cared less, but I don’t know how. Over time I tried different ways, but whether I took away one car or one hundred, for one day or five it just didn’t matter. At all.

Huh. He’s not attached to stuff. Who’s not attached to stuff?

Guess who helps me choose toys to give away? Guess who has talked him into keeping toys?

Now, as we’re getting ready to put the house on the market I find myself asking him if we should keep this serving dish, or that tablecloth, or the other dustcatcher.

He’s all about relationships, not things. It’s not important what he plays with, it’s just important that he plays.

I’m forty-three. He’s four. And he learned the lesson first. And had to teach it to me.

Really. It’s humbling.

Now if I could just get him past his urinal obsession

Medication Expiration Dates Not So Relevant

I was reading a post over at Freebies4Mom (a great source of frugal info!) about cleaning out your medicine cabinet. As part of the continuing war on clutter she recommended tossing expired medications.

While I do agree that the Tylenol capsules from 1986 should be tossed, not all expired medications really need to be.

Drug manufacturers are required to stamp an expiration date on their products, but it’s not the date they suddenly become toxic. It is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug.

Many expired medicines are fine to use. Any decrease in efficacy is minimal, and it’s not as if they become toxic as they age (though there may be some exceptions). I will use most medicines for up to another year or two after their expiration date. And according to a study done by the FDA at the request of the military 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.

So, is it a conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies to force us to buy medicines over and over again unnecessarily? Perhaps. At the very least I’m sure it’s why they don’t fight the FDA to allow tiered dates (100% potency for year 1, 92% for year 2, 88% for year 3, for example).

But I prefer to think that the dates are conservative to ensure that we are getting what we paid for, and getting the most potent formulations to take care of our ills and aches.

On the other hand, I would be willing to sacrifice 10% of potency for a 50% discount for many drugs. Wouldn’t you? Okay, Viagra users. I’m asking everyone but you…

Of course I’m not advising you, as I’m not a doctor or a pharmacist. You really should rely on them for advice. I’m just a girl on the web who has an opinion on everything.

90% Well Done

This morning I went to use the microwave and noticed it was dirty. I cleaned it, then noticed that the electric can opener was, too (does anyone have one of these that works well? I never have!). I cleaned that and pretty soon there was no stopping the ball from gaining momentum on the way to completely tearing apart my kitchen. Three garbage bags, 1 large charity box and twelve cleaned and re-organized cabinets later my kitchen is just about ready to be shown. That’s good, since I have appointments with two realtors this week.

It’s hard for me to plan ahead for these things. When I think about a huge job like that I get so overwhelmed I don’t even want to begin. And lately I’ve been doing so much at my Dad’s old house that the thought of packing or cleaning out anything is about as welcome as a hemorrhoid. As a result the upkeep of my house, and the market-readiness work have fallen to the wayside. That’s not right, but it’s the way that it is. Or has been.

But when something just evolves the way it did today I feel empowered and completely forget to be overwhelmed.

I like that feeling.

The only downside is that I still have not found a cure for the 90% Doneness Syndrome. I get 90% of a job done and am left with a pile of things that I don’t know what to do with, or am too tired to deal with after busting my tush all day. Today’s 10% is currently sitting on my dining room table.


Tomorrow. I’ll deal with it tomorrow.

Thanks, Jerk

I’m still working to get the clutter out of my Dad’s old house, even as he’s already been in the new place for three weeks.

A local charity is coming by on Tuesday to pick up a truckload of items we don’t want or need.  They won’t take anything that’s not in saleable condition, so I needed to do something with the thirty-two (yes, 32) pieces of patio furniture that were too old, rusty, and/or dirty to sell, but were perfect for someone who wanted to put in a little elbow grease to restore them.

So, I placed an ad on Craigslist in their “Free” section offering a curb alert.  They could please come and take  what they wanted from the side deck, but please respect our property and don’t take anything not in the  place specified and don’t drive on the grass.

Today I asked my sister-in-law to do a drive-by to see what, if anything was left.  Some of the items were gone, but someone who apparently is not the Next Coming of Ghandi decided to dump a sodden old couch in the yard.


So, thanks, Jerk, for teaching me a lesson.

Anyone want a sodden green couch?  It’s free.  Just send me a copy of your drivers license and I’ll send you the address.

Better yet, let us deliver it.

Memories Are Best Kept In My Heart, Not in Drawers and Boxes All Over the House

I’ve learned something from going through all of the clutter at my Dad’s house. I don’t want anyone to ever have to sort through drawer after box after closet of my crap.

So, what am I going to do with all mine?

I have a lot. I’ve saved movie stubs and birthday cards and love notes and locks of hair. I’ve saved t-shirts and brochures and Playbills and candy bar wrappers.

And it’s not organized. There’s some here, and some there. Every once in awhile I’ll take a bunch of it and put it in a box or drawer. These things never go into scrapbooks or anything that would be able to be enjoyed by someone else. But really, who would anyway?

Then there’s my planners. I had saved my daily planners for about ten years, figuring it would be kind of cool to look back in later years and see what I’d done, where I’d been. Yesterday when we were cleaning out the garage I saw them and started thinking about them. Who is going to care that I had a doctor’s appointment on March 28, 2001? Really. I tossed them.

So I got the thought into my head to just get rid of all of the loose memorabilia, the random junk that will mean nothing to anyone but me. I may save a very few things that are very special to me, but they won’t be random pieces of paper or tickets to my 10th Styx concert. Those memories are best kept in my heart.

But not my photos. I’m not going to get rid of my photos.

But they did get me thinking some more. At my Dad’s house there is a closet and a large part of the garage that hold photo albums and scrapbooks and other memorabilia from my stepmother, and her mother, and my grandmother, and any number of older, deceased family members. What does one do with that? My stepmother obviously felt compelled to keep it, but she had no idea what to do with it all either, besides throw it in a closet. No one really wants it, but no one wants to toss it, either. I’d like my Dad to hold onto the stuff from when we were growing up, and his Mom’s stuff. But no one really wants the other stuff. It’s not my decision to toss it or not, and thank goodness for that.

So of course that got me thinking some more. Who is going to want mine?

I have a son. Boys typically could care less about these types of things. He’s not going to want them. Sure, his future wife will want to see and have pictures and some memorabilia of him growing up, but she’s not going to want mine, or my Dad’s.

So, I’m keeping my photos. And a little bit of my memorabilia. And a lot of his memorabilia. And someday, hopefully many, many years from now, he’ll go through it all and decide what he wants to keep, and what he wants to toss. I won’t mind.

All of the memories will live in my heart, and hopefully in his.

Great Deals Lose Value When they Sit. And Sit. And Sit.

Clutter didn’t used to bother me, as I had room to store things. When I bought this house I was single and actually looked for ways to fill it up. As my family has expanded from one to two and now three there’s less and less room, less places for storage. And it was pretty full to begin with.

And so the clutter has started to bother me.

A lot.

So I had garage sales, and I sold things on Craigslist. I’ve culled the clutter, but there was still so much. Then last year I had an epiphany. Just because I like it doesn’t mean I need to keep it. That was a mind blower for me. So as that sunk in I had more garage sales, and sold more things on Craigslist.

But there’s still so much. Soooo much. Part of the reason for that is that I’ve always bought things when I found great deals, whether I could use them at the time or not. If it was something I thought I’d use I’d buy it. And I’ve kept doing that even as I was getting rid of other stuff. Husband complains that he organizes the garage and cleans stuff out and then I buy more things to put in it.

That, my friends, is why I still have so much clutter.

Part of the reason for that is the difficulty I have in letting go of things I’ve gotten deals on. I want to get what I paid or more, and if I don’t I let it sit. And sit. And sit.

I’m tired of all the sitting. And I realized something important: it has no value when it’s just sitting there, taking up space. I’d be better off paying more for something when I need it than getting a deal on it and carrying it from place to place, perhaps even forgetting that I have it.

So I’m going to do something that so goes against my grain. I’m going to give away things that have value. Even new things. I’m going to loaad up the car and make a nice donation to Women in Distress. I just know I’ll feel so much freer.

I’m not going to change completely. I’ll still buy gifts ahead of time, and things I know I’ll need within the next two months. And later, when I finally have a house, I’ll buy gift wrap after Christmas to save for the next year and Easter eggs for next year’s hunt. But not until then. I just don’t have the room, and I just don’t want the clutter.

I need a fresh start.

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