Saturday, January 31, 2009

Junior Day!

This was a very busy, yet fun day. My old college invited high school juniors up for tours and sessions. We both really enjoyed it and Raleigh found out exactly what he needs to do to get into college. He came away excited about where he's going. Now, just to translate that excitement into the work needed to get there.

I finally got my W2 from work so when we got home I filed my income tax return. At least that's off my to-do list.

Interesting development: this morning I was motivated enough to exercise. That hasn't happened for months...something to do with having my house back in better condition maybe? I used my solar powered battery to run the tv while I rode the stationary bike (watching a Robbie Williams dvd) so that was my green work out!

I've borrowed a book called Total Money Makeover from the library. I'm hoping to get more ideas on debt reduction.

Tomorrow is a new month and a chance to cut back on grocery costs again.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The floor

This is where it all started. My new bamboo floor stacked in the corner adjusting to the temperature in my house.
Some people could have done this installation themselves, but with an investment in materials like this I wanted it done right. Fortunately, I have a contractor. My knees hurt just looking at this picture.
The cabinets in the background I did install myself. Thanks to a job building cabinets many years ago, I could handle that part.

Down to the finishing touches.

They even managed to place the flooring underneath the legs of the radiator. Not a job for light-weights.

It feels so good just to have my kitchen furniture back in the right spaces!

I love it.

I've been lucky enough to find both an excellent electrician and contractor. If only I had such luck with plumbers. I've heard the horror stories of shady contractors. Ones who take the money and disappear, only do the demolition, haven't a clue about the job, or just do really shoddy work. I've been working with mine for over eight years and have never been disappointed. He's smart, meticulous to details, and dependable. Yes, even worth waiting three months for a floor.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This or that

People don't really change, do they? Maybe, after a lifetime of making choices, interacting with others in certain ways, they simply can't change without an overwhelming determination. And how many of us are honestly willing to make that effort? It may not even be fair to ask for change. What it comes down to is if change and acceptance are both impossible then all that's left is a basic incompatibility.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January winding down

It's been a busy, stressful month. I'm almost at the end of my goal of not eating out at all! That was probably the hardest part of being frugal; having to cook when I didn't feel like it so I'd have something for lunch the next day. I need to work on my goulash to get a bit more flavor there. I also need to find some more recipes (easy ones!) that I can try out. I actually enjoy having real meals at home, obviously I need to force myself to make them though. I'm thinking of letting myself eat out 1 lunch a week in February.

Other changes...I've stopped using my clothes dryer completely. I may have to figure out somewhere in the basement to put another line. It's not really a problem now since the air is so dry. Spring will be interesting.

My contractor is coming on Thursday to put the kitchen floor in! He has to come because he's having me pick up the tools from the rental tomorrow evening.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Job done!

I wanted to get my pot rack hung up before the new floor gets put in and today I finally did. I used toggle anchors (on the advice of my contractor) and it feels stable. I like the way it looks too.

Here is my future floor:

Some time in the coming week it should finally get installed. Hooray!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Why have I gone green?

This was asked recently by someone whose opinion is important to me so I thought I'd dedicate a post to the subject. It's really not a cut and dried answer though. I didn't wake up one morning filled with zeal to be green. It was a much more gradual change of viewpoint, mindset and awareness.

I started with the easy changes like most do; recycling. The more I thought about the whole footprint thing, the more decisions became important: growing/buying locally, reducing what I send to the landfill, water conservation, renewable energy, cutting back on electric usage. One step naturally led to another so when appliances broke down I looked for energy star (high efficiency) models to replace them. When I got serious about what went into the garbage and growing more vegetables composting was the obvious solution (and one of the most satisfying changes I've made). Environmentally, the footprint is the key motivator for me; it's become a personal challenge or test to see how well I can do, but I think a big part of what pushes me is my innate pessimism.

What if? What if it all goes horribly wrong? If we've learned anything this past year it's that our economy is a fragile construct and is terribly vulnerable. We also know it's going to get worse before it gets better; what if it doesn't improve? What if? The climate, government, natural disasters, epidemic (natural or engineered), alien invasion (hey, anyone would get jumpy after reading the Posleen books!). My emotional reaction to worst case scenarios is to want to gather my loved ones close around and keep us all safe (much easier if all were on the same continent!). My practical side wants to be better prepared. Not in the build a bomb shelter and stockpile beans and bullets sense, but in having the knowledge and tools to be as self-sufficient as possible.

This desire is what has driven me to learn the basics of food preserving, butchering, knitting. It's why I'm trying to convince my parents to get their well pump working and why I wish we had the resources to go off grid electrically (very expensive here). I feel fortunate to not only live in a rural area, but to have grown up on a small farm with all the economies and hard work that involves. It hasn't been so many generations since the pioneers that we've forgotten that we can and will survive if need be.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ahhh Sunday

There is something absolutely delightful about having a lazy sleep-in on a Sunday morning. Especially when there's nothing pressing that needs doing. Of course, I still had to get up at 7:00 to take T'Pal out, but it was straight back to bed after. Now it's noon and we just finished breakfast - pancakes. I'm thinking about getting dressed...eventually.

A side effect to this frugal month is there isn't any reason to go to town. Probably the only thing available in a smaller town is the library which is closed on Sunday. So I save on gas too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Celsius meet Fahrenheit

The wind chill has hit -40.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fighting the winter blahs

Snow, ground blizzards, dangerous wind chills and white everywhere you look...probably explains why we tend to decorate with rich colors. The most recent room I painted was my bedroom. Rhubarb red wouldn't be everyone's first choice, but I love the feeling of warmth I get from it.

I read a blog today about giving up shampoo. Nope, not for me. Another item on my list of green things I'm not willing to try: toilet cloth, handkerchiefs, and not bathing frequently. I have switched to solid shampoos which eliminates the plastic packaging and does a great job.

On the frugal front, I'm pleased to report that I have not eaten out at all this month and no frivolous spending. I'm afraid the furnace repair bill will offset any saving I manage, but that certainly was necessary.

"I wish...I wish...I wish..."

No magic here. No fairy tale ending.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What a day!

A horrible meeting with drama and fighting at work, crawling home on icy roads to find...the furnace not working! Classic. My parents brought over their space heaters which are keeping some of the rooms at 60 F (15.5 C); livable if not exactly comfortable. Oh, and the final blow to my day? Logging on to BBC iplayer hoping to watch the new episode of Hustle only to find that I'm not allowed since I live outside the UK.

I should have stayed in bed this morning.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


I just remembered it's January so I have to get license tags for the cars. It's always something, isn't it? I wonder what else I'm forgetting...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Water and dreams

December was a good month for water. We shaved another 300 gallons off our usage. That only translates to a dollar in savings, but what a good feeling environmentally!

Gah, I have some of the weirdest dreams when I nap. A bunch of settings from my childhood were mixed together giving the sensation of being both familiar and all wrong at the same time. The snowed in landscape looked normal enough, but the gigantic spacecraft and whatever those other things were had me cowering. There's probably something symbolic about finding an injured puppy (the same size as a human baby) and carrying it across fences and through snowdrifts only to be ignored by the people.

Just one day left of my long weekend.