Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Are frugality and decluttering incompatible?

I have done a lot of studying on frugality. I wish I was as good at being frugal as I am about studying how to be frugal. Now I know a few people who are , at least what I consider, frugal and it seems they have a lot of stuff. They save odd containers in case they want to store small pieces of...well..something that has a lot of small pieces. They save every tool, nail and screw they have ever owned. When they need something they either have it or make something else work.
Personally when I save that much stuff I usually buy a new one when I need it and then discover the one I kept from 3 years ago shoved in the back of a drawer the next week. 
Recently I have been thinking about decluttering. I know I have way to much "stuff" but what if I need it someday? How foolish would it be to throw out a sour cream container when it is the perfect size for starting tomatoes?
The fact remains that we have to create a balance between our making good use and re purposing our items and accumulating so much "stuff" that it begins to complicate our lives.
A perfect example is my garage. I recently did a major organizing/decluttering job on it. My garage, although we do park a car in it, is my shop, lawnmower repair facility, seed starting area, storage and a few other things area.
As I went through it I realized there are no hard and fast rules on decluttering. I have heard the old "if you haven't used it in six months get rid of it" rule but that isn't always right. For instance I have special tools for changing drum brakes, now I haven't used those in about two years but I know I will be using them within the next year or so. That means those will be staying in the tool box.
My biggest struggle came when I begin going through the shelves and drawers in one my work areas. After cleaning off the top and rearranging the pegboard it looked really nice. However, I new what was inside the cupboards and drawers. What a mess.
As I stared blankly into a couple of drawers that I had been stuffing things into I got overwhelmed. I knew what I had to do.....I had to call in a professional!
"Honey! Could you help me in the garage for a minute" Yes I wasn't messing around I called in the "A" team of organization-my wife! Even though the "for a minute" turned into a couple of hours she helped me get the ball rolling.
I have to admit I did wince a little bit when she made me throw out about 20 Altoids tins I had been hoarding for .......um.....small things. With her help I began to see what I really should keep. I ended up eventually going through my entire shop and got a bag of garbage and two garage sale/Ebay boxes of "stuff".
One of my work areas. With free Craiglist cabinets.

In the end my shop just plain feels better. I know where everything is and it is easy to get to quickly. So what area in your house is stressing you out? You need to be strong and get rid of a lot of stuff! It is true that less is more! Only you can strike that balance between keeping things to re-purpose and getting rid of them to rid yourself of clutter.
You have to remember though our grandparents use to "save everything" they only had a fraction of the stuff we get today!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The most important step to become more sustainable?

I have always tried to have a little garden. Mostly raised beds. They were always more of a hobby and who wouldn't like  a few fresh garden veggies?
At some point a couple of years ago I started reading about a bunch of crazy people who were "moving toward sustainability". What the heck does that mean? I decided to dig into it a little deeper.
I started to do something very dangerous and dare I say......rebellious.
I started questioning. I was testing everything that I knew about food. What is in the food I eat ? Where does it come from? Who makes sure it is safe? Who harvests and prepares this food and what are their working conditions?

Chicken Sandwich anyone?

Armed with a boatload of questions I turned to.....Google and YouTube of course and then stumbled onto blogs. I discovered there were a lot of people out there who had the same questions I did.
I watched documentaries like Food Inc.,King of Corn and others. I read books like "The Omnivores Dilema".
Who knew I was eating fresh fruit that was anything but fresh, laden with pesticides and shipped from thousands of miles away.
Even though learning about my supermarket fruits and veggies was awful, it was nothing compared to finding out what the rest of the "food" I was buying contained.
Then I started  to wonder where my fast food burgers came from and what was that "meat" made of.
Then a funny thing happened....I got overwhelmed. In fact, I got so overwhelmed that I did nothing for a while. Then I realized what I needed to do, so....

The most important step to become more sustainable?

It's the first one!

Don't try to do it all at once and never compare yourself to other people. Simply start where you are and move forward with one thing. Start small and plant a few veggies'

 One of my first gardens at my current house

 Stop eating fast food for a week. You get the idea start slow but start now.

 Time to start the journey!

It's okay to look ahead at where you want to ultimately end up but don't expect to get there overnight.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Save the greenhouse!

Winter came in with a vengeance! Our usually mild Pacific Northwest winter changed very quickly the last few days after 4 days of snow we have nearly a foot of snow. The snow ended with a nice ice storm. Everyone around here is getting cabin fever and looking forward to the warm up this weekend even though it will be a mess.
My main focus this week has been keeping the snow off my greenhouse. It isn't much of a greenhouse but it does the job. I bought it at a local hardware store on sale for $99. I have built a frame on the bottom to hold it down in order to stop it from blowing away. It fits my little yard perfectly. I had to go out every few hours and knock the snow off.The snow is stopping so I think it survived!

My blueberry bushes were also a concern as they were heavy with snow. I kept going out and shaking the snow off them. I wondered if I should have moved them into the greenhouse but they are in very heavy pots.
I think the worst is over though.
My front yard shrubs were really buried.

And the Kale I have in the front for decoration was frozen solid and it will be interesting to see if it survives.

Hopefully the worst is over and we can get back to our "normal" weather of 40 degree rain :) I have some projects and organizing to do in my garage but a 25 degree garage is no fun to work in. What are you doing to keep busy this winter?


             This Post is part of the Homestead Barn Hop! Check it out!

Welcome to my blog!!

So after much debate and even more procrastination I have decided to start a blog! I have been following and learning from so many blogs I thought it was time to throw my own two cents in. I have grown tired of being "normal" and with my wife at my side we have decided to make some major changes in our life.
Some of the things we have done so far?
To fight back on the food front we have started taking our garden more seriously. We are eating more whole food and beginning to find local sources for our food.
For our debt we have developed a hybrid "3 year plan" to become debt free. We have used some of Dave Ramsey's techniques as well as some self-control and lots of reading for help and inspiration.
So tell me are you ready to stop being "normal"?