Thursday, March 26, 2009

In need of more simplicity

Recently, Heather of Simple, Green, Frugal gave a talk on Voluntary Simplicity and it really got me thinking. The general crux of her post was that you need to decide what things in your life you really like and what things you really hate, and then find ways to increase the former and decrease the latter.

For me, the first group would include things like drinking tea and coffee, preferable with one or two very close friends, in the middle of the afternoon; reading a good book; cooking fresh meals from scratch, and knitting and sewing. The latter group would include working (well. . . not everything about working, but certainly the paperwork, office politics, faculty meetings, grading essays), waking up early, waiting in lines, putting things away and driving. I've been thinking a lot about this lately and ways to do more things I love and fewer things I hate. I think the truth is that a good deal of my time is spent doing things I neither love nor hate, things I nothing, like watching trashy TV shows and aimlessly surfing the Internet in a futile way to self medicate my exhaustion and frustration. I think it's time to start practicing more awareness of what I do with my time and finding things that I can painlessly eliminate.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Goals and Purpose

"Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire Cat.
'Which road do I take?' she asked.
'Where do you want to go?'
'I don't know."
'Then,' said the cat, 'it doesn't matter.' "

Something about this passage from Alice in Wonderland has always gotten to me. In high school, I copied it into my notebook. Now I have it hanging on the wall of my classroom. I can feel, in my gut, the truth of it. But I still dont' know which road to take.

When I think about my goals, a lot of the time I'm talking about things like getting out of debt or saving up money. When I go deeper, I want to be able to stay home once my husband gets a job, at least for a little while, or reduce my hours to part time. Why? Because I want to slow down. Simplify. Stop feeling so rushed and panicked all the time.

But the more I think about it, the more I feel like I'm running away from something instead of to something. I'm tired and I'm stressed but that's not a good basis for a major life decision. I don't know what I want to do, what my purpose is, what it is that I'm aiming towards. Maybe though, slowing down, taking more time to reflect, to read and write, to prepare and eat whole slow food, will get me closer to understanding. I figure it's worth a try.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Giveaway at mommieswithcents

Holly at Mommies with sense is giving a way a Free $25 gift card and reusable shopping bag to new and current members of A Full Cup. Check it out!

Friday, March 13, 2009

How I save money on cleaning supplies

I don't use them.

Okay, so maybe this post was a teaser. Were you expecting recipes, money saving tips, ways to stretch a bottle? I've been there, done that, and the truth is most of it just isn't worth it.

True, I do have a bottle of Windex under my kitchen cabinet, but it's the same bottle I've had for 3 years, and it's still more than half full. And sure, I've been known to work some magic with some baking soda and vinegar, and I do use commercial dish soap. But most of the time, for most cleaning jobs? I don't need any cleaning products.

It happened somewhat slowly. At first I was gung ho about mixing up a spray bottle of vinegar/water to keep on hand and using that to clean the counter every night. Then, when that started to run low, I just added more water because I was in too much of a hurry to take out the vinegar. Then I added more water.

A few months later, I realized I had been cleaning my counters with just water every night with no noticeable difference.

My floors usually get wiped down with a damp rag, either wrapped around my mop or just moved around with my foot if I'm feeling lazy. My mirrors get wiped down with a microfiber cloth - sometimes with some water, sometimes dry. My dusting is done with a feather duster, which I shake outside.

I've seen recipes for homemade cleaning products, and to be honest I couldn't be bothered. I mean, I can see using some alcohol or bleach on my counters when I have been working with raw meat - although to be honest, I think soap probably does the trick. But did you notice recipes for window cleaner always have blue food coloring?

Now maybe I just don't keep as clean a house as some people. I don't feel the need to wash my windows with ammonia every week, or to turtle was my shower walls. But as far as I'm concerned, a spritz of water and a bit of elbow grease keeps my house plenty clean enough. It saves time, money, and the environment. The trifecta!

Read more frugal tips at Frugal Friday hosted by Life as a Mom.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Extra Money Maker: Swagbucks

Search & Win

Just in case I'm not the last person on Earth to find Swagbucks: Sign up to earn gift cards for your every day searches. There are also lots of free Swagbucks codes that post frequently to frugal blogs and such, so it's a great way to earn a few extra bucks in amazon codes. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

When the spender becomes the saver

So my very spendy husband said to me the other night (when I was nearly asleep in my chair), "Why are we spending $60 a month on phone and DSL? We only get the phone line so we can have the DSL, and we could get shiny, speedy cable Internet for way less than $60."

Me: "Ummmmmm but DSL used to be cheeper?"

Him: "See, the cable company website has this $30 a month for 6 months offer. We'll be moving in about 7 months, so we can just cancel when it goes up."

Me: "Ummmmmmmmm"

Him: "We'll call tomorrow and switch. Then we'll be saving $30 every month."

Me: "Ooookaaaaaay...."

Him: "And we can get free Cinemax from Dish Network because we have paperless billing, so I called and signed us up for that, and then set the DVR to record a bunch of movies, so we can watch them when we have friends over or are looking for something to do."

Me: "Sounds .... good....?"

Him: "Ooooooh. . . IPod Touch....."

Me: "No."

Woo hoo, maybe it wasn't all a dream.