Monday, January 1, 2018

A gal with a plan

For as long as I can remember, I have made detailed to-do lists and kept records of my life's activities.  Even as a child, I made schedules for myself to keep me on track of everything that I was doing, whether it be cleaning chores, homework schedules, bank accounts/savings, and even down to what I wore each day to avoid wearing the exact same outfit repeatedly in a month.

In college, I set a rigorous routine of study time.  Every single day was planned out and scheduled for the day of classes then by 15 minutes to an hour increments for studying every subject every evening.  I even went so far as to schedule my break time.  I had a goal and nothing was going to deter me.

I was doing a variation of the envelope system of financial accountability long before it was ever a thing.  Then, when I discovered spreadsheets, my organization happy brain went into overdrive.

It works for me, but is daunting for others.  The whole idea of not having a well run household is poppycock.  There is no reason to not always have a home that is neat, tidy, full of good food and that practically runs itself.  I understand fully that this mindset is not for everyone, so, you do you and I'll do me.  But, let me tell you, don't knock it until you have tried it and you see how everything simply falls into place.  Discipline is required.  A desire/drive for order is paramount.  That is not to say that I am not capable of just "letting things be"...because of this organization, it is so very easy to slack off and not have my whole world come tumbling down in a heap.

If there is a household management plan out there, I've tried it.  Then tweaked it and kept the parts that work for me and abandoned the rest.  Fly Lady, Side-Tracked Home Executive and a few others were instrumental in the early days of my personal home management.  The Penny Pincher's Gazette was also a source of many ideas that have stuck around in my master plan.

This is the time of year that makes my orderly brain ecstatic.  January is the month that all my files get reviewed, outdated information gets purged, and then there's the compilation of all my line item budgets.  At present, there are 27 line items in my household budget.  They range from property taxes all the way down to cat food/expenses.  An ongoing personal mantra has been that the only true way to accumulate wealth is to not waste/overspend.  If you spend it, you have lost it.

Throughout the year, every single expenditure is recorded on the corresponding line item log.  The only exception is purchases made out of weekly "fun money".  It has turned into a game to see how little can be spent for each line item and still maintain the lifestyle to which I am accustomed.  It's not that difficult.  Granted, every year there will be tweaks to the list.  There may be large household purchases that are a one time expense that won't happen again.  But, it is nice to see where everything goes and what can be tweaked to be a more responsible financial steward.

So, here I sit on January 1, happily tallying up line items, updating printed spreadsheets and planning for the year.  This year,  I will be returning to my favorite form of accountability: ONE planner notebook for everything - budget, calendar, to do lists, monthly household inventories, cleaning schedule, and menu plans to name a few, instead of multiple notebooks.

As it occurs to me that there are like-minded individuals out there and those that want to try something different to manage their life, future posts are planned to essentially detail each section of my "brain book".  If this appeals to you, wonderful...maybe some of you will have ideas that will help me as well.  If this doesn't appeal to you, that is fine as well...balance is necessary in life...we can't all be on the same end of the teeter totter.

Happy New Year and happy ORGANIZING!!!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Bug Be Gone!

What strikes fear into the lives of fiber loving yarny people?  Moths and/or any other natural fiber eating creepy crawly flying insect.  One random sighting of something flying or crawling near a fiber/yarn stash is enough to make a fiber-ista plumb apoplectic. 

This is nothing to mess around with people!  And the suggestion of switching to man-made fibers is abhorrent at best.

Some of the common remedies to prevent a heartbreaking infestation include:  quarantining all new purchase of fiber and yarn, a little time in the deep freeze, storing in a black plastic bag in the trunk of your vehicle during the hottest time of the year, slipping some aromatic cedar sachets in with your lovely fiber, and my least favorite suggestion of throwing a few mothballs (YUCK!!!) in your stash.

Another remedy, that is my favorite, is the use of lavender.  Cedar would be my next favorite, but I lack cedar trees to provide me with an ongoing supply with which to make my own sachets.

Lavender is quite hardy in my growing area.  It is also a very forgiving plant.  Basically, I made a one time purchase of a few plants and stuck them in the ground and ignored them until they were blooming and I was ready to harvest.  There are several varieties of plants to choose from.  If you prefer, you can always choose to start your plants from seed, but I have had limited success with this option.  Some sources suggest that harvest should occur when the flowering stalks have just begun to bud, while others suggest waiting until the majority of flowers have opened.  My approach:  get to it when I can.  I cut handfuls of flower stalks, tie with twine and hang upside down on my sunporch to dry.  Once dry, it is quite simple to twist the stalk between your fingers making the dried buds/flowers pop off. 

The smell...oh, the smell. 

This year, as a little gift for some of my yarny friends, I made sachets with some of the lavender that has been harvested from my garden. 

First, using some scrap muslin, I cut out about 3-1/2 inch squares and stitched two pieces together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  You could certainly make the pouches whatever size you desire. Be sure to leave a small opening to both turn the little square pouch and also to use to fill with the lavender. 

In a bowl, mix equal parts plain, uncooked white rice and lavender buds.  The rice adds some weight to the sachet and also adds an abrasive quality to help "rough up" the lavender buds and release more of their oils.  If you wish, you can also add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil to the rice to boost the scent.  Use a funnel to spoon your desired amount of the rice/lavender bud mixture into the pouch, then hand stitch the opening closed. 

Perfect little lavender sachets ready to save the day and protect the investment of your stash!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Stuck in time...

Every day, on my way to and from work, I pass a lonely farm that sits at the edge of modern encroachment.  The stories that could be told if it could only speak. 

The farmhouse sits atop a rise where it had the early morning sun streaming through the back windows and its inhabitants could sit on the front porch basking in the golden rays of the setting sun.  The fields behind it surely were verdant and lush...most likely with the quintessential Midwest Hoosier corn crops.

What were the people like?  Did the woman of the house spend her mornings baking bread and preparing meals for the farm workers?  Did crisp white sheets hang on the clothesline and snap in the breeze?  Were there children that rose early in the morning, wiping the sleep from their cherubic faces, pulling on their clothes and dragging their feet outside to get the morning chores done before school?

I like to make up stories about what life must have been like in this home and on this farm.

Now it sits, empty and neglected.  The interstate and modern life sidling up like a cancer.
It will be torn down, that is an eventuality.  And with it, another chunk of the past will die.  

Honestly, it breaks my heart to watch and know what is coming.  Why do I do all the "old fashioned" things?  Simply put, there are parts of life that are worth preserving the knowledge of, nothing new can improve upon them.  So, at the heart of it,  I choose to learn and practice all those things that allow me the independence of being as completely self-reliant as possible.  It is a freedom that cannot be bought.

And, of course, IF I'm sitting, then I'm knitting.  There are socks to be made, afterall.


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