It’s important not to let food sit in your freezer too long: it can get that weird “freezer air” flavor after a while. Or, if you’re like my mother, it can thaw and re-freeze repeatedly during several power outages (she lives in a hurricane-prone area), get buried in the back of the deep freeze, and horrify your children when they visit.
You can also avoid going to the grocery store by eating what’s in your freezer. It’s a win-win! Cleaning out the freezer doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make soup (although you definitely can). This time I’m making smoothies. Am I making a paltry one-at-a-time? Of course not! This is smoothie mass production!
As you probably know, I hate getting anything dirty more than once, so I decided to make a ton of smoothies in my food processor all at once. My ingredients were bananas, strawberries, a little chocolate almond milk, a little chocolate syrup to enhance the chocolatiness, and (this may sound weird, but I promise it’s good) avocado. The avocado makes it super smooth and creamy, and you will probably not even taste it.
I am terrible about eating bananas before they get brownish. The solution? Peel them, and chuck them in the freezer. You can use them for baking or smoothies later. My issue is that I had, literally, a plethora of bananas in my freezer. I said I was terrible about eating them! That, plus my hoard of strawberries, was hogging too much space in my freezer. So I threw all that stuff into the food processor (in batches so it wouldn’t ooze everywhere), then ladled it into freezer bags.
I ended up with 4 bags, plus 2 smoothies for me and Hubby to drink (eat?)immediately. You can also store them in tupperware, which would be more eco-friendly (which I also didn’t really think about until later), but that would take a bit longer to thaw out.
Avocados are full of all those good fats that help your brain function, and are used in sweet dishes in lots of Asian countries. Just try it, at least once.
This is a great recipe for this time of year, when avocados are super cheap, and it can be waaaay too hot outside to eat real food.
Now that Christmas is finally over (yes, finally since it started in September this year), you probably want to get all that holiday cheer out of your house. I know I do! Sure, I can be a little Scroogey. I mean, I like watching the Grinch, (but only the first half, when all the Christmas stuff has been cleaned up) but sometimes there’s only so much joy you can grind out of me.
Christmas is great and all, but I like to start the new year with a clean house, not one covered in decorations that need to be put away, and gifts that never found a home, and leftover fruit cake. So here’s the post-Christmas clean up list:
1) Throw out wrapping and packaging – make sure any gift cards or cash are accounted for first! – trash is easy to get rid of because it’s obviously trash. Doing this first will give you more room to manuever and won’t take much brain power.
2) Put away Christmas decorations – throw out any light strands that didn’t work, or ornaments a fat cat stole off the tree and broke behind the table. This happened twice this year at our house. But our cat is a jackass; you might have good cats. Christmas decorations presumably have a home already so you know right where to put them, so again, no-brainer.
3) Find a home for all your fancy new gadgets and gizmos – don’t forget to get rid of an old version if your gift was an upgrade, or if you follow the ultimate uncluttering rule: if one thing enters your house, one must leave. It’s like the Thunderdome, but for your stuff.
4) Put anything you need to return (wrong size or completely wrong for you, whatever the reason) somewhere you won’t forget them along with their gift receipts, if they have them. Your car might be a good place, if you won’t forget about them. Returns often have a time limit, so make sure to get after it!
5) Christmas cards – If someone has written a touching message, or made a card themselves, or it’s particularly funny I usually keep it. However, some are just generic, like “Happy Holidays, from your dentist”. Well these apparently have a home, other than the recycle bin! St. Jude’s recycles old cards into new ones. I just found out about this thanks to Unclutterer! They actually take cards year-round, for all occassions, so I’m going to keep this in mind as I unclutter my scrapbooking box.
Here’s to a clean and organized New Year!
I recently had to have a minor surgical procedure done, and I knew I was going to be bedridden for at least a week afterward. I knew there was no way I’d be able to relax and heal while my bedroom looked like the disaster area you see here:
After deep cleaning much of the house, our bedroom had become a dumping ground for all the stray furniture and homeless items. Hubby and I finally said enough is enough, cleaned up, cleared out, and rearranged. Our bedroom is long and skinny, so we decided to divide it up into two areas. I had already started rearranging in the picture above, which is why part of the bed is totally inaccessible. The area you see below is the other half of the room, that we decided would be our “living room area”.
Random stacks of things, like picture frames, finally got stowed away where they now belong.
You can see we still have a random mix of stuff, but it’s much cleaner and more usable now.
On my side of the bed I have my night stand, book shelf with only unread books, and a cabinet that has snacks and craft projects. Hubby got me the big Jack Skellington for Christmas years ago. Isn’t he sweet?
Our mini living room still needs a little work. If somebody (hint: Hubby) would let me get rid of some stuff organization would be a little easier. I mean, I got rid of my box of sticks; time for you to step up!
Here we have our armchair and poof footstool for seating. Most of this area has been left open so Hubby can do his
yoga kickboxing DVDs. He also ended up sleeping on an air mattress there while I was recovering, because the tiniest shake of the bed was painful, and I screech really loudly.
The carpet is atrocious, and this is one of the few places we still have it in the house. At some point it will be disposed of in a fittingly violent manner, but we have to endure it for now. Stupid car payments. While I wish this was a “big reveal” showing our newly remodeled room, I think this shows that just rearranging furniture and decluttering can make a big difference, and costs you zero bucks.
Recently I thought to myself, “Maybe I can actually grow things. Maybe I’m not the Grim Reaper of plants”. I was both right and wrong. In the pic below you can see a cactus through the window. His name used to be Cornelius, until he was almost mauled to death by a squirrel. After some drastic surgery, the conjoined twins were separated, and I now have Corn and Elius.
In the foreground you can see some flourishing herbs. I’m glad I took the picture when I did, because they perished soon after this. These were cuttings of mint and rosemary. I simply put them in a glass of water and they started to grow roots. I was amazed at myself, and started to gain confidence. They had beautiful, numerous roots, and I should have planted them, but I put it off, forgot to water them, and they died. Curse you, procrastination!
This is an idea I found on Pinterest, and it worked really well. This is a large salad mix box I reused as a tiny green house to sprout lentils!
Look how adorable! I put one paper towel in the container, scattered beans on top, added another paper towel, and got it wet once. The lid keeps the paper towels moist, and the lentils sprouted almost immediately. They were incredibly easy to grow, even as neglectful as I am.
Some of you may remember my previous attempt to grow lentil sprouts, which definitely did not go well. This new way was super easy and low maintenance. The sprouts are tasty, and didn’t mold or anything. I will do this again in a heart beat.
Part 2 of how to reduce your spending on accessories. If you missed part one, you’re a terrible person, but here it is for your edification.
If you are the type of person to buy lots of purses, give some thought to why you’re buying them. I kept looking for that “perfect” purse. Each one would have some fault: the opening was too small, there weren’t enough pockets, the strap was too short, whatever. To finally restrain myself, I thought about the features I wanted in the ultimate purse, and what items that purse would need to carry.
At the time, I was in college, and I wanted to be able to carry my spiral notebooks, pens, calculator, and snacks for class, along with regular “purse stuff”. I wanted a pocket just for my cell phone, because what always happens? Your phone has fallen to the bottom of the purse, and you forgot to turn off your ringer, and OF COURSE it goes off in class during an exam, and everyone hates you, and you paw around in there for twenty minutes trying to shut the damn thing off. I like to avoid masses of people hating me for legitimate reasons, so a pocket was a high priority for me.
I also wanted a long strap, so I can wear it across my body. This is better for your back, and I’ve always found it to be the most comfortable. I get sick of shoulder bags digging into me after awhile, and I like to have my hands free for important things, like playing on my cell phone. I also didn’t want a big purse, because that just enables me to be a packrat.
Taking all these criteria into account, I designed and made my own purse. I figured it was easier than hunting every mall and thrift store for the perfect bag, and also pride in my own creation would be even more motivation to stop buying other purses. It’s worked for 10 years now. I still have the same purse, and I even patched it up a bit recently. I have a few other purses, all of which were gifts, or free.
There are several things to consider when looking for or designing a purse:
1) Are you a clutter-bug? If you tend to collect random crap in your purse, is this something you want to prevent or enable? If you want to prevent it, get a purse small enough to hold your essentials, and that’s all. That will force you to keep it clean. If you want to enable it, you’re nuts. You’re not Mary Poppins. But get a slightly larger bag to accomodate your hoarding.
2) What do you need to carry? When checking out purses, or starting your preliminary crafting, make sure your basics – cell phone, keys, wallet, make-up, water bottle, toy velociraptor – will fit, and are accessible. If you are constantly fighting with your purse to jam things into it, you will not be happy.
3) What do you need quick access to? For me, it’s my cell phone and keys, which is why they have their own pocket that’s easy to see and reach.
4) What kind of strap do you want? Maybe you only need the space of a clutch, but do you want to have it in your hand all the time? Keep in mind that straps can be added or altered on purses fairly easily, so if you find one that’s almost perfect, check out the strap area to see if you can make it fit your needs easily.
5) What kind of opening do you need? I prefer purses that open fairly wide so the inside is well-lit, and I can find my
flask chewing gum easily. If you’re the type to just chuck your purse all over the place, consider a zipper so your stuff stays inside.
6) What other things bother you about past purses? I have one friend who is petrified of germs, and hates having to set her purse on the floor at restaurants or in bathrooms. I would suggest one with a hard bottom, with those little metal feet, so it doesn’t actually touch the floor, and possibly made out of vinyl, or some other material that she could easily clean and sanitize.
These same principles can be used for anything you’re buying a lot of, such as sports equipment (I’m guessing). Take a minute to assess what you like and don’t like about the items you already have, and find an item that will meet your criteria.
There are lots of ways to waste money; two of my personal bank-draining demons used to be shoes and purses. How did I kick the habits? I’ll tell you, because I’m just a damn awesome person. How awesome? I’m not making a joke about how modest I am. That’s how awesome. You don’t come here for run-of-the-mill humor; I’m assuming you come here for crafting and to bask in my radiance.
Let’s start off with shoes. I grew up in a desolate area, with nary a movie house or coffee shop in sight. It was basically not even suburbs, but suburb adjacent, and we shared it with cows. Once a mall was built in my late teen years, it became our sole source of entertainment. We spent evenings and weekends wandering the air-conditioned wonder, taking in the endless delights of Sbarro and Claire’s.
I don’t even want to think about how much money I spent on cheap earrings and plastic garbage. Payless fed my shoe habit with their relentless “Buy one, get one half off” sales to draw in vulnerable, naive teens like myself.
In an effort to curb my habit, and avoid being buried alive in accessories, I forcibly grew my own feet to a women’s size 10 1/2, or about an 8 in men’s. (Actually, I just inherited my 6’2″ dad’s feet, without the height to match; but I can go snorkeling without flippers!) Since I have yet to find a store that consistently sells shoes large enough for giant-monster feet like my own, my spending decreased dramatically.
Unfortunately, flip-flops are one size fits all, and they became my new addiction. They’re comfy, cheap, and easily accessible. I finally realized I had over-dosed this last year. I found 3-4 pairs I had never even WORN, so I handed them off to a friend who has worn the hell out of them.
At this point, I still love my flip flops, but I have realized I have ample to last me for the next ten years at least. I have also developed a bunion, which flip-flops are bad for, so out of fear I will stop buying (but probably not wearing) them. So all you have to do to reduce your shoe-buying, is stick your feet in a nuclear reactor. You get Godzilla feet, and your wallet gets a break. I bet you never knew it was so simple!
For serious though, take an inventory of all the shoes you have on hand. I generally keep one pair of nasty sneakers for things like yard work (HA! Yard work! Right.), and one pair of old flip-flops for the beach, or playing at the river (much more likely than yard work). Other than that, the same rules for reduced clothes-buying apply to shoes: buy durable, simple, classic styles. That way they won’t wear out or break, and they will match with everything.
You can also consider reducing the color palette in your wardrobe. I have one friend who wears only black and shades of grey; everything of hers matches everything else, she doesn’t have to separate her laundry, and she always looks sophisticated. I’m not planning to go that extreme, but if I get rid of my brown office clothes, I can avoid buying a new pair of pants and shoes. I don’t even really like most of my brown stuff anyway, so I’m seriously considering it.
If you have shoes that you like, but look a little worn, or aren’t quite what you want, consider painting them, or altering them in some other way to make them what you do want. The basic rule you should always follow is make it last, make do, or do without, before making any purchase.
I love my dog, but sometimes he just will not shut up. I swear and scream at him, but it’s not much of a deterent. I don’t know if he thinks I’m barking too, or what, but it’s driving me nuts. I got this idea from a friend who paid real money for a dog obedience class. The class didn’t do crap for that dog, (who later stole an entire loaf of bread and stuffed it in the couch cushions). They did make these rattles to stop the dog from doing bad things, and I’m hoping they’ll work for my darling angel. You will need an empty, rinsed soda can, some gravel, and some duct tape.
Put a little bit of gravel in the can, and test shake to see if you like the sound. Too much gravel can muffle the sound. Once you have enough in there, rotate the coke tab to cover the opening. This keeps the gravel from sticking to the tape, and gives the tape support.
Put a small piece of tape over the top of the can to seal it. Shake it around and see how it sounds, and how your dog reacts.
I’m really hoping these can train Flapjack not to bark so much. I have tried putting him outside, putting him in his crate, yelling at him, tapping him on the nose, grabbing his scruff, and soothing and petting him, but nothing seems to work. It might be a squirt bottle next, if these don’t work.
UPDATE: So far, these are working great. One sharp, quick shake is enough to shut him up pretty quickly. He has had a bad habit of barking for five minutes solid at one particular person, and this startles him into shutting up. We’ve been using them for a few weeks, and they are still effective, so I’m pretty happy.
Here are even more pics of our fabulous antique adventures:
The best part about shopping with Beans and Mi Madre, is that we just walk around mocking all the horrible things we find. We love to pick out hideous things to traumatize each other with. We’re constantly asking each other “Who would make this? How on Earth did this object actually get mass-produced?” (aside from the Fonz puzzle. Who WOULDN’T want one of those??) When we find bizarre ceramic animals we give them names, like Sarcastic Deer and Skeptical Puppy. The snark is the entertainment, and it is endless. If we could be drinking at the same time, it would be so awesome the time-space continuum would rip apart from too much awesome being in one location. Which is why we stay sober. For the benefit of the Universe. YOU ARE WELCOME.
I just want to leave you with one final image. When I was uploading all these photos, the computer froze on this image for a good 20 seconds, and it was slightly disturbing. It is hypnotic, yet frightening, alluring, yet repellent. I give you:
This is what my yard looks like right now. It’s completely ridiculous. Some kind of weed has taken over, climbing over everything in its path.
It has tiny hooks all over it, like velcro, It’s not pleasant to pull out, but it’s fairly easy. Let’s all keep in mind that my yard is completely flat. Those plants are making faux-hills. It also seems to spawn giant moths, that randomly fly at your face when you start trying to weed.
After about half an hour I had cleared only a small patch of ground:
And filled this entire compost bin. It looks like I’m incubating a swamp-thing baby.
I felt like She-Hulk, ripping huge mounds of this stuff out of the ground, but it seemed to have very little effect. The shed is about to be consumed, and Flapjack seems worried.
He has been having a ton of trouble in the yard since the weeds are so high and he’s a dwarf. Also, I might have stepped in dookie.
As an added bonus, this vindictive plant leave tiny, horrible scratches wherever it can grab your flesh. These are made exponentially better when you start cleaning the dookie off your shoes, and the spray bottle of vinegar accidentally coats your arms, leading to a unique itchy-burning sensation.
Why is yard work so awful?
My poor sis Beans was having some trouble sleeping the other day, and it made me think about how many “sleep advice” columns I’ve read online. They all discuss things like not having too much caffeine during the day, and having a bed time routine to help your brain realize it’s bed time. It seems to me that they fail to address the causes of wakefulness. You can ask Beans, I generally sleep fine, and lots, but there are times I can’t sleep. I love sleep, so when things are keeping me up I get rather irritated (and by “irritated” I mean filled with white-hot rage).
When you’re laying there trying to fall asleep, try to analyze what exactly is preventing you, then try to fix it. Usually once I’m already in bed I don’t want to get up to fix stuff, so I’m going to offer you a quick-fix and a long-term fix.
1. Room is too bright – Temporary fix: put a pillow or blanket over the upper half of your face. Don’t smother yourself. You may need to cover or turn your clock if it’s too bright. Long-term: depending on the light source, you may need to block it different ways. Make sure as many lights as possible in your home are turned off before bed. If it’s coming from outside, hang up thick curtains, or hang a bed sheet up inside the curtains you have to block more light. You can hang curtains over doorways as well, if light is penetrating the cracks.
2. It’s too hot/cold – Temporary fix: if you’re too cold, try to fold your blankets double over you, and tuck them in all around. Also covering the top of your head should help. Too hot. throw blankets off and sleep as spread out as possible. You may have to turn on a fan, turn down the AC, or get your hair wet to cool off. Long-term: figure out what temperature makes you most comfortable for sleep. If you are consistently cold throw a bunch of extra blankets on the bed, and use flannel sheets. If that’s not enough consider getting a space heater or electric blanket. If you’re always hot, cotton sheets and blankets should keep you cooler than synthetics, and you might need to invest in a box fan.
3. It’s too noisy – Temporary fix: scream at whoever is making the noise until they shut up. If that’s not feasible, try putting a pillow over your head. Long-term: if this is a constant problem try to talk to whoever is creating the noise to see if they can cut it down. If that’s not possible, like for road noise, you have a few options: ear plugs, a white noise machine or a fan to drown out the noise, or hang thick curtains to block noise. You can even hang up quilts, which will help insulate against noise and temperature.
4. Racing thoughts – Temporary fix: I get this problem a lot usually when we’re about to go out of town. It’s usually along the lines of “I need to remember to make coffee, get the bags, pack my toothbrush, grab that book just in case, and the snacks in the fridge…” etc, etc. I have found that it helps me to list the things I need to remember, then just concentrate on remembering the number of items there are. So in the example above I would remember the number 5. In the morning I can just focus on recalling those 5 things, and that has helped me a lot. Long-term: keep a notebook and pen next to the bed to write things down. If you’re like me the thought of turning on the light is like torture, so rather than messing with that, get a pen that has a tiny light in the end. I have had several of these over the years, and they are convenient and inexpensive. You could also write down your thoughts at the end of the day before you turn in to help prevent this problem in the first place.
5. Not tired – I can’t think of a temporary fix. I generally read something boring for awhile until my brain is finally ready to leave me alone. Long-term: try to wear yourself out during the day. I know when I am physically exhausted sleep is usually much easier.
I hope that helps everyone. I love sleep so much, I hate the days when it eludes me, and I know it’s not pleasant for anyone. Happy dreaming!