Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm back!

There's been a lot of drama around my household lately and it's been taking all of my time and attention so I didn't post for a few weeks. This morning I have a breather. I missed posting so here I am.

One of my friends sent me some Christian cartoons . I've never knew that such a thing existed. You can get them delivered to your email box for free. What a wonderful way to be reminded of Christian principles.

I'm doing a major clear out of household items. Many things I'm giving away for free on freecycle. Freecycle is a network of people who give or receive things given for free. To become a part of the freecycle network, you browse the groups to find one near you. Then you sign up to receive emails from the group either bundled together and sent once a day or as each email is generated. There are people in the group who offer free items and there are some who request items (although this is a limited practice). The recipient is responsible for getting the free item, which is generally left on the porch or sidewalk. I love this concept. It's in line with my reduce, reuse, and recycle enviro values.

Another list that I've been using more is craigslist. Craigslist is a free online ads list. You can post ads in your area for things you're selling or giving away and there's no fee to post. I'm selling some big ticket items on craigslist. Are you interested in a bedroom suite or water treatment system?

I've recently renewed my subscription to the Grocery Game. If you like using coupons and saving money on your grocery bill, then this maybe for you. The Grocery Game is a service which tracks the sales prices of grocery store items, determines how much savings the sale price is, whether or not that is the best price for the item, if there are any current coupons that can apply to the item, and how much you can save if all coupons and sales are applied. When I renewed my subscription and used their list, I saved 46% off of my grocery bill! I like those results. If you decide to join The Grocery Game, please consider using me as a referral. I can get free membership weeks for referring new members.

Another activity I'm reviving is once-a-month-cooking. Basically, this is cooking large batches of food and then freezing the extras to use later. Some people do a marathon cooking session one day a month and cook food for an entire month that day, freeze it, and then take out what they need for each dinner. I tried cooking 30 days of meals at once and it took me eight hours and I was exhausted! Now, I try to cook maybe a week or two worth of meals to freeze. I like the convenience of not having to cook everyday or every other day. This also saves money because we're less likely to go out to eat because we don't have time or energy to cook a meal. I even cook and freeze breakfast items that we can pop into the microwave during the morning rush. It's wonderful once you get through the marathon cooking sessions. Some people cook with a friend to make it a social as well as practical event. Unfortunately, the friend who lives closest to me hates to cook so I couldn't suggest we get together to do that. A good resource for more information about once-a-month-cooking (also known as freezer cooking) is this site. My first resource on this topic was an earlier version of this book.

I hope some of this information helps you save time and money!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Another week begins

I'm still under the weather. I think this will be the fourth week I've been battling this illness. I think it's morphed from a sinus infection to regular allergies. Whatever it is, it's hard to get a good night sleep when I'm hacking and blowing a runny nose. I'm going to try to see the doctor this week to see if there's anything she can do to speed my recovery.

Ali Edwards and Aby Garvey have been taking photos of everyday events each day for a week . I like the concept. This would be a wonderful legacy to leave your descendants. Sometimes I wonder what a typical day was like for my great-grandmother with her 13 children. A week in my life book will be added to my growing list of projects to do one day.

I'm exploring the concept of applying feng shui principles in my home. In my effort to achieve simplicity and an healthy environment, I think that feng shui would help. I checked out this book from the library to learn more about feng shui. It's not a simple concept. It's actually quite complicated in my eyes. However, I'm going to try to incorporate some of the ideas in my living space as I can.

My employer plans to provide laptop computers to each of its 14,000 employees. Then, I believe the plan is to replace the laptops every 3 - 4 years with the latest technology. Having a laptop makes it easier for employees to be mobile workers and continue working if there was a flu pandemic or other national emergency. I think this plan was developed as a result of the September 11 tragedy. I just love having the latest technology at my fingertips.

I'm going through a household item purge. Every so often, I feel the need to downsize and get rid of stuff. One thing that's not good about living in a capitalist economy, there are constant messages thrown at you to buy more, buy better, and buy bigger. So we accumulate all of this stuff and then what happens? It collects dust. It requires maintenance. It robs you of your income. It clutters your home. It's a waste. I don't know how people can accumulate so much stuff that they can be a candidate for Clean House. I get to a point where the clutter is so distracting I can't think and perform.

To support my habit of purging, I get calls from local charities for donations. I donate to the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Lupus Foundation, and the National Children's Center. Not only do I give back to our community, this helps keep perfectly useful items our of our landfills. This is in line with two of my values -- service to the community and environmental stewardship. I try to encourage my family members to donate their stuff as well. But, they aren't as interested in this activity as I am. I keep a large trash bag in my closet specifically to add things as I find them for donation. This way I'm not running around at the last minute trying to gather stuff to donate.

I started a project to identify and focus on my core values and virtues. I'm not sure how these two things are different because there is so much similarity and overlap. When I took The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People course years ago, the instructor stressed how your personal values were key to applying this system. I found that I have a huge list of values and virtues I seek. Many of them are variations pf a theme and as such, are duplicative. I want to narrow down this list and then use it to make time management decisions and to align my life with what's important to me. Benjamin Franklin used his list of virtues as a tool to focus his efforts week by week. I like the idea of focusing on one value/virtue per week and then start the list over again. I'm going to do this. Of course, one of my values is simplicity.