Sunday, June 30, 2013

I Did It!

This is my third blogathon in the books, and my second successful one!  It feels pretty damn good.  Because this is the last day, it's also Word cloud day!  I love messing around with wordle, and I couldn't pick just one design, so I did four.  After all, if you're going to be a hoarder, be a digital one.




Happy 2013 Blogathon, everyone!  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Blogathon Link love #3

We are nearing the end of yet another blogathon, and I have to say, this one has almost been easy.  Yes, there are moment when you panic and think I have nothing left to say!! But then you regroup, and write a rambling post about trashy tv, so it's all good.  Now, here's some link love.

--Bea Johnson, of Zero Waste Home fame is quickly becoming a hero of mine.  Not only did I read her book and come away with all sorts of new ideas for reducing my trash output, but now I'm taking a much harsher approach to managing my closet, which is the area I struggle with the most.  Presently, she is undertaking a book tour in France, and doing it with one black skirt.  She is going to be showing up 30 Ways to Wear a Long Skirt, and I'm already inspired to go back to my own closet and get back onto the outfit revamp bandwagon.

--I have never taken out a payday loan, or a short term loan, because I know that they're just a terrible way to extract far too much money from the desperate or the stupid.  Also, it was once pointed out to me that there is ALWAYS a liquor store right next to a payday loan place.  Check it out, you'll see that's true, and as much as I love a beer, I do not want to pay 700% interest on money borrowed to buy that beer.  So, I've always known these places are bad, but Sean at One Smart Dollar has a post saying specifically why they're bad.  It's always nice to have more information, and to know that I was already right even without having specifics.

--Since being in my new apartment and trying to keep things not only organized and uncluttered, but also streamlined, I have to say, that the fewer things you have, the easier it is to have a clean and organized house.  That's a no-brainer, but something I had never really put into practice before.  Sure, I do dishes every day, but I don't have enough dishes that they can pile up and overwhelm me; I don't have a bathroom lined with bottles and potions that I have to buy a separate piece of furniture to store; and I can see into my pantry and see everything in there.  So naturally, I also love the post How Minimalism Lets you Do What you Love from The Everyday Minimalist.

--This is something I have not yet tried, but am really, really curious about: Homemade Alcoholic Cider.  I've always been fascinated by home brewing because I love beer and the science of it all intrigues me, but I've also always balked at amount of equipment you need and the expense.  Apparently, making homemade cider is incredibly easy and dirt cheap.  I will be trying this soon.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Huzzah for Hoarding!

I may be trying to keep my apartment minimalist, but I have not yet managed to translate that philosophy to my car.  Since I don't have much of a commute anymore, my car is not nearly the disaster zone that it used to be, but I still cringe at the idea of how much extra fuel I'm burning hauling around two camping chairs that I use every other year... Yeah, I should get those out of there...

Anyway, losing things in the trunk of the car actually saved the day the other day.

My new tv is great, and I love it everso.  I got Hulu+ so now my life is dominated by the Real World/ Road Rules Challenge:
Scandal:
And (and I do feel shame at this, but still admit it) The Only Way Is Essex
So much tanning and fake boobs--it's a trainwreck
So, I'm loving my Roku and my Hulu + but I was not loving the sound quality on the new tv.  The speakers are underneath, and despite messing around with it, it was often garbled or tinny or just way too quiet depending on what I was watching.  Then I remembered that a friend had lent me computer speakers for use at a job interview a couple years ago.  Lo and behold, because they were not mine and I intended to give them back, I found them in the trunk of my car!

I plugged them in, and they work perfectly!  Now I can finally understand about half of what the people on The Only Way Is Essex are saying
Yeah, you get hooked on this stuff.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Re-Buying Things

Remember when we used to all listen to music on cassettes?  Then those went away, or just got relegated to the car and we upgraded to CDs.  Then we upgraded again to Mp3s, but, thankfully, that was a less expensive transition.

In the interest of minimalism, I do not really own books anymore.  I have my Nancy Drew collection, because I collect them, but other than that and a few favorites that I re-read over and over, I have very few.  You won't find many other librarians who only have one bookshelf that's not quite full, I bet.

Now I'm taking it a step further, and have started re-buying some of those favorite books, this time for my nook.  I always really struggle with what ebooks to buy because if I'm going to actually pay money for a book, I want it to be one that I'll re-read over and over.  I am a big re-reader, but for some reason I always draw a blank when it comes to ebook buying--probably because I'm just out of practice when it comes to buying books at all.  After all, at the library, I can bring home armfuls of mediocre titles and not spend a dime, when buying books, well, I have to pay for them which just stings.

What stings even more, in this case, is that a lot of the books I'm converting to digital versions are book I actually bought in the first place.  Most of the physical books that have been in my house over the years have been found on library sale racks, where the cost a dollar (or I just take them and bring them back).  Last night I had to pay $9.99 for an e-copy of Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty.
Considering I bought most of her books in hardcover, this stings a bit.  But, my shelf is already slightly emptier, and I do like that.  I'll content myself with the thought that I can now enjoy Jessica Darling's antics wherever in the world I am.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Picky Stuff

For some reason, I have little items that I buy that I really either pay attention to the price of, or skimp on as much as I can.  These are typically the kind of lame items that you need but don't want, and are not very fun to buy.  One of the first things I thought about when I realized that I would be living alone for the first time in four years and could really let my crazy run free was all those little things that I hate to pay for that I can potentially skimp even more on.

Items I hate to buy:
Toilet Paper--
I'm guessing no one really likes to buy this, but for some reason, I hate it the most.  When I was in college, living in the dorm, I used to sneak a wrapped roll of tp out of the bathroom every day and secret it away in a cupboard.  By the end of the year, I had more than a year's worth of toilet paper stashed away, which I brought to my new apartment.  Yeah, it was 1-ply and poor quality, but who cares, it was free.  BF hates that I buy the cheapest toilet paper (it's actually the 2nd cheapest, but he insists that that doesn't make it good), but now it's my house, my tp!  I also sneak the ends of rolls from work and feel no (little) shame at this.

Pan Spray--
I love pan spray.  Who doesn't want to be able to put something in a pan and not have it stick without using a ton of oil? But I hate to buy it. Whenever I run out, I think that maybe I don't need it, but then I miss it within days and often make a special trip to the store.  I do buy the store brand, which costs less, but I always get really cranky when I have to buy this.

Items I have a price threshold on:
Canned Tuna--
I will not pay more than $1 for a can of solid white tuna.  I'm not picky about brands, but it has to be the solid white kind.  Unfortunately, it doesn't go on sale that often, but when it does, you can bet I'm there like a crazy person stocking up.

English Muffins--
Every now and then, English Muffins will go on sale at my grocery store Buy One Get Two Free.  Because I know that this sale happens semi-regularly, it seems appalling to me to pay regular price or even half price.  Thankfully, I have the deep freeze, so I can really stock up.

Canned Tomatoes--
These have to be on sale 10 for $10 before I would buy them.  Also, I often hesitate if I don't also have a coupon.

Yogurt--
I buy a lot of yogurt, so it pains me to pick it up for regular price.  Usually though I have a coupon, or if nothing else, the store brand is decent and cheaper, so I go for that.


Anybody else have certain items that you're a little crazy about?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Recipe Linkup!

Lizy, over at Adventures in Love, Life and Librarianship is hosting a summer recipe linkup!  She's already got a list of delicious looking yummies, and I'm sure by the end of the day there will be enough to keep everyone busy the entire summer.

Now I'm hungry... and I might make this Ricotta Zucchini Galette for dinner...

Yum

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Play's The Thing!

I've always been very, very lucky in that I've found ways to see cheap or discounted theatre.  A good friend used to work at one of the biggest theatres in the area, and she would always give me free tickets for preview shows--usually ones that included free food and hob-nobbing with actors afterward.  Another theatre used to drop off posters at the library and always gave us a voucher for two free tickets, which made me very happy.

Well, the good times have come to an end.  My friend who worked at the theatre has gotten another job (she's much happier, so it's a good thing), and strangely, the poster guy has stopped coming to the library.  I even called the theatre to ask why we never see him anymore, and they were as confused as I.

I recently looked into buying tickets for a show that I really wanted to see and was shocked to find out that it's $50 for a Sunday afternoon performance!  Who the hell can afford that?  So, I just accepted the fact that I won't be going to any shows for the foreseeable future, and started to make peace with that idea.

Then the universe gave me a sign.

I was having dinner with a friend who is both a librarian and an actress, and she told me that the way she gets to see most shows is by volunteering to usher.  Often you have to commit to ushering at at least two shows, but after showing people where to sit, you get to watch for free. 

I had actually forgotten up until she said this that I had actually done this back in college when the local theatre was showing MacBeth.  We were reading the play in my Shakespeare class, and the professor encouraged all of us to see the production as well. "If you can't afford a ticket, volunteer to usher and you can see it for free."  I don't know why I completely forgot that piece of advice, but I'm certainly going to take advantage now.

Unfortunately, there are not enough hours in the day for me to volunteer at all the theatres and see all the shows, but if I pick the one that's most expensive, I can at least see one season of shows for free!  I have to wait until fall to implement this plan, but I'm still pretty stoked!  Then, like always seems to happen, my friend who used to get me free theatre tickets all the time, asked if I want to accompany her to the shows she will now be seeing as a theatre reviewer!  It certainly pays to let your interests (in theatre and in free things) known.

Have you ever found a way to get free leisure activities like this?  Any tips to share?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blogathon Link Love x2

--Since I'm back on the Food Waste Friday bandwagon--not that I was ever off the food waste avoiding bandwagon, but you know what I mean... I love this post from Minting Nickels: 8 Ways to Minimize Your Food Waste and Save Hundreds.

--I don't know what's come over me, but I suddenly strongly feel the urge to try Leah Ingram's home-made laundry detergent. I had planned to do this forever ago, and then it slipped my mind, now I can't shake the idea out of my head.  Only problem is that I just bought a new bottle of detergent, but in a year or so when that's gone...  I think maybe this is why I didn't end up doing it last time I had this notion.

--What's in a name? I've got a weird last name that sounds German but isn't, and apparently Brooke from Brooke vs. The World has a German last name that people think is Dutch.  It's always a funny feeling when people assume your family's country of origin and get it wrong.  Kind of like that time a friend of mine started dating the guy she eventually married and he flat out asked her: "What are you?" he thought she might be Mexican, she isn't (she's kind of tan).  I'm still not sure why it mattered.

--Michelle at Making Sense of Cents has a great guest post about something that all us frugal folk struggle with--staying motivated.

--My brother insisted that I listen to the song Royal by Lorde the other day, and I seriously cannot stop listening to it.  This chick is only 16!


That's all for this week!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Smart Travel

I talk about travel a lot because it's probably my favorite thing to do in the world.  One thing that works very well for extended travel, is finding an apartment to base yourself in and then doing smaller daytrips, or just exploring that city.  It can often be cheaper than a hotel, and comes with a kitchen, which makes eating much less expensive.

When we were in Sweden last year, I cant even imagine how much money we saved by having a kitchen and cooking at home. Even Swedes rarely eat out because it's so pricey, but between the kitchen, kebab stands, 7-11 (which I never go to at home, isn't it funny?) and a ready stash of granola bars, we kept our food costs much lower.

I received a beautiful infographic about this topic the other day, and I'm happy to share it with everyone!  Infographics are awesome.


Luxury Travel Guide

Friday, June 21, 2013

Food Waste Friday!

I haven't been participating in Food Waste Friday in forever, but I think this is something I need to start doing again.  Also, what better time to start re-participating than a week with no waste!


Since moving, I have been to the grocery store once and continued on my quest to eat down the pantry.  I haven't been cooking much, unfortunately, but am slowly getting back into it.  I've got some food that's getting close to going bad, but I have time to eat it and I'm on budget for groceries.

New apartment = fresh start!

How did you do this week?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's a Major Award!

I've started reading Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home, and one of her major principles, and the one she says most people have a hard time with is refusing things.  Everyone loves a freebie, but often freebies are cheaply made, break easily and do nothing but clutter up your home.  I'm re-inventorying all of my stuff and trying to get rid of things that don't really serve any purpose, and I keep coming back to one thing--racing medals.

I ran my first 1/2 marathon in 2007 and was rewarded with a hideous Donald Duck medal that I had no idea what to do with.  So I gave it to my dad, and it's in storage in Minnesota.
Since that time, I've run 14 more 1/2 marathons and accumulated 15 more medals (I got a bonus medal last year for running the Triple Crown), and I really don't know what to do with those either.  I had been hanging them on the corner of a shelf--just in a big pile,and adding more and more.  I never look at them, I never do anything with them, but the thought of not having them seemed just wrong to me somehow.  I earned them, after all.

But when you think about it, I've earned a lot of things over the years that I no longer have.  I didn't keep my trophies from elementary school basketball, my Girl Scout badges or my figure skating costumes.  If I was proudly displaying these medals, it would be one thing, but the fact that I acquire at least four new ones a year makes the thought of doing something with them arduous and overwhelming.  Plus, I'm not crafty and don't really care for knick-knacks.

So why keep them?

So far, the only reason I've kept them is because I have the odd attachment that I earned them.  I feel like getting rid of them undermines my accomplishments, but then I look at them (and I can't even see them right now because they're packed somewhere still) and I feel a little rush of pride.  Does that make it worth hanging onto them?  I matted and framed all my diplomas, aren't these a kind of sporty diploma?

Other running bloggers have talked about this problem, and some runners save EVERYTHING from their races:
I remember my father going through the same thing once he had pile of medals and didn't know what to do with them.  He eventually mounted them on some kind of board, and it took four boards to hold them all.  Then, when he moved into their current house, he, like me (so far), just never unpacked them.

There's a charity called Medals for Mettle, which re-gifts race medals to children and adults who are battling debilitating illnesses in recognition of their mettle and perseverance, and I've often thought I should give my medals to them.  But I haven't.  Presently my diplomas are tucked away in a closet, just like my medals, so do either of them have actual worth to me, or would the medals bring me more happiness if I gave them away?

Do you have any particular items that seem to have a hold on you?  Is it because these are something I feel like I've won, or does my reluctance to get rid of them just mean that I should stop considering it?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Planned Obsolescence

This was my first Sprint phone, I loved it and
I should never have let it go
I've had a non-smart phone through Sprint for at least ten years now.  I don't have any loyalty to Sprint, in fact I kind of hate them, but it turns out that I hate the idea of shopping around for a new cell phone provider even more than I hate them, so I stay.  Sprint's contracts last two years, and I've noticed that almost exactly every two years, right when it's time to re-up, my battery starts to break down.

The first time, it was a bit curious.  I went in with a phone I really liked and told them that I just needed a new battery.  The salesman, a college undergrad, flirted with me aggressively, made me really uncomfortable, and eventually I agreed to upgrade to a new phone.  After all, it was free, it was slightly better than the phone I had been using, and I just wanted to get away from this kid so I thought pleasing him would be the fastest way.

So I 'upgraded' to this phone:
It was slightly smaller, had a color screen and it had a camera, so I figured it was a step up.  Except it was a total lemon.  This is hands down the worst phone I've ever had, and I spent two years just hating it.  It would lock up all the time and just remain in a frozen state, there was no indication when the battery died and the battery life was significantly shorter.  There were other problems/ annoyances too, but I won't get into all that.

I called Sprint and asked what would happen if I broke my contract because one of their employees sold me  a crap phone I don't want, and they just said "It would cost $150."

So I stayed.  I toughed out the two years with the worst phone ever, and eventually upgraded again to a phone I had done meticulous research on and that I just ordered online to avoid dealing with salesmen.
It's the same brand as that first phone I had and loved, and this little guy has brought me nothing but happiness for nearly two years.  The only problem is that the reason I know it's been two years is my battery mysteriously went dead the other day.

I used my phone primarily as an alarm clock and texting device, so I only need to charge the battery every two weeks or so.  Last Thursday, I had a phone appointment that was scheduled to run about 45 minutes, so I charged my phone beforehand, but noticed that the battery was completely dead a mere three days later.  It could be that I wandered into a place where I don't get a signal (I can't really get a signal anywhere), or I forgot to turn it off at work, or I could, once again, be the victim of planned obsolescence.

If that is the case, I plan to just buy another battery, and then stay month-to-month with Sprint until another option presents itself.  I've been looking into other, even cheaper cell options, but so far none of them allow me to keep this phone and all of them make me a bit skeptical.  The last thing I want to do is finally break up with Sprint and then have to come crawling back--like a sucker.

The funny thing, to me, is that I don't buy into planned obsolescence, for the most part.  I don't need the newest and best everything; I rarely upgrade if what I have works; I am a manufacturer's worst nightmare.  Except they found a way to get even those of us who won't play along.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Back on Track

Sorry to keep yammering on about this whole moving thing, but I think I discounted how really disruptive the whole thing was going to be. Obviously, there's the living in a new place and all the issues that go with that: where am I going to put everything? Where should I hang up my pictures?  Oh, I guess I need a bedframe and a new lamp--that kind of things.  I've got a clawfoot tub for the first time in my life, and apparently you need to know things to make showering not suck.  I've also been eating pretty strangely and not really exercising, so everything just feels off.

Now that the apartment is mostly organized and all the things I have left to sort out are smaller details, it's time to get back to taking care of myself.  Summer is the worst time of year to feel fat and my midsection has been feeling rather soft lately--not cool.

Summer Goals for getting back on track:

  1. Run at least three days a week.  I'm not going to insist on a mileage goal because I'm trying to keep it fun and running in 90 degree heat is awful.  Just having a three days a week goal in mind should be enough to motivate me, and not being dictatorial and saying: "you must run 25 miles a week" should keep me from getting petulant and cheating.
  2. Clean the apartment at least once a week.  I've been good about doing daily tasks like wiping out the bathroom sink kitchen counters, but I also want to make sure I swiffer the floors at least once a week.  Wee Watson is in his sheddingest time of year, and I fear that I'll just wake up one morning to find the kitty furballs have taken over.
  3. Stop snacking and go back to eating meals.  Now that the kitchen is organized and I've been to the grocery store, there's no excuse for having a bag of microwave popcorn for dinner.
  4. Keep up with laundry.  I'm so lazy when it comes to this, but I now have the opportunity to make in manageable.  If I just do one load a week, I should be fine.  I just need to make it part of my routine.
  5. Don't fill my house with stuff.  It's so easy to bring things into the house because you do it a few at a time and it doesn't seem hard.  What sucks, is getting it out of the house either by donating, selling or moving.  That takes so much more effort and time.  I actually have everything I need-- more than I need, so every time I feel like I do need something new, I'm really going to force myself to think it through and sleep on it before taking the plunge.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Keep on Purging

I got rid of a lot of things before I moved, and I have gotten rid of a couple of things even since then.  My apartment is uncluttered and I have exactly what I need.

Except for my clothes.

I admit it, I am a lazy girl when it comes to laundry.  I don't mind putting it in the washer, I get annoyed when I have to put it in the dryer but I do it, but when it comes to putting it away, I get a big F.  My method is usually to take all the clean clothes and pile them up on a chair.  Then I take what I need, and file it back away into the dirty clothes basket.  Clothing items that are 'gently used' like jeans or sweaters, etc, often get thrown artfully over a different chair and the process repeats itself.

For the first time in a very long time, all of my clothes were washed.  Why would I want to move dirty laundry?  Well, having all my clothes actually clean and in front of me begging to be organized in my much larger closet forced me to come to terms with exactly how many clothes I actually have.  I posted this status update on facebook a little while back: I'm officially admitting I have a problem. I've been putting away clothes for three days now and I still have a pile on my couch and in the truck of my car. There is no end in sight. I have five identical charcoal v-neck t-shirts.  This prompted a friend of mine to call me a hoarder.

I know she meant it in jest, but it actually upset me a bit.  Here I've been feeling all smug because my new place is nice and organized and uncluttered, but what I've actually been doing is shoving things I don't want to deal with into the back of the closet.  I've made progress finding a place for everything in my new apartment--except the clothes.

I have been trying to pare down my closet to the essentials for some time now.  I'm pretty pound of the fact that I can look into my closet and know that I've worn a lot of the items in the last year and have had many for years as well.  But there are some things I have trouble dealing with.

1. The dressy outfits a.k.a the ones you wear to weddings.  
I have a cadre of sundresses that get a lot of use during the summer months, but I also have quite a few 'nice' dresses that barely get worn.  When you attend a wedding, you of course are usually photographed, and I don't want to wear the same dress to every wedding I go to.  Thankfully, I don't have any weddings to attend this year, but I do always get annoyed that guys can just buy one suit and wear it for years while I have to accumulate an expensive and rarely-used wardrobe.  I do have some dresses that I've had for years, and still like, but even then, it seems like a bit of a waste to have them hanging in my closet when I never know if I'll need them again.

2. The Suit
I do not wear a suit to work--never have, nor am I ever likely to.  When I was in grad school, I bought a suit for job interviews, but I actually never even wore it for one.  I finally had to admit that it was just too small and unlikely to ever fit me again, so I freecycled it.  But now people keep telling me that I need another suit.  Obviously, having one on standby is probably a good thing, but suits are also expensive and if I never wore the last one I had, what are the odds I'll actually need the new one?  When I finally pulled it out of my closet, it was actually dusty!  I don't know that could happen to clothes!

3. The clothes that go with a life I don't live
I've always struggled with this one.  You see something in the store, it's beautiful, but you have no occasion to wear it.  I used to just wear them anyway--I was the girl in grad school showing up in smart casual when my classmates were in pajamas, but for biking to work and frequently crawling around on the floor while at work (more than I'd like to admit), it just doesn't make sense to have some of these clothes.  I've been hanging onto a skirt from Banana Republic for literally three years.  

Occasionally, I try it on, remember how much I like it, and then don't wear it.  Ugh!

My new plan is to be aggressive with the closet.  Thankfully, the layout should make it such that I can actually see what I own and therefore am less likely to buy things I already have, but I also vow to keep up with my laundry and pare things down a little further.  Yes, I have five identical charcoal v-necks, but I will not buy any more!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Necessities vs Stuff

When I was unpacking my dishes, I realized that I only have four dinner plates.  At first I was horrified, but then I became incredibly happy at that fact.  I can only use one at a time, obviously, and I probably won't ever feed more than four people at once in this apartment.  It also made me giggle because it remind me of this scene from Flight of the Conchords:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

From Another Point of View

I run by this nearly every day--I love it
*The following post has little-to-nothing to do with frugality or saving money, sorry!

I mentioned before that I moved a mere five blocks away from where I used to live, so I'm continually surprised at all these new little pockets of neighborhood that I've never encountered before.  Even walking to work the other day, I met up with a section of road where I frequently go running, and I realized how different it looked just because I was on the other side of the road. 

You know how when you go on vacation, you can't help but rubberneck at all the different sights?  Well, I feel like that even though I've lived here for six years now.  It's kind of cool.  I do try to slow down sometimes and appreciate where I live, which is a big part of the reason I love being able to walk to work, but also sometimes I just forget.

One other magical thing about my neighborhood is the abundance of historical buildings.  They're everywhere, just hanging out, having plaques on them reminding you how historical they are.  Well, among those historical buildings, and in a lot of them, are college students.  These may be Ivy League college students, but they still behave in much the same way i.e. by getting down on the weekend.  I've discovered piles of puke on the sidewalk in front of the lovely museum pictured above, and the other day when I was walking to work I discovered a pair of men's jockeys--red.  They were just lying on the sidewalk in front of this building:

I don't know why it cracks me up so much when debauchery happens in front of historic buildings, but it just does.

In case you're wondering, the underwear was gone this morning when I biked to work.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Bed Woes

Remember way back when and I was mattress shopping?  Well, we finally solved that problem and for a brief moment life was wonderful.  Then I moved to a 3rd floor apartment, the beautiful new box spring wouldn't fit up the stairs, and we had to leave it sitting out on the curb.  Thankfully, someone picked it up before it started raining, and I hope it's serving them well while I'm sleeping on a mattress on the floor.

It looks very Asian and minimalist, but it's also really hard to get up (low to the ground--lots of leg muscles required), my bedspread is on the floor and I'm a grownup, damnit!  It shouldn't be like this for me.  Also, in my place it doesn't look zen, it just looks trashy, so as much as I hate spending money on furniture, I started shopping for a bedframe that will get me off the floor.

Naturally, my first thought was IKEA because their stuff is cheap, nice to look at and I have plenty of friends with IKEA beds who seem to like them.  I selected the Malm
Which was (seemingly) a good price, and was recommended by a friend.  We made a trip out to IKEA (about 40 minute drive), got the bed and some other stuff, then came home to do the big IKEA assemble.

Except.

Since I've never bought a bed frame--from IKEA or anywhere else, I didn't realize that it doesn't come with the slats you need to actually put your mattress on.

So then I had to make a second trip the following day to buy the stupid slats.  Thankfully, I had looked them up online before going, so I knew exactly where to go in the store, and was out in fifteen minutes.

So, people who may buy a bed from IKEA in the future--pay attention to this lesson.  It is also worth noting that these bed slats are notoriously crappy, they move around and can slip, and that in order to actually have a bed that's useable, you may need to do some MacGyvering.  I was at a friend's house once, sitting on her IKEA bed, when the top corner of slats slipped.  Unfortunately for me, she had also recently purchased satin sheets which were so slippery I went flying across the room.

Thankfully, there are loads of IKEA hacks out on the web, and I found this one, which I will be trying.  Also thankfully (and because of the above satin sheet incident), I went for the low Malm rather than the high one.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer Reading

Even though it hasn't been particularly hot where I live (just rainy and sticky), it's time to admit that summer is truly upon us.  That means that a whole slew of easy breezy books are coming out and I'm super pumped!  Summer is a good time to just sit still in front of a fan--don't move around too much.  Here's what I'm going to be reading this summer.

1. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
I love David Sedaris, but sometimes he lets me down (I'm looking at you, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk).  This book is a collection of essays with a couple fiction stories thrown in.  As usual, the essays are great, the fiction not so much.  Still worth picking up.

2. The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls
I don't even know what this book is about, but I don't care.  I loved The Glass Castle and I loved Half-Broke Horses, so I am officially a Jeanette Walls devotee.  Here's a bit from the book description: "It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who “found something wrong with every place she ever lived,” takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations."
I'm still waiting for this to come in at the library, but I'm excited!

3. Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson
I know that I will never be as zero waste as Bea Johnson, but I really am trying to do my best, and it's nice to get some new ideas.  There's always something to improve on and always something new to think about.

4. Family Pictures by Jane Green
Jane Green is another author who I just immediately put myself on hold for at the library and rarely ever know what the books is about.  I've been reading her books since I was in college, and even though they've gotten a bit more boring and same-y in recent years, they're still entertaining and highly readable.

5. Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand
It's a bit ridiculous
At the library, without fail, we get a while slew of women in the summer looking for something "light, but smart." They want a beach read with a bit of a brain, so I always hand them Elin Hilderbrand.  Her books all take place on Nantucket, in her author photo she always looks like she just got back from the beach and her writing is quick, smart and entertaining.

6. Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss
This is one of those books that's fascinating and totally depressing.  Strangely (perhaps), I've been reading this in the staff room at work while eating my lunch.  When the author starts telling you how much sugar is added to some foods, I swear that what you're eating tastes sweeter.  This is one of those books that is not only very well-researched, but also highly readable--if only in small doses.

7. Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham
I'm a little scared to pick this one up, honestly.  In my mind, I love Lauren Graham, but in reality, I probably just love Lorelai Gilmore.  Even though this book is fiction, it's still about an actress trying to find her professional footing, so is likely to be semi-autobiographical (but most first novels are).  Part of me is really curious, and I also read some very positive reviews, but the other part of me wants to leave my ideas of Lauren Graham back in the happy place in my memory.  If I dislike the book, will it ruin my re-watching of Gilmore Girls!?  Is that a chance I want to take?  This book has been sitting on my table for about two weeks now, and a friend emailed me months ago when there were free e-copies available, which I did not take advantage of.  I will read it though, just maybe not soon.

8. The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
A gripping mystery!  I read a review of this book when I was placing an order for the library, and it sounds super intriguing:
"Rose Baker seals men’s fates. With a few strokes of the keys that sit before her, she can send a person away for life in prison. A typist in a New York City Police Department precinct, Rose is like a high priestess. Confessions are her job. It is 1923, and while she may hear every detail about shootings, knifings, and murders, as soon as she leaves the interrogation room she is once again the weaker sex, best suited for filing and making coffee.
This is a new era for women, and New York is a confusing place for Rose. Gone are the Victorian standards of what is acceptable. All around her women bob their hair, they smoke, they go to speakeasies. Yet prudish Rose is stuck in the fading light of yesteryear, searching for the nurturing companionship that eluded her childhood. When glamorous Odalie, a new girl, joins the typing pool, despite her best intentions Rose falls under Odalie’s spell. As the two women navigate between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night and their work at the station by day, Rose is drawn fully into Odalie’s high-stakes world. And soon her fascination with Odalie turns into an obsession from which she may never recover."


9. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Theresa Ann Fowler
Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald are pretty hot right now.  There's a waitlist at the library for The Great Gatsby, obviously the new movie is out and there are two novels about Zelda.  I'm merely mildly intrigued by this book, and the only reason I picked it instead of the other novel about her: Beautiful Fools: The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, is because this one came out first and got more buzz.  I have very little patience for manic pixie dreamgirls, which Zelda seems to be the patron saint of, but it may be entertaining.


10. The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari by Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux is a dangerous man because his books are so amazing that I want to underline every word (I'm not an underliner by nature, but he just brings it out of me), and they make me want to go on exotic vacations I cannot afford.on the hot summer days when I feel like I'm going to melt into my chair, I'll read about African and maybe it will make me feel cooler.

What are you reading this summer?  Are you as shocked as I am that I didn't list any YA books?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Art of Asking

I love this TED Talk that Amanda Palmer did a while back called The Art of Asking.  I encourage everyone to watch the whole thing, but the gist of it is because she isn't afraid to ask people for what she needs, she often gets what she asks for plus a personal connection with someone and a chance to encounter people.  She has asked her fans to fund albums (a controversial decision), has frequently stayed at fans' houses, has gotten food from fans--even a neti pot.  Basically whenever she needs something, she just asks. And when she gets what she asked for, she says thank you and shares a genuine moment with the person she is thanking.

video

It's almost stupidly simple.  You ask for something you need, and the person you ask says either yes or no.  But it can be awful, and embarrassing and potentially awkward as well.  Except, it can also be really great.  When you have something--anything, that you're not particularly fired up about and you find someone who needs it, it's a great feeling.  I've found that in freecycling things--both giving things and receiving them.  I had a tv a few months ago that I didn't need, and I found a girl who was really grateful to take it off my hands.  My bike was stolen, and a woman gave me a better bike that had been sitting in her shed.  Asking isn't demanding, and people have the option to just refuse, but oftentimes, they realize that it's not a big deal at all.

I mentioned a while back that I was in a bit of a pickle when it came to a tv for my new apartment. I don't want to pay for one, so I put an ad on Freecycle asking if anyone had one that works that I could pick up.  I heard back from a guy about 30 minutes away and planned to pick it up on Sunday.  Then I had a chat with BF and a friend, who strongly discouraged me from taking this potentially huge and heavy tv in favor of looking for a cheaper, newer one.  To be honest, I'm not sure why they were so vehement, but they did plant a seed in my mind, so I emailed the guy back and started hunting for a different tv.

Craigslist Flatscreen
I looked all over Craigslist and discovered that a flatscreen tv in Craigslist parlance, is just a tube tv with a screen that doesn't bulge out.  I became a bit disheartened.  Then I thought that maybe, just maybe, someone I know has one they are getting rid of, or just don't need.  I've already had a couple people offer me really old tvs, so I figured I'd see if there was something newer out there, for whatever reason.

I asked and I received--two offers actually, within about fifteen minutes.

A friend of mine who is planning on going on an adventure in the fall and who is actively purging her house of contents has a small flat screen (actual flatscreen, not just a screen that's slightly flat), that she bought four years ago and never really used. She said she thought she might like to have it on in the background since she was also living alone for the first time in a long time, but later realized that she's not much of a tv person.

It has a built in DVD player, and HDMI port so I can connect my laptop if I want, and is the perfect size.  BF was a bit horrified at how small it was when he saw it, but it's bigger than my laptop screen and perfect for my needs because I really don't care about screen size.   I know, since it's a newer model, that it will work with the roku I plan to buy... or ask for.

I have a tendency to just take the easiest option, so I am a bit glad that BF and my friend pushed me not to take the Freecycle tube tv because it turns out the even easier option was getting a better tv from a friend.

She even delivered it, and we got to catch up face-to-face instead of via facebook.  It was really nice.  Bonus: I've managed to still never pay for a tv.  Keep the streak alive!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tangible Progress!

I have a horrible time remembering numbers.  I tend to misremember 7s and 9s, always second guess myself and numbers just don't stick in my brain--especially numbers that change.  I can remember vaguely how much money I have in my travel fund, for instance, but I have no idea what that mileage on my car is.  My inability to remember numbers is actually a bit of a professional hindrance as well, since my current library uses the Dewey Decimal system, which is all numbers based.  Thankfully, I usually don't have to memorize the call number for specific types of books, I just remember where they are in the building and direct people accordingly.

Because I can never remember numbers, I tend to forget if I've made actual progress paying down a debt--specifically student loans, or saving.  To be fair, the student loan thing really does seem like treading water since I make a payment and the amount starts creeping back up right away, but to make myself feel a little better, I started taking screenshots at the beginning of each month to remind myself that the big number is getting every so slightly smaller.

The first screenshot I took, in March, showed a balance of $100,132.  Ugh.  Awful, scary number--I hate you!  The most recent screenshot that I took, June 8, shows a balance of $99,601. Yes, I just made a payment, so that number is creeping back up, but I have not gone back over the $100,000 mark since February!

This is all thanks to my new repayment strategy of aggressively throwing money at my biggest, highest interest loan, (dratted Loan E) and I'm so happy that it's actually working!  Now all I have to do is keep up the pace, without going nuts and stopping saving, and I should be able to make even faster progress.  It's so tempting to take every bit of extra money and try to bring these loans down even faster, but that's just foolish.  My goal is to just reduce the amount so that when they're forgiven in 8.5 years, I don't get stuck with a massive income tax bill.  The amount that I owe is not mathematically possible to pay off in 25 years--unless I win the lottery or something, so I need to remind myself not to throw away my future in the form of not saving for retirement or possible home-ownership.

Yay for screenshots!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Grocery Budget

I've been trying to figure out how to budget for my new apartment and the things I need to buy for it--and me.  Like I said before, the nice thing about living alone is that you can really control your circumstances, even to the point of being a bit crazy.  To that end, one of my big plans is to really rein in grocery spending.  I'm going to spend the summer at the Farmer's Market and the winter crockpotting--it's going to be awesome!

But I started thinking about it, and I don't even know what a reasonable amount of money per month is to spend on groceries.  BF and I were spending $300+ each month, which always seemed really high to me, but maybe that's just typical for two people?

Thankfully, I found this awesome chart from the USDA that breaks down what a person or family should roughly be spending on food.
http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2013/CostofFoodApr2013.pdf

That's obviously a little small, but click the link to see the full chart.  Man, I just love charts.  This is the part I'm most concerned with though:

As a female in the 19-50 age bracket, I can expect to spend ~$163 per month on food, if I'm on the thrifty plan.  That actually sounds really high to me, but that's going to be my grocery goal for living alone--at least to start.

I'm lucky in that I don't like meat and therefore don't eat it, I like lentils and most of the food that I actually want to eat is pretty cheap.  Hopefully I don't develop a taste for truffles in the coming months (yummy truffles), and I'm also planning on buying less food overall, and hopefully wasting less too.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Blogathon Link Love

Even though a lot of the people I'm link loving are not actually participating in the blogathon, I still like the posts they wrote.

--Mad props to Newlyweds on a Budget for kicking their house down payment savings goal's ass!  In two months, they have saved $7000 AND still done fun things.  Inspiring.

--Sarah Houghton aka The Librarian in Black, was just diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 36.  Thankfully, they caught it early, doctors are optimistic she will make a full recovery.  In the interest of people knowing more about this--just sharing information like we librarians do, she will be live tweeting her surgery on Thursday afternoon (Pacific Time).  I've long admired Sarah for her passion for her profession, her tech-savvy and her willingness to just put herself out there.  May she live forever!

--There's a new Sarah Dessen book!!  I've been waiting for this for months!  Perfect reading for this weekend of crappy weather.  Forever YA, the best review site for teen books, was spot on when they said the cover looks like a tampon ad, but I'm still super pumped.
Yup, sure does
 --I love the Non-Consumer Advocate's post The Catharsis of Decluttering.  Even though I de-cluttered aggressively before moving, I'm still finding myself looking at some of this stuff that I own and thinking why did I buy that?  Why did I keep that? However, I hope with some attractive organization, I'll be able to find a place for everything.

--June 5th was National Running Day, and, sadly, a day that I did not go for a run, but I celebrated from my chair.  Another way to celebrate this day, besides going for a run, is to say why you run (if you run).  I run because:  It's fun (usually), it makes me feel badass, it's cheap (minus getting addicted to running gear), you can do it anywhere (mostly), it's a great way to clear your head and organize your thoughts, I could go on...

--Strangely, there has been a lot of debate lately in the field of librarianship about professional dress.  Librarians often do not dress well--sensible shoes and cardigans are a staple, but I will defend cardigans to my very end!  About half the libraries I've worked in, including my present position, do not have a dress code, which can be awesome, but also a disaster.  Anyway, this is a big topic, and I think Elizabeth at Life, Love and Librarianship handled it quite well.

--One Smart Dollar sings the praises of biking to work!  We all know that driving less saves you money, but biking more regularly has far more benefit than just that.


What blogs are you loving this week?  Add the link in the comments!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Things I'm Happy About Right Now

New Running Route
Even though I live a mere five blocks from where I used to live, I'm off of a different major artery road.  So, I went exploring in my new neighborhood the other day, and it was lovely.  Unfortunately, it's a bit more hilly than my old route, but once I get used to living on the 3rd floor, that will be a piece of cake.  I've been in a running, not rut, but more routine, and it's nice to shake things up a bit.  It's also nice that I have that Garmin now, and I don't have to pre-map my run, I can just get outside and go!

Clean Apartment
Is there anything better than a clean apartment that you didn't actually have to clean?  Yes, my closet is a bit of a disaster zone and there are still more boxes lying around than I would like, but everything is currently clean and organized which makes me feel like such a grownup.  Of course, as it always does, the clutter will accumulate as will the piles of cat hair, but right now, my new digs are a shining beacon of minimalism and I love it!

Eating From the Pantry
I'm still in eat from the pantry mode and though I bought a few groceries, I'm determined not to go overboard. It really is a lot easier just buying for one, and since I've been doing a frequent inventory over the past month, I know pretty much exactly what I have.  Now I just need to remember to bring over my cutting board from the old apartment so I can finally cut up that cucumber.

Found Treasure?
BF and I went to the coinstar the other day to unload some change.  While it's always exciting to take a bag of coins and walk away with a $30 Amazon gift certificate, this particular trip was even more exciting that usual.  Next to the coinstar machine was a wheelchair that the grocery store owns, and on that wheelchair were three coinstar gift certificates for the grocery store.  I have no idea if they still have money on them, but I assume that the store would keep them if they were all cashed in? Right?  So, next time I buy groceries, I'll test them out and see if I actually found treasure, or just some litter.

Clingy Kitty
Wee Watson is adapting to the move pretty well, but he has still been rather clingy like he always gets when something changes rather radically.  He has been cuddling me in an aggressive manner lately, and I just love it.  Usually in the summer, he is rather aloof, but not lately.  Of course, he has been shedding buckets, so I look like a much more stereotypical librarian, but what can you do.
Checking out the new (clean) digs

Friday, June 7, 2013

Oh, The Internet

I've talked before about how I don't have a smart phone because I like to be disconnected every now and then.  Well, with my recent move, I've been far more disconnected than I wanted or intended.  Since BF was paying for the internet at our old place, I haven't really had to think about it for four years.  Prior to moving, I shopped around for the best broadband provider, since some things have changed since I last internetted.  Then I just went with what I knew, and scheduled an installation for Thursday June 6th before work.

I spent the weekend moving, and then Monday and Tuesday at a conference, so I figured I'd really only have one night of no internet, since I had to be back to work Wednesday morning and could catch up on my correspondence then.  Of course, to have no home internet in the middle of a blogathon is a bit of an inconvenience, but I am resourceful!

Except.

I waited around Thursday morning, and the internet never came.  Then I checked my email and saw that they had sent me a message saying my installation was on hold and would be cancelled.

Let me repeat that: The company coming to install my internet sent me an email telling me that they weren't coming.  Ummmm, I realize that a lot of people have smart phones, but are we just assuming everyone has access to email all the time?!

So I had to get on the phone, explain the ludicrous situation, tell them that I'm aware of how this all works so I don't need to be there, and they assured me that the would come this morning.  While I was sitting at my desk, I saw a man from the internet company climbing a pole across the street.  He did his thing, whatever that was, and I still don't have internet.  Maybe he wasn't there for me.

Once of the good things about this situation, going back to the Work Perks that I was talking up the other day, my library circulates Wireless hotspots, which are little 4G devices that you plug into your computer and then hop on the wireless signal that it emits.  I told our tech guy about my predicament, and he was so horrified that he immediately lent me one for as long as I need it.  So I can still get online (otherwise it would be a very long weekend), but I still can't understand what's wrong with the people who are supposed to be taking my money in exchange for a service.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Oldies but Goodies

It has its own carrying case!
A while back, I realized that I've had my comb since I was about 14 years old.  That blew my mind a little bit, but also made me incredibly happy.  Recently, I've noticed other things around my house that work perfectly well and that I like, but some are actually older than me.

Wallet
I bought my wallet at The Limited when I was in college.  It cost about $12 and was the smallest wallet I could find.  Apparently this was the time I began flirting with minimalism, or else I just had so much other crap in my bag I wanted to keep my wallet small.  Either way, I've had this thing for ~12 years, and I have no intention of getting rid of it.  Every now and then I think I should get a new wallet, but then I remember that I like the one I have, it's small enough to fit in my purse's cell phone pocket, and it still looks great!

Hand Mixer
My hand mixer is actually a hand-me-down from my mother and is older than me.  She bought a new one years ago and insisted that I take this one.  At first I was confused since I had previously never needed a hand mixer and couldn't think of a reason I would start, but then I learned to make mashed potatoes, and it's been true love ever since. This mixer is still powerful and has twirled its way through countless recipes in the ~10 years I've had it.  Built to last.

Sewing Machine
This is another hand-me down, but from my grandmother! My mother inherited it from grandma when she died and this is the sewing machine that grandma used to make countless projects over the years--including my baby blanket.  My mother was never very good at sewing, so she passed the machine onto me when I was in high school and I've had it ever since.  This thing is a tank, but it still works perfectly.  Maybe if I was a more adventurous sewer I would want to upgrade to a newer model, but for hemming pants and miscellaneous mending several times a year, I'll stick with Old Faithful.

Towel Set
I was in yoga the other day, and I realized that I was laying on a towel I had received as a High School graduation gift. I took the towel with me to my dorm, my first apartment and my move to Rhode Island.  It's not even that great of a towel, but it works perfectly well for hot yoga and I intend to keep it until it's completely threadbare and shredded--then I'll turn it into rags.

What do you have that you've had for years?  Do you have any items that you use that are older than you are?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Best Free Apps!

The following is a guest post from my good friend Stephanie, who blogs (just starting out!) at Backbends and Bookends.  Since I'm still in the land of the dumb phone users, I couldn't do the Blogathon Theme Day #1, so Steph took it on for me!
Just a few of my favorite FREE apps....


Before I start, I have to make note that I don’t play a lot of games on my phone and I delete an app that has just sat on my phone unused for a month.  I don’t like clutter - even the app kind.  Here are a few that have survived the ax:  
Overdrive
I can always have an ebook and audiobook on my phone.  Sweet.  I have become increasingly happy with Overdrive, especially after having issues with playaways randomly stopping on me and the tediousness of putting every disc of an audiobook on the computer to put on my phone (c’mon, everyone does it....).  It’s quick, easy and I never get caught bookless.

Zinio
Recent add to my phone after hubby’s library acquired Zinio.  With Zinio, you peruse through various magazines, add them to your account and get them added to your phone with every new issue.  Then you download them and enjoy.  It can be a little tricky reading an article on the phone, but Zinio has a handy “text-only” button that simply puts the article into text so you don’t have to worry about zoom in and sliding all over the place to read it.  You can purchase magazines as well, but I’ve been very happy with the selections the library has.  If your library doesn’t offer this service I would strongly encourage you to suggest it!

Duolingo
For years I have been wanting to brush up on my Spanish skills.  I stumbled across Duolingo and have enjoyed working through the levels and skill sets.   You get a variety of exercise types - listening, speaking, vocabulary, spelling and translating.  The vocabulary and activities is appropriate and the graphics are cute.

American Red Cross
I was taking my CPR/First Aid Certification class earlier this week, and the instructor suggested checking out their apps.  I downloaded the First Aid app and was surprised about how much information was in it.  It has basically every lesson as well as information on preparing for countless disasters and finding shelters and more.  They also have a separate earthquake, tornado, hurricane and shelter app and said they are working on more.  

Untapped
This is actually my husbands favorite app and is a lot of fun if you and your friends enjoy beer.  You get a status symbol based upon how many unique beers you drink and compete with friends to see who can drink more unique label beers.  He and his friends are very competitive and enjoy discovering new unique IPA’s and the like.