Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Spring-Like Weather, Yard Projects, and Books

The weather here in south Alabama has been beautiful! It reached 70 degrees yesterday. I have been spending more time outdoors sitting on the porch or working in the yard. 

I began raking the backyard which led to me clearing brush along the fence line. Here is one corner of the back yard which looks nice now... 

  Today I worked in the front yard. In my quest to simplify the garden bed in front of the porch has been pulled up and all plants removed. They will be transplanted in the backyard. We are going to let the grass fill in the area. The less weeding, the better for me!

In the past few days I have also been reading. Last night I finished Firefly Beach, a novel by Meira Pentermann. It's full of descriptions and cozy details, along with a good story line. If you like mysteries, you will enjoy this book.

I then started A Horse Called September by Anne Digby. I love horses and my birthday is in September so of course I just had to read it.

What's the weather like where you live? What projects are you working on? Have you read any good books lately?

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Non-Essentials

I write a lot about being frugal and minimalist living, but that doesn't mean I believe in deprivation or a home devoid of cozy qualities. 

Sometimes it is the non-essential things that bring us great joy and they should not be ignored. Nor do they have to break the budget. There are many non-essentials that do not cost any money at all!

Some of the non-essentials I enjoy are:

Dark chocolate
Scented candles
Nail polish
Polka dot pajamas
Sweet scented lotions
Walks along the seashore
Afternoon naps
Soft blankets

Notice that most of my non-essentials are free and the ones that I do spend money on are not necessarily expensive, but they make life more enjoyable.

Skimp on the things that are unimportant so you can spend more on the things that are important to you. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What My Perfect Day Would Look Like

I would wake up refreshed after a good night's sleep and wash my face and brush my hair before heading to the kitchen to make Alfred's coffee and my orange juice.

I'd send my love off to work with a kiss and then turn on some inspirational music, light a candle, and spend a little time writing in my journal. Afterwards, I make myself breakfast, an egg sunny side up with toast or perhaps fruit, cheese, and a croissant?

Then I change into yoga pants/capris/shorts and a tee and drive to the beach to walk along the sea and do yoga which is so relaxing. I do so enjoy the sights and sounds of the sea!

Upon arriving home I quickly knock out any house cleaning that needs to be done before showering and changing into fresh clothes.

For lunch, I prepare tuna salad on crusty bread and eat al fresco in the backyard while enjoying the birdsong. Then, I relax in the hammock or lounge chair with a good book and nap in the gentle breeze.

I then putter around in the garden tidying things up, pulling a few weeds, and selecting items for our dinner. Returning inside, I would work on my blog, call a girlfriend to chat, or work on a project.

My husband comes home and I begin to prepare our dinner while he gets cleaned up. I serve a refreshing shrimp salad and enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. There is soft music playing and we linger around the table enjoying our meal and conversation.

Afterwards we snuggle up on the couch and watch a good movie. Then, I begin my evening routine. I quickly clean up the kitchen and then head to boudoir to get ready for bed. I do some stretches as it helps relieve any body tension and helps me to rest better at night. 

We slip into bed at last, ending out day with kisses and I love yous before turning out the light and snuggling up so we can arises tomorrow and do it all over again.

What would your perfect day look like?

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Joy of Puttering

On a cold, blustery day there is nothing better to do than to stay home to clean and putter around the house. I love to make things fresh and pretty.

The hardwood floor is now shiny in the living room. I've folded throws and plumped pillows. The scent of "candlelit kiss" wax melts permeates the air and smells heavenly.

I've dusted and vacuumed. I'm rearranging knick-knacks and making new vignettes. There is also some purging and reorganization of spaces. 

Once I've puttered to my heart's content, I plan to spend the afternoon baking. Homemade granola bars, chocolate chip cookies, and pizza dough for homemade pizzas for dinner.

What are you doing today?

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

How To Stay Warm

Here in the south there is an arctic blast headed our way. Temperatures are going to drop quickly with lows in the teens with wind chills in the single digits by daybreak. Brrrr!!

In order to stay warm you should dress in layers, wear two pairs of socks, a hat and mittens. Wear long johns or tights beneath clothing. Thin long sleeved shirts with a t-shirt over that and then topped with a flannel shirt. 

Add extra blankets to the bed and snuggle up to your honey for the extra body heat! 

Drape a blanket over the couch or chair where you'll be sitting and another over your lap. 

Drink warm drinks to help warm you up from the inside out.

Prepare hearty soups and stews. Bake breads and cookies and let the residual warmth help to warm your home. Make spicy food, too. Leave the oven open after baking is done so that heat warms the room.

Do housework vigorously. Wash dishes in hot water. Scrub floors. Staying active helps to keep your blood circulating which keeps you warmer.

Use a heating pad or a hot wattle bottle while sitting to help keep you warm. 

You can turn on an electric blanket 30 minutes before going to bed so it's toasty when you go to bed then turn it off. 

Open windows and let the sun pour in. Close the curtains at night to keep the heat in. Curtains should be heavy ones to keep drafts out. You can also line your windows with plastic or clear shower curtains. Windows should be latched closed! 

Weather stripping is a must and relatively inexpensive. Use draft dodgers on doors or roll up old towels to use instead to keep the warm air from escaping and cold air from entering.

Light candles. While this won't add significant heat to a room, it can make you feel a bit warmer by looking at them. Mind games, eh.

If your home is especially drafty and cold, partition off part of the house and stay in the warmer area. Hang blankets over doorways. Have everyone sleep in the same room. Tell the kids you're pretending your camping out to make it fun. 

And if nothing else works, go to the library and make a day of it. Your tax dollars pay for the library so take advantage of their heating!

What are you doing to stay warm?

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Happy At Home

Being happy at home doesn't need to cost a fortune. In fact, you can be quite happy in the most humble abodes. It is chiefly the attitude and spirit of the homemaker which makes the home a peaceful refuge for her family.

Do you want to increase your happiness at home? Try these ideas.

1) Purge often. 

Clutter creates a feeling of chaos, the opposite of what you are trying to create. Get in the habit of purging items that are no longer useful or beautiful, no longer your style or hold bad memories and associations. Donate items that are in good condition to charity and bin the rest.

2)  Be organized.

Being organized will make your life easier. Have a designated place for everything and return items to their spots immediately after use. Figure out why certain spots tend to be clutter magnets and work out a plan to eliminate the mess. 

3) Every day do one small thing to beautify your home.

Rearrange the furniture in a room. Arrange a bouquet of flowers picked from the garden in a vase or pretty jar. Spray paint that gaudy gold mirror frame. Restyle your book shelf. Use what you have to create beauty and interest in your home.

4) Create sparkle and shine.

Never let your cleaning go. Do something every day. When you notice something that needs to be done, tackle it right way. Cleared surfaces, sparkling windows, and shining hardwood floors say this home is much loved!

5) Plan your meals.

Avoid falling prey to the witching hour by planning your meals ahead of time. Prepare simple meals that are inexpensive, yet filling. Set a generous table so that all hungry tummies are satisfied and content. 

6) Always have something to look forward to.

It's important to keep your mind sharp, so find something you like to do - reading, crossword puzzles, sudoku, a cross-stitch project. Or you can learn a new language or learn how to play an instrument. With the internet, the world is your oyster!

7) Dress with intention.

You are the queen of your home! Dress like the lady of the estate. Don't slum around in pajamas or yoga pants. You have things to do whether you plan to leave the house or not. If you need a little inspiration, please read this short story from 1926 called When Queens Ride By

8) Be mindful.

Do you rush through your tasks mindlessly? Housework is a job that is never ending, but it doesn't have to be dreadful. Slow down and take your time. The world will not end if all is not done today. Rest when you are tired. Take little breaks. Eat when hungry. Your time is your own. Be thankful you don't have to punch a time clock. Now that is dreadful! 

9) Slow down and appreciate the little things in life.

This world tries to get us to do more and go faster, but at what cost? Reject the worldly ways and make your own way in the world. Notice how one season gives way to a new one. The rainbow after a storm. Bird song. The stars at night on a dark country road. The rose in bloom. So many things we fail to notice because we are too busy.

10) Connect with your loved ones.

Express your love and joy to your husband. Tell him how handsome he is. Admire his muscles. Hug your kids. Call your parents or go visit them. Have lunch with a sibling or gather all the extended family for a potluck dinner. Make time for your loved ones and never fail to let them know how valuable and loved they are. We know not how much time we have left on this earth. Don't waste it.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Embracing Frugality

Whether you need to be frugal out of necessity or in order to reach a financial goal, it is important that you do not look at frugality as a deprivation. 

I think of my husband who works so hard without complaint to provide for our family. I have made it my job to keep as much of his hard-earned pay as I can. 

I do everything in my power to save money and reduce our debt each month. Some of the ways I do this are:

I keep my hair natural. I don't color it in the salon or at home. I trim my bangs myself and only go in for a hair cut when absolutely necessary.

I am not into fashion. I like comfy and casual. You will find me in jeans and a cute blouse or sweater. That's my "uniform". 

I avoid paying retail prices whenever possible. I am not ashamed to shop at second-hand thrift stores, use coupons, or ask for military discounts. 

With a few exceptions, I buy mostly generic products at the grocery store. 

I use the least amount of products I can without affecting quality, such as toothpaste, laundry detergent, dish soap, shampoo and conditioner, etc. The less you use, the less often you must buy.

I keep all lights and electronic devices off and unplugged when not in use. 

My hobbies are things that are free or mostly free. I like to read, listen to music, watch movies, decorate my house, work in my yard, draw, cross-stitch, garden, and write. 

The only magazine I buy is AllYou for the coupons and nifty advice.

I live my life for myself and my family. I could care less what others are doing and buying or what their opinions are.

I read blogs and articles that inspire me in my quest to become debt-free and live simply.

I skimp on the unimportant things. Who cares what brand toothpaste or peanut butter you use?  

I use home remedies to treat illnesses first instead of running to the doctor for every little pain or cough.

I keep the heat set a little lower in Winter and the air a little higher in Summer. We run ceiling fans to help circulate the air and dress accordingly. 

I read vintage cookbooks for ideas on how to stretch the food budget.

We do our yard work, most home improvements, car maintenance and repairs not covered by warranty.

I do my best to pay all of our bills on time to avoid late fees.

I don't believe you need a gym or fancy equipment to get in shape. Walking is free. You can use soup cans for hand weights and do body weight exercises. You can look up workout videos on YouTube. Vigorous housework, gardening and raking counts as exercise, too!

I believe in buying quality where it counts - shoes, sheets, mattresses, etc. 

I prepare simple home-cooked meals. I look for ways to make our favorite processed foods myself.

Occasionally we have a take away meal, but I'd much rather wait for a special occasion and go to a nice restaurant to eat and enjoy the atmosphere instead of being rushed like herded cattle.

I don't do the whole mani/pedi thing. I paint my own toes at home and leave my fingernails bare. 

There are so many ways one can economize. I am always learning new things to try since I am always researching this topic as it's one I am passionate about. Now that I am home again, I do not intend to reenter the work force only to be miserable! No amount of money is worth that!

I would rather put my efforts into making my husband's paycheck stretch as far as I can and making our home a place where he can find rest and refuge.