I like this time of year. You sort of feel full of hope, looking forward to what you may accomplish in the upcoming months. Whether you actually do or not really isn't the point. It's the planning and dreaming and looking ahead. That's what keeps you going.
Every year I always think about how I can make improvements. I have lost some weight, but I'm not there yet. I do walk the dog every day, and that has been one of the best things- for both of us. Even if it's cold, I bundle up and get out there, even if I don't feel like it. Once I'm out, I'm happy to be out. I mainly stay around the neighborhood and check the progress of the new houses going up. I should be paid to be a site manager.
So, I think about what makes me happy, and how I can incorporate more of those things into my life. It's less about what makes OTHERS happy- because if you put others as a priority and listen to them, you find you get resentful. As long as you're not hurting other people, or causing damage, then follow your particular bliss. This is not to say become a selfish cow. There are enough of those on the planet.
Yesterday, DH and I rearranged the living room. For some reason, I never sit in there, and it is a nice room, with a huge picture window. I was thinking it was because it has no tv, but I rarely turn on the set during the day (well, Judge Judy starts at 5:00 pm, and then the news)- so I'm thinking if I place my spinning wheel there, and maybe some new colour on the walls. I have to think about this.
I am happy in my kitchen. One of the walls has been painted Jack O Lantern orange. I have farm animals on the windowsill, and I like spending time there. My dishes are on display, and my cupboards are neat and organized. If I plan ahead, I don't mind cooking a nice dinner there. I feel accomplished, and it gives me a nice feeling when something wonderful is baking, or in the slow cooker. Ahhhhh.
My bedroom is wonderful. I have a Queen size brass bed, and simple furniture. Nice bedlinens- I came to the conclusion that it is better to buy a higher quality, and they'll last much longer. No dust ruffles or carpets.
And the cedar chest my dad made for me.
So, on the subject of saving money, or making your life easier, here are some things that I do, and I'd love to know what everyone else does to make life simpler.
>I don't use fabric softeners, or dryer sheets. You are putting wax on your clothes, and no one needs to smell "April Fresh"- apart from lugging the stuff home, they cost a fortune. I use plain old Sunlight powder, and a delicate wash for babies. Send almost nothing to the dry cleaners, and use an eco-friendly one. They put your stuff in with everyone elses, and horrible chemicals. If you learn to iron a shirt and buy washable fabrics, you'll save a ton. And your clothes last longer too.
> Don't use spray air fresheners, or those nasty discs that turn your toilet water blue. I am fanatic about having a clean toilet, and I use an inexpensive cleaner, or good old Comet with bleach. Some glass cleaner and eco-friendly spray cleaner (I buy Method) and I'm done. Even baking soda and vinegar clean really well, just be sure to rinse. Cut down on paper towels, and use washable rags or J-Cloths.
>I am an impulse buyer, so I find what has helped here, is to keep a list of what you have on hand, and only buy what you need once a week. I have a pad on the fridge, and I write down what I am out of. A menu plan is even better, and I sort of know ahead what I'm going to make. If I don't plan, it doesn't happen, and then it's takeout- which is expensive, usually high in calories and boring.
>Bake your own muffins and quickbreads and freeze them. Instead of buying one at the coffee shop, you can spend an afternoon making them yourself, and you'll know what is in them (some of those ones you buy are loaded with oils and high in calories)- invest in a few inexpensive tins, and buy flour and supplies in bulk, and you can bake once every couple of weeks. Sometimes, you can get fresh berries on sale, and your own blueberry muffins are far better than anything you can buy.
>I don't have any carpet in the house, except in the basement. One area rug upstairs. So cleaning with a damp mop, no Swiffers or Swiffer dusters, and a damp cloth is easy. I never use Pledge or any other kind of spray. My grandfather was a carpenter, and he recommended a damp cloth to clean wood.
> Purchase things like toothpaste, shampoo, soap and staples in bulk, or at least at a discount. I loathe and despise big box stores, but I do have a Costco membership. I buy TP, laundry soap, dishwasher tabs and even toothbrushes and deodorant there. If you don't need large packages, split with a friend. You can shop for these things much more infrequently. And less chance of running out.
>No matter what you spend at the grocery store (and not buying junk food, and shopping the store perimeter can save a ton) it is far less than going out to eat. The price of one dinner alone could feed us here for a week, and I hate restaurants. They make you wait, it's usually a letdown, they're loud and somebody brings their annoying kids. After all that, they make you wait to pay, and you're stuffed and cranky. I am NOT a fun date.
Okay, I didn't mean to get so wordy, but these are some thoughts I've been having. I think our homes are important, more so than ever, to our sanity, and if we can make them more comfortable and efficient, we'll have more time and money to spend on other things.