Off To A Good Start…

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Taking stock of the small bits of progress I’ve made over the past few days may help me (and you!) to push forward with decluttering our lives and having a far more budget glamorous year.  Here are some ways I’ve moved forward:

Decluttering:  I’ve taken the advice of many bloggers and I keep a box available to put items into that I no longer use or need.  I’ve so far donated a few bags of clothes and shoes to Goodwill, a pretty teapot that never gets used, some bits of nice bakingware (also not used, I’m not really much of a baker), and books that I can get (for free) on the Kindle.  Using the notion of “one item a day,” I’ve been able to spot many things I wouldn’t otherwise have thought about.  It’s really much simpler if you go about looking for just one thing, and often I find several things.  It feels good to see these things go.  This has also helped me start to free up space around the house for other projects.  Speaking of projects…

Projects:  The “book nook” is coming along just fine!  I’ll have pictures to post soon, but it will be a place to store things and enjoy a quiet spot for reading.  It will run floor to ceiling and is about 3 feet deep with storage under the couch part.  Thank god for a man who knows how to wield a hammer and some two by fours!  It solves a particularly weird decorating issue in the finished basement and makes the space far more usable.  It will also enable me to get rid of a small bookcase that is taking up space and falling apart as well as better space out the pictures and doodads that are close to my heart.  The basement is a sawdusty wreck right now, but it will be very much worth it.  The cats are loving the sawdust….

“Self-Improvement:”  I am taking a watercolor class in February!  I’m very excited about it.  I love mucking about in some paints but don’t do more of it because a) I don’t prioritize it and b) I don’t have enough technique to make experimentation “worth it” to me.  I’m afraid to waste the paint and the paper, which can get expensive, on experimentation so I rarely experiment for fun — how dumb is that?!  I enjoy it so much, so I’m hoping this class helps me just darn do it already.

Money Matters:  I took the skip mortgage payment money I’m entitled to since the refinance and did NOT take my credit card’s friendly advice that I go ahead and skip this month’s payment.  I paid that card with a combination of the usual payment I would’ve made, this month’s mortgage payment I didn’t have to make, and some “found” money my mother sent me from a small bit of logging she had done on her Kentucky property.  The end result was a $1200 payment.  WOOT.  And while it felt very, very good to knock off that much debt in one blow, I cursed myself for not having that $1200 to apply to something better than debt — like an emergency fund, or a travel fund, or a retirement fund, or a motorcycle.  Whoops, that last one just slipped out.  Regardless, I’m trying to paint this payment in a positive light rather than beating myself up over having the debt in the first place.  I did a good thing, even if it was to remedy a bad thing!

I did great on grocerying yesterday.  The Shop & Slave near my home has a 5/$20 meat deal that I just figured out how to use as well as 4/$5 pasta.  I stocked up.  I’m going to investigate this stockpiling business more intensely this year.  As part of my meat bonanza, I got a couple of pork roasts that were originally more than double the price I ended up getting them for ($5 apiece!).  It’s not the organic local meat I’ve come to love and enjoy, but it is most definitely budget glamorous.  Future investment in a deep freezer is warranted.  I also got the store’s savings card, as I realized that I really do shop there often enough to warrant using it.

Future plans:  I’m going to donate a keyboard and piano bench that I never use.  Sigh.  The keyboard was one of those well intentioned ideas that I just never followed through with.  I bet I’ve played that thing a handful of times in about four years.  It was a way to try to stay in touch with music, but a keyboard is a keyboard, no matter how much you want it to be a piano!  The bench came from an antique baby grand piano that was “free” — in quotes, because it turned out to be unrepairable (irrepairable?  nonrepairable?? whatever, CANNOT FIX!) and I had to dump it.  That was very, very painful.  I kept the bench, thinking I would use it with the keyboard (that I never played) and then later that I would convert it into one of those really neat coffee table type things with the top cut out and replaced with glass.  Sort of a memento display/decorative thing.  Never happened.  So I’m donating it to the Boys and Girls Club or some other place that will actually use it.

I’m also going to get my grandmother’s ancient iron sewing machine fixed.  Something weird is wrong with it that goes beyond my limited knowledge set and it’s time to call in the professional.  There are a few projects I want to play around with and my hand stitching supersux.  Not that my machine stitching is much better, but it certainly is faster!  Am I any good at sewing?  No.  Do I enjoy it?  Yes.  It’s a frustrating and demented pastime, given my skill set, but I find a sick pleasure in it.

I’m also planting some herb seeds today, in the hopes that I can save a little money on one of the most expensive grocery items, not to mention practice growing things, which I’d like to do much more of this coming growing season.  I’m going to grow various basils, some sage, oregano and probably some parsley.  I have basil Emily, lemon basil, Thai basil, sweet basil and something called holy basil from a seed swap I did last Spring.  Unfortunately, because I’m a gardening noob, I just threw all the seeds together in one ziplock bag.  Did you know all basil seeds look exactly alike?  Well they do.  So I’m just going to plant some of them and call it “basil surprise.”

What have you done so far?

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