Tag Archives: Homemaking

Prisoner of Clutter?

Toys? Root of Modern Clutter?

In the past few days the article “Today’s families are prisoners of clutter” from the Boston Globe has been trending all over my Facebook feed.  I’m not sure why this article got kicked back to life, since it is almost 5 years old, but it interested me nonetheless.

I was intrigued by the portrayal of 21st century kids as over-saturated with toys.  Growing up, one of my sets of Grandparents rarely gave Christmas or birthday gifts.  It was more of a special event when they did.  They raised 6 kids, who had kids, and there were just too many Grandchildren to undertake gifts for every event.  In contrast, my mom only has one Grandchild.  My daughter also receives gifts from aunts and uncles.

That can make for a lot of toys.

I can imagine this situation reaches a crisis if you have a few kids, and the stream of toys keeps coming throughout the year.

The article states that one problem with the avalanche of toys is adults’ unwillingness to part with the toys and their desire to save the toys for future grandchildren.  A result is Rubbermaid tubs in the garage and nowhere for cars.

What is the toy situation at your house?

I have been lucky to have other relatives in the family to hand things down to.  One child gets all of my daughter’s clothes, and the choicest toys and books.  I don’t want to overwhelm them with toys either!  Other items I sold at rummages (like the Melissa and Doug mentioned in the article) or gave to Goodwill.  Items we still have include Legos, dollhouse, Calico Critters, American Girl dolls, Barbies, dinosaurs, and wooden blocks.  Those items put together are probably more toys than I had in my whole childhood, and that doesn’t even account for the items we don’t have anymore.

It’s hard for me to refute the assertion in the article that today’s kids have too many toys.

Playing the Scenario Out

Will today’s children become parents with tubs and tubs of toys to hand down, passing along the clutter crisis?  I have found that every few years there are a lot of toys we can pass along in one way or another.  Kids make great leaps in terms of interests and maturity and suddenly you both know that an item has served its purpose.  The problem comes in when we — the parents — don’t want to let the toys go.  It’s not Great Depression mentality.  Maybe it’s closer to a wish to have another crack at reliving the joy of childhood.  Certainly some items are “keepers” but saving enormous amounts of toys for hypothetical kids to come decades away means the toys aren’t able to give someone else joy.  Saving things also make a lot of assumptions about what a future child would be interested in — My Little Pony?  Beanie Boos? Anna and Elsa?

I can’t say this article doesn’t hit a nerve.  Though we have come to the very end of the toy buying years, the article will stay with me as we go through bins of toys.  Today we have some Dora Legos, Princess items, games, and craft kits headed for new homes.  It’s a start.

What are your thoughts on the article?  I’m interested in the opinions of those with and without kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saving and Homemaking 6/18

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Take care of your garden Leprechaun

It’s Sunday evening where I am.  We have the windows wide open to catch the cool breeze and I am getting the great scent of mock orange blossoms which I picked from the neighbor’s shrub.  I’ll try to get a picture of them for you for my next post.  It has the most blissful scent that just makes me glad to be alive.  The neighborhood kids are outside and I am grateful my daughter is old enough that I don’t have to worry about what shenanigans are going on out there.

Last week I wrapped up my last day of work so now I can get down to the business of being an at-home mom for a few months.

Cooking

You know what I made this week?

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Frosting.  Epic quantities.  DD took a cake decorating class and we went through 2 cans of Crisco and 4 lbs of powdered sugar.  When we weren’t making frosting, we were washing frosting out of clothes, decorating tips, you name it.  You should see the shine in my mixing bowl!

DD took over a night of cooking this week and made egg salad.  She has that meal down pat.  I asked her this summer to make (with any help she needs) and plan a meal every week when she doesn’t have camp.

Saving

Our biggest savings this week came from Mr. Saver researching our cable TV situation and, unable to negotiate a lower price with U-verse, we switched to SlingTV/Hulu at a reduction of about $ 45.00/month.  We are pleased with the channels available to us given the savings.  I appreciate the time he put in on this.  That’s some real money.

Cleaning

Lots of activity in this department.  I tackled a few problem areas, such as the area around our printer, which accumulates paper, school work and catalogs.  I parted with some school art work from years ago and found other gems worth keeping in a more permanent set-up.

This week I want to address some problems such as lack of space for seasonal items like blankets and duvets.  When you live in a vintage house, there is no walk-in anything.  To do this, I am going to need to get into closets and get some items headed to Goodwill.  I am thankful for the time in summer to do this.

Reading

You know I always have a few books in play.  This week I am finishing Kate Singh’s book on homemaking, and am also reading the 1943 Newbery-award winning book “Adam of the Road” set in 13th C England.  I’m highlighting all over the pages because the writing is so beautiful, especially to a lover of England.

The rafters and the walls were dark with smoke, but otherwise everything was neat and clean.  Dame Malkin’s bed in the corner was spread with a blue coverlet, her table was scrubbed white, and her oak cupboard against the wall had been rubbed with beeswax till it gleamed.

If you love England, this is a must read book about the life of a minstrel and his son roaming the English Countryside.

Thinking

On my mind these days are thoughts about the Sabbath, and lack of rest in modern life.  Also thinking about clutter and how it can keep us apart from God.  More on these topics to come.

I hope your Father’s Day was lovely!  Talk to you again soon.

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1895 architecture that caught my eye.

More Homemaking and Saving 6/10

Patio Flowers – So Pretty!

I’m enjoying a spot of quiet this afternoon with a cool breeze coming in the window, iced coffee at hand, and a view of the neighborhood boys trying out the Slip and Slide despite the 65 degree temperatures.  It’s time for a big exhale as DD’s school year is finished and I have just one more day of work on Monday.

Saving

Not a lot of shopping this week, so the primary way we saved was staying home.  One major expense was a speedy purchase of a swimsuit for my daughter.  This weekend will be in the 80s-90s and the village pool is open.  She wanted something specific (swim shorts), and it had to be functional for a church youth retreat at Lake Superior this summer.  We went straight to Athleta, which I knew would not be cheap.  Prior to going I jumped on their website and got a 20% off coupon by signing up for emails.  I used money from her clothing budget to pay for it.

Mr. Saver knew we could eventually need a new wireless router and he had one  waiting in his Amazon wishlist.  He checks his list every day for price drops, and usually catches a good price that way.  The router was a deal of the day and he nabbed it.

Cooking

Our village has an open house this weekend — the pool is free, the village construction crews bring out the big tractors and diggers for kids to check out, and there are various sports team mascots to meet and greet.  I made several dishes for the weekend so we would have meals to enjoy all weekend — tuna salad, chili, rhubarb crisp, sliced berries.  Usually when I am working I don’t have the stamina to do this on a Friday, but I am glad I did so I can enjoy the weekend fun too.

My friend’s peonies and a lone rose from ballet recital.

Homemaking

We are busy getting our home into summer vacation mode!  Had DD unpack her backpack and go through all of her school folders.  It’s lovely to not have a backpack, folders, and clarinet sitting next to my front door!

I took some time to wash all of the ballet leos and tights and boxed them up until September.  It is so helpful to have them all corralled into one place.

I took our back door “water hog” mat outside to spray it off from winter salt and mud.  Washed the floor under it.  I did the same at the front door.

I picked flowers at my friend’s home where I am house sitting (it’s OK with her!)

Reading

I am enjoying the e-book  The Homemade Housewife by fellow blogger Kate Singh .  I particularly like the way she relates her personal journey of living well on a single income.  Check out her blog and see if her writing resonates with you, too.

Family Fun

At the Community Open House DD got to climb a real tree with the help of professional arborists and their various pulleys and ropes.  The arborist standing way up in the tree said “welcome to my office!”

I’ve been on many a walk with DH and bike ride with DD this week.

How was your week?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Homemaking and A Little Saving 6/4

With some planning and a little grace, I got through a very busy week last week.  DD had ballet rehearsals and a recital.  We narrowly escaped a deluge of rain on the way in to rehearsals (tulle costume/make-up + rain=bad!), and while she practiced i was rewarded with a double rainbow.  Moms who aren’t looking at their phone all the time are rewarded!

Homemaking

I spent 5 minutes with a microfiber cloth moistened with my favorite Dr Bronner’s soap and wiped down some of our baseboards, which have just enough 1940s detail to catch the dust that doesn’t want to be vacuumed up.  I was surprised how fresh it looked afterward.

Today we are recovering from recital Saturday.  I made a loaf of Irish soda bread and we are relaxing in our sunroom with some Celtic music and views of the garden.

Irish Soda Bread

I bought myself a new weeding tool so I can work in the flower beds in the morning before it gets too hot.  I used reward points at the garden center which covered most of the cost.

I have been washing sweaters and other delicates on the hand-wash cycle in my washer and putting the items outside to dry.  It is so nice to have this done — dripping sweaters in the basement is not my favorite thing!

Saving

Spent zero time this week at CVS/Walgreen’s.  We kept a basic menu with meals like crock pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs, veggie burgers, and a take and bake pizza.  We closed out our weekly budget with leftover money as a result.

I did remember to grab my free Friday download, which is for Gummy Bears, of all things!

Reading

This week I read the graphic novel “Real Friends” by middle-grade author Shannon Hale.

The memoir chronicles Shannon’s journey negotiating friendships during her childhood in the 70s.  If you played “Charlie’s Angels” as a kid, you will relate to her story!

If you have a tween/teen in your life, this is a must-read.  This story also touches on anxiety and living with a family member with undiagnosed differences.

Enjoying

My women’s Bible group finished our study of Beth Moore’s 2 Timothy and we had a dinner party at a member’s spacious home.  Had I known 5 years ago that I would be in a women’s Bible group I would never have believed it, but it is powerful to talk about God with other women.  I am the youngest in the group (most have grown children) and I am learning a lot from that as well.

DD and I have been taking bike rides around our pretty village.  We saw three wild turkeys on someone’s lawn and I have admired all the varieties of iris currently blooming.  Biking is also a great way to teach your young person the rules of the road.  Those who have been long-time readers of my blog will be glad to know we are getting good use out of the bike I wrote about in “From Prudent to Extravagant”!

 

 

 

Plant Momma

Here in the northern Great Lakes region, only the heartiest plants can make it through the winter.  Some plants that could be perennial need to be brought inside over winter and coddled, or you can resign yourself to buying them again next year.

Last fall we got ambitious and dug up the huge coleus from our back garden and brought it in for the winter.  Honestly, its large size in a smallish house meant it was definitely taking up some real estate.  I kept it alive and this spring was able to make some more coleus from my original plant.

I’m not overly skilled in the garden area — that is my husband’s hobby.  I’m very proud that I did this on my own.

I took a small snippet from my plant and left a stem of a few inches.

Then I took away all but two of the leaves.  The plant can’t sustain photosynthesis for so many leaves and grow roots at the same time.

I let some tap water sit out overnight to take the chlorine out.  Then I added water to a shot glass (jelly jar for bigger leaves). The tape kept the leaves from floating out of the glass.

Let the stems sit in the water for 7-10 days.  Eventually you will see roots growing!  It’s magical.  Keep an eye on the water because it does get taken up by the plant and evaporates as well.

Roots!  isn’t that the best?  My baby coleus plants are ready for the garden or a flowerpot.  I’ll be sure to give you an update on how my babies are doing in the garden in the weeks to come.

Have you tried plant propagation for indoor or outdoor plants?  I wish I had started earlier and then I could have donated some plants to our church’s plant sale.

This post is shared at A Delightsome Life

Saving and Homemaking 5/29

It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the US — a time to remember those who gave everything for our country.  Memorial Day is also the “unofficial” start of summer, when it just seems right to be planting some annuals, cooking out, and maybe taking advantage of the low prices on hot dogs and ketchup!  We did a little of all of those things this weekend.

Saving

Memorial Day weekend has some of the best prices all year on charcoal, hot dogs, condiments, chips, and some types of alcohol.  This week I found:

  • Oscar Meyer turkey select hot dogs for .99 and used a .55 off coupon
  • Dunkin Donuts coffee (my preferred) 5.99 at CVS plus a loadable coupon for 2.00 off a coffee or tea purchase
  • Canned pineapple 1.00 at CVS, plus a loadable coupon for 1.25 off canned fruit plus a .75/2 Dole coupon = 2 for free
  • Received eggs, cheese, Prosecco and summer Shandy from a friend headed out of town.
  • Gratefully took advantage of free babysitting when our daughter was at a friends’s house and went to a fancy dinner with a $25.00 coupon my husband received for his birthday.

Cooking

The week ahead is jam packed with recital rehearsal, a party (my women’s Bible study finished our Beth Moore “Entrusted” study of 2 Timothy!), and a few appointments.  I have really been trying to figure out a meal plan that would work.  I came up with Crock pot sweet and sour meatballs from Six Sisters Stuff, which is a tried and true recipe.  I’m concocting a pasta bake using up some pesto, some spaghetti sauce in the freezer, the free cheese, and a lone chicken patty that is taking up too much room in my freezer.  Another choice is eggs or a quiche (eggs, free cheese, and some bacon in freezer).

Cleaning

  • cleaned the refrigerator
  • cleaned the basement bathroom – I love to clean the granite sink with a microfiber damp with a touch of Dr Bronner’s castile soap
  • enlisted daughter to go through some of last years school stuff.  Found colored pencils that can be used next year.  I’ll have her sharpen them and bag them up…good to go.

My little garden frog.

Relaxing

One of the best things in summer is laying in our sunroom on the love seat, gentle breezes coming through the windows, napping or just watching the leaves blowing in the massive oak tree.

My other indulgence for relaxation is the “fireplace channel” on Amazon (free with Prime).  DH turns my digital fireplace on every night before bed.

How was your Memorial Day or bank holiday (UK) weekend?

 

Speaking Up – Part of Frugality

From the children’s book “Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Ben Franklin”

One aspect of frugality is determining whether I am getting value for my money.  When a product falls short, I honor my finances by speaking up about it.  Today, it is easier than ever to reach out to companies.

Last week we had a bag of baked chips, and something was not right with them.  Some of the chips were extremely hard – in a break your tooth kind of way (thank goodness no one did!)  Perhaps the “dough” for the chips was rolled too thick, but it certainly delivered a sensation of ‘what’s in my mouth?!’  I wrote to the company using their website contact form and included all pertinent information from the package so they could pinpoint which factory these came from.  They will be mailing me a few free product coupons.

Solving a Mystery

Many years ago we used to purchase Silk soy milk in the shelf stable packaging.  We bought it frequently and starting having problems with it being gloppy.  It wasn’t expired, and it is shelf stable so refrigeration wasn’t a factor.  I wrote to the company.  They were concerned and wanted all of the information they could get.  Of course they also sent coupons for free product.  Some time went by and I received a letter from the company founder, Steve Demos!  He explained they had pinpointed and solved the problem, which had to do with how the package was being affected in shipping.  There were more coupons, and even a $10.00 bill from Mr. Demos’ own pocket!  I thought it was pretty neat that they took a real interest and responded in such a personal way.

Being Fair

I am normally an easy-going person who doesn’t like to make waves, but I know that when I use our money  to purchase something that is completely not acceptable, I honor the effort it takes to earn money by speaking up.  On the flip side, I honor other people’s work by not complaining just to get free stuff.  The consumer always pays in the end, so complaining that your Lucky Charms cereal didn’t have enough “purple hearts and yellow stars” costs us all.

Do you have any great stories about dealing with an unsatisfactory product?