Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fun with spreadsheets part I: Budgeting based on satisfaction

After reading the Financial Minimalist's post about tracking finances not so much based on categories, but instead on how much energy it took to make that particular purchase (eg. the number of hours you had to slave away at your job to pay for that one thing) I decided to take a look at my purchases in a similar way. For me, things divided into three categories: real honest-to-gosh needs, things that were worth the money, and things that weren't. In the end I had a pretty short list of things that didn't give me satisfaction. You'll notice a pattern pretty quickly.

Diet soda at work  $2.00  eating out
Diet soda  $1.50  eating out
Pizza and chips  $5.00  eating out
Diet tea  $2.00  eating out
Diet soda  $2.00  eating out
Diet tea  $2.00  eating out
Kindle book$12.99 entertainment
Twinkies  $4.00  groceries

Well, well, well. Not surprising from a girl who's struggled with food issues most of her life. And oddly enough, not a single object on that list. It's not the stuff that's cluttering up my life and draining me financially. This month it wasn't a super huge drain, around $33*.

In spite of my attempts to cut down on diet soda because it can make me binge, I spent $10 on this fantastically harmful stuff in a bottle. It always makes me crave sugar, which explains the twinkies. My goal next month is to buy a six-pack of cans of diet soda and keep a couple at home and a couple at work. This is far less expensive than the bottles I've been getting at work. It will also mean that I will be consuming less diet soda/tea than this month because at work all that is available is 20 oz bottles. Cutting this stuff out completely won't work yet.

The pizza happened when I got caught away from home and office with no packed lunch and suddenly found myself ravenous. If I'd been prepared and carried food with me as I'm always supposed to, that wouldn't have happened. I don't think I wanted pizza and chips, it just happened to be the closest thing around. Not satisfying. Must remember to carry food with me at all times. Even if it's just cheese crackers and prunes.

The Kindle book was, yet again, my eating disorder talking. It's a book on "staying slim," but it actually was one of the most sane 'diet' books I've ever read, as it focused on weight maintenance. Still probably wasn't a good idea to read, and even still, I should've gotten it from the library. It was a little triggering, but in spite of all of this I haven't binged in 20 days!

Lesson learned -- my wasted money all seems to have something to do with feeding my eating disorder and falls into the "eating out" category. I've justified all of it by thinking, "oh, it's just one soda," or "oh, it's just $2." It all adds up. This is what I'll have to pay attention to this month.

*That "little" $33 trickle? If I kept up this habit for 10 years, I'd spend over $4,000 on stuff that wasn't satisfying.

Thursday, August 29, 2013 18: Life Lessons Learned on EBay

Has it really been ten days since I've posted?! Time flies when you're having fun beating down your eating disorder and emptying out your home a bit. It's been a pretty good ten days. I haven't binged. I definitely have tried to restrict, which means there's something going on emotionally. I have definitely wanted to overeat. In fact, if I could type without my hands, I think I would need to sit on them right now so that I don't go devour the box of twinkies in the cabinet. I'm feeling particularly lazy and unsuccessful today even though I have no reason to feel that way.


I have definitely been successful in getting rid of stuff. I've been ebaying quite a bit lately, with mixed results.  But it's been heartbreaking in a way because I'm seeing how little money I'm making on things that were quite expensive. In fact, I'm actually glad it hurts so much. For some reason when I give things to the thrift shop I don't feel so bad about how much money I've wasted. I suppose it's the endorphins from being charitable. Here's what I sold.
Pair of Coach loafers. Didn't quite fit. Cost $75, made $15 off of them. Total loss: $60.

Victoria's Secret bra. Purchased on a whim the night of our first anniversary when I decided that I wanted to wear a strapless dress to dinner. I should've just picked a different dress and saved myself the $45. I sold this for $6 but it cost that much to ship -- a complete loss of $45.
Sorry he's pixelated -- but this little Bo Obama plush I bought the night I went to see the National Christmas Tree after Obama was elected. I'm allergic to dogs. Why did I spend $11 on this? I only made $1 after shipping and ebay took their cut.
This item was the worst heartbreaker. I spent $75 on it because I *had* to have a purple bag. I sold it for $45, but the customer thought that it was too stained, and claimed that it had a tear that I know it didn't have. I just wasn't willing to fight -- I gave her a partial refund, enough to cover my shipping costs and ebay's cut, and she went away happy. Of course she did. I ended up financially no worse off than I would have if I'd just taken it to the thrift shop. But this felt much, much worse, like I'd lost $45. The $77 I paid for it originally really stung.

These all really hurt. I spent a lot of time and energy in packing this stuff up to get rid of it, and I ended up making a mere $16. All of which went to pay off my student loan, but I'm just furious at myself. Perhaps I've finally learned my lesson though, about how much energy, time, and money really goes into our possessions. We'll see when I present this month's spending in my post this weekend.

All told, four more items are gone.

The Reckoning
Items 188-191
Worth $208, sold for $16.
Loss: $192
Total money wasted on junk I never should've bought: $2250.99

As for less...spending, stay tuned for this weekend's with my budget spreadsheet! Sounds so exciting, doesn't it? ;oD

Monday, August 19, 2013 8: why does success feel like failure?

Today's Less post is definitely a Less ED post.

You could alternately say that today was awful or a huge success. The Chief Engineer left for a business trip this morning, which leaves me at home alone. I saw this coming, I know that being alone with my own thoughts is a recipe for disaster. I haven't made made peace with the idea of separating from my family yet, and these are super-triggering thoughts right now. Being alone does NOT help this.

I've been building to some ED behavior for a few days now. I've been starting to compulsively do calisthenics, I've been inflexible about this four-meals-a-day thing. So what is the eating disorder covering for? First one's obvious: family s***. Every time I think about it I have the tiniest urge to binge or restrict. Today it wasn't so tiny. So I came home and I threw myself into cleaning. I washed the floor, I cleaned the gerbils' cage, I loaded the dishwasher, I packed up some items I sold on ebay. Meanwhile, when I would let myself eat, the only thing I was eating was chocolate. Hmm, something was still bothering me.

The second thing I was running from wasn't so obvious. I realized that I needed to send an email to a (former) friend who I haven't seen in a while but who I figured I should reconnect with. She works downtown and I'll be downtown next week for a doctor's appointment and then to volunteer at the Smithsonian. I'll have a huge chunk of time between the two of those and figured I should try to catch up with her.

I was dreading it. I feel awful because this friend and I used to be close, but honestly I started to get jealous of her when we lived right next to each other a couple years back. I know she has a history of an eating disorder and still works very hard to stay perfectly thin (read: she's not over her disorder and has no plans to be). She works for a prominent member of DC society and also has a higher salary than I do. She's a ladder-climber who just bought a very expensive condo and then gutted it and renovated the entire thing. Perfect kitchen, perfect bathrooms, all of which is very triggering for me because I want the perfect kitchen and the perfect bathrooms because the house I grew up in was the exact opposite. The bathroom that my sister and I shared didn't have a working shower--the shower tiles had gotten so mildewed that the grout cracked and water was leaking into the walls. We weren't allowed to use the shower because it would get more water into the walls. Instead of fixing it, my parents just never allowed us to take showers in that bathroom. For two. decades. I'm pretty obsessed with having a "perfect" kitchen and bathroom to make up for growing up like this. However, said friend with perfect bathrooms also likely has a perfectly jumbo mortgage.

The rational side of my brain says that I have no reason to be jealous of her. I hate my 15-year mortgage that we'll be done with in 10 years. I can't imagine a jumbo 30-year mortgage. She has worked insanely hard for years and I don't think she's had much life outside of the job. Meanwhile, I've gotten to learn guitar and put a lot of work into improving my own life with therapy and gotten to meet lots of awesome people through blogging. I've traveled loads in the last couple years. But I don't think I can sit at the same table with her at not be jealous. Particularly of how thin she is.

Danger, Wil Robinson! Trigger alert!

I realized that I just can't ask this girl to lunch. She's triggering. And sure, it's sad that a friend is triggering. Let's correct that -- former friend. There's no need for me to feel guilty, friends come and go. There's no need for me to try to starve myself now so that she won't think less of me at lunch next week if I don't have lunch with her! So I decided not to call her up, and to just let things go. So I didn't end up bingeing tonight. I did end up restricting a bit, which led to some overeating. I knew what was going on and I kept the irrational behaviors mostly in check. I did eat more than I needed and I ate some things that weren't good for me or what I really wanted. But it wasn't a binge. It wasn't a binge, it wasn't a binge. I still feel like a failure. My weight is still as high as it's been in a decade and this can't help. But it's just one day. This really is a success.

So yeah, I wanted a perfect evening where I wouldn't have ended up overeating. But I did end up realizing that maybe 4 meals a day isn't for me and that I want to go back to being flexible. I ended up realizing that I can avoid a triggering situation, and if it means losing a former friend, then that has to happen. I have to take care of me first.

How do you cope with jealousy? What do you do to make you feel better?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Letting yourself lose things

This post I suppose is also part of my personal Less...challenge. Days 6 and 7.


How many of us decided to start delcuttering because we were tired of losing stuff? I definitely did. But guess what? Today I lost something. I lost several things, several very expensive things. A necklace and earrings of mine I realized were gone and they've probably been gone for a while. I turned the condo upside down and couldn't find them.

Then suddenly an email showed up from a friend. A favorite jewelry store of ours called Fire and Ice is closing their Union Station store and selling everything for 50% off. Did I want to make an excursion and buy some jewelry on sale? Oooh, tough question, because the necklace that disappeared came from Fire and Ice. It would be so easy just to hop on Metro and go buy another one. Very tempting.

But as I was making this decision I was also working on some freelance artwork that a local store asked me to do. It was a quick project and I was probably only going to make $50 from it, but who cares, it's a fun project. But I suddenly realized that $50 was what I was going to end up spending on the necklace. I was going to end up cancelling out the hour I spent on the art project by buying something. No, I want more of my mortgage paid off. A few months ago I would've run straight downtown for the necklace to make myself feel better in the moment about being so disorganized that I lost it.

So I let myself lose the necklace. It's a lesson and I'm okay with it. I need to pay more attention to the things that I own and take better care of them. But losing things happens, even to the most organized people. In the end I spent less money and I have more respect for my possessions than I would've had even a couple months ago.

Besides, I already own another necklace with blue stones. Time for me to start wearing that one. I don't need two blue necklaces.

Has decluttering helped you lose stuff less? Are you okay with losing things occasionally or do you feel the need to replace what's gone?

Friday, August 16, 2013 5

Okay, okay, I do have a good excuse for disappearing. I unfortunately decluttered one of these in the last couple days:
I've had life-threatening nut allergies for most of my life and managed to trust a friend to read a label on something he fed me instead of doing what is my responsibility and reading it myself....point being I had to use the epi-pen and ended up in the hospital for the better part of a night and felt lousy for most of a day afterwards. Fine now though. Unfortunately I do need to get another epi to replace the used one, so I can't exactly add it to my declutter tally!

Otherwise, here's how the last few days have gone. 

Less spending
Well, so much for that. Not reading a label cost me over $100 (hospital and ambulance co-pay) and a lot of discomfort. But I'm fine with that because I'm alive. Totally worth $100. I also picked up on Wednesday flowers for my therapist ($5) and a kindle book ($13). No objects were added to my home. 

Less ED
For the last three days I've been trying to follow the 4x4 plan my dietician wants me to get on, that's four meals a day, four hours apart. I've been pretty uncomfortable at meals but it does seem to be the right amount of food since it lasts four hours. When I'm not seriously full it doesn't last that long. It's going to take a while to adjust to this. However, it has meant that I'm eating less junk food because I'm not thinking about food so much. Score there.

I did, however, give into the scale at work earlier this week. It was a different experience than it has been in the past because the last four times I've gotten on the scale in the last two months the number has been exactly the same. It's not a number I like, but it's making me fall out of the "oh, my weight's going up!" or "oh, look, I'm losing!" traps. I know that the way I'm eating now won't cause my weight to go up or down and it's easier to trust my stomach. Now, I just have to learn to be comfortable where I am. Argh. 

Less anxiety
The little anaphylaxis incident in some ways reduced my anxiety because it put things in perspective. When your dessert can put you a mere 10 minutes from being dead, suddenly it doesn't matter whether my stocks went up or down that day, or how big my hips are. 

Less stuff
Tomorrow we have plans to reupholster our dining room chairs. The Chief Engineer has decided to get rid of a very large box that he kept around for his DDR game but thinks we don't need it anymore. I'm glad it will get reused and recycled. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 2

Less ED
No binge, but still restricted this morning. I think I ate 8 times today so tomorrow I'm going to try for four solid meals. Hopefully I won't be thinking about food as much. I also tend to eat junk when I go for snacks, so maybe I can focus more on foods that will make me feel good physically.

Less anxiety
The restricting today again came from family issues. I have got to stop hearing the voice of my parents' other daughter in my head. I did talk to the Chief Engineer about how upset I am at the thought that I might never have a relationship with my mother. We talked for a while and ultimately redefined 'relationship' as, "whenever we go up to Philly I take her out to lunch and I simply refuse to talk about family stuff, as there should be plenty of other topics to fill up an hour." And I'm okay with that.

I started reading a book about emotional regulation. Apparently growing up in a hoarder's home, where the hoarder refuses to admit that there is a problem, or that the environment could be upsetting to the child, primed me to not be able to deal with my emotions. This book is a "skills training manual" which should help me learn to recognize and deal with the emotions I have related to growing up in a hoarded home.

Less spending
Today's expenses were $28 for lunch for myself and a good friend, and $10 for cold medicine. The lunch was expensive but he and I go out to exactly the same place and get exactly the same thing exactly twice each month. We're nothing if not predictable! One time each month he picks up the bill, the other time it's my turn. I really look forward to our bi-weekly lunches, so it's a worthwhile expense. And I got a cold this afternoon so the cold medicine had to happen!

Less stuff
I was well and truly sick by this afternoon so nothing got decluttered. But I did try to eye some potential items to get rid of. Next stop: my drawer of workout clothes.

I'm going to go bury my head in a box of tissues now.

Monday, August 12, 2013 1

Less ED
Yeah, yeah, every day's a battle. I didn't binge (woo hoo!) but I did start restricting practically from the first minute I was up. I ate six times before noon, each time a few nibbles of something, but I got sick of thinking about food all the time. By dinner I was eating a full meal but it was terrifying. The Chief Engineer plated my food because I asked for only one scoop of stroganoff and he thought that wasn't enough. I'm doing okay now, but the big question is, why was I so food-focused all day?

Some of it is that I'm still feeling the physical effects of the last binge four days ago. I ate a lot of fruit and fiber today so I was feeling incredibly bloated and super body image-conscious. But I think the bigger problem was that I kept hearing my sister's voice in my head, telling me that what I said on my bodyhater blog was incredibly offensive. Not insulting (that would imply that it wasn't true.) Offensive for saying that my father was abusive (still is) and that my parents are hoarders. 'Offensive' did mean that I hit the nail on the head. It's the insults that sting that have some truth, right? Guilt for telling the truth.

I was mulling over how to tell my father why I was angry at him and that I never planned to speak to him again. By lunch I'd gotten most of it out of my head, realizing that I never have to go back into that mess again. I will deal with my mother eventually. But for now I don't have to. Goal for tomorrow: every time I think about family stuff, I will think about my old girl scout leader, who took me under her wing after all this happened and told me that it's alright not to have a relationship with people who are so dangerous to my mental health. She also never hesitates to remind me that my husband still loves me even at a size 12, and she does this with a smile that really makes me believe it. I need to picture that smile. I need to stop feeling guilty.

Less anxiety
Most of my anxiety is financial. Not like we're in trouble, but we are rather house poor (darn 15 year mortgage.) I checked my stocks way too often today because I was bored at work. I need to pick stocks that I don't plan to sell for 10 years!

Less spending
Pretty good day today -- guitar lesson ($50), medication ($17), groceries that we couldn't get at costco ($25). Talked myself out of getting a new couch!

Less stuff
I did finally admit that coffee makes me sick to my stomach. I'd taken up drinking it because my anti-anxiety medication makes me very sleepy. But it's time to take sleepy over sick! I left this jar of coffee crystals in my office; it was gone a few minutes later!

I did my calisthenics and now it's off to bed. Score for day one!

How to avoid overbuying at warehouse club stores

Oh, Costco.
Your brilliant sodium lights beckon me into your depths…you entice me with your mountains of fruit, huge piles of discount clothes, impossibly sparkly jewelry, walls of big-screen TVs, discount Kitchen Aid mixers…
I fill my cart with my bounty. “I’ve saved so much!” is my siren song.
And then comes the $350 bill at the checkout stand.
But wait, the bitter realizations continue! How could I forget the epic battle to squeeze 100 pounds of flour into the back seat of our sedan along with all of the other extremely large groceries?
So yeah, yesterday we went to Costco, one of the huge warehouse club stores in the US. My mom would often get the name of the PetCo mixed up with Costco when she would talk about where we bought our gerbils. We always replied that if we’d gotten the gerbils at Costco, we would’ve gotten a 12-pack of 5-pound gerbils, because nothing at Costco is small or comes in a convenient number or size.
These club stores are a compulsive shopper’s dream and a frugal person’s confusion. As the daughter of someone who had no trouble buying a 15 year supply of aluminum foil, Costco is a place where I really have to work hard to replace my desire to “save money” with a desire not to overbuy or overspend. Yes, you can save money on the items you purchase compared with other stores, but it’s hard not to spend a ton of money at these places. It’s easy to end up with way more than you need. 

How do you avoid overbuying at these places? I’ve tried going in with a list and sticking to it. Inevitably a few extras sneak into our cart. We’ve tried going with a specific amount of cash, but it’s hard to tell exactly how much we’ll need.
This time, we used some other strategies. And for the first time in ages, our bi-annual trip to Costco came out under $300! Here were our weird strategies:
1.      Bring a friend. One of my neighbors joined us on our expedition since she doesn’t have a car. We knew we had a limit on space in the car. I also appreciated having someone else have a more objective view of what and how much we were purchasing. Every time we laughed about how full our carts were, it made us stop and consider whether we really needed everything in the cart. You may be able to do this with your spouse, but maybe not. It’s easier to help someone else pick the unnecessary items out of their cart than out of your own. You can also split some item with your friend.

2.      Bring a list of what you want to buy and write down prices of the items as you put them in the cart. This made me more cost-conscious. It wasn’t as painful to write down “$2.89 X 2” for two gallons of regular milk as to write “$10.59” for a 1.5 gallons of organic milk, so of course we got the regular! This will also make it easier to comparison shop at the grocery stores. It also makes it easier to focus on the amount of money that will be disappearing from your bank account, as opposed to the amount of money you’ll “save.” Remember, it’s not saving if ¾ of those super-cheap bananas rot on the counter!

3.      Bring a calculator. Periodically we’d stop and add up everything we’d put in the cart (another reason to write down prices!) As the number slowly crept up I got much more careful about what went into the cart. No surprises at the checkout stand.

4.      Have specific plans for what to do with excess perishable food. I wanted some strawberries but I knew that the box would inevitably be too large to finish. So, I talked to the Chief Engineer and planned to make strawberry jam one evening later this week. I get fresh berries for the first few days, he gets jam later in the week, and nothing gets wasted.
In all, we spent almost $267. I feel good not because of how much money I saved (though I can’t complain about 25 pounds of flour for under $8), but because we’re keeping almost $80 more in our checking account this time around and NOTHING is going to get wasted. Not to mention, EVERYTHING fit in our cabinets. That’s saving, Dad.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Can I do this?

I'm not good at challenges. I set goals for myself like, oh, I'm going to do a series on my blog about grief and clutter! Yeah, that didn't really happen. Or I say, I'm going to declutter one item every. single. day. 

But my therapist has encouraged me to journal more as a way of figuring out what emotions are driving me to eat when I shouldn't be, to binge, to restrict, to shop, to buy crap just because it makes me feel better. So I'm going to try something. Let's see what happens if I make myself take some time every day for the next month to write. I don't have any particular outcome, but I would like to work these things:
  • Less ED. My bulimic side has been very hard to control since I got out of treatment. My good days are incredibly better than they used to be but my bad days are just as bad as ever. I've had one bulimic day in the last month; I'd like to go the entire next 30 days without any bulimic episodes. Writing about my feelings each day should provide an outlet to minimize my urges to binge or restrict. 
  • Less anxiety. I have generalized anxiety disorder, which means I can and will stress over anything and everything. I'd like to spend the next month coming up with some strategies for managing my day-to-day anxiety. Writing should help!
  • Less spending. Spending has been a problem for me for a while. It's also a huge source of anxiety for me. It's not like we're in debt from anything other than our mortgage and a tiny student loan, but I seem to fritter away a lot of money on stupid stuff. I want to try to figure out why. 
  • Less stuff. Decluttering gives me a sense of purpose. It also helps keep me sane. Because I grew up in a hoarded home I get seriously upset and emotionally disturbed when I'm in a disorganized space. I've fallen out of the decluttering habit recently and I'd like to try to get back into it a bit more.  It should make me feel more emotionally stable when I know that I'm consistently getting rid of stuff. 

So each day I'll post something about my day, touching on one or more of these lessons in "less." Or at least I'll try. Not like it's a huge deal if I don't!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My, that hurts

I've never sold anything on eBay, but after reading a couple personal finance blogs about the amount of money you can make by selling stuff, I decided that it was time to try to sell a few "big ticket" items we had lying around the house. I posted some stuff on ebay and was completely shocked when things sold!

What was more shocking was how much money I spent on this stuff in the first place.

Item 1: A Wii. A gift for the Chief Engineer years ago, it never really got played. Bought for $180 and after shipping I made a $35 profit on it. That's $145 wasted. Ugh.

Item 2: A sound hole cover for my guitar. Taylor Swift has one of these so of course I had to have one! It made my old guitar sound better but it completely smothered Jolene's voice. I was horrified. It cost $75, and I sold it at a $30 profit. That's $45 wasted.
But she looks so pretty with the sound hole cover! Why can't she sound pretty, too?

Item 3: A Glacier Park guide book. Instead of being smart and getting the book way ahead of time from the library, I waited until the last minute and had to get a brand new copy with expedited shipping. Cost: $20. Sold for $7. $13 loss.

In college I would sell used books and I made a small fortune -- around $2,000 after four years of picking people's old textbooks out of trash piles on the day dorms closed and then reselling them online. And what did I do with that money? I wasted it on crap. Not this time.

All told I wasted $203 on these three items. I'm glad I made at least a little money off them, and I did put the money straight towards our mortgage. I've decided that the profits from anything I sell on ebay or amazon will go directly to pay off the principal on our mortgage.

~ The Reckoning ~
Items 188, 189, 190
$203 wasted

For a total of $2261.99

Have you sold anything on ebay?

Monday, August 5, 2013

The biggest item I've ever decluttered

When I was little my mother told me that I could choose an instrument to learn to play. There was one catch: it couldn't be bigger than I was and still have to be carried to lessons.

I wasn't allowed to play violin because my mother thought it was too squeaky, the bass obviously didn't pass the too-big-to-carry-it criteria, and for some reason viola never came up in conversation. Band instruments weren't an option at my school. The cello fit the bill. How, excatly, I'm not sure, as this is the size of my cello in its traveling case:

I've had a love-hate relationship with my cello for a long time. I never was good at it because my parents couldn't afford private lessons and I wasn't disciplined enough to benefit from them anyways. I also just never really connected with the instrument.
What I did do with the cello, was, when no one was looking, turn it on its side and strum it like a guitar. Which of the two instruments should I have actually been learning?
I wanted to sell it but my mother threw a fit as soon as I mentioned the idea. She said that it wasn't mine to sell. Yes, she'd paid for it when I was younger. I wasn't allowed to donate it to an underprivileged school, either. No, it had to go back to her. She doesn't play the cello AND she still has her other daughter's cello at home, even though the other daughter quit playing after high school. I had approached her about her donating both cellos one of the last times I was home. She only seems to have a problem with me making the donation, not her, as I was greeted by the typical hoarder "I'll get around to donating it" response, which really means that it will never happen.
So, a few months back I finally returned the cello to my parents. It was taking up space in my home and if my mother so badly wants another huge, usable object to sit wasted and clutter up more of her house, who am I to stop her at this point?
It was really hard to let go of playing in an orchestra, but the truth was I wasn't enjoying it. I felt like I was a failure because I was quitting. In reality, I was a success because I'd stopped wasting time on something I didn't love. Fortunately, I did find my true love (apart from the Chief Engineer, of course.)
My uncle said that because I have more than one guitar in the house right now I needed to name my guitar for the same reason one would name their children. Ha! So, her name is Jolene, she's a Takamine Grand Auditorium acoustic/electric, and is made out of Hawaiian koa wood. Like the actress she's named after, she's gorgeous, has great curves, and actually performs as good as she looks.

And she takes up so much less room than the cello!
The other guitar will be gifted to a friend this Fall. Sure, I could've sold the other guitar for probably about $100, but this friend read one of the Bible passages at our wedding and something makes me think I was crass enough not to give her a gift. She's said she wanted to learn to play for a while now and I think the other (nameless) guitar will be much enjoyed by its new owner.
Have you ever quit playing a musical instrument? Was it hard or easy? What did you do with the instrument when you were done? What's the biggest thing you've ever decluttered?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Small space tea storage solution

I'm a tea drinker. Typically I choose the more frugal method of making tea, which is buying looseleaf tea and using an infuser. The looseleaf tea lives in the tin you see below. But occasionally I stumble on a box of bagged tea that I like. We're pretty short on cabinet space, so I end up with a little pile of tea bags on the shelf above our sink. But it's above our sink so that space gets damp. What to do with the tea bags?

at least it's an artfully organized pile of teabags!
Funny thing is, I rarely use my teapot. I mostly make individual cups of tea with the microwave. So what better place to store those spare teabags....than inside the teapot.

On the rare occasions when I'll use the teapot, the teabags can sit back on the shelf for a couple hours while I make and drink my tea, wash the teapot, and hand dry it. 

How do you store tea?