A Family that Dives Together…

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Hector Urquhart

I married a dumpster diver. There-I said it. I’ve been telling The Hubs this for years but this is the first time I’ve ever made this proclamation publicly. When he still had his pick-up truck I never knew what he was going to come home with. Once he found an old guitar in someone’s trash. He couldn’t leave it there to be crushed by the trash truck so he picked it out and brought it home. We still have it. It only has 3 strings and no one in the house plays but that doesn’t matter. This guitar just HAD to have a new home so now it lives in mine.

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The true reason I’m making this public now is that, after almost 35 years of marriage, he’s turned ME into a dumpster diver. While I’m not going to dig through anyone’s trash cans I’m not opposed to bringing something useful home that someone else has left at the curb to be disposed of. Case in point: last week I was on an early evening walk. These walks happen more frequently these days as it’s a wee bit cooler here in North GA at 7pm than it is at 5pm, which is when I usually walk right after work. In the interest of getting it done more quickly, I’ll usually walk in a neighboring subdivision rather than get in the car and drive to one of our nearby AWESOME parks, as the drive takes a little bit of time. Anyhow, during last week’s walk I came upon a home with a “For Sale” sign out front. Also out front was a kettle grill that appeared to be in pretty good shape. It also had a hand written sign attached that said, “FREE!” I called The Hubs to tell him about it, but, alas, got voice mail. I was afraid it wouldn’t still be there by the time I got home walking at my somewhat leisurely pace so I stepped it up a bit and high-tailed it home. As it turns out The Hubs was in the basement when my call came and he didn’t hear the phone (note to self-time to put a phone in the basement!). He couldn’t imagine why I would want someone’s old kettle grill since we already have a gas grill AND a Big Green Egg. I don’t want it to USE, I want it to SELL!! We no longer have a truck and it wouldn’t fit in the Jeep, so he wondered how we were going to get it home. “In the back of my car,” I said. Once he got over the shock of me putting something dirty and dusty in my car, he agreed to go with me to see if it was still there. It WAS! We brought a giant trash bag to put any trash in (turns out there was still a good bit of unburned charcoal in it) and a tarp to put it on. We put the seats down in my car, loaded it up, and brought it home. On closer inspection we found that the mechanism that allows for air flow adjustment is rusted stuck but a little penetrating oil should do the trick in getting it working again. Next yard sale this lovely will be front and center to be sold. Cha-CHING!!

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Now, before you think I’ve completely lost my mind, I’m not getting into the habit of going through people’s trash to find things to use or to sell. However, if something looks to be in pretty good shape and someone is just throwing it away, I’m not opposed to bringing it home to either use if I have a use for it, or to sell to make a little bit of pocket money. The Hubs thinks he’s created a monster-he might be right!

So tell me-have you ever taken something someone has left at the curb home with you? Be honest!! Leave a comment and we can celebrate our thriftiness together!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

The Day the Ketchup Ran Out

“If I could snap my fingers and be non autistic, I would not. Autism is part of what I am.” Dr. Temple Grandin

Since I started blogging I’ve started following other blogs for inspiration. One of the blogs I follow is written by Laurie Stone. Her blog post about the day the chocolate ran out struck a chord with me, admittedly because of a Facebook memory that had popped up recently. A tragedy, at least in my household, had fallen upon us. It was, [cue the dramatic music here]

THE DAY THE KETCHUP RAN OUT.

My son was born in 1983 a normal, healthy 8+ pound boy. By the time he turned 2 he was not speaking so we did what every parent would do-we took him to the doctor to find out why. The Hubs was in the Air Force at the time and we were living in Italy, so the doctor was not just down the street-it was a 3-hour one-way trip on a bus on a Friday. Still, it needed to be done so we made the appointment, got on the bus, and off we went. That appointment lead to another, which lead to another, and yet another. These trips ultimately lead to a diagnosis which, at the time, I had no idea would shape my world for my remaining days.

Autism means different things to different people-they don’t call it a spectrum for nothing! In his younger days, until he started speaking, life with my Sonny was a difficult one. The therapists taught us how to communicate using American Sign Language, which we used in conjunction with spoken language until we finally learned how to communicate with each other. The difference was amazing, and a whole lot less frustrating for all of us. He went through school, graduated, went through a job training program, and he’s working and thriving today. He still lives at home and will for the foreseeable future. I cannot imagine life around here without him, autism and all.

Which brings me to The Day The Ketchup Ran Out. One of our rituals (people with autism LOVE rituals) is a Saturday trip to the grocery store. I make the menu, clip the coupons, make the list, and off we go. I count on Sonny to keep tabs on certain things in the kitchen and one of them is our ketchup supply. He eats practically EVERYTHING with ketchup. Rice, vegetables, mashed potatoes, you name it. Even if something is fixed with a sauce or a gravy, it still gets the ketchup treatment. It’s weird and gross as heck to me, but that’s how he rolls so who am I to judge? Then one day about 3 years ago, this happened…

Ketchup Ran Out

We had just been to the grocery store and he didn’t say anything, so I had no reason to think we were out of ketchup. It was when we were sitting down to dinner that evening that he finally said something to me. The look on his face was nothing short of pitiful. He would have to sit down and eat a meal with NO KETCHUP. In an autistic person’s world, this is a HUGE deal. I don’t remember what I fixed that night, I only know that he had to eat it “dry” or go hungry. He ate it and survived the night. You can be sure by that time 24 hours later the house was fully stocked with ketchup! This was 3 years ago, and it hasn’t happened since. I very much doubt that it will ever happen again!

Life with a guy with special needs living in my house is a huge challenge sometimes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wouldn’t have my Sonny any other way.  He’s perfect just the way he is.

To learn more about autism, please click here. It’s not always as scary as it sounds.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Peace of Mind is Just an Attitude Adjustment Away…

“What you allow is what will continue…” Unknown

I love a good advice-giving meme as much as the next person and have been known to share the ones I think are worth sharing but when they start to contradict each other it’s hard to know which piece of advice to follow. One the one hand, you have the memes telling you that you should stop feuding, be the bigger person, and kiss & make up with the person you’ve been feuding with. Flip the coin and you have the memes telling you to “cut the toxic out of your life”.  What do you do if the toxic in your life is caused by the same person you’re feuding with? Worse yet, what if that person CAN’T be cut from your life? It could be a family member, a coworker, your boss, or someone else in your life whose presence drains the life out of you but, because of the dynamic involved in your relationship with this person, they can’t just be cut from your life without consequence. What do you do?

In all likelihood the behavior of the person causing you grief is never going to change unless they want it to. For whatever reason, this person has decided you’re a good target for their special brand of nasty. The first thing to remember is nothing you do or say is going to make it go away-only the person spreading the ugly can do that. Realizing this is the first step in dealing with the behavior and not letting it negatively affect you. Always remind yourself-you have full control over how you react to others in your space. I’m not saying it will be easy (trust me-it’s NOT!!), but it can be done. In days past I have been known to walk around like Eeyore with a cloud over my head because of something someone said to me. They go along with their day merrily ever after while I’m stuck stewing in misery because of nothing more than a few ugly words. It’s taken a whole lot of soul searching to realize the motivation these people have is to make themselves feel better by making you feel bad. If you feel bad, their mission is accomplished. Don’t give them that power! Mean for the sake of mean is a very revealing personality trait and once you recognize it for what it is it’ll never have the same effect on you again. The crazy thing is, once you change your reaction and the bully isn’t getting their desired result, the bullying will most likely stop. If it doesn’t you can at least be safe in the knowledge that you truly have been the bigger person and your reward for that is your own peace of mind.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

F.O.M.O is a Four Letter Word

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think about how much we are bombarded these days with offers too good to be true. Offers that are only good for the dreaded “Limited Time Only!!” How many times have you been sucked in and opened your wallet only to be filled with regret later that the too good to be true offer was, indeed, that?

I was presented with an opportunity recently that was related to something I have been thinking about doing for a good while. It was a GREAT opportunity but, naturally, as with all things opportunity related, there was a cost involved. Not bank breaking, but not something I could ever think about spending significant money on without discussing it with the Hubs first. More on that later.

F.O.M.O. Four little letters filled with angst. For the uninitiated, F.O.M.O. is an acronym for Fear Of Missing Out. (There’s an acronym for EVERYTHING these days, isn’t there??) Infomercials are the worst offenders when it comes to stoking the F.O.M.O. flames. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve gotten sucked in on occasion. There are several shelves in my basement filled with my impulse buys because it was “such a great deal!” and “I just have to have this NOW!” and the worst- “if I don’t get it NOW it won’t be here later!” I’m currently scheduling my fall yard sale.

Part of the “Older Wiser” in “Older Wiser Money Miser” comes from my thought process evolving away from the “I MUST BUY THIS NOW” mentality to being intentional my funds. Advertisers don’t make it easy, and my email is constantly filled with stores and websites generously offering their advice about how I should best spend my money. While I’ve unsubscribed from some of the more obnoxious offerings, most of the others are treated with a visit from my “DELETE” key pretty regularly. One of the perks of no longer having my satellite TV service is that I no long have access to QVC on my television. I used to keep it on for background noise and boy, are they GOOD at getting people to open their wallets! I still get their emails, and occasionally I’ll find something I need and the price is right, but I no longer subject myself to the drumbeat of the “great” deal.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s the job of the seller to sell stuff. Capitalism at its finest, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. As a responsible steward of your money, however, it’s your job to determine whether you truly need what the seller is buying, and if it’s worth the price they want you to pay. Sometimes it is, but most of the time it’s not. If you’re looking at something you think you need, sleep on it. If you still want/need it in the morning, it’ll still be there. If it’s not, the world keeps turning and Life Goes On (hat tip to Todd Rundgren).

Back to that GREAT opportunity I referred to earlier. After giving it some thought, I decided that it wasn’t the right time for me to commit my hard earned funds to something I’m not 100% sure I want to do. The “old” me would’ve jumped on it and regretted it later when it didn’t pan out like I had envisioned it would. The “older wiser” me is at peace with my decision with the knowledge I can revisit it later or possibly find it somewhere else better and cheaper! That, my friends, is progress like I never thought possible for myself, and you’re struggling with F.O.M.O., it’s possible for you, too.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Hide the packages…really?

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Albert Einstein

Back in the mid-1980s when the Hubs and I were living in Germany, I was out one night shopping BY MYSELF for a new coat. That didn’t happen often, and it was nice to be out for a little bit on my own. I found the most fabulous coat but it was, in my eyes, outrageously expensive! It was perfect, but it was MUCH more money than I’d ever spent on an item of clothing for myself in my life. Before I bought it, I called home to make sure the Hubs was OK with me spending that kind of money on the coat. I didn’t need his permission, but I felt like I needed to run it by him before I made the purchase. It was a good investment as I still have this coat and I still wear it to this day.

This story of my long-ago coat purchase brings me to a meme making the rounds recently on Facebook. It has me a bit perplexed and, quite frankly, a little bugged. It’s a picture of a doormat with a phrase that goes something like, “Postman, UPS guy, whoever, please hide packages from husband.” At first glance it was cute but then I started thinking about it a little. What kind of relationship exists when one spouse feels the need to hide purchases from the other? In addition to hiding the spending, I can see/hear the purchaser telling a child who witnesses the purchase to, “Don’t tell Daddy”, or “Don’t tell Mommy”, and bringing a child into the lie. In essence, spending money without your spouse’s knowledge is a lie. What kind of example does that set? I may be making a bit more out of this than what is there in reality, but I can see how some relationships actually exist like this. In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s a recipe for disaster both relationally and financially.

I don’t mean to sound judgmental but if you have a good relationship with your spouse, such behavior is SO unnecessary!! Spouses who communicate openly about their finances don’t need to hide their spending from each other! The obvious solution to this dilemma is to, wait for it, BUDGET for it! If you really don’t want your spouse to know what you’re buying, put a line item in your budget setting aside an amount each spouse can spend without consulting the other. The Hubs and I do this and it works really well. We can’t really avoid each other’s eyerolls over some of our purchases, but we have absolutely no say in how each of us spends the money we set aside for ourselves. And if what you’re wanting to buy costs more than what you have budgeted, revisit your budget or save up for it! OMG, what a concept! OK, that was a little judgmental-I admit it. It’s really just common sense, though. That, and showing respect for your spouse. Oh, and let’s not forget that trust thing. It’s pretty important.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

I Fired my Housekeeper…

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I will only recommend items I have personally used and all opinions are my own.

“Good things happen when you get your priorities straight.” Scott Caan

I fired my housekeeper. Those of you who know me know what a big deal that is! You know how long and hard I fought for the “privilege” of paying someone to clean my house. It took me at least 25 years to break the Hubs down and get him to agree to this and once I did there was no going back! No going back, at least, until I took a good hard look at where my money was going. Paying someone to clean my house was probably one of the most self-indulgent things I’ve ever done in my life. I felt a good bit of shame when I thought about it because it really was selfish but what’s done is done. Since Doctor Who isn’t a “thing” in my world, there’s no turning back time to change anything. Moving on…

So now that I’m back to cleaning my own house again, I’ve had to figure out how to do it efficiently since I’m still as busy as I ever was. Once the Hubs got over the shock of me agreeing to fire the housekeeper, he agreed to take on some of the house cleaning chores. That was HUGE for me, since during the time before we had a housekeeper I was primarily responsible for keeping everything up. Between the Hubs, Sonny and me, we’ve divided up the chores so that everyone is contributing to keeping the house neat. It’s not perfect by any means but I couldn’t be happier! Now if I could only figure out a way to keep the dogs from shedding…

I’ve decided the best way to proceed is to stick to basically the same 2x/month schedule we had with the housekeeper. While I’m not a drill sergeant about it, we all know what we need to do and when we need to do it. My primary housekeeping job is the bathrooms. As much as I love them, there’s NO way my guys could clean bathrooms the way I think they need to be cleaned. Thankfully we only have 2 (at least until the basement is finished, but that’s a WHOLE other story…) so it only takes me about an hour 2x/month to get it done. It amazes me that I couldn’t find the time to do this in the past! 2 hours a month! D’oh!

One of the great time and money saving cleaning hacks I’ve discovered is the Vinegar & Blue Dawn hack. Vinegar is well known as a great natural cleaner and it is also a natural disinfectant. Not hospital grade disinfectant but it’ll kill some germs. Anyhow, I mix equal parts of blue Dawn dish liquid (it has to be blue for some reason but I’m good with that) and vinegar and put it in a spray bottle. It’s a little messy so I don’t use it on everything but I do use it on my bath tubs & shower. You could probably use the vinegar by itself but the Dawn helps it stick to the shower walls. Spray and leave for a few minutes, then rinse. The vinegar smell is not overwhelming, and I can’t remember the last time I saw my shower so shiny! It’s the little things, right?

Before y’all start thinking I’m the nastiest housekeeper this side of Oscar’s trash can, for the toilets and sinks it’s bleach all the way, baby! Lysol makes a good cleaner with bleach, and you can usually find coupons and sales at your grocery stores regularly. I stock up whenever I see it on sale.

I had been using paper towels but that got pretty costly pretty fast. The Hubs is a car guy and he usually has a pretty good supply of microfiber shop towels on hand. I’ll snag a few from his supply and keep them separate from his so that I’m not cleaning with greasy towels. Occasionally I’ll accompany him on his trips to the auto parts store or the hardware store and the microfiber towels they sell are usually a pretty good bargain! If you need something with a bit more scrubbing power, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are daBOMB!

So, what are some of your time saving, money saving cleaning hacks? Please share in the comments!

Be well and God Bless…until we meet again.

 

A little Good News never hurt anyone

“Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.” Colin Powell

If you’re anything like me, you watch the news for the weather and ignore most of the rest. “If it bleeds, it leads” is not too far off. I have absolutely NO intention of having heated discussions, political or otherwise, on this blog. There are plenty of other forums for that kind of thing. Periodically, I plan on sharing some of the good I observe in my day to day life and I hope you find it a refreshing distraction from the day to day STUFF that we see, hear and read every day. Now, on to the Good News of the day…

My commute to the office is a short one-less than 10 miles from my front door to the office. I’m usually out the door by 7 and at my desk by 7:30. My commute to work, thankfully, does not involve interstate driving so I can see what’s going on in the neighborhoods I’m driving through. There’s a guy out walking his dog-a nice sized Rottweiler who tries to “get” my car every time I drive by. He just wants to play and it makes me laugh every time I see him. Almost every day I see the same man and the same woman out for their morning run. Not together, but running the same sidewalk and getting it done before the nasty summer Georgia heat gets too unbearable. Then there’s the guy I’ve come to calling the Trash Guy…

Trash Guy is not a young man, but he’s not especially old, either. He’s got short curly hair that has more gray than blonde in it. He’s dressed as if he’s ready to go on a hike-floppy hat to keep the sun off his neck & head, cargo shorts, plaid cotton shirt, crew socks and what the Brits call “trainers” but we call tennis shoes whether they’re for tennis or not. Anyhow…he’s carrying a backpack and using a large walking stick.

The reason I call him Trash Guy is because he’s out most mornings picking up the trash on the side of the road. I don’t know what motivates him, but he sees a need and he’s filling it. I don’t see him every day, and I miss him when he’s not there, hoping it’s just because he’s decided to take the morning off and not because he’s ill or has some other trouble in his life he’s had to deal with.

I’ve often thought of stopping when I see him, rolling down the window, and shouting my thanks to him. I haven’t done it yet and I don’t really have a good excuse except to say that I’m driving and I have to watch for what is going on around me. I will promise you this, though-when a good opportunity presents itself I will stop and say, “hello” to him. I will ask his name and I will thank him for looking out for his neighborhood. I have no idea if he knows someone has noticed him and what he’s doing but he should be told his efforts are appreciated. I’ll report back when I have a chance to speak with him.

Be well and God Bless…until we meet again.