I love the word free; free style, free spirited, free meal; these are all good.
Sometimes free comes with a cost. Most of us have been offered something free that then forced us to enjoy a delightful 3 hour vacuum cleaner demonstration or a relaxing time share pitch. The value of the free watch or striped beach blanket is up to you. The box marked free at the garage sale is usually the same sorts of odds and ends you need to clear out of your house. These are not the good types of free.
Now and again I come across something that is free, or pretty close, that is worth sharing. When I find those things I like to share them as “better living through free stuff”. This post is all about books. There a lot of sites with free ebooks. Here are three I am currently haunting.
Today’s find is Bookshout!. It is an ebook app that features a mixture of ebooks with specials that are either heavily reduced or free.
Today I found a real gem. It is called “Food Family Style: Simple and Tasty Recipes for Everyday Life” by Leigh Oliver Vickery. A number of the recipes come from her friends from MOPS, mothers of preschoolers. You have to know that these recipes are quick, simple and able to please all age ranges. There were also relatively economical.
After downloading it for free I started flicking through the book and immediately found a wealth of recipes that I knew I could use. Right now I have one of the slow cooker recipes ready to go and I am definitely using the appetizers for my next get together.
While you are there you might also want to download a free copy of Stacey Turner’s “Slow Cooker Recipes“. It has thirty recipes with a great variety of soups, some meals and even desserts. Who knew you could make cherry cobbler in a slow cooker?
Another source of free books is Bookbub. I found that sometimes an author is writing a series they will then post their first book for free to get you hooked with the hope that you will buy the rest of the series, but there is much more than that. They will send you daily offers. I set it to weekly.
The third one is the free Kindle app through Amazon.com. My friend Wendy Janzen is an endless source of self sufficiency wisdom. She directed me to a few free picks. “Foraging: a beginners guide to wild edible and medicinal plants” by Jill B., The Food Preserving Bible: Quick and Simple Guide to Preserving, Canning and Dehydrating you Delicious Food” by Lisa Blane, and Lonely Planet’s ” The World’s Best Street Food – where to find and and how to make it”. Yum.
Some of these offers are only available for the day they are posted so it is best to check your email as soon as you get it.
There are so many more sites. Feel free to leave a mention here with your favourites. Now it is time to check on dinner.
Happy reading and enjoy your free books, Deb
Note to self: the next time I buy a house make sure it is not one of those spring loaded ones. You know, the ones where you tidy a room and within a few days the whole thing is higgledy piggledy.
For the last few days I have embarked on the great decluttering, sort of an “around the house in 80 days” thing. I do my best to have a clean home but it never seemed to stay that way. If you are a Dr. Who fan then it is like having a house full of weeping vampiric angel statues advancing on you every time you look away. If you are not a Dr. Who fan then that example makes no sense. Either way your house is in a permanent state of flux. Sock drawers are not the staid bastion of domestic standards you would imagine. Oh no my friends.
About 1 1/2 years ago I moved from a 3,400 ft. home to something roughly half that size. I thought I’d gotten rid of a lot of things. On moving day my task was to find out where everything belonged in my new house. The moving men would ask where I’d like random boxes. I wanted to say “Where ever it belongs. I don’t have a clue where that is. I’m new here.”
After living there for a while I decided where things needed to be for practical purposes. Now I’m at the phase where I need to decide what gets to stay and what just doesn’t belong. Again. Couple this with couponing, free samples, upcycling, art supplies, canning supplies and a purse fetish and I have issues.
Decluttering and organizing have to go hand in hand. Here is my process. In order to organize an area I have to take everything out as most of us become blind to what we own.
Ever seen the show “Hoarders”? You marvel at how they do not see their environment. On a micro scale we can all be the same.
We assume things belong where they are because they are already there. It is like someone claiming a seat because they put their coat on that seat.
We passively allow the volume of our possessions to determine our environment. We need to remove these items from their locations in order to have intentional design in our living space.
Once you empty out that cupboard you only add back into the space what needs to be there. We are then left with a motley pile of miscellaneous stuff that we scramble to relocate. This is where we have to be ruthless. Yes the multicoloured leg warmers were a gift but you have 7 pair of leg warmers. Your legs just cannot be that cold. You realize you have dedicated half your sock drawer to leg warmers. The sheer numbers become oppressive and out of balance with your needs. I am not even going to talk to you about your toe sock thing you have going on. That is for you and your therapist.
My problem with things like my purses is that I like all of them. This dilemma repeats itself in each drawer and cupboard until I am overwhelmed. Here is the formula. I have to factor in space and need as well as “like”. One of the accumulation traps is that people like all of their stuff but their stuff doesn’t suit their needs. Getting rid of stuff is counterintuitive when you live a penny pinched lifestyle. I have to weigh the “I like it and I might use it” against the peace and functionality of an organized and decluttered home.
Here is the plan.
Empty the space, decide the purpose of that area, select the number of items that will be appropriate for that area and then look at the items. Select from the “stuff” what will work within the new intentional framework. Expect yourself to cheat. Expect if you stay in my guest room that tucked into the corner of the closet there will be a box full of lovely little clutch purses that would be brilliant for an upscale restaurant opening or a star studded gala. Hey it could happen. Maybe.
My goal is to reduce the stress of spending most of my time managing stuff.
So far the purses have been low maintenance but soon they will get a talking to. Signing off, the stuff whisperer.
(Original artwork by Joshua Groom)
I love the beginning of the new year with all the challenges for health, fitness and financial savings. Why? Because I can do all of them, at least for the first week. Walk a block? Done. Plank for 20 seconds? If broken into 10 second increments then I’ll say done. Clean my home? http://www.flylady.net says we start with baby steps and the first task was to shine my sink. Done. 52 week savings challenge? One dollar in the jar. Done.
For one week out of the year I am at the top of my game. The week has passed.
Now it is real and I’ve got a problem. I’m a multimedia artist. That’s a nice way of saying I sometimes secretly want stuff that is being thrown out on “Hoarders”. My son has pretended not to know me when I bend down to pick up a rusty bottle cap. Yelling “It’s OK. I”m an artist” does not appear to repair the situation. There is potential everywhere and sometimes it find its way to my basement. All of my basement.
Being penny pinched I have learned to get discount groceries, free samples and learned how to recycle most everything that enters the house. Old t-shirts? Those can to used to make rag rugs, stuffed animals, cleaning cloths and little pillows. Little bits of metal can be used in sculptures, jewelry, baskets or mosaics. Glass jars are great for storing beads, spices, paper clips etc. You get the idea. Waste nothing! It great. The problem is that when I want that jar I can no longer see it. I don’t remember where it is. I don’t usually remember I have it.
I may have thirty samples of shampoo. Some date back to 2011. ( Hhm. “How to Tame Your Mullet” may be a bit older). Having it is great only if I use it. If I’m not using it, it is taking up valuable real estate. It is actually an obstacle to being able to create, to live less expensively. Eventually it amount of stuff becomes oppressive. It yells at you to do something with it but you can’t think for all of the other screechy little voices. It drains your energy.
Eventually you hit weeks 2, 3 and 4. It is time to organize. This month it is time to create a simplified environment. It is to stop over spending in terms of space, and energy and time vrs. reward. Penny pinched is still going to be about getting a deal and I’m going to start by reclaiming valuable property from my stuff. Time to clean all the things.
You have seen this movie.
Slowly the hero enters the darkened passage. He scans the shadows and suddenly there is a sharp noise. He whips around to confront the danger. It turns out to be a cat or an old rocking chair. He breathes a sigh of relief, realizing there was no real menace, and relaxes. He turns back. Before he can even react it’s too late. He is taken down by a claw, a tentacle or an old school mate inviting him to a home sales party. Either way he is hooped.
Welcome to my January. I made it through Black Friday until just after Boxing Day. Even with the best of intentions I got hit with the January desperation deals and I bought things that were nowhere near being on my “without this we will become hobos” list. (This is not meant in any way to be critical of or unfair to members of the hobo community considering that without careful planning I could one day be carrying my possessions on the end of a stick.) Knowing that I have some financial needs that do not fit in the budget I knew that I needed to take some drastic action to get back on track.
Where do I start?
It means I can’t afford to get great deals. I cannot afford bonus points or couponing, at least for the foreseeable future. I know. I hear the tense snipping of the scissors and feel the disapproving stares as the coupon clipping continues at a furious rate. Heretic. I know that in the U.S. with double coupon days and stacking you can often go home with free stuff. My dilemma is that I am good with free but cannot afford a deal. I already have enough detergent, hair products, and pasta. A good buy is still using money for things I already have.
I learned a secret at a Mrs. Smith seminar, couponer extraordinaire. She said that most coupons come in three month cycles. If you have enough to cover that time frame you do not need more. The truth is that I can’t resist the deal so I have to get rid of the flyers before I look at them. It is just too tempting.
So what do I plan to do now that I have little suction cup marks all over my face from the last tangle with the lure of the great deal?
I am planning a “No Spend Month”. (It is more fun if you capitalize it and put it in flashy little grammar markings. I could have used an exclamation mark but I’m saving that for later.) I have ten days to strategize how to make this a success. I will share my battle plans with you. I’m going to have to get creative if I want to succeed. Let’s go savings! Momma needs a new washing machine.
One of my go-to blogs is called Debt Proof Living by Mary Hunt. This was her Facebook post today. I admit that I love the search for the deal. Right now the flyers are overflowing with huge savings, meaning savings off of prices you wouldn’t have paid before the sale. The real way to save? This artist nailed it. Wishing you many 100% savings. Happy New Year to all, Deb