Sunday, February 1, 2015

This week I would like to ask a question. Since when did your friends that are somewhere else become more important than the friends you are with? If you are not sure what I am asking or why, just go out to the coffee shop or the commons on a college campus and look around. Heck, you can go to almost any restaurant around and see what I am talking about. You will see a generation of people ignoring the friends they are with. They will all sit together and text other people or Facebook with far away friends. And it's not only young kids. Older adults are doing it too. I just don't get it.

I think Tammy Strobel may have answered this question on her blog last. She talks about always feeling like you are going to miss something or being afraid to ignore a text. I am not sure if that is all of it or not. As I said, I am not sure why people can't just put down the phone.

There are some people, like me, think it's rude and someone has come up with a solution for dinner with friends. It's called the "Phone Stacking" game. It was developed and it aims to bring an end to the anti-social practice of  sitting on the phone while out to dinner. Also known as "Don't Be A D*ck During Meals", the game, developed by Brian Perez, a dancer from San Francisco, has been given the thumbs up by many, striking a chord with Twitter users including Stephen Fry who called it "an excellent idea".Before sitting down, each guest rids themselves of their mobile and stacks it in a pile with the others. The first person to crack and reach for their phone has to pay the bill. "The basic premise is to just get people open to the idea of staying active and attentive to one another," the Herald Sun quoted him as writing on his blog. (From

Life is short, enjoy it with your friends and family that you are with at the moment.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Financial downsizing.

This week I am working on downsizing financially. That means to cut spending and cost (for me). The big project is to re-finance the house. The intrest rate on the our house is about 3% higher than the present rates. That means we'll save about $50,000 or more by re-financing. I struggled with keeping the term the same and lowering the monthly payments or shorting the term of the loan and  keeping the payments the same. I went for shorting the life of the loan. Our payments may drop a few dollars, but more importantly we will cut ten years off of our morgage. Plus the PMI points will drop off 5 years sooner. By the PMI points dropping off our payments will be lower in three years instead of eight.

Next, I have bought a used vehicle that is in great condition. I am hoping to keep this for many years to come. Our present vehicle has about a year left on the lease. I didn't really want two vehicles, but the deal on the second vehicle was just to good to pass up. Plus, it is a small truck and I can use it to get firewood.

I am hoping that we can plant a bigger garden and spend less money at the grocery store this Summer. That's right, I am thinking gardening already. I will be planting lettuce, spinach and broccoli in a month or so. I know it may seem like Summer is so far away, but it will be time to plant your cold hardy plants in no time. Tomatoes, corn and greenbeans are little farther out, but it's almost time to start some seeds for other stuff.

I hope to spend more time with friends in the back yard or on the porch this summer and less time at the bars and resturants. I am hoping to get a group together to do (at least) a monthly dinner. Everyone can bring a covered dish for all to share. That way we all get to visit and try new things without having to cook (and clean) an entire meal. Plus, we can enjoy each others company without the cost of the resturant or bar. I know I have one friend who is wanting to do this with a vegitarian group, which is awesome since I am a vegetarian and always looking for new food ideas. This also will give my wife (who is green food challenged) a chance to try new things with out us having to make stuff and then I have to eat the left overs for 4 days. Plus, he is wanting everyone to bring a 6 pack of one of their favorite beers each time. Then we can all sample different beers. This will also be great. That way I don't have to buy a whole 6 pack to find out I am not a fan of a beer. I said we could do a wine month also. This could be made more fun if some months had themes. The sky is the limit if you are wondering what I mean. It could be as simple as a one dish meal, appetizers, Southern food or even a European night. The list goes on and on. I am guessing you could even dress up for the October get together.

I am also hoping to do some bike camping this summer and spend time with friends doing that. It can be an less expensive way to do a vacation. It is better than a "staycation", but not as expensive as a vacation. This is not for all people. If you don't like to bike or don't care to camp then it's probably not for you. We like to do both, so it's right up our alley. It makes both things better when you put them together. Then getting to and from the campsite can be as much fun as camping.

As you can see I am cutting back on out going money, I am a vegetarian, I ride my bike and I am trying to figure out new ways to eat healthier. Hopefully all of this will simpliy the good life financially as well as help me to extend the good life.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wishing my life were simple!

It's crazy. A rat race. I am trying to simplify and I seem to get busier! Some days I wonder if it's all worth it. I have so many things going on and they all seem important. I guess I really need to do a personal inventory and decide what is important (as far as activities in my life).

Sunday was spent with wife. Yesterday was a day spent with friends. I had a few things, but they were nicely spaced. I made for a nice end to the weekend.

Today on the other hand. I can't do it all. I am struggling with what to cut out as I am typing this. There just never seems to be enough hours in the day. That is why I laugh when people in this town say, "There is nothing to do." It kills me. They just aren't looking.
If you are looking for something to do. Volunteer at the Community Theater or the Children's Museum. Perhaps help archive some documents at the library. Maybe help remove some invasive species at your local park. Walk a dog at the humane shelter. I could go on and on....

Well, I hope to have more next week. Sorry for a boring post.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I have been struggling with what to do next. I don't know that it is a real attachment to stuff or just a lack of motivation on my part. I also tend to say "What if?" a lot. I have been talking to my wife and she has got on the band wagon. She has added a pile of clothes to the couch. We have also added a few books.

Saturday morning my wife decided to try to motivate me. She worked on the kitchen cabinet a little. I think our son took most of the extra cookware off to college with him. Which turned out to be a good thing since he has no roommates at the present moment.

I have thought about simplify and realized that we have also been simplifying our life by "downsizing" our activities. We try not to say we will be at three or four things all in the same day. Then you feel rushed all day long and don't enjoy any of the things you do. We try to really enjoy the people in our lives more than just the events also. I don't know if that makes since to some of you. We tend to go to a lot of stuff around town. We are big supporters of BUY LOCAL. In fact, I have a blog for that as well.

I hope to get some soil and start setting up to start seeds for my garden soon. I also hope to enjoy my garden more this year. I want my garden to help simplify my life, not add stress to it.
Most of my backyard garden.
My wife may kill me for this...

I am hoping to get a few friends together (a few times) this Summer and have dinners with nothing but things from our gardens (and maybe some local wine). Sorry, my grapes are still to young to produce enough for wine.

Every grape that grew this Summer is in this picture... 

We did a community garden plot last year. We didn't spend the kind of time there I had hoped. (I knew we wouldn't so we only planted corn). The few times we made it and got to visit with others, I really enjoyed it. I am hoping we do it again this year and get to enjoy it even more.
Starting our plot at the ISU Community Garden.

Our corn got taller than any other corn at the garden. To bad it didn't out produce the other corn.

The weeds did well in the hot, dry Summer.

Also, I am hoping to get some people interested in bike camping. We did it a few times last year. It is so much fun. Of course you have to like riding and camping. And it's a bonus for me because it allows for a good excuse to do a digital sabatical. Also, I can usually get some good pictures. Yes, I have a lot of hobbies.
Our camp site for the weekend, minus our tent.
 (it's off to the right of this picture)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

De-clutting clothing.

I talked in my last post about de-cluttering my life. I said I would start with clothes and I have. I went through two closets and my dresser. I also got rid of a sweat shirt from the bathroom cabinet. I thought I would put up a few pictures to show how it went.
My clothes closet (from last post) after cleaning out unused clothes.

My coats (from last post) after taking out unworn coats.

Sock drawer: Before and after.

Both t-shirt drawers, before.

Both t-shirt drawers, after.

Pant and short drawer: before and after.

Other stuff drawer: before and after.

Pile of stuff to go to others!

This has been a good start. This is not all of my clothes. There are some in the dirty laundry and I have some biking gear in the spare room closet. I am sure as I get more organized, I will continue to be able to get rid of stuff. Also, I hope to do the "one in, one out" from now on. That is for any new piece I add to my wardrobe I have to remove a piece.

I am not sure what will be next, but I hope my next day off of work will be as productive. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Simplify by decluttering

I hope everyone had a wonderful time with family and friends over the holiday weekend. I know that time always goes by so fast for me. That is why I am always looking for ways to cut down on my wasted time and thereby have more time to enjoy with family and friends.

I am hoping some de-cluttering will help with this. Also, de-cluttering will mean getting rid of some things I don't need or don't use any more. Perhaps some of my unused stuff can go to a good home and get used. First, I will try to find friends that can use it. Next, I will try to give it away on freecycle. And finally, I will donate it to Goodwill or the local recycle business. This will help when we start downsizing.

Actually I say start downsizing, but if you think about it, we already started downsizing. We moved closer to our jobs, which downsized our commute. That saves my wife Sandy about an hour a day in driving time. I only save about a half an hour because I sold my car and now ride my bike to work. I really enjoy this time most days. The days that are not so fun are the ones riding into a strong headwind. I don't really even mind the rain or cold (down to about 10 degrees F). I have the proper clothing to keep me dry and warm. After the temperature drops below 10 degrees I take the city bus.

I was looking in my closet for a shirt for a dress shirt and realized there are at least two things I haven't worn in a year or two. By getting rid of these shirts, I will have more space in my closet and be able to find the shirt I am looking for much easier. After thinking about it, I have decided I should take a look at all my clothes and see how much stuff I have that I never wear. I figure this will be an easy place for me to start my de-clutter/downsizing.

There are a couple "extreme" ways of doing this. I will not be doing this, at least not at first. One ways is by the 333 project. Rather than rewrite the information about the 333 project, I am going to put a link up for the 333 project.

As I said, I am not doing this project at this time. I may do it in the future, but for now I am just getting rid of stuff I haven't worn in a long time. I know that I have an old work coat and vest in the hall closet that haven't been worn since before they were unpacked at this house. We moved into this house over four years ago. I think it's safe to say that I can get rid of those two items from my wardrobe.
Now you may look at those two pictures and say, "He doesn't have that much." But, I also have a dresser full of clothes and a pile of sweat shirts in a bathroom cabinet. I will put a picture of the clothes I am getting rid of in a later post.

I am sure my de-cluttering of clothing will help me in getting started with my downsizing and in the end, save me time and money. Once I have de-cluttered my life and then downsize I will have more time and money to enjoy what is really important, family and friends. I don't really like working to pay a big mortage, car payment and all the bills associated with both. A smaller house means smaller bills if done correctly. Finally, smaller bills means less work and more time for fun!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Digital sabaticals

I find it funny to think I am blogging about digital sabaticals. But, this time of year we need to "unplug" and focus on family and friends even more. After all that's what our holidays should be about. (not to get into a big religious debate)

So, what is a digital sabatical? It is taking time: an hour, afternoon, a one day, a week or even a whole month away from the internet, email, twitter, and other online activities.

I have to admit that I spent time with my family (both fathers and mothers side), so I am not as prepared for this blog as I should be. Also, I don't feel like I should reinvent the wheel. Because of this, I am putting a link to Rowdy Kittens website. Tammy Strobel did an excellent job explaining Digital Sabaticals. She gives 21 ideas for digital sabaticals. Some of these things may or may not help you. I found most of them useful. I am also using a link to her site because many of the ideas share links to other sites that are even more informative.