Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Purge-A-Palooza: Bathroom Results

I cant believe it’s already the end of the month!
This month, our purge-a-palooza ended up more extensive than it could have been due to my husband wanting to redo the bathroom.  I am so proud of him for actually finishing the remodel of the bathroom within two weeks!! It turned out great!  We are enjoying our “new to us” bathroom on a very minimal budget. 

Todd also added quite a bit more storage.  I am finding that we have more storage than we know what to do with, which is fine!  Todd has his cabinet (above the toilet) and I have mine (across from the toilet.) 
My New Storage Space

Todd's New Storage Space
I am learning that I have a really hard time getting rid of “stuff.”  I have a basket of lotions that I don’t use on a daily basis.  I’d like to use them, but I just don’t.  I cant seem to bring myself to get rid of them.  So my new rule is - either use them or they are gone in 1 month!

Another thing I learned is that we have a lot of towels!  Oh my goodness!  So, we separated them.  We now have towels that are used for our showers and for washing the cars or any pet accidents (like when a chicken getsattacked by a moose!)

We have not purged any of the towels.  I would like to cut up some of these towels and start using them in place of paper towels and napkins.

Todd took out the cabinet that was in the closet and bought a metal shelf system for the closet.  It turned out really well, and gives us a lot more usable space in the closet!  One feature that I like the most is the laundry basket in the closet.  We used to always leave a pile of clothes on the bathroom floor when we got into the shower, and it stayed there until it piled up.  Now, we have a nice little cubby for a laundry basket that the clothes magically make their way into before our showers!

I had bought the cute little green and brown baskets on clearance last year at Big Lots to use for Christmas gifts.  I used several of them, and had several left over.  They are great for putting small items in and putting them in the closet!  Also, Todd bought the black baskets from Deal$ for $1/each. They house my curling iron, hair dryer(s) and other items in separate, easy to find compartments!

 These are the renovation pictures.

Sink abd Vanity Before

Countertop and Vanity Before

New Countertop

New Vanity

When we first moved in, Todd made our countertops with tile and wood in the bathroom.  He did a great job, but they were not made to last.  This time, we got real countertops.  This countertop was found at a closeout home improvement store for $26!  I love the color and the look of the new countertop.  The sink, faucet, light fixture and mirror are all the same.  If it’s not broke, why fix it, right?

The new vanity was made out of blank cabinets and slid right into place.  It is not your typical vanity, but let me tell you, it was a lot less expensive!  Todd stained the wood to the color that we like and it worked out well!  We recycled the knobs from our old vanity, and added a neat little trash container we found at IKEA while we were out of town mid-month.  It saves a lot of space by being on the back of the door.  You cant beat the price either, at $3.99!

I didn’t take a picture of the inside of our bathtub – it was gross. The cheap surround we originally installed had turned colors and was just flat out unappealing.  The new tub surround is gorgeous, and I’m glad Todd talked me into the sliding glass doors.  I think it has helped open the bathroom up!

Before New Tub Surround and Doors
New Doors and Tub Surround
I was not expecting a new medicine cabinet, but Todd was set on it when he was going out to buy the new supplies for our bathroom. I’m glad he did. I like the look of the oak cabinets and they have much more usable space in them than the original cabinets!
Medicine Cabinet Before

Originally, the budget was set at $1,000 to redo the bathroom.  That number was quickly revised to $1,500 when Todd decided he wanted to get a new tub surround ($300) and put in sliding glass doors ($300.)  That being said, he was under budget by over $200.  This bathroom remodel should last us a very, very long time.  We tried to keep things as neutral as possible so that when we want a “change” in the future, we can just change out towels with brighter colors and put up new pictures or shower curtain.

So, there you have it!  This post was much longer than I expected, but my handy hubby did an awesome job, and I had to show it off.    We purged quite a bit, but I didnt docuemnt it.  Next month, I will. I promise.
How did your purge go this month?

Next month, we are onto the Master Bedroom.  I am not looking forward to this purge.  There is so much to go through, it seems that it will be a daunting task.  But, we must move forward!  Onto the Master Bedroom!!! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cutting the Cable

I never thought the day would come where my husband would be willing to get rid of his beloved satellite dish.  When we first started dating, he told me that he had one requirement: cable TV!  Since we’ve lived with each other, we have had that one recurring bill each and every month that I hated to pay, because I never saw it as a necessity.  Most of last year, we paid $93/month for our satellite service (that is $1,116/year!!)

Todd was starting to get sick and tired of nothing being on TV, so he downgraded our package to the “bare minimum” for $46/month (still too much, if you ask me!)  When he did this, there still wasn’t anything we were interested in watching on TV.  That downgrade didnt even last a full month before we looked into our options.

At the beginning of the year, someone at work talked about getting a Roku.   This is a little box the size of a puck that enables you to watch shows from the internet wirelessly through the TV by using either their free channels or from a service like NetFlix or HuluPlus. 

At first, I didn’t like it.  Then again, I don’t like change, so it’s no wonder.  I didn’t like the fact that we had to get a subscription to HuluPlus to be able to watch some of the shows that we enjoy watching.  Once we tried the HuluPlus one week free trial, we noticed that we weren’t watching the satellite at all! 

There were a couple of weeks that Todd was dragging his feet to cancel the dish, but I decided to take it upon myself and do it. I was able to cancel the dish within 15 minutes.  Once I told them that no matter what they offered, we weren’t interested, they gave up. 

Now, a month later, we are not missing out on anything.

We pay $7.99/month for HuluPlus to watch some of our favorite shows every week at our convenience.  It is like having the TiVo: we can watch a show when we want to!  There are also a lot of other programs on HuluPlus that Todd is watching to get his SciFi and History fix. 

The initial cost wasn’t too terribly bad.  We bought the high-definition, top of the line Roku for the Family Room for $89.99 along with a less expensive one for the bedroom at $59.99.  We also paid a $175 early termination fee from our satellite company to get out of our contract.  Add that all up, and we are still saving a lot of money each year in cable!

My father asked the other day, “What next?  Are you going to cut your electric?”  Believe me, if we could, I would!  That is our next highest recurring bill each month that I am trying to decrease.  But contrary to what many people believe (like my dad,) cutting the cable is easier than you may think! 

The argument my father has is the news and football.  To be quite honest, Todd and I rarely never watch the news.  And if we need to get the weather, there is a free channel on the Roku that is dialed in to our zip code and gives a 5 day forecast whenever we need it.  Football can be watched online if Todd ever wanted to, but he’s been so frustrated with his team over the past couple of years, he has given up on football.  We could always hook up the TV’s with the analog boxes we have and get our local stations for the games in the future, but at this point, it is not a priority.

Have you cut the cable?
What was your experience?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Saving Money on Heating Costs

People cringe when I tell them that our thermostat is set to 55 degrees during the winter months.  Many mention that I am taking my frugality to the extreme, but there is a method to my madness.

Our home is a 1890 sq. ft. ranch with a large footprint.  This means that it is quite a distance from one end of the house to the next, and our furnace is located at one end of the house…outside!  When we purchased our home back in 2007, the furnace that came with the house was not functional, and actually caught on fire at some point before we bought the home.  Needless to say, we needed to replace it, but at the time, we didn’t have $6,000+ to get a high-efficiency furnace. 

Handy hubby did some research and found an outdoor furnace for less than $2,000.  We decided to purchase the furnace with the understanding that we would keep the thermostat low and heat only the rooms we were using.
Pot Bellied Stove (that needs painted!)
The fans are to help circulate the air.

Todd installed a pot bellied wood-burning stove at one end of the house and there was an existing fireplace at the other end of the house.  It just so happens that the pot bellied stove is in the living room which is directly in front of our bedroom.  We stoke the fire and stay nice and cozy in our bedroom (it also helps that we have a heating pad on our mattress to keep us warm at night). 

We have purchased only one cord of wood since we’ve had the wood-burning stove for over 4 years.  We go through about a cord a year, and the remaining wood has come from trees that have been cut down or fallen due to storms around our property.  We have enough firewood to last us a good 2-3 years, and that is not including the 3 trees we expect to take down next year.

 The fireplace is in the family room, which is also really handy, because we spend most of our time as a family in this room.  This fireplace is not a wood-burning fireplace due to maintenance issues and my fear of the house catching on fire.  We decided to purchase propane logs for less than $250 to help heat this room. 

Ceiling fans have helped us tremendously to circulate the heat around our home.  Every room in our home has at least one ceiling fan.  Not only does it help circulate the heat in the winter, but it also helps to keep the house cool in the summer!

One day, when the windows are replaced, when we get more insulation in the attic and insulate the walls, we will get a high-efficiency furnace.  I cannot guarantee we will turn up the thermostat past 60, but I can guarantee that we will get a new furnace at some point.

We pretty much live in two rooms of the house, and both of those rooms are very close to our heat
sources.  I don’t see the sense in heating the rest of the house that goes unused. ((This makes it sound like we need to downsize, but I feel our home is the perfect size for us and hopefully a few children in the future!))

As a side note, I hate the thought of cutting trees down to keep our home warm.  We have plans to plant bamboo which grows quickly, burns hotter and creates less ash than wood. We have enough wood to last us the next several years, but we have plans to plant bamboo in 2012 and start to harvest it to use as a fuel source. 

Do you use alternative heat sources to heat your home?

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Garden

It is January, and we are starting to really “dig into” what we would like in our garden.  In years past, I was responsible for the garden.  My wonderful hubby would do the brunt work while I planted seeds and squealed with delight at the first sight of sprouts, flowers and later the actual fruit/vegetable.

Over the past several months, I have been contemplating what I’d like to do/learn in 2012.  We talked about getting 6 more chickens, but we don’t want/need the additional eggs.  I wanted to start keeping bees for honey, but my husband absolutely positively hates bees.  We are both actively trying to get healthy and eat more “raw” food, so I thought that I could focus strictly on making the most of our garden.  Last year, I gave up on our weed-bed garden far too early in the season, and I would like to be able to focus on the garden solely this year with no other distractions.

Once Todd decided that he wanted to help me with the garden, I knew I was in trouble!  My husband does not do anything half-heartedly.  Me, I just buy some seeds, plant them and hope they germinate and put some food on our table.  This would not suffice for Todd.  To be honest, I’m glad that it doesn’t suffice for him because I am looking forward to undergoing this pretty big project with him! 

Our list includes:

  • Asparagus (perennial – planted 2011)
  • Strawberries (perennial – planted 2011 : may plant more from seed)
  • Spinach
  • Snow Peas
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Jalapenos
  • Green Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Green Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Spaghetti Squash (from seeds we saved)
  • Pie Pumpkin (for the chickens and for us!)
  • Concord Grapes
  • Herbs / Mosquito Repellents

When my husband and I sat down to write out what we wanted to grow, it didn’t seem like that much.  Now that it is written out, it seems like we are going to have our hands full this year!

I have been looking into what are called “vertical gardens” this year to help grow up instead of out.  We are moving our garden to an area with much more sunlight and much better soil, so I am hoping it does much better!

I am looking forward to learning, growing, harvesting and preserving this year with Todd.  I think this year we will have the biggest and most productive garden yet!

Are you starting to plan your garden for 2012? 

This post is linked up with Homestead Revival's Blog Hop #44.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Purge-A-Palooza 2012: Bathroom (Before)

I mentioned on Sunday that I am going to be doing a Purge-A-Palooza this year around our home.  Each month, I will be working on getting rid of unwanted items and organizing the area.

In January, I am working on our bathroom.  The bathroom has alot of stuff in it (that shouldnt be in the bathroom!)  I have lotions and beauty products from over 5 years ago residing in the bathroom that I have had a hard time parting with in the past.  Now, they just get in the way and are collecting dust.  So, I am going to see what I can do about it in January!

I am a bit embarassed to show you what lies behind closed doors in our bathroom, but here goes!

Bathroom Closet (Top)

Bathroom Closet (Bottom)

Medicine Cabinet (minus 10 bottles of vitamins I found last month that had been expired!)

After talking to my husband about my plans for this year and the Purge-A-Palooza, we decided that we are going to re-do the bathroom.  We bought our house in February 2007 with a personal loan for the purchase price of the house at a really high interest rate.  Todd worked really hard to get the house into a presentable condition so that we could secure a home equity line of credit to pay off the personal loan as well put in a new septic that was required by the County in which we reside.  When doing rennovations on our home, we were trying to do things as quickly and as inexpensively as possible.  Because of this, things are starting to fall apart and we have agreed that it's time to re-do things right this time.

We have big plans for the bathroom, and I am excited about this rennovation!  I am hoping that it can be complete in the month of January so that I can show the before/after pictures!

This is what the bathroom looks like right now:

Looking into bathroom

Looking to the left when coming through door

Sink & Countertop
(minus one lightbulb that just burnt out)

Very old vanity that has been repained and the drawer wont close
So, there you have it.  That is our bathroom.

If you would like to link up for the Purge-A-Palooza, please feel free to do so below.
Happy purging and organizing!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Purge-A-Palooza 2012

verb.  cleanse - purify - clean - clear - refine – scour

In 2012, I vow to have a cleaner, less cluttered home!  The thought of going through every room with all of our “stuff” is daunting, but this year, I am going to do it.  The only way I will be able to tackle this is room by room, drawer by drawer and closet by closet. 

Every month in the year of 2012, I will focus on one room and work on cleaning out the clutter.  I am calling this Purge-A-Palooza 2012 in hopes that by January 2013, our home will have less “stuff” and will be easier to maintain.

At the end of each month, I will provide pictures of the before and after of each room as well as a linky tool that will be available if you would like to show us your progress!

This will be the schedule by month:

January: Bathroom(s)
February: Master Bedroom
March: Family Room
April: Kitchen
May: Dining Room
June: Bedroom #2 / Spare Bedroom
July: Bedroom #3 / Office / Misc. Room
August: Laundry Room
September: Living Room
October: Hall Closet / Pantry
November: Room of your choice
December: Basement / Garage / Shed

Would you care to join me on this journey of less?

This post is linked up with the Week-Long Blog Hop over at Homemaker by Choice.