A blog about "nothing"!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Living with less...a lot less!

One of the new fads I've noticed that is getting a lot of attention is the concept of a "capsule wardrobe".  I have to admit that I think it's a neat idea, but not something I think that everyone could do.  I first learned about this idea at this website:  http://theproject333.com/about/

The basic idea is to use only key pieces in your wardrobe and mix and match them.  With this particular site they tell you to work with 33 items for 3 months (hence the 333), then change it out at the end of the 3 months.  Options vary according to where you live, climate, work conditions, etc.  I don't know that I could do it to this extreme, but I did like the idea of just paring things down, taking up less space and having fewer decisions to make when deciding what to wear every day. 

Instead I just decided to quit buying clothing for a while and get rid of things on a regular basis.  It has actually worked pretty well, just this morning I did a large clean out of things that I'm just not that wild about, I got rid of 16 clothing pieces and 5 pairs of shoes.  They may be things that I'm tired of, don't fit or just decided after I wore them for a while I didn't like them anymore.  The simple fact is that if I haven't worn them for a while, chances are I'm not going to anytime soon either.  The best part is that out of those 16 pieces, only 3 were items that I had purchased at regular retail, the rest were all thrift store purchases.  As far as buying new (or new to me) clothing--I have pretty much stuck to limiting that, I bought a pair of jeans in the spring, two pair of shorts at the beginning of the summer and the sweater set I picked up at a thrift store a few weeks ago.  I did buy a new pair of sandals at the beginning of the season, but they were to replace a pair.  I think I've done well, and I hope to continue to weed out and get rid of.

I may at some point impose the "nothing comes in unless something goes out" rule too, I did that one time before and it really does make you think before making that impulse purchase.  My goal at the end of the summer is to have only one container with spring and summer clothing to store, primarily with shorts in it.  That's it.  Come next spring I'll buy a couple of new tops to replace the ones I got rid of.  In this day and age, you truthfully only need a weeks worth of clothing, if even that.  It's not like the old days when you had to drag your stuff down to the river to wash it!

This morning I was faced with a sort of dilemma that made me think about other things in your life that you could do this with.  Our dishwasher is in the process of crapping out.  It's over 10 years old and I quite honestly don't feel like spending the money on a repair, I'd rather put it towards a new one.  But then the other side is, do we really need a dishwasher?  My first thought was yes, but the more I thought about it, I started to question the necessity.  Part of the issue is that we have a small kitchen and without the dishwasher I can't put all of the drinking glasses away.  But is the problem a small kitchen, or simply that we have TOO MANY drinking glasses??  And would we need as many glasses if I was washing them more often instead of waiting until the dishwasher was completely full?  Interesting, huh?  With just two of us, I'm not sure we do need a dishwasher.  Hmmm...

I have a friend who is in full out clean and purge mode at her house.  She's sick of tripping over things, not having space to put the things they do need away, and just having clutter around.  I commend her for doing this because I know it's not an easy task.  But I also know that it does feel TONS better after you have done it.  I've been working on mine a little bit at a time, but there is a part of me that just wants to be done with it and it's so tempting to do what she's been doing.  I love her philosophy with it too.  There is no point in keeping something because you think you might need it.  Get rid of it if it falls into that category.  In this day and age, if it turns out that later on you do need it, then you can go buy a replacement for it.  Chances are you won't need it and in the meantime, think of the space you gained! 

I can think of so many things that this would work with in our house.  We have bicycles that haven't been used in years, odds and ends tools, we even have a lawn mower in our garage that has been there since 2012 (when we sold our other house) that we need to make a decision on.  Over the next few weeks I hope to start some more serious cleaning around here, doing a room each week, and I'm hoping that when I'm done, we will have a few less items.  Maybe even a lot less items. 

I do know that part of the reason that I'm thinking more about this is because over the past few months, I've hurt my back twice, moving furniture around.  As a result, I haven't been able to keep up with the cleaning and such around here.  Part of it is simply because my movement was limited during the recovery process.  But the other reason is because there is just too much to clean around.  I can't help but think about how much easier everything would be if we didn't have some of this stuff about.  And I've also had time to think about what I'm actually using and how my interests have changed.  There are things that 5 years ago I wouldn't have thought about getting rid of, but now that some time has passed, I have come to realize that some of those items no longer have the same use or meaning as they used to have.  I've mentioned several times here on the blog about trying to clean out the stuff that we didn't need or use, but now it has even more validity to me as I am truly trying to simplify things around here.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Garden Report: I surrender! (waving the white flag)

Two years ago I decided that I was going to have a garden, one way or another.  Not a big one, just enough so that my husband and I could enjoy a few of our favorite things.  We had already had a bad experience with the wildlife in our new neighborhood eating our plants, so I came to the conclusion that container gardening was the way to go, planting the "hot" plants in the built ins and the things that would be attractive to deer and other vermin in planters that could be easily moved.  We had a great gardening season and other than fighting off the crows for the green beans, we enjoyed a nice variety of home grown veggies from June until September.

Last year was just okay.  We had issues with our lettuce rotting, and a tomato plant that completely took over the one planter, keeping anything else from growing.  But we had plenty of peppers and tomatoes to keep us and a friend or two happy.  As long as I could make fresh salsa, I was a happy camper.

This year has been a complete and total disaster.  First we had the winter that didn't seem to want to end, and as a result we were very late in getting some of our stuff planted.  The tomatoes were doing very well, I was incredibly proud of them as I had started this batch from seed instead of buying plants from the nursery.  I had done the same with my peppers, but unfortunately because of where they were going to be transplanted to, we got them in even later than the tomatoes.  We are just now starting to see blooms on them, previously we would have already had one or two pickings off of them.  The tomato plants are full of little tomatoes, just waiting for them to start turning red, but I have a feeling we are not going to get much of a season as the plants are looking horrible now thanks to weather extremes.  And something has been eating at the leaves on one of the pepper plants, I'm tempted just to yank it out to prevent further infestations to the other plants.

Lettuce--what's that???  If we get a bowlful of lettuce, I'll be surprised.  Same problem as last year, too much rain.  And we even watched it like a hawk, moving the planter to safety as needed.  June was the third wettest in the history of this region, we had almost 10 inches!  And my poor onions, they were barely hanging on and this morning my husband discovered that something bit off all the tops but 3, not sure if they are going to bounce back or not.  Bad enough that we had all of that rain, but then when it finally did quit, we had horrible heat, and now we're getting no rain.  It's either feast or famine. 

I'm so disappointed and discouraged.  Not just at seeing my poor plants destroyed and not doing well but I also think of how much money I have invested in this projected.  I had to buy some new planters this year, we needed some new soil and some other stuff--I'm probably out close to $30 or more and I'm going to be lucky if I get $10 worth of veggies.  We won't even talk about the time invested.  I've decided that I'm taking next year off.  Mother Nature is being such a bitch about things and I'm tired of trying to beat her at her own game.  I'll go visit my Amish buddy instead and pay him for his trouble.  I give up. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Let's put a stop to this!

If you live in the US (and some other countries) I'm sure you've received a scam phone call or two.  These are usually what you would call "phishing" expeditions where the scammers are hoping that the person they call will be gullible enough to give them information that they can then use illegally.  These calls annoy me to no end, and come in a number of forms:

Windows Support
Bridget (or Rachel or Carmen) from Cardmember services
Someone trying to sell me insurance.

The calls I get from someone trying to sell me insurance usually aren't from the same outfit, and usually very polite, but the other two are persistent little bastards.  You can report them, but most of the time these calls are originating from outside of the US, so it doesn't do much good.  Plus, the FTC and other law enforcement are inundated with reports, so not much is being done.  Hanging up or letting the call go to an answering machine doesn't do any good either, they call back again and again.  So, I've decided to flip the table.  If they are going to waste my time, then I certainly have no problem with wasting theirs!  I figure the time they are stuck on the phone with me is that many fewer people they are pestering too.  I got this idea from a friend of mine.  She used to work in an office where they were constantly getting calls from someone trying to sell something.  She said it was getting to be completely annoying and time wasting, so she decided to fight fire with fire.  When someone would call, she would tell them that "Harold" took care of that, and that he was on the other line, could they hold?  Then she would put them on hold--indefinitely!  Eventually they would hang up.  The best part--these idiots were so stupid, that they started calling and asking for Harold!!!!  Of course, that was immediately a red flag and those people always got put on hold.  I loved it!  She said after doing this for a while she did notice fewer calls.

I used to just hang up on these people, but they kept calling back!  Even one that said "press 8 if you no longer wish to receive these calls" didn't work, I still got calls.  Now, I press whatever number it says to hit if you wish to speak to a representative.  Then I let them have it!  I use every bit of foul language I have learned in my life, call them losers, you name it.  Guess what?  I'm getting fewer phone calls!  Even scammers don't want to be called nasty names I guess.  They usually hang up on me, but I have released some steam and let them know that I am aware that they are nothing but con artists.  I used to get several of these calls each week, sometimes several in a day.  The Windows Support calls have completely stopped and I'm getting very few from "Cardmember services".  When I do I let them have it.  I've noticed that there is a definite cycle to it too.

Another thing I've started doing with people calling and begging for money--I simply tell them that because of the high rates of fraud, I no longer accept ANY solicitations over the phone.  I worked for a small business that told people that.  I also had someone call me begging for money and had them mail me paperwork to send in my donation.  I simply didn't send it in.  I know that probably doesn't sound very nice, but it put an end to phone calls from that group along with a number of others.  They sell lists of names of people who donate to other organizations but apparently don't forward the names of deadbeats!

Try it!  It can't hurt anything and hopefully it will eliminate some of these annoying calls.   Just remember that the time you tie them up on the line is one less person they can call who might be gullible enough to give them the information they are looking for. 

In addition, you can also call these numbers back and harass them as well.  If you have caller ID, just jot the phone number down and return the call.  It will usually (not always) give you several options, how you want to handle it is up to you.  Just keep in mind that you can probably get away with saying whatever you want to these losers as they aren't going to report you, they are scam artists.  I'm also going to list any phone numbers I receive calls from, so feel free to take part in my fun by calling them back.  I will update it regularly!  Let me just say that not only are you doing a service by tying them up with your nonsense (just like they do to you) but eventually they will give up as they are losing money every time they have to take one of these calls.  Pass this info on to anyone you know, the more, the merrier :)  My goal is to turn this into a nationwide activity, perhaps you could call it a new "hobby"?  It's a wonderful stress-buster too.

Please feel free to add any phone numbers you may be receiving calls from in the comments section as well. 

Rudeness Exemplified!

Two stories in the news recently have me just shaking my head.  Is this how far we've fallen?  At a recent Broadway production, a person in the audience went up on to the stage to plug in his cellphone.  SAY WHAT?!?!  First off, how incredibly rude, but in addition, it's a set, chances are the outlet isn't even real moron!  The second story involved actress Patti LuPone.  In a recent performance, not one, not two but FOUR cell phones went off.  At her second performance of the day, she noticed a woman texting, so she walked off the stage and down into the audience and took the woman's cell phone away.  GO PATTI!  Not only is it horribly rude, but why would you spend that much money on a ticket to a performance and not pay attention.  Tickets to Broadway shows are not cheap, even if you get them at the 1/2 off ticket booth. 

Are we that wrapped up in ourselves that we can't take a break from our phones and enjoy ourselves?  I recently posted about going to two concerts two weekends in a row.  Not only were both enjoyable, but I also noticed one major difference between the two.  The first one catered to folks my age and younger and there were a lot of people with their cell phones out, taking pictures.  I have to say that it wasn't as bad as some I've seen though.  The following weekend the act we went to see was a much older crowd and there were very few photos taken.  I was glad to see that because it was such an enjoyable evening and no one had to deal with someone continually jumping up and down to get that "perfect shot"-which by the way, chances are you aren't going to get with your iPhone, sorry folks.  If you read my post, you saw my crappy pics.  Once I saw them, I wondered why I even bothered.

As a photographer, I'm continually appalled at the rudeness displayed by people just to get that perfect selfie or photo.  Is it really that important?!  Last year I went to two different weddings, one as a guest, the other as the main photographer.  I was floored to see not just cell phones but people holding up their iPads to take photos during the ceremony.  Really?  Do you have any idea how rude and ridiculous that looks?  I've photographed a ton of weddings and even as the paid photographer, I tried to be as discreet as I could and blend in with the background whenever possible.  In fact, the day I decided to hang it up was when I was at the front of the church, taking the photos that I needed to do my job.  I turned around to get out of the way (it was a tiny church) and behind me I discovered no less than 10 guests, also taking photos.  WTF?!

This has gotten completely out of hand, and I totally applaud Patti LuPone for what she did.  Between texting, phone calls and selfies, phones have become an annoyance to so many instead of a convenience.  I think I shocked the heck out of someone one day, we were going somewhere in my car together, my purse in the back seat, and my phone started to ring.  She asked if I wanted her to get my purse so I could answer it and I responded "no, it can wait."  I mean really, stop and think about what did we did before cell phones.  We've become so used to instant gratification that we've turned into a bunch of idiots in the process.  Don't get me wrong, I think cell phones have their place, but unfortunately what started out as a good thing has turned into a bad thing.  I've had a cell phone for 20 years and it has come in handy a couple of times, and now with payphones being a thing of the past, they are almost a necessity for some people.  We just need to quit being stupid with how we handle them. 

That's it, I'm done with my rant.  GO PATTI LUPONE, KEEP TAKING THOSE DAMNED PHONES! 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thrift store finds-yeah, it's been quite a while!

I haven't had a thrift store post here in ages, simply because I haven't found much.  What I have found has been stuff for the doll blog, and I don't like to duplicate posts between the two blogs.  Even that has been kind of poor pickings overall until recently.  Blah.

This morning I looked at the weather forecast and decided it was going to be far too gloomy for any sewing.  Or much of anything else.  We've had so much rain this month it isn't funny, they are saying it is the 3rd rainiest June in history.  I believe it.  So, given that yucky forecast, I decided it was a good day to go to Pittsburgh and check my favorite thrift stores.  The last time I was there was in April and it was really pathetic, I only bought three things, two of which were neckties for my husband.  And a doll chair!  I had my fingers crossed that my luck would be better this time--must have worked!

First--a book on how to crochet.  My grandmother crocheted a lot but I never managed to learn how.  I remember her trying to show me how, but I just wasn't into it.  I've since regretted that, and when I saw this, I thought it would be worth a try. 

Then I found a tray for 95 cents.  Just a few days earlier I had mentioned to my husband that we needed a second plastic tray and I would have to keep my eyes out for one.  Perfect for what we need it for!

Two more neckties for my hubby!  He didn't have to wear a tie for work until this year when the company he is employed by changed ownership.  He loves having a variety of ties, and thrift stores are the perfect place to buy them at, so many of them appear to be brand new and many times you can get one for as little as 95 cents.  These were a little bit more because they are popular themes, but at $2.95 and $3.95 they were a steal. The one on the right is a Jerry Garcia tie, and they can cost brand new anywhere from $16 - $40.  He was thrilled with both of them.  He will be the first to admit that he hates to shop too, so it was a win/win.

For me--a matched set of Lands End sweaters, brand new!!!!!  I LOVE Lands End clothing, I buy a lot of it from them, and I'm always thrilled when I find pieces like this in thrift stores.  I got both pieces for $7.95, if I were to buy these from the website they would have cost me over $100!  They aren't even selling this particular shade of red at the moment either, but I have a real weakness for red clothing (if you hadn't already figured that out) and I couldn't put these into my cart fast enough.  I like sweater sets like this as they can be worn year around and can be dressy or casual. 

The rest of what I found is all doll related, if you want to see it, you can check it out on the doll blog Friday, I won't be posting it until then.  I'm hopeful that these great finds means there will continue to be some good thrift store shopping in the months to come.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Busy as a bee?beaver?one legged man in an a** kicking contest?

After enduring the winter that never seemed to end, we've spent a lot of time just getting caught up on things.  The past few weeks we've had some fun things to do as well.  When we bought tickets for two of these events back in February it seemed like forever away.  Both were a whole lot of fun though, and well worth the wait.

On May 31st we went to see Weird Al Yankovic.  We LOVE Weird Al, this is either the 6th or 7th time we've seen him (we lost track!) and we'll probably go again.  This is where we were heading the day of the little tornado that I mentioned before.  (I apologize in advance for the poor photo quality on some of these, I was more concerned with actually enjoying the show instead of taking photos and was just using my iPod!)

He puts on a heck of a show, I wish I had a fraction of the energy he has.  If you are a Weird Al fan and he's going to be performing near you, I highly recommend going.
On June 6th I got to fulfill something that I guess you'd call a "bucket list" kind of thing.  I've been a fan of Prairie Home Companion since the mid 90's and I always thought it would be fun to go see one of their live performances.  Our original plan had been to go see them in New York City this past spring while visiting family, but the hubby's job changed killed that.  One day I was looking on the website to see where they were going to be, and I was so exited to see that they were going to be in the Rochester, NY area.  It's not like right in our backyard, but closer than NYC, and definitely closer than their home base in Minnesota!  I ordered the tickets the day they went on sale, we had great seats and it was everything I expected it to be and more. 
Before the show, Garrison Keillor and guest singer Heather Masse warmed up the audience with a sing along:

What was really cool is that they wandered into the audience while they sang, the bottom picture I took when they walked past us, at one point I was within several feet of them.  Then they walked down to the stage to get ready to start the show.
The show was very good, my husband asked me later if I thought it was just an exceptionally good show or it seemed like it was because we were there.  I think it was the first, but perhaps I was biased!  I would definitely go again if they were nearby, I'm still hoping they might be in NYC this fall.  I'm just glad that we got to do this because Garrison Keillor is in his 70's and keeps hinting at retiring.  I don't think the show would be the same without him.
Last week I ventured out on a field trip to meet up with one of my fellow doll bloggers.  She and her husband are actively involved with a place called the Coolspring Power Museum, and this past week was one of their big shows of the year.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I thought it was very interesting!  We wandered around the various parts of the museum and she knew a lot about some of the engines and their history, it was nice to have a personal guide.

Again, I apologize for the small size of these photos.  This time it's not an issue with the quality of the camera, but for some reason Blogger won't let me resize them, argh!!!!  What's up with that??  If you would like to see them larger, you can click on them and they will open up, but I don't like this, grrr...
We finally got the last of my plants into their outdoor beds and the seeds for the onions and lettuce in as well.  We've had torrential rains for the past week (or longer) and I was hesitant to move the pepper plants outdoors for fear of them drowning or getting damaged by wind.  Crazy darned weather!  I'll share the progress next week on some of that, I can't wait to show you the tomato plants!
What's new in your world?  After this flurry of activity here, it's now back to normal, day to day stuff.  There are all sorts of things happening locally in the weeks to come, hopefully we will get to enjoy a couple of the festivals and events.  Summer flies by too quickly!

Friday, June 5, 2015

A strange coincidence...

Earlier this week I posted about the tornadoes that ravaged this area back in 1985 and how it was the 30th anniversary this year.  What's that saying--"lightning doesn't strike the same place twice"?  Apparently it doesn't apply to tornadoes!!!

They were forecasting some bad weather on Sunday, mostly just thunder and lightning storms, so we didn't think anything of it.  We got some very heavy rain and what we thought was a typical spring/summer thunder storm, nothing any worse than we've had before.  The dog was upset, but she doesn't deal with storms and loud noises well to begin with, so we really didn't pay any attention.  No warnings went up either on any of the channels for anything beyond a severe thunder storm.  We didn't even have any hail.

We left the house at 5 PM to head towards Pittsburgh, we had tickets for a concert there.  We encountered some really nasty weather on the way, some of the heaviest rain I can remember driving through in a very long time, but there wasn't a lot of thunder and lightning with it either.  I was just glad when we finally drove out of it, visibility was just about non-existent. Still didn't think anything of it.

Not long after we got out of that, I got a text message from my nephew.  "Are you guys okay over there?" (he lives on the other side of the county so we frequently refer to where the other lives as "over there")  I texted him back that we hadn't been home since 5, but last we knew everything was fine.  "Why do you ask?" I texted to him.  He had been watching the news and saw where there was some serious damage to the gas station not far from our house, and that the winds had been so strong, it had flipped a vehicle onto it's side!  We had left going a different way, so we missed seeing the damage, but we saw it when we got home.  Once again, didn't think anything of it. 

You can imagine how shocked we were when we watched the news the next morning and it was officially confirmed that a small tornado had been responsible for the damage.  Of course the significance of the date wasn't missed by anyone.  Our neighborhood was fine, fortunately the area it damaged was very isolated.  I texted my niece later on because it wasn't far from her house.  All either of us had to report was some water in the basement, nothing exciting.  We were lucky!

I think next year when May 31 comes around, I'm going to wrap myself in bubble wrap just to be safe.