Ding-dong, the year is dead.

Wrapping Up 2016

2016 was not a good year for me. Or for a lot of people. Many of our heroes died. There were garbage elections in several places. It has been tough.

I definitely had a rough time on a personal level. My health was worse than usual: I had to have a tooth out, I had the second worst respiratory infection of my adult life, I had a foot injury. All of this had an effect on other areas of my life, too. It took over two months to unpack after we moved, and I got behind on my paid work. I had to let two private clients go this year, and haven’t been able to work as many hours outside the house as usual, either.

My 86 year old grandmother’s memory is finally starting to fail, my 64 year old father has become frighteningly frail, and our cat went suddenly blind this year. Misery not only loves company, but seems to have a house full of guests at the moment.

It has been a year of terrible decision making — both on the micro and macro level. I see both the American election and the earlier Brexit vote as an aspect of this, and our personal choice to move house. We decided to move over some pretty petty bullshit, without clearly thinking through the consequences, and it was a big mistake. But just like the US and the UK, the Crowder-Chan household will just have to deal with the consequences and make plans to better our situation later.

This is the part where I’m supposed to say that it wasn’t all bad in 2016, and of course it wasn’t — not in its entirety. It just feels like it was. Sure, I got to visit my family in Missouri for the first time in seven years, and I started work on my second novel. I read like a maniac this year, and plowed through 421 books. But does that outweigh the stresses and tribulations this year wrought? Realistically, no. No, it doesn’t.

The usual platitudes don’t help. “You’ve still got your health!” Do I? Please see above. “Next year is a blank slate — surely it will be better!” Will it? It looks pretty grim to me. “Well you’ve just got to stay positive, and…” Nope. Let me stop you right there. I don’t. Just let me wallow for a while. I have legitimate reasons to feel legitimately bad right now, and although this wallowing won’t be a permanent condition, I’m allowed to feel like shit when my world is shitty. You and Pollyanna can show yourselves right out, thank you very much.

2016 has been a garbage nightmare year. The best I can say for it is that it’s finally over.

I am a walking disaster.

After a couple of weeks of improvement in our spending, I had to go and have an accident that put me in the emergency room one night, and will have a few follow-up appointments. Thank goodness I have health insurance these days. I didn’t for many years, and even though our deductible is enormous and ridiculous, at least I can see a doctor when I need it. If you’ve been insured for a long time, you may not realize that without insurance, doctors charge you right up front — as in, you pay or you don’t see a doctor at all. And a regular office visit is generally $200 and up!

So this week’s list is to the point:

  1. My accident impaired my mobility, so I did almost no shopping at all. I sent Lennox out for groceries, and that’s about it. (I did buy a DVD from Amazon, but it was only $5 and it was a replacement for one someone borrowed and never returned! At least it was a bargain.)
  2. Since I last posted, I read 8 library eBooks and watched one DVD from the library.
  3. Took advantage of my need to move around less by catching up on some client work. Found a little silver lining there!
  4. One of my clients came to pick up her payroll reports and brought me a box of macarons. Free cookies are always a nice bonus! They were wheat-free, too — most macarons are made with almond flour — so I could eat them.

Needless to say, the apartment is still kind of a wreck. I have never unpacked so slowly in my entire life. It’s excruciating. Next time I am outsourcing everything I possibly can. My only goal for the weekend is to get the dining room table put together. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t lose another toenail! Heaven forbid. I shouldn’t even joke about that.

A week of cheap and free.

Things are finally getting back to normal, spending-wise at least. The apartment itself is still chaotic and terrible. We still have not finished putting together all of the bookshelves (though we did get the DVDs completely unpacked and put away), or the dining room table — and there is still a wall full of boxes to unpack. Having very low energy is an awful burden sometimes. Okay, most of the time.

This week I…

  1. Used $10 of rewards points at Walgreens.
  2. Got a free chai at Starbucks using a Star Reward.
  3. Finally used a $25 restaurant Groupon that I had gotten for only $3 using a magnificent coupon code, meaning our lunch on Saturday was only $7 plus tip. Sometimes I impress even myself, haha.
  4. Watched a DVD from the library, and read 6 library eBooks.
  5. Read a magazine for free* using Prime Reading. (*Well, I get my money’s worth out of my Prime membership. I use the shipping, of course, as well as the video and music streaming services — and now the reading program, too.)
  6. Got a free box of Belvita breakfast cookies from Kroger for my grandma. I can’t eat wheat, but she loves all kinds of cookies and will probably be delighted by a kind meant for breakfast!

I have also added a new source of income this month: I’ll be earning just a little bit of extra cash coaching a very fine young actress for an audition. I used to teach voice lessons, and long ago used to teach drama classes for kids, so this is a good fit for my (somewhat rusty) skills.

Approaching normal this week.

I feel a little better — finally — and although there are just a few things left to get for the new apartment, all of the major spending is finally done.

This week…

  1. Bought a bath rug on clearance for 40% off.
  2. Went to a couple of thrift stores…and didn’t buy anything at all.
  3. Really wanted to take a cab to work when my ride was out of town, but saved more than $10 by taking the bus.
  4. Watched 2 DVDs from the library, and read 4 library eBooks.
  5. Checked out a free book using the new Prime Reading program on Amazon.
  6. Made the final payment on our car and paid off the loan 7 or 8 months early, thereby saving some interest. Now we can just put that payment amount directly into savings.

It felt pretty good to have a much-closer-to-normal week, even if we still haven’t put our new bookshelves together and are still living in box-based chaos. Maybe next week!

Still alive.

I haven’t posted in a few weeks because I did something very un-frugal: I came down with terrible bronchitis. Very ill-timed — and expensive, too. I not only had to go to the doctor, but I had to have a chest X-ray. Ugh! Between that and furniture purchases, we just hemorrhaged money all month.

This list accounts for the whole period since my last post:

  1. Our Crockpot’s temperature controller knob broke in the move, but I was able to order a set of two replacement knobs for $7.99 (with free shipping). We were given the Crockpot as a hand-me-down several years ago (one of Lennox’s foodie friends was upgrading, and it was like new), so this is the first we’ve spent on it! And it’s far less than the cost of a replacement.
  2. Our local (& amazing) hardware store actually carries the rare bizarro-world size of air filter the A/C in our new apartment uses. Although it’s not the heavy-duty Filtrete allergy filter we normally use, it is rated far better than a standard filter, and its $8.69 price tag beats the stuffing out of paying $140+ for a six pack of custom filters ordered online.
  3. Watched a DVD from the library, and read 14 library eBooks. (I could never afford to read at the rate I do without the library!)
  4. Saved $16.61 by buying a collapsible crate at Costco instead of ordering it from Amazon. Not every Costco bargain is this impressive, although (according to the spreadsheet I keep) we have saved $917.32 so far this year by shopping there.
  5. Decided not to get new dining room chairs, even though we got a new table. Though I spent about $20.00 on paint & supplies to re-do the old chairs, it was still a considerable savings over buying new ones. I painted our old console table to match, too, which we had planned to get rid of, but we’re going to put it in front of the living room windows instead of getting a bench for that area.
  6. Saved $24.00 over regular retail price by purchasing shoes on eBay (new with tags). These were my favorite Toms shoes, but my old ones had gotten so ratty I wore them for my painting project, which finished them off! I wanted the exact same ones to replace them, so that’s what I got. The old pair lasted over 3 years despite heavy wear, and I didn’t pay full price for them, either.
  7. Ordered a new desk for my sewing area from Wayfair, but got 10% off by using a coupon. Better than paying full price, at least.

We have finally gotten our remaining furniture from IKEA, and should be done with the wild spending phase of our move. Things should be much, much closer to normal in October. We’ll also pay our car off next month (over six months early), so we should be able to start saving in earnest again. Alright alright!

KonMari-ing as fast as I can.

After 10 years at our current address, we are moving to another apartment in early September. As if that isn’t nerve-wracking enough, I’ve also decided to complete the KonMari process I began last year (then abandoned after clothes and books because my energy took a terrible nosedive) before we go.

Needless to say, this is probably not an approved application of the KonMari process. Oh, well! I’m a rebel and I’ll never-ever be any good.

It is, however, going well — at least in a tentative way. I did a very thorough sweep through clothing and books the first time, but I did a “touch up” to get myself started again. I managed to clear most of the clothes I had in the storage unit (a few small boxes), a coat I didn’t like, and a few other odds and ends — and another small box of books and a large box of magazines — before moving on to paper…for the first time.

I really thought I had paper under control. And I probably did have a lot less than the average household. I’m mostly paperless already, but even so I had not purged old tax files in years and found a lot of miscellaneous, random paper I’d kept for…question mark? I have no idea. I found a bunch of 2011 utility bills that had somehow escaped an earlier purge, for instance. Anyway, I did it all in one day — with lots of breaks — and today we took three boxes of paper to the recycling center and two bags of paper to Office Max to be shredded. I now have one plastic file box of important papers, one plastic file box of old writing and sentimental items (collected, but not examined — I’m mostly following the rules), and one file caddy of client work that is maybe a quarter full.

Good progress.

We also started on the komono today, and went through all of the CDs and DVDs. I had an unrelated purge of CDs a couple of years ago, when I digitized most of my collection after a shelf broke on our CD storage, so there wasn’t a lot left that didn’t spark joy for me. However, Lennox got into the spirit of things and discarded a whole box full of CDs and videogames. We discarded very few DVDs, though, because almost our entire collection sparked joy. Sometimes that’s how it goes! Some categories are already pretty joyful, and require far less pruning.

We took the books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, and videogames to Half Price Books to sell, and they paid us $45.00. We were pretty pleased at the unexpected cash; they rarely offer so much!

Next up for me will be sewing and knitting related items, and then kitchen komono in various subcategories. I hope I can keep up the momentum. My energy level has been pretty good lately, so the pace hasn’t been too much for me — so far.

Wish me luck.

When the going gets tough, the tough take a mirror selfie.

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Today for Me Made May I’m giving you an old fashioned bathroom mirror selfie, because “pics or it didn’t happen” is the internet way of life.

I’m wearing a garment with the unlikely moniker of “eShrug,” and it was the first successful knit garment I ever made. The pattern is from The Sewing Workshop. It’s a sort of open waterfall style cardigan, but I almost always wear it belted.

I also made the belt and the headband, just for the record.

I’m too tired today for further comment, though. It’s rainy and gloomy, and I need a nap.