Mom’s house and will you take a challenge?

Have you ever come across an article written by someone you don’t know, but you think you could have wrote it (or at least something very similar)?  Well, I saw this on Facebook the other day and it definitely range true with me.

‘I Went 200 Days Without Buying Anything New and Learned How Toxic Our Need for Possessions Is’

Which lead me to her blog:    Green High Five

This year has been rough, as you probably know.  During this past winter Mom said she wanted to live closer to us and was willing to go to a doctor if that was required (which was a shock at the time considering she hadn’t been to a doctor in about eight years and had refused to go every other time we said it was needed to move into a independent / assisted living place).  In hindsight we should have known that mom thought she had a health issue.  Well, two plus months later my mom died (after living in an apartment in the independent living place) and I was abruptly the executor of her estate (which included her independent living apartment [and all the items in there] and her house in another state).

So, at first my time was taken up with notifying people, companies, dealing with her prepaid burial insurance (which I am so glad she did since I didn’t have to make as many decisions), getting death certificates, clearing out her independent living apartment, etc.  Then I took a break so my family could celebrate our daughter’s graduation from college (went to her Senior project day, went to graduation, etc).

Which brings us to the beginning of June and starting to clear out mom’s house.  Mom had been slowly been giving items away, but there was still a lot of items in the house.  I first tried to contact a local company that would hold an estate sale (I could not handle the idea of doing a garage sale by myself), but the company never even called me back (I found out later that they were starting to focus on high value items – which mom’s would not fall under anyways).

Luckily, the neighbor said they were interested in buying the house and said they would be willing to take any and all of the large pieces of furniture (beds, couches, refrigerator, washing machine, etc) that we did not want.  They even agreed to be ‘Mr and Mrs Junk’ if they decided that the items that were left needed to be recycled, donated or trashed.  (This was a huge blessing since I was going to have to pay a company to take away most of the items.)  So, the big items were avoided and left for the end.  (This also made it possible for me to stay at Mom’s house when I went over.  Was that tough? Semi, but it did allow me to work from  early morning to late at night, which in hindsight wasn’t the best idea since I definitely was overdoing it).

So, it was decided that the other small items that were not wanted (or thrown out) would be given away.  Since we know some young families and I see on the Facebook groups that there are always people looking for items (clothes, blankets, pots & pans, etc) I thought giving the items to a thrift store would be ‘easy’.  Well, that wasn’t always the case.  I was told a few times that my favorite thrift store was full and not taking any donations.  I luckily found a local church this summer that was holding a large rummage sale so they took a large portion of the items that were actually brought to me house.  Remember me saying I over did it?  Well, due to that we had to box up a lot of items and bring them to my garage so I could go through them little by little (which I am still doing, but the pile of boxes is definitely getting smaller).

So, after a few months of random trips I finally got the last items out of mom’s house at the beginning of September.

Oh, and as a side note the neighbors did decide to buy the house ‘as is’ (needing new paint, flooring, some repairs, etc) and escrow even closed last week.

So, what did I learn from all of this?

a) I want to give activities OR items I know a person wants as a gift.  Reason: I found multiple items that I know were given to our Mom as Christmas presents (some of them I had even given to her).  At the time she was really happy to receive them, but then they were put away either in a cupboard or in a random box (some of them not even opened).  I know some of this was due to mom’s age, etc, but some of the items were things we thought she needed (and I guess it turns out that she didn’t).

b) There is just a lot of ‘stuff’ in this world. Have you ever thought about how many items are sitting in your house, thrift stores, storage units, and then new in the stores?  I am not saying you have to be a minimalist, but maybe it is time to really think before you buy your next new item (could you find what you need used or could something else be used instead)?

Oh, and before you complain at me (since if you know me you know that we just bought a new vehicle) you need to know that it was a necessity AND we keep our vehicles FOREVER (i.e. the vehicle that we are replacing is 20+ years old!).

c) I want to work on my projects.  I have plenty to work on (sewing, scrapbooks, around the house, etc) so it is time to spend some of my free time working on those instead of shopping for items we really don’t need.  So, I am hoping to not buy any new ‘fun’ projects (at least for a while) and only items that will help me finish some of the ‘fun’ projects I already have.

d) After realizing what I am going through and our Mom even had a trust, prearranged burial, etc it is time for me and my husband to start putting our wishes in writing.  So, in the next year I hope we have everything in place so our family doesn’t have more headaches than I have had in the last few months if/when something happens to us.

If you read the link to her blog you will see that she is doing another 200 day challenge (only buying the essentials new – food, medicine, etc) and wants everyone to do it with her.  I admit I am not ready to commit to that (at least not at this time), but I do know that I have been reviewing everything that we have been buying to make sure it really is needed.

My challenge to you is to really think about a purchase before making it:

  • is it a quality item; i.e. will it fall apart the first time I use it?
  • can I find it used? (you might find that the older version actually lasts longer than a newly made one)
  • can I modify something I have and make it work?
  • can I borrow it?
  • do I really need it (versus want it)?

I would love to hear if you are taking either the Green High Five challenge or mine.

And, if you made it to the end of this then I applaud you.  I haven’t written a long blog post in awhile, but this topic really spoke to me.

Later – H


Have I said I am not used to the new layout of WordPress?  I just published this (unfinished) when I was just trying to delete something.  Sorry….

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?  Right now I seem to have way too many things that are pulling me (physically or mentally) in different directions.  I admit it is hard to get motivated sometimes and other times it is just hard to figure out which of the many tasks should be done first.

Some things on my plate:

  •  Minor health issues – Nothing serious, but they either are getting in the way (not sleeping very well or making doing tasks harder due to pain, etc)
  • Dealing with Mom’s estate – the house:  I am happy to report that Mom’s house is in escrow, BUT the laws in California have changed so the buyer has 17 days to back out (I guess even getting house insurance could be an issue)  That topic will probably be complete post on it’s own in the future.
  • Dealing with Mom’s estate – paperwork: Lately it seems as soon as I send off the paperwork to the lawyer (they are updating the spreadsheets, etc of all the money that is coming in and bills that are being paid) I get notified that an account statement has been released or something.  There is no ‘perfect’ time to send in the update….
  • And of course everything else that is going on – I can’t (and don’t want to) list everything else, but I know I have more than enough to keep me busy (house projects, house cleaning, etc, etc.  Don’t even get me started on my [mental] sewing project list – I really need to start writing them down so I can get them out of my head.).

At least I can say that writing a blog post is off my list, but I do need to post some of the small projects I have taken care of lately.  That will have to wait for another day.

Later – H

First eleven tips for Hawaii (or other locations that require you to fly)

My family finally got to go on a much needed vacation.  We have been home for just over 24 hours and I am happy that I have gotten two loads of laundry already.  I figured I would post some tips that came in really handy for us (in no special order).

  1. Carry on luggage – Each family member was able to travel with one carry on suitcase and a backpack.  Unless you have fancy events planned you will find that you will spend most of your time in your swimsuits and shorts anyways.  But, at the same time you will sometimes find that the airlines will gate check your suitcases to your final destination (that happened to us each way).  (We even had space in our bags to bring home new beach towels and a few other new items.)
  2. Roll your clothes – If you aren’t on Pinterest you might not have seen the posts that by rolling your clothes you can store more in a drawer, etc.  It really does work so I would suggest you try it next time.
  3. Detangler spray & TSA liquid rules – Each person is able to take a quart-sized bag with your liquids/creams as long as each original container is less than 3 oz.  The humidity and salt water makes it so we get more knots in our hair so this time I put some detangler spray in a small bottle and took some with us.
  4. Bug spray – We usually go hiking when travel and this trip wasn’t any different.  So, we bought a small container of bug spray and took it with us (in the quart-sized bag with our other liquids).
  5. Breakfast in the room – The hotel we stayed at this time had a Keurig coffee maker and a mini fridge (no microwave).   We bought instant oatmeal at the grocery store and made it for breakfast most mornings.  (See #6, #7 and #11)
  6. Metal fork and spoon – I packed one for each family member.  These came in very handy.  Note: You are not able to take sharp knives in the carry on luggage so I took a couple of plastic knives.
  7. Plastic bowls – Since we had room in our suitcases (by not taking too many clothes and rolling what I did take) I was able to pack plastic bowls for each family member.  These came in very handy for breakfast and for eating pie, etc (see #11).
  8. Plastic Ziploc bags – I took a few new quart-sized ones and a couple of gallon-sized ones.  These were very useful!  (One thing we did daily was put ice in a bag and used it as an ice pack in our ice chest.)
  9. Plastic, see-through water bottle – You can take an empty water bottle through security.  We filled it with water at the airports and put ice inside of it when we traveled and it helped keep our snack foods and drinks cold.
  10. Ice chest – The last few trips we have been able to put a collapsible ice chest in one of the suitcases.  We used this to keep our drinks and snacks cold for when we went to the beach or driving around the island.
  11. Grocery store – Usually when we arrive we look for a grocery store so we can buy some food.  This time we lucked upon a local grocery store chain (Tamura’s Market) which definitely had cheaper prices than the big mainland chain that we found the first day.  We were even able to find locally made (Ted’s Bakery) pie.  The Macadamia Nut Cream Pie was really good!

So, hopefully these help you out and they will come in handy the next time we fly somewhere on vacation.

Later – H

I am back (sort of)…

I haven’t logged into my blog since I wrote the last post.   I realize the format of WordPress (what I use to write the blog) as changed.  It might take me a while to figure out everything again.

Life has been busy.  On top of everything else going I have been trying to clear out my Mom’s house (which is a four hour drive away).  Besides being tiring it is stressful – so many memories (good and bad).  We are to the point that there are a ton of boxes in my garage that need to be gone through, but I am finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Oh, and have you ever heard of or had Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?  (similar to carpel tunnel syndrome, but at the elbow)   Due to overdoing it I have been diagnosed with it recently.  So, if you have any advice I would love to hear it.  Right now it is mild so I am wearing an elbow brace, icing the elbow area, taking Advil and trying to not overdo it (easier said than done).

I recently did a quick fix to some shorts.  Once I find my photos I will post it.

Later – H

Not positive, but it’s life…

This is one of the most difficult posts I will probably ever write.

My mom died in April.  I am glad I moved her into Assisted Living near me the last few months of her life, but she had not been to a doctor in over eight years before she was evaluated by a Immediate Care Physician so she could move into the facility (basic health information was taken and Mom answered all questions ‘I am fine’).  We determined recently that mom had an unknown medical condition.

Even in her last week Mom would see us arrive and say ‘I am fine’ even though it was obvious to us that she wasn’t.

So, I am sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but I have been busy dealing with everything (I am definitely not done and was warned that it could take a year before everything is done – ugh).

I promise that my next post will be positive.

Later – H

Asking for good thoughts / prayers

Life has NOT gone as I hoped the last few months.  I thought it would take my mom about a month to settle in at the Senior Living place, but things have not gone as I hoped.

When I have something positive to write about I will, but for now I am asking for your good thoughts / prayers.  We really could use them.

Later – H

I am still here and takeaways

The end of January / beginning of February have been an interesting and sometimes stressful time for my family.  Here are some takeaways :

  • Don’t take your health for granted – We abruptly learned that one of our brother-in-laws was having double bypass surgery (with no previous health warnings).  I am so happy to report that he is doing fine and is healing nicely.  (And I can’t wait to give him a hug the next time we see him!)
  • Make sure that both the husband and wife have keys to the mailboxes.  I had to overnight our keys to dear husband since I had been out of town for a while.  Good thing I did since we had a package in the box.
  • Sometimes the ‘kids’ have to become the ‘parents’ to their parents.  My mom has always lived in her own house independently, but it became obvious a few weeks ago that it wasn’t the best idea anymore.  So, the last few weeks I have been trying to help my mom move into a Senior Living place near us.  When she is all settled I will post an update.
  • Dogs (especially Pepper the Golden Retriever) sense when a person is older and needs some company.  My mom has been at our house for the last week and Pepper will bring her toys, sleep at her feet and is very gentle and loving to her.  Now, that doesn’t mean that Pepper still doesn’t love to be hyper and run around, but it means she tries to not do it near my mom.
  • Plan for natural disasters.  We recently had a horrible wind storm.  The worse part was we were out of power for 27+ hours.  We have a well which meant we could not pump water.  I am happy that we had gallon bottles of drinking water in the garage, used the water in the hot tub (which had dirt and leaves blown into it) to flush the toilets and we were able to use our wood stove to heat food and drinks once the wind died down.  We know multiple people that lost part of their roofs (and/or trees).  Do you have an emergency stash  / plan??
  • Keep your mind active – Do you do word puzzles, play Scrabble, etc?  My mom has spent the last few years just watching television by herself (definitely not something that keeps the mind active).  Since she has stayed at our house we have been playing multiple games of Scrabble daily (not keeping score though).  She is amazing (and not even just for her age)!  I have already asked if there is a group of people at the Senior Living place that plays games.  If not, I will go and play it with her.  (She even has been asking me to play it if I don’t suggest it.)
  • Love and appreciate your family since you never know how long anyone will live (this one should be obvious).  I have been having a conversation with my mom this week since she is trying to figure out why she is still alive, but her parents, sister, brother, friends and two husbands have all died (and most of them at a younger age than her).  The only thing I keep saying is ‘God decided a long time ago the number of days you will live.’  I hope I am loving and honoring to my mom for the rest of her days.
  • If you see a problem then take action – I am so glad that I didn’t ignore the signs that my mom was having difficulties (or come home when she just told me to leave her in her house).  After having a doctor evaluate her (and having her eat good food and drink water) we determined that mom needed to be on medicine.  Once she started to take it she remembered that she used to take it ‘years ago’, but for some reason she stopped.  My family is noticing an improvement in my mom since she has arrived.
  • Housecleaning can wait – I am not saying to completely blow it off, but I have realized that my mom needs my attention also while she is here.  So, I have been randomly doing house work and trying to recover from being gone for over a week.

Until next time.  Later – H



Word of 2015 – Simplify – #2

If you saw a previous post  ‘Specials Words of 2015’ then you know that one of them is Simplify.

Here is the second project that I did that has simplified an area of my life (which in this case is the corner cabinet in the laundry room).

corner cabinet

We use the corner cabinet as an extra pantry area, but it was difficult to keep track of what was stored in there.  For years (and I do mean YEARS) I had a piece of paper taped to the inside of the cabinet with a semi-running list of what was inside.  I knew there had to be a better way.

Last fall, I found a roll of cork sheeting (on Clearance after school started) and cut a piece to fit the inside of the door.  One problem was it didn’t like to lay flat and the second one was I realized I couldn’t nail it to the door, but tape and glue would not make it stay.  So, that came down and I still needed a solution.


A few weeks ago, Hand Husband asked if I needed anything from Amazon since he wanted me to order something for him (and then we would qualify for the free shipping).  That is when I remembered seeing the

Fancy-Fix A4 Sized Weekly Planner Blackboard Sticker Memo Removable Vinyl Chalkboard Wall Sticker   


SuperChalks White Liquid Chalk Marker Pen (4mm Regular Tip)

I realized the A4 size should fit (or would be easy to cut down) and I liked the idea of liquid chalk (I hate using regular chalk, especially in dry Nevada).

Once they arrived it took me about 5 minutes to have three of the Blackboard Stickers installed.  It was tricky to get the Liquid Chalk Marker Pen to work at first, but then it went on neatly and dried pretty quickly.

corner cabinet, pantry list, organization


I also found an idea for a Pantry inventory sheet at Organized Home   Pantry Inventory

that used boxes and ‘/’ to show you have the item and ‘x’ to show when it was used to keep track of the inventory.  I thought that idea was brilliant!   (go check out the free printable at )

So, I will be taking everything out of the cupboard and writing it down on the sheets when they go back in.  Hopefully then we will be able to keep track of everything.


Now, to figure out how to do something similar with the regular pantry (which has bi-fold doors)…

How do you keep track of your pantry inventory?

Later – H

Word of 2015 – Simplify – #1

If you saw a previous post  ‘Specials Words of 2015’ then you know that one of them is Simplify.

Here is the first project that I did that has simplified an area of my life (which in this case is in our hall closet).

Inside our hall closet we had two baskets (on the shelf above my head) which contain the winter gloves, winter scarves, winter hats, gloves, rain poncho, baseball caps, etc.  Also, the flashlight is kept on that shelf or the one above, which I can’t reach (have I stated that Handy Husband is taller than me and can reach a lot farther up than me?).

inside hall closet door


This last summer I added one Command hook to the inside of the hall closet for our summer hats since they would get buried in the baskets (along with the gloves, etc).





The other day I bought an over the door multiple shoe organizer, but didn’t want it to be ‘over the door’.  I also bought a package of Command hooks.

filled inside closet door


After I hung the multiple shoe organizer up I loaded it with the light items that we would use the most (including the small flashlight).

It is now so easy to grab a pair of winter gloves when I am pulling my coat out of the closet.

Where do you keep your winter gloves, etc?

Later – H

Word of the year – Joy – #1

If you saw my post from yesterday, you know I am trying to find at least one piece of Joy each day.

Have you ever seen the Huffpost Good News (a section of the Huffington Post)?  Well, I hadn’t until I started following the blog Buttons and Birdcages .  She usually posts about the Good News of the Day and they usually (if not always) come from here.

Well, I happen to see this story before it was posted on Buttons and Birdcages (and of course I had to share since it is semi-nerdy – but, what do you expect from someone who thinks like an Engineer)?

Georgie Craig (3 years old), of Scarborough, North Yorkshire, in England is unable to stand or walk due to a disability.  But after using a type of Astronaut Suit he was able to take 11 unaided steps on Christmas Eve.

How cool is that?  You really need to go watch the video.

Astronaut Suit helps boy walk

So, what piece of Joy did you find this week?

Later – H