Declutter your life!

I’m a subscriber to The Everyday Cheapskate published by Mary Hunt.  Don’t let the name fool you.  Mary is a veritable wealth of information.  From recipes to cleaning tips to money tips and product advice.  I’ve been reading her emails for many years now.  There is always something of value in them.

Just the other day, she posted a link to a site called Decluttr,  a place to sell your DVDs, CDs, books, video games and tech stuff (phones and tablets).  A great way to recycle those items you have sitting around unused!

Decluttr is the easiest way to sell your unwanted CDs, DVDs, Games, Books & Tech.

Getting started is easy.  If you’ve got a lot of DVDs that you figure you’ll never watch again – or better yet, have access to them via a streaming service like Roku, Netflix or Amazon Prime, why not make some money off them and reduce the clutter?  You can download their mobile app, and adding your media to your cart is as simple as scanning the barcode on the case.   Once you’ve added the items, they give you the price they will pay, and then email you a shipping label for you to put on your own box.  Shipping is free.  You are not going to get rich off the service, but if you’re like me and don’t want to deal with selling online or at a yard sale, it’s a great idea.

A couple of tips I found – once you add more than 10 or do DVDs, the price seems to go down.  I shipped off 49 DVDs to them the other day and initially I was getting only a bit over $17 for them.  I then split the order up (you need a minimum of $10 in your cart) I was able to get $22 for the same items shipped in two boxes.  I figure higher shipping is cutting into your payback.  I also found that the price changed from order to order, so add a few items and save the order, then try again in another batch.

Once they’ve processed your items, they will pay you by check, PayPal or direct deposit into your bank account. You can also donate your order value to charity should you so desire.

Solar 2017

It’s been a very long time since I posted an update on our solar.  It’s still working well, and still producing an average of 8,000 kwh per year.

The graph on the left shows our production by year. This shows our first full-year generation of 8,464 kwh.  2010 was a rather dry year.

I thought 2016 was a very cloudy year, but we ended up with our second-highest generation since installation, as shown on the right.

 


Our December 2016 and January 2017 production was pretty low, in fact the lowest we had ever had for those two months.  We finally realized it was time for the 19-year-old Leyland Cypress in the front yard to go.   It was shading the solar panels from the early morning sun.

When we moved here in 1996, we knew we wanted to eventually put in a pool, so we planted Leyland Cypress along both sides of the back yard.  The one we put out front was a ‘left over’ from the back yard plantings.  It had grown to a height of about 25′!

Saturday was going to be a balmy 68 degrees in mid February!!  Decided it would be a great day to take it down.

 

Here is the beginning of the removal.  Started out with an extendable pole saw.  If you’ve never used one, this little guy is great – I think it works better than our regular chain saw!  It’s extendable and the blade is very sharp and cuts through limbs easily, it’s electric and quiet.  Replacement chains are only about $10 each.  We (meaning me!) cut off the limbs we could reach.  The pole saw extends to about 10′.  The tree doesn’t look that big here, wait until you see it down…

 

 

 

Luckily the tree had 3 separate trunks, so it was easy to cut down two of those trunks.  Here is what was left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the final knock-down.  You can see how big it is, kinda dwarf’s the hubby!

Ebates!

I’m in love with Ebates – which, if you are not aware of it, rewards you with cash back when shopping at a lot of online sites.  PLUS now in a few brick and mortar stores!  And the cash back percentages change often – for example, on Valentine’s day, more than 140 stores were offering a whopping 14% back.

I just got my refund check of almost $89, most of that came from Christmas shopping.  If you are a tablet user, you can often get additional discounts by starting your shopping from the mobile app.   I’ve saved a lifetime total of more than $227.

They are very good to work with also as far as making sure you get your cash back.  A few times, I’ve not gotten credited properly with a purchase, and I just click the “where’s my cash back” option and tell them which shopping trip it was and then paste my receipt info into the box and hit send.  Most times I’m credited immediately.

I’m the queen of discounts – or so my friends and family say.  Check back often, as I’ll be posting more ways to save online.  Plus, when you sign up, you will get a $10 bonus with your first purchase, and if you share with friends, you’ll both get additional cash back.

The Bulb Experiment

I love bulb flowers. Especially Hyacinths and Tulips.

The kids gave me some of both last year at Easter and Mothers Day. Despite my best intentions, they didn’t get planted in the ground. I finally took them out of the pot and put them out in the garage …. One step closer to planting at least!

Then about a month ago, I discovered some of them had green Sprouts on them. Decided I would put them back in pots inside and see if I could put new life back in them.  The hyacinths have doubled in size since I potted the bulbs about a week ago:

The tulips are growing a bit slower:

Dryer balls update

I am still loving my Dryer balls. I can now choose what my clothes will smell like by my choice of essential oils. Lavender is my favorite. I just add 1-2 drops of essential oil to each ball in the dryer when I put the laundry in the washer. I also have a steam cleaner for my floors. Now I can just throw the cleaning pads in the washer since I don’t use fabric softener. The directions say not to wash them with fabric softener. HA they are right. I tried that once, and the next time I cleaned the kitchen floor, it became a sort of skating rink! The steam released the fabric softener … all over the floor. 

Moved the garden indoors

About two years ago, I was perusing “the middle” (as we like to call it) at BJ’s and saw an item called an Aero Garden. I was intrigued, but decided I needed to do some more research before I bought one.  I’m glad I did as the one I saw had CFL lights (which need to be changed every 6 months).  All the new models have LED lights on them.  So I opted to spend a bit more and get the AeroGarden Ultra LED – pictured.  Started the custom herb kit that was included.  Everything grew well except the chives.  AeroGarden is a Miracle Grow product, and they have great support.  All their items are guaranteed to grow.  If something doesn’t germinate, just give them a call and they will send out a replacement pod.  I’ve done herbs twice, cherry tomatoes once and now have a second garden.  I’m about to set both up again, with some lighting improvements which will hopefully give me better growth.

The AeroGarden is a hydroponic system – no dirt, just water and nutrients.  I’ve you’ve ever been on the Living with the Land ride at Epcot, you’ve seen hydroponics there – remember the pvc pipes with the plants growing out of them?  Hydroponics promotes better and faster growth than growing in soil.  They have a lot of models and types, from 3-pod up to 9-pod now.  They have lots of sales and promotions, prices change often, and there are great sales on the older models when the new models come out.

As I’m about to set up two gardens again, one with the Cherry Tomatoes and one with either lettuce or herbs (I’ve not decided yet).  I’ll post pictures of my progress.

 

Dryer Balls!

Got a set of Woolzie Dryer Balls for Christmas…

These are great!  I’m on my 5th load and loving them.  I’m actually finding I’ve got less static than I did using fabric softener.  And here’s a hint, if you’ve got static, simply wad up some aluminum foil into a ball and add to your dryer load along with the wool balls.  I got the set that also includes a small bottle of Lavender Essential Oil – my favorite scent.  The trick to using the EO is to remember to add a drop to each ball in the dryer as soon as you add clothes to the washer.  That way, it has a chance to soak in.  OH, and we had to give up our outdoor clothesline – which I’m not happy about, but we had to take down the Leyland Cypress that hid my illegal (isn’t that stupid!) clothesline.  Planted some new bushes, but it looks like they are going to take a couple of years to take off.  So, I’m back to using the dryer, for now.  Least since I’m not working, I’ve got less laundry to do….

Best thing we did in 2016

Was to cut the cord and stop paying for TV and the landline. Saving $1200 a year!  We only pay for internet.

We ordered an antenna, yes there IS still free Over-the-Air TV!  We opted for the ClearStream 2V Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna with Mount – 60 Mile Range. Most of our TV stations are within a few degrees of each other, so it works well. I was amazed at how many stations it pulled in. We get the big 3 major networks, Fox, PBS, The CW, Ion, QVC, HSN, plus a whole host of “substations”. If you are not familiar with OTA TV, each station has multiple broadcasts, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, etc.

We pair the broadcasts with Netflix. We could supplement with Hulu or Sling TV, but we are not big TV watchers. We also have our own DVR, and can record all the shows we want with no monthly fee.  And actually the OTA broadcast is better than what we got via cable. No more snow like days gone by. Sure, occasionally the picture will pixelate a bit, but not often. We just reversed the cables and splitters in the attic and basement and are using the same hookups as the cable. We are running 5 TVs off the one antenna.

As we only get a few calls via our landline, but didn’t want to give up our number or talking on our portable phones, and as ATT has actually admitted we do indeed live in a “dead zone” with poor cell reception, we opted to go with a VoIP service to route our calls over the internet. I chose to buy an Ooma Bluetooth device

It’s all working great! I’ll never go back to paying for TV again.  There is certainly no show we can’t live without!