A blog about "nothing"!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Feasability Studies: Not Just For Business!

When someone hears the words "feasibility study", they most likely think of it in a business context.  I myself had to do several after I took over my supervisor position in my last job.  I filled several jobs that had been done by the same people for many years, and as times changed and new ways of doing things emerged, as is often the case, they were still doing them the same way.  Not only were these old ways of doing things not time efficient, they also weren't cost efficient. 

It's not difficult then to think of how well this way of thinking might affect things in your home as well.  One thing I've found that helps in several areas is doing a larger than average grocery shopping trip.  It saves me in time because I'm making one trip as opposed to making several.  That in turn saves me gasoline.  It also saves me time once I get home because I'm only having to haul the groceries in from the car to the house and putting them away once.  AND, the biggest savings is money not spent on impulse items because I'm not in the store to begin with!  Interestingly enough, I find that we also eat better when I shop this way.  It may take a little planning to begin with, but once implemented, it becomes second nature. 

At the moment I'm dealing with something that is not so fun.  I'm suffering from severe arthritis pain as a result of menopause.  Some days are good, some are not so good and once in a while it's horrible.  As a result, I've been doing a lot of thinking about easier ways to do things.  For the most part I'm still able to do the majority of things around the house, but one task in particular has become a pain (literally).  Laundry.

Our house is mostly one floor.  Unfortunately our laundry is downstairs.  When I'm having a bad day, that trip up and down the stairs can be absolute agony.  This got me to thinking about how I did laundry and how I could change it to make it easier and more efficient.  I'd been doing alternate week laundry--one week I did nothing but clothing items and the opposite week I did linens.  I would do one load a day until they were all done.  Once in a while I would make an exception if something was dirty that was needed, but overall it worked well. 

Then I got to thinking about how that was wasteful in a "trip up and down the stairs" way.  If I'm washing towels, sheets, blankets, it's a two trip load, one trip to put it in the washer and one trip to move it to the dryer.  I wouldn't bring it up until the following day when I went downstairs to do the next load.  However, with clothing it often ended up being three trips for one load--the trip to wash, the trip to dry and then the dash to the dryer when it buzzed so it didn't end up a wrinkled pile of clothing.  Hmmm...

It was after a bit of thinking that it dawned on me just how wasteful this was!  So now my new way of doing the laundry is to do two loads a day, the first load being clothing that needs to be hung and the second load being something that doesn't.  I still have to make three trips, but I'm doing double the laundry!!  DUH!  My hope is to eventually get it caught up enough that I'm only doing laundry either every other week, or 2 loads every couple of days.  The other bonus to this is that it will be more energy efficient in the winter months, it won't take the dryer as long to heat up for that second load. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner.

Do you have an area in your life that you think could use a personal "feasibility study"?  Or do you have an example of where one worked for you?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The best 25 cents I've spent in a long time!

Let's be honest here: in this day and age, 25 cents isn't going to get you much.  You can't even buy a candy bar for that anymore. (unless you happen to find a clearance sale)  About the only way you are going to find anything that cheap that's worth buying is in a thrift store.  You see where this is going!
I haven't been doing as much thrift store shopping recently for a number of reasons.  I need nothing, I've been busy and being sick made it difficult.  A couple of weeks ago I was really itching to go, so I checked out my favorite Pittsburgh haunts.  I found some doll stuff and a few personal/household items: a tie for hubby, a summery shirt for me and a coffee mug to replace the one I broke a couple of weeks earlier.  Nothing very exciting though.
Last week I decided to go again, this time sticking a little closer to home.  About 20 minutes away we have a placed called "Easter Seals Yard Sale".  It's all donated items and the proceeds go to the Easter Seals organization (they work with a variety of special needs folks).  They have a space in an abandoned mall storefront which is only opened several times a month.  I hadn't been there for a while, so I decided that it sounded like a good place to start.
I found a few cute doll sized things which I was excited about.  The last thing I picked up was something I've been curious about for quite some time.  I'd never bought one because quite frankly, I never needed one before and I was skeptical about how well it would work.  The crazy part is I almost missed it because it was brand new, still in the box, and I picked up the box to read what was in it.  So glad I decided to do that!  Are you curious as to what it is?  A brown sugar disc.  I know some of you are saying "what?!"  Maybe you've never heard of one, so here is what they look like:
Basically it's a formed piece of terra cotta that is placed in a container of brown sugar to keep it from getting too hard to use.  I'd never had an issue with my brown sugar doing this because I generally kept it in a bag, but the last time I bought a bag, I decided to place it in a storage container I had to make it easier to get to.  BIG mistake.  I don't use a lot of it, so it takes a while to use up a bag of it, and my bag had progressively gone from being a nice, soft sugar to a solid lump that resembled a brick.  The last time I needed to use it, I literally had to chisel it out of the container.  When I saw this disc for 25 cents, I figured it was worth a try.
After I got it home, I took it out of the box.  No instructions, but something told me that you didn't just go and plop it in and hope for the best.  I was right, and after poking around on the trusty internet, I found instructions.  All you needed to do was place it in a bowl with water for 15 minutes, then pat the outside dry and place it in the container.  At this point I was still skeptical, but what did I have to lose.  It didn't help that I asked a friend if she had ever used one, to which she replied "I had one, but I don't anymore.  I don't remember, but I assume because I don't have it now, it wasn't impressive."  Hmmm...
That was on Thursday.  Yesterday (2 days later) I decided to check and see if anything happened.  I was not at all prepared for what I was going to experience.  I opened the container and looked inside.  The sugar appeared to be softer, so I got a fork and poked it.  WOW!!!  It really worked!!!  I now have a container of brown sugar that looks like brown sugar again.  No using it for construction purposes! I was impressed.  :)
The online instructions I found said that it lasts for about 3 months per soaking, so sometime in late summer I will need to get it out and do the process over again.  So worth it in my opinion.  And I'm so glad I decided to take a chance with my quarter.  Probably a better payoff than if I'd put it in a slot machine!