Recently my husband and I organized and ran a garage sale for an elderly friend who wants to list her townhome for sale very soon. The townhome association only allows the residents to have one garage sale per year, which is always the last Saturday in April.
Our friend was still at her winter home in Florida and wouldn’t be back to her northern townhome until mid-May.
Since we know her very well and with her permission, we went through her home, culling items we knew she no longer wanted.
When we were unsure whether to keep or sell something, we texted her pictures of the pieces in question.
She looked at the pictures and called us with her answer. She told us what to sell and asked us to set some things aside so she and I could go through them together when she got back from Florida.
It proved to be a very effective system.
She told us to price everything to sell. She knew the sale wasn’t going to be a big money generator, it was more an opportunity for her to get rid of her excess stuff.
Some of the stuff she’d been managing, storing, packing, moving and unpacking for years:
100+ Beanie Babies (not the investment she’d hoped they’d be)
25+ Santa Bears (bought for her daughter who HAD to have each new year’s offering by a local department store, only to tire of them as she grew older)
endless miscellaneous coffee mugs
innumerable partial sets of stemware, glassware, silverware, cookware, dinnerware and knives
plastic cutlery, hot and cold beverage cups, countless napkins, both paper and fabric varieties
armloads of small electric appliances
plastic containers (aka Tupperware)
decorative placemats, pillows, afghans, doilies
assorted vases and floral containers
decorative ceramic pieces she’d painted and fired over the years
bags and bags of craft supplies for craft projects she no longer did
sporting equipment, including duck decoys (she didn’t hunt)
an extra dining table and chairs (her entertaining days are over)
various pieces of furniture from her previous home (all kept in her townhome’s unfinished basement storage space, since there was no room to use them anywhere)
old, HEAVY tube TVs
carpet remnants from several remodels past
What took us two weeks to sort, set up and price was sold in just 4 hours.
How much did we bring in?
After expenses, we netted $247 for our friend.
She used the money to buy a new storm door for her front door, a great use of the proceeds.
As she and I went through the decision-making process of what to keep and what to sell, she realized a few things:
It became clear just how much stuff she wasn’t currently using and would very likely never use again
Everything was taking up a lot of space (she had bought half a dozen storage shelves on which to keep the stuff)
She was completely uninterested in continuing to maintain everything as she had
When she gets back in a couple of weeks, we’ll take a few days to go through everything she asked us to set aside.
I know she’ll offer some things to her kids, grandkids and close friends, sell some stuff on craigslist, keep what she really loves, needs and will use, and give away whatever’s left.
She realizes that life isn’t about stuff; life is about relationships, memories and experiences.
She wants to have less, do more, be more.
How about you?
Where are you on the START To Downsize continuum?
Ready to have less, do more, be more?
Please share your thoughts in Comments.
ps: Check out Ron Whitaker’s blog, Boomer Bazaar, for his take on having less, doing more, being more.
Looking to buy a new sofa, but don’t know where to start? You’ll be a sofa expert after reading ‘Decorative Words – ‘S’ is for ‘Sofa’, where you’ll learn how to choose the right sofa frame, understand the different sofa arm, cushion, leg and skirt options, and see the most popular sofa styles.
The key to a long-lasting sofa starts with a quality frame, which should have the following characteristics:
Kiln-dried hardwood frame –
- A frame made from a softer wood, such as pine, will have a greater tendency to warp and may contain knots, which can split, crack or break.
- When shopping for a sofa, be sure to ‘check under the hood’, which simply means to feel the underside of the sofa’s frame. It should be at least 1” thick; anything thinner will probably not hold up under the wear and tear of everyday use.
Solid construction and joinery –
- If you’re shopping for a new sofa, ask your salesperson to show you the manufacturer’s cut-away frame sample of the sofa you’re considering.
- The best frame components are made with mortise and tenon or double-doweled joints, both of which are strong and will resist separation.
- Be sure to ask if the joints were glued and if corners were reinforced with blocks, which will further help the piece’s structural integrity. Frames which have been screwed together can be acceptable, but steer clear of those frames which have been stapled together.
- Finally, take a look at the sofa’s feet. The best sofas have integrated feet, rather than those that simply screw into the frame.
- Have your salesperson lift one front corner of your chosen sofa at least six inches off the floor. Look to see if the other front corner is being lifted at the same time. If not, the frame is not strong enough to support the sofa over the long haul; it’s time to look for a better sofa choice.
The right springs –
- The best sofas seats have 8-way, hand-tied springs, providing long-lasting, comfortable support.
- Sinuous-springs (‘S’-shaped springs) are most often found in a sofa’s back, but are used for seat support in lesser quality sofas. Be sure to ask your salesperson what type of springs are in the sofa you’re considering.
Cushion filling -
- The best cushion filling is down, which is extremely comfortable, but can require frequent plumping to keep the sofa looking its best.
- A very commonly-used cushion filling is Dacron-covered foam cushion cores.
- Don’t be afraid to lift the cushions of the sofa you’re considering; if they are heavy, they either are down or a down-blend, or are made of high-density foam and Dacron.
- Be wary of sofa cushions that are sewn to the inside back of the sofa; this is a sign of questionable quality. Over time, sewn-on cushions can tear away from the inside back, resulting in a ruined sofa.
When looking for a new sofa, not only should you think about a sofa’s arm, cushion, leg or skirt styles, but also the seating depth that will fit the primary user(s), and the sofa’s primary function; i.e. TV, reading, napping, lounging, etc.
- Sofa ARM options:
- Sofa BACK cushion options:
- Sofa SEAT cushion options:
- Tight seat: This is a firmer, more tailored seat with no loose cushions. It is often used in settees and more formal, wood-framed sofas.
- Single cushion or ‘bench’ seat: A single cushion has a crisp appearance that can still be downy and comfortable. Make sure the manufacturer clips a single cushion seat into rings secured to the frame, which will eliminate the cushion from popping up on one end when someone sits down on the other.
- Cushioned seat: The seat has two or three loose cushions, which may be firmer than back cushions. Covers can be removed for dry-cleaning. T-cushion seats are designed to wrap in front of set-back arms.
- Sofa LEG and SKIRT options:
- Skirted sofas are generally softer and more traditional in appearance.
- Skirts can be detailed with kick pleats, inverted pleats, button pleats, or box pleats, across the front or at the corners only.
- Some sofas have ‘waterfall’ skirts that drop straight from the seat cushion, resulting in a cleaner, more tailored appearance.
- Exposed legs can be square or tapered, giving them a more modern look.
- Exposed legs can be turned and/or on castors or cabriole (curved), giving them a more classic, traditional look.
- Sofa CUSHION DEPTH options:
- Use a classic depth if the primary user is short in stature and/or the sofa will be not receive much use.
- Use the luxury depth if the primary user is taller and/or the sofa will be used for napping, lounging or sleeping.
- Use the European depth if the primary user is very tall. Add in decorative throw pillows to provide more back support for shorter users.
The 10 Most Popular Sofa Styles:
1. Chesterfield Sofa
This sofa, named after the 19th-century British Earl of Chesterfield, is characterized by high roll panel arms, tufted back and a tight tufted seat and exposed, turned legs, as seen here.
Generally speaking, Chesterfield sofas are upholstered in leather, but can be covered with fabric and have no tufting. A Chesterfield usually has a very traditional sofa appearance, but, depending on its styling, can be at home in a modern setting as well.
The Chesterfield sofa, shown above, is made by The Original Sofa Company in England, and prices for an 80”, 3-seat sofa range from $2850 to $12,000, depending on the manner in which it is made.
If you really want a Chesterfield sofa, but a new one simply isn’t in the budget, check out eBay, consignment stores, or craigslist, where I recently found two well-priced Chesterfield options, seen below:
The first option is a vintage 1930s skirted Chesterfield sofa, which is 70” long, covered in velvet, has a single-cushion or ‘bench’ seat, pleated roll arms and is available on craigslist for $450.
The second option is this pair of Italian leather Chesterfield loveseats, with 2-cushion seats, and turned legs offered at $450 for both, also on craigslist:
2. Camel Back Sofa
The Camel Back sofa, first made in the 18th century by Thomas Chippendale, is characterized by a serpentine or humped back, high rolled arms, often a tight seat, and can be skirted or have exposed legs and stretchers. Depending on styling, a camel-back sofa can run the gamut from traditional to modern.
The Camel Back sofa, seen above, is offered online at $1,181, discounted from a retail price of $2,022.
If you’re looking for a well-priced, well-made Camel Back sofa, turn to the used furniture market, where I found two excellent choices on craigslist.
For a more casual Camel Back sofa, consider this large gingham-checked piece:
This Camel Back sofa would be perfect in a beach home, as well as in a modern rustic home. It is a 3-cushion sofa, with Kaylyn roll arms, exposed legs and stretcher, and the large navy and white checked upholstery is on-point with the Americana trend so popular today.
The best part? The astoundingly low price of $75!
If your décor runs to the more traditional and you are willing to spend a bit more for a sensational Camel Back sofa, you absolutely can’t go wrong with this 104” sofa, seen below:
Traditionally tailored in butterscotch velvet, this high-end designer Camel Back sofa features a tight back, with multiple knife-edge throw pillows, pleated roll arms, a 3-cushion seat, and a skirted bottom. It originally retailed for $10,000 and is currently being offered for $2200, an absolute steal at that price!
3. English or Club Sofa
The history behind an English or Club Sofa can be traced back to the private clubs found in Britain.
An English or Club sofa is one which has slightly rounded English, arms set back from the front of the seat, often with a tight, slightly rolled back, no skirt, and low, turned legs, often on castors. The 96” sofa, shown above, is made by Baker Furniture.
Love the English sofa look but not a high-end price tag? Once again, I suggest looking to the used furniture marketplace. I found on craigslist an English sofa, made by Restoration Hardware, upholstered in natural Belgian linen, 96” long, seen below:
This sofa features English arms, box back cushions, ‘T’ seat cushions, and turned, castered legs. It’s just one year old and is offered for $850 – deeply discounted from the $3115 retail price!
I found another nice-looking 84”, neutral upholstered English sofa, seen below, on craigslist for $1199. It has a tight back, three T-cushion seat, English arms, and turned legs on casters:
4. Knole Sofa
Which is it, Knoll or Knole? As it turns out, it’s both.
First made in the early to mid-17th-century for Knoll House in West Kent, England, Knole sofas quickly became a classic of English country houses and their popularity continues today.
A Knole sofa features a straight, high back and angled arms that can be adjusted to open out or stand up straight, designed to control chilly drafts so prevalent in old English manor homes.
The arms of a Knole sofa were originally hinged or completely detachable, to make the piece more easily movable. The back and arms traditionally connect with finials wrapped in cords.
Depending on styling, a Knole sofa can be extremely traditional or quite modern.
Knole sofas can be expensive, so for those who are more budget-minded but still want the great look and quality of a Knole sofa, keep an eye on the used furniture market, including eBay, for these pieces, where you can find discounted Knole sofas similar to the one seen here:
This custom 95” Knole sofa features a kick-pleated skirt, cut velvet upholstery, medallion damask pillows and a leather-topped tight seat. Originally $8550, I found it on eBay at a ‘Buy it Now” price of $2895.
For those of you who are looking for a Knole sofa with some Hollywood Regency glam, you’ll find it in a pair of custom 94”, 2-cushion Knole sofas, each with knife-edge back cushions, bolsters and bullion fringe skirts. I found them on craigslist, for $450 each :
5. Lawson Sofa
A Lawson-style sofa has a low, squarish back and arms lower than the back, a good height for napping. The arms can be square (track) or rolled.
The original Lawson sofa was created for Thomas W. Lawson (1857-1925), a Boston financier. He liked his furniture to be modern and comfortable, so the sofa designed for him was overstuffed and layered with pillows.
As a young man, Lawson started out as a clerk for a stockbroker, from whom he learned the business and amassed a fortune, although sometimes by dubious means. At one point, he was forced to sell his estate and furniture to cover debts, forever connecting his name to this particular sofa style.
Lawson sofas can be found quite readily in the used-furniture market, so be sure to comb through craigslist, etc., if you’re looking for a well-priced alternative to paying retail.
This 2-over-2 (2 back cushions over 2 seat cushions) 94” gray corduroy Lawson sofa, seen below, features knife-edged back cushions, track arms and flat-block feet. I found it on craigslist for $400:
The 3-over-3, gray tweed Lawson sofa, seen below, has a box-cushion back, architectural angled feet, and is being offered on craigslist for $425:
6. Tuxedo Sofa
In a Tuxedo sofa, the arms are as high, or nearly as high, as the back. It usually has fairly clean lines with straight or slightly flared arms. Some people find a lower arm more comfortable for resting, but with the right pillows, a Tuxedo sofa can be very cozy.
The Tuxedo sofa, shown above, is an 83”, vintage 1960s piece with a (3-over-1) bench seat, track arms, and wood legs, and has been recently restored. I found it on 1st Dibs for $2500.
The new, 81”, 2-over-2 Tuxedo sofa, shown below, is from Williams Sonoma Home and is available on eBay for $1999.99, discounted from a $3000 retail price. This sofa has been discontinued from Williams Sonoma, so here’s your chance to have a well-built, well-priced, eco-friendly Tuxedo sofa:
According to the seller’s listing:
“This piece was built according to Williams Sonoma Green Collection standards. The frame is made from kiln-dried sustainably-harvested hardwood, built with mortise-and-tenon joinery, and reinforced with double-dowels and corner blocks. Sinuous steel seat and back supports are sprung by hand. Slim tuxedo arms flank wide, deep seats. Seat cushions have high-resiliency foam cores with up to 10% soy-based materials, wrapped in our premium down blend. It is upholstered in a champagne-colored faux suede.”
Why not bring the simple clean lines of a Tuxedo sofa into your outdoor living space? This 73”, 2-seat sofa features a rattan frame and washable terry-cloth-covered cushions, track arms, and flat, block feet:
This piece has a classic look that won’t ever go out of style. The neutral cushions make it extremely versatile and will provide some easy-care outdoor seating. I found it on craigslist for $200.
7. Cabriole Sofa -
Cabriole is a French word meaning ‘curved’ or ‘curving’. A Cabriole sofa is based on a 18th-century Louis XV design.
In the example, above, the back curves into the Kaylyn roll arms in one continuous line. A Cabriole sofa usually, but not always, has a tight seat, wood trim and carved wood legs that may be curved as well. The example shown here is a more contemporary version of a classic Cabriole sofa, which would have more downswept, curvy arms.
Variations of the Cabriole sofa can be seen below:
This Cabriole sofa has a distinct French influence and features a single-cushion seat. A tight back is softened with knife-edge back cushions, providing custom back support options. The curved legs repeat the Cabriole statement.
Another Cabriole sofa is shown below:
This sleek Cabriole sofa has a tight seat and back, gently curving Kaylyn roll arms, exposed tapered wood legs, as well as a completely neutral upholstery, giving you the opportunity to customize it with decorative pillows.
8. Bridgewater Sofa -
A Bridgewater sofa has low, English arms, a cushioned back, a T-cushion seat, and a classic, elegant profile. It is most often skirted and sometimes has a softly rolled back.
A Bridgewater sofa has a timeless look and, depending on its upholstery, works well with almost any furniture style.
Many times, a Bridgewater sofa features a slipcover, which can be removed and washed.
The Bridgewater sofa, by Hickory Chair, shown above, features a waterfall skirt, English arms, T-cushion seats, and knife-edge back cushions.
9. Mid-Century Modern -
A Mid-Century Modern sofa has straight lines, with track arms, often a tight back, cushioned seat and a very streamlined form, with low, tapered legs.
From craigslist, here is a 96”, vintage 1950s Mid-Century Modern sofa with a tight back, bench seat, track arms, and tapered wood legs, all in its original neutral upholstery, available for $850.
Another Mid-Century Modern sofa find on craigslist:
10. Sectional Sofa -
A sectional sofa is technically modular seating, assembled from components that can include armless sofas, end and corner units, ottomans, and sometimes even recliners, sleep sofas, or chaises. Its appearance is usually clean-lined and modern, but be found in all furniture styles.
The leather sectional, seen above, is by Jaymar, very well known for their extremely comfortable seating. If comfort is a high priority but you want to keep costs down, keep a lookout on craigslist, etc., for Jaymar pieces; they last forever and are a great value.
The sectional sofa, seen above, has a tight seat, loose-cushion back, track arms and sleek metal legs. It is available online for $2999.
I found a very well-priced, quality-made sectional on craigslist by Rowe, seen below:
This sectional features sock roll arms, box back and seat cushions, flat block feet, and an upholstered-to-floor base.
It sold originally for $4000, but is now available for $600 or best offer.
I found this piece on craiglist in SW Florida. Like so much of the furniture found on craigslist from that area, the sectional comes from a vacation home and was lightly used a few months a year, for just a couple of years. Clearly it is in great condition and the price makes it a very good value. Where else can you get so much quality seating for just $600?
Now that you’ve read ‘Decorative Words – ‘S’ is for ‘Sofa’, what sofa style are you most interested in? If you’ve just purchased a sofa, please share how and where you found the perfect piece for your home. Have more questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in ‘Comments’ below!
Recently a fellow I know lost his well-paying job and couldn’t make his house payment, as he had no savings. What about you? How close are you to falling off your own fiscal cliff?
I began this blog, START To Downsize, to help people learn how to live well with less. Having less stuff to manage allows them to have more money, time and energy to spend on the really important things in life.
This man and his family have already sold one of their vehicles, a gas-guzzling behemoth, and contacted their mortgage company to work out a plan to defer their house payments for several months.
He’s looking for another job, but there aren’t too many comparable jobs where he lives, so relocating to another city or state may be in their future.
He is now receiving unemployment benefits of $225 per week, barely enough to keep his family in groceries.
With his education and work experience, how did he end up in this position?
The answer is easy: he didn’t plan ahead.
How many of us have planned ahead?
Unfortunately, very few.
Where do we start in order to avoid falling off our own fiscal cliff?
We start by changing our behavior toward money-management.
For the fellow in my example, he and his family are between a rock and a hard place, and the sad reality is that they will all have to pay the price for the choices they have made.
For the rest of us, today is the day and now is the time to change our behavior toward our money-management.
Follow the 8 steps listed below to get on the road to learning to live well with less:
1. Meet as a family and explain that everyone will be involved in learning new habits in money-management –
- Talking about the subject de-mystifies it and gives everyone in the family the incentive to work together toward a common goal.
- Get over the idea that you always have to have the latest and greatest this or that.
2. Set up and follow a budget – It’s not glamorous, but it is practical.
- Pay your fixed expenses first, like rent/house payment, utilities, phone, etc., to make sure you have a place to live.
Cut unnecessary expenses, like Netflix, eating out, buying new clothes, season tickets, a second (or third) vehicle, etc.
3. Allow a certain amount of ‘fun’ money each time you get paid-
- Give yourself (or your family) a modest amount of money to spend as you (or they) wish, but when it’s gone, it’s gone until the next payday.
You’ll find yourself discovering creative ways to make the most of your ‘fun’ money.
4. Begin to build a $1000 emergency fund – Each time you are paid, set aside 5-10% (or whatever you can afford) until you have your emergency fund fully established.
- Building your emergency fund could take a while, but stick with it until you have the entire $1000.
Don’t touch your emergency fund unless it’s a real emergency.
If you have to use your emergency fund (for an emergency only), be sure to replenish it as quickly as possible.
5. Stop using your credit cards and begin to pay them off -
- Using a credit card to earn rewards points is not enough reason to have it, if you carry a balance from month to month. Pay off your credit cards and refuse to carry a balance on them. That way you are not making the credit card companies any richer.
Make minimum payments on all your cards, but make a larger payment on the card with the smallest balance.
When the smallest balance has been paid off, use the money freed up from that one to attack the next card and so forth, until you have them all paid off.
This, too, may take a while, depending on your balances, but just focus on paying off one card at a time and you’ll soon begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
6. Begin to build a 6-12 month reserve of living expenses – If the fellow in our example had 6-12 months of living expenses in savings, he and his family wouldn’t be experiencing such a dire situation.
- Start building this fund only after you have your entire emergency fund in place.
Set up a separate savings account for this money.
Each time you are paid, deposit 5-10% (or what you can afford) toward the ultimate goal of 6-12 months of living expenses.
Once you have paid off your credit cards, add the amount you were directing to credit cards to the money you are putting toward your 6-12 month living expense reserve, until it is fully funded.
7. Get into the habit of saving up to buy what you want and paying for it with cash -
- This applies to every member of the family over 5 years of age. Having to have the cash in hand to purchase an item teaches discipline and the benefits of delayed gratification.
When buying with cash, don’t be afraid to ask the seller if they offer a cash discount. Oftentimes they do, because they realize that cash is king.
8. Buy used, when possible -
This applies to cars, furniture, household items, clothing, etc. Make use of craigslist , consignment stores, garage sales, etc., for great bargains on these highly-depreciable items.
My husband and I incorporated these money-management ideas into our lives over four years ago and it didn’t take long for these saving habits to become automatic. We no longer dread a unexpected car repair bill or other unplanned event, because we know there’s money available in our emergency fund.
We no longer make car payments or have a car lease. We pay cash for a good, used car and make sure to maintain it well. We put a lot of miles on our vehicle, so it doesn’t make sense for us to buy a new car.
The last used car we bought had 169,000 miles on it and is in great shape after 1.5 years and 60,000 more miles. We don’t expect to have to buy another car for the foreseeable future, but if we do, we have the money in savings to pay cash for what we need.
We have edited our wardrobe down to just what we actually wear and only replace items as they wear out.
We furnished our condo using (mostly) craigslist and it has been a lovely place in which to live.
We find that having less stuff is a big relief. There is so much less we have to clean, sort through, move and manage, which gives us time to enjoy each other and our lives together.
In the words of C. S. Lewis:
“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.”
I encourage you to use the money-management ideas found above, so you need not wonder ‘How Close Are You To Falling Off Your Own Fiscal Cliff?’
Have other money-management questions? Or perhaps you have money-wise ideas you’d care to share. Feel free to use the Comments area below.
Source of all images
I began my blog, START To Downsize, in response to the desire my husband and I had to learn ‘How to Live Well: 4 Steps to Achieve the (Real) American Dream’.
According to a 2001 issue of Newsweek:
“The United States has more malls than high schools; Americans spend more time shopping than reading.”
I can believe it.
While doing a recent Pinterest search for ‘master bedroom closet ideas’, I was rather stunned at my results: hundreds of images of closets, all about as large as my living/dining area, featuring walls of shoes, shelves filled with purses and bags, not to mention rack after rack of clothing. These rooms looked more like retail shops than closets.
That same Newsweek article went on to say,
“Uncontrollable consumerism has become a watchword of our culture, despite regular and compelling calls for its end.”
Notice the article was written in 2001. If the article’s author felt consumerism was uncontrollable then, think how much worse it is now, more than twelve years later.
How, then, can we ever hope to live well, amidst every manner of temptation, luring us with the siren call for the latest and greatest this or that?
It starts here:
Step 1: Admit we have a discipline problem.
Submitting to discipline isn’t fun for anyone. Easy credit has allowed too many Americans the luxury of acquiring things they couldn’t really afford, resulting in millions of them adrift in an ocean of debt.
A recent informal poll among 300 Americans revealed they had a cumulative credit card debt of 5 MILLION DOLLARS, not including mortgages or car payments!
How could this happen?
It’s easy. Just believe advertisers’ hype: ‘You don’t have a 60” flat screen TV? You should. No money? No problem. Just put it on your credit card, on the easy payment plan’.
(FYI: There is no such thing as an easy payment plan.)
Step 2: Admit we have an entitlement problem.
Contrary to marketing gurus, no one is entitled to anything; just because we’re breathing doesn’t mean we should have stuff, especially if we don’t have the cash for it. Even if we can afford something, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we should buy it.
Every purchase (no matter how trivial) should answer ‘Yes’ to these three questions:
Do I NEED it?
Will I USE it?
Do I LOVE it?
If the answer to any of these question is ‘No’, don’t buy it. You don’t need it and/or you have or can figure out other means to satisfy that need.
It is interesting to note that people in third-world countries, who have little to nothing, are nevertheless generally happy, because they have a low expectation of having ‘stuff’.
Step 3: Admit that at a personal level, we have a greed problem, otherwise known as an abuse of prosperity.
America has long been considered to be a land of prosperity, but since 1925, which was the advent of the idea that we must ‘keep up with the Joneses’, enough soon became not enough. Having to ‘keep up’ only creates a craving for more and more stuff, a craving which can never be satisfied, because there is always something new, something else, something more, something better, being offered.
Spending money many Americans don’t have, in order to ‘keep up’ has become an addiction, not an indulgence, one which will be fatal to them, and to the nation as a whole, if left unchecked.
So, if we’re willing to admit we have a discipline problem, an entitlement problem and a greed problem, what’s left?
Just where does the buck stop, so to speak?
Step 4: Admit there is a problem at the leadership level, a failure-of-nerve problem, fearing a short-term negative reaction to making hard decisions.
It is all too easy to let financial problems slide, perhaps because you hope they’ll just go away, so you can avoid conflict. Unfortunately, problems never go away; they only get worse.
Ignoring the issue won’t help, so take a deep breath and face it.
If you’re married, it is the man’s role to be the head of the house. Sounds old-fashioned, but there it is. A wife’s role is to partner with and support her husband. Children learn by example and the cooperative effort put forth by both parents go a long way to drive home the lesson of fiscal responsibility.
If you’re single, consider asking someone you know and trust, who has a proven, financially-sound track record, to help you with your finances.
Or perhaps you can find a community-ed course or a church-sponsored class on budgeting and money-management. Dave Ramsey’s ‘Financial Peace University’ and Crown Ministries’ ‘Journey to Financial Freedom Seminar’ are two good options.
Another idea is to contact a financial adviser for help in organizing your financial future.
The idea is to do SOMETHING and to do it TODAY.
Don’t waste time looking back and regretting what you coulda, woulda, shoulda done. You can’t change the past, but you can help your future. Move forward toward financial freedom and to achieving your goals.
As Amitai Etzioni, George Washington University professor, recently stated in the Huffington Post:
“All that is needed is for more and more people to turn the current economic crisis into a liberation from the obsession with consumer goods and the uberwork it requires– and, bit by bit, begin to rethink their definition of what it means to live a good life.”
Where are you on the path to learning ‘How to Live Well: 4 Steps to Achieve the (Real) American Dream’? Have questions? Willing to share how you have dealt with your financial issues? Please share your thoughts in Comments below.
Together, we’ll learn how to live well.
Have you been yearning to tile your kitchen backsplash, but don’t think you have the skills to do the job yourself? After reading ‘Installing Tile: Secrets the Pros Will Never Tell You’, you will know exactly what’s needed for installing tile and be able to do it yourself.
I am going to use a recent backsplash installation I did with my husband, which will take you step-by-step through the project.
1. Examine everything that will stay ‘as is’ in your kitchen, such as cabinets, countertop, wall color, floor color.
The cabinets in our project were slab-front white laminate cabinets with oil-rubbed bronze knobs and bin pulls, similar to these, shown below:
The wall color was Benjamin Moore’s ‘Fernwood Green, 2145-40′:
The floor tile was a neutral beige, similar to the tile seen here:
2. Determine the square footage of your backsplash:
Measure the length of the backsplash, in inches, and multiply it by the height, in inches.
Divide that number by 144 (the number of square inches in a square foot), which will give you the total square feet of your backsplash. Add 10% to cover waste, mis-cuts, etc.
If you want to add a decorative tile accent, you will need to measure the lineal feet of the countertop, including behind the stove. This will determine how many strips of decorative tile you will need to cut for inserts, assuming they will be taken from sheet-mounted tile.
Because of the placement of several electrical outlets and switchplates on our job, we had to take the tile to an outside corner and down to the floor in two locations, in order to be able to put tile behind the outlets and switchplates. This added several square feet to the total area of tile we needed, as well as needing more bullnose tile to finish those outside edges.
3. Get backsplash inspiration from magazines, Pinterest, and other internet sites. Look for ideas using a combination of mostly plain tile with a little accent tile.
Combining lower-priced tile for the majority of the backsplash (aka ‘field tile’) and using a more expensive, decorative tile only as an accent will provide the most bang for your tiling buck.
After looking at different options, we decided to use an inexpensive tile for the field tile. We settled on a simple, classic white 3”X6” subway tile, which retailed for $.22 each, or $1.76/square foot, seen below:
Since our subway tile had raw edges, we needed something to provide the edges with a finished look. We found a coordinating bullnose tile, seen below. As this was a specialty tile, it was priced higher than the field tile, at $.77 each.
Once we had our main tile chosen, our next task was to find an accent tile that would coordinate with the countertop, cabinet hardware, floor tile and wall color.
A sheet-mounted decorative tile seemed to be the answer. This type of tile comes in 12” X 12” sheets, which can be cut down into strips, thereby maximizing visual impact without costing a bundle.
We found this glass mosaic tile…
…which tied everything together perfectly! We planned on using two rows as an accent, which would be placed on top of the first row of subway tile. Each sheet was $14.97 and we needed 5 sheets.
4. Assemble the rest of your tiling supplies, including:
Newspapers and masking or painter’s tape – Be sure to protect your countertop with a thick layer of newpapers, taped firmly in place.
We had an existing 3” Corian backsplash, which we also taped off with blue tape to protect it during tiling.
Slotted screwdriver – Use this to remove outlet and switch plate covers. Set them aside in a safe location, since they’ll have to be put back on after the tile installation is complete. Keep the slotted screwdriver handy to clean out excess thin-set between the grout lines as you’re setting the tile.
Phillips-head screwdriver or power driver – Use this to remove the screws holding outlets and switches in place. Allow the outlets and switches to dangle loosely, providing enough room to put the tile behind them.
Enough longer Phillips-head screws to replace the outlet and switchplate screws you just removed (A quantity of 20, in our case) – Determine the length of the new screws needed by adding the depth of the tile to the existing screw length, plus another 1/4”. We have found that a hardware store, rather than a home-improvement center, has a better selection of these screws.
Scrap wood secured to the wall with screws to support the newly-laid tiles until the mortar dries – Use anything that’s handy; it doesn’t have to be pretty, just thick enough to support a tile until the thin-set dries. We needed wood in three places: behind a free-standing range and straight out from the counter top in two locations:
Tile saw – Don’t panic with this one. The easiest and fastest way to cut tile is with a tile saw, preferably a wet saw, whose blade is cooled with a film of water during cutting. Ceramic tiles cut easily, as do glass tiles, even those that are mesh-mounted. If you don’t want to purchase a wet saw, rent one or, in our case, borrow one from a friend.
(The secret to learning how to use a wet saw? Check out the YouTube video on the subject, below, ask someone in the tile department of your local hardware or home improvement store for assistance. If you know someone who has done a good DIY tiling project, ask them for any tips and tricks. Your tiling job will be much more professional in appearance by using a tile saw.)
Thin-set Mortar – Since we were using some glass tile, the mortar would show through it, so we had to use white thin-set mortar, which will not change the color of the glass tile.
It comes in a 50-pound bag, which seems like a lot for just a backsplash, but it is less than $15 for the bag, much less than any pre-mixed mortar available. Mix the thin-set with water, according to package directions.
Mix only as much thin-set mortar as you can use in an hour. Discard any remaining thin-set at the end of your work day and mix up a new batch if your job requires a second day of tiling.
Five-gallon bucket – You will mix your thin-set mortar in this container.
Thin-set mixing tool – We asked the paint department of the home improvement center where we bought the tile if we could have a 5-gallon stir-stick, to which they graciously agreed.
1/4” notched trowel for applying the thin-set mortar.
Scissors – You will need this if you decide to cut strips of tile from sheet-mounted tile.
3” stainless-steel flexible broadknife – Use this to transfer mixed thin-set from the 5-gallon pail to a paint tray on the countertop and to ‘back-butter’ cut tiles (apply a coat of mortar to the back of tiles). I always recommend a stainless-steel broadknife to eliminate the possibility of rusting. Get a flexible broadknife for easy use.
Paint tray – This makes a handy holder for a smaller amount of thin-set, taken from the 5-gallon mixing bucket. Keep it on the counter with you and use the broadknife to fill the notched trowel with a load of thin-set.
Pencil – Used for defining tile placement and marking tiles for cutting.
Straight-edge, speed square, framing square – It really doesn’t matter what you choose to use, as long as it can help you draw a straight line.
Tape measure – This is needed for measuring any tiles that need to be cut.
Level – You’ll use this to confirm that your rows of tile are straight and true.
Spacers – Use 1/8” spacers under the first row of tiles. That space will filled with flexible caulk, in the same color as the grout, to allow for any movement caused by foundational shifts.
1/8” tile spacers
Most ceramic tiles come with built-in spacers, but if the tile you use does not have them, I suggest you use 1/16” spacers for a tiny grout line. We used the 1/16” spacers on top of and underneath the glass mosaic tiles, in order to keep the grout lines consistent between the field tile and the decorative tile.
1/16” tile spacers
Remove the spacers after the thin-set has dried, before you start grouting. Keep them for future jobs by storing them in a Ziploc bag, being careful to keep each size separate. Write the spacer’s size on the bag with a permanent marker.
1 gallon bucket – Use this to prepare your grout.
Paint stir-stick – Use this to stir up your grout.
Non-sanded grout – It is important to use non-sanded grout with glass tile, so as not to scratch it.
Mix the grout in small batches, according to package directions, in a gallon bucket, using a gallon-size paint stir-stick (also graciously supplied to us by the paint department).
Grout Float – This is what you use to pack grout into the spaces between the tiles (aka grout lines). Put a couple of blobs of grout on the float, then push the grout into the grout lines, making sure the float is at a 30-degree angle, to ensure each grout line is completely filled.
Grout Sponge – This is a MUST HAVE!
Only a grout sponge has the correct cellular structure to remove grout from the face of tile. Don’t ruin a regular sponge by asking it to do a job for which it was not designed.
Use the grout sponge to remove excess grout from the face of the tile and the grout lines themselves. The goal is to have the grout lines filled, but not over-filled. Check the grout lines as you work to be sure they are not bulging with too much grout.
Color-coordinated tile caulk – This caulk is applied in the 1/8” space between the countertop material and the bottom row of tile, using a caulking gun.
Since we were using a white non-sanded grout, we chose a white non-sanded tile caulk. One tube of caulk is more than enough for a backsplash project. After it has been opened, keep the caulk fresh by inserting a large nail into the nozzle.
Caulking gun – Insert the tube of caulk into the caulking gun, then cut the tip at an angle with a sharp blade or knife, being careful not to cut too far down the tip.
Grout sealer – Allow the grout to cure for several days before sealing the grout. Apply the grout sealer according to the package directions.
Paper towels – Use them to wipe away any excess thin-set that you clean out of the grout lines as you set the tile. Use the paper towels to clean up any grout haze from the face of the tile after grouting. You can also use the paper towels to wipe up any drips of grout sealer from the tile after application.
5. Lay out your tiling plan -
There were two separate areas in this kitchen to be tiled: the sink/refrigerator wall and the stove wall. The sink/refrigerator side had to be started from the outside corner, working toward the inside corner and then on to the refrigerator.
Although it was obvious the sink/refrigerator wall did not need a symmetrical tile application, after examining and measuring the stove wall, it became clear that we needed to center the tile on the stove and work out from there to either side in order to keep the pattern balanced. Not every wall will require this approach, but do take a few moments to see if your kitchen is a candidate for a symmetrical application.
We used our straight-edge to draw a line from the underside of the upper cabinets to the outside corner of the kitchen wall.
6. Start laying tile -
Using the flexible broadknife, transfer a portion of thin-set to the paint tray. From there, we put a couple of blobs of thin-set on the notched trowel…
…and, at a 45-degree angle, applied it up from the scrap lumber, putting slightly more mortar on than the size of the tile:
Thin-set dries fairly quickly, so don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Check the thin-set frequently; if it is getting dry, scrape it off and apply new mortar.
The first tile to be set was a bullnose tile on the outside corner. Once that was in place, the first row of subway tile could be put down, giving each tile a little wiggle to be sure it was firmly in the mortar, eliminating any air bubbles that might prevent good adhesion.
Notice that two 1/8” spacers are placed under each tile, which will maintain the gap that will eventually be caulked.
Look closely at the pencil line coming from the underside of the upper cabinet to the outside corner. You’ll see the guide line, drawn with the help of a level and straight-edge, which will keep even the top row of the tile.
After the thin-set is allowed to dry overnight, the support board will be removed and the rest of the tile will be set, down to the baseboard. The subway tile is lightweight and the thin-set mortar is very strong, so keeping the tiles in place while working downward won’t be an issue.
Once the first dozen subway tiles were set in the first row , we began placing the second row, the glass mosaic accent tiles, which had been cut into strips, each containing two rows of tile:
We were careful to make sure each individual glass tile was firmly set into the thin-set, using the 1/16” spacers underneath each glass tile and between the glass tile and the subway tile placed on top of them.
We were very careful to check the grout lines as we went, using the slotted screwdriver to clean out any excess mortar between the grout line and the underside of the upper cabinet. It’s very important to keep the grout lines clean, so there is adequate room for the grout:
Full subway tiles were then put into place, in a traditional subway stagger-set, until the only remaining tiles were those which had to be cut down to size.
Here is a close-up detail, with the 1/8” spacers used between the bottom row of subway tiles and the Corian backsplash, as well as the 1/16” spacers between the glass tile and the subway tiles. Notice that the subway tiles have built-in spacers, eliminating the need for spacers between them:
Once the thin-set has dried overnight, remove and save the spacers for a future project.
First, notice that the bottom bullnose tile has been moved up so the mitered cut could be made. As soon as we got the initial tiles set in the first row, we measured down a bullnose tile’s length from the top outside corner and re-set the bottom bullnose, cleaning off the exposed thin-set.
After allowing the tiles to dry overnight, the rest of the wall would be filled down to the floor with tile.
Second, look at the miter formed with the top vertical and horizontal bullnose tiles: they have each been cut at a 45-degree angle to form a perfect miter, framing in the field tile. Use the speed square to mark and cut the correct angle.
The bullnose tile continues into the upper cabinet, finishing the top portion of the frame. Field tile are cut to fit into the remaining space between the bullnose tile and the rest of the field tile.
(The secret to good cuts? Use your tape to measure the opening, mark the distance on a full tile with your pencil, then use your straightedge and pencil to draw in the line along the tile. Cut the tile a little fat; you can always take a bit more off, but you can’t add anything back once it’s cut.)
After the sink/refrigerator side was tiled, we moved on to the stove side:
Notice now the bullnose was applied; a full tile was set, with a 1/8” spacer, on the Corian backsplash, below:
A second full bullnose tile, with a 45-degree cut, was set just underneath the bottom of the upper cabinet. Using a third bullnose tile, a complementary 45-degree angle was cut and both pieces were fit together to form a full-length tile. The space remaining between the two bullnose tiles was filled with a final bullnose tile, cut to size.
Once all the bullnose tiles were in place, we began laying the subway tile, starting from the center of the stove wall, which we marked with pencil on the scrap board used to support the bottom row. A subway tile was placed on that mark, then subsequent tiles were set in each direction. Once the first row was in place, the glass tile were set, then the remaining full-sized subway tiles were put down.
(Note: On the second day of tiling, we lowered the scrap wood supports behind the stove, so we could install the final two rows of tile that were needed.)
Here is the stove wall, after tiling was complete on the first day:
The second day of tiling was easy and relatively quick; only the two long sides remained, but they each contained a challenge: cutting the tile around the ogee edge of the Corian countertop.
What is an ogee edge? It’s defined as an ‘S’-curve. Here is a close-up of an ogee edge, taken from a different project:
The two ogee pieces, one on each wall, were the slowest cuts to make. How were they done? Very carefully, one small cut at a time. If you are uncomfortable with this type of cut, it would be very acceptable to make a short angled cut, instead of trying to follow the curve of the edge. After all, grout covers a multitude of sins!
After the ogee cuts had been made and the tile installed:
After the remaining tile had dried overnight, it was time to grout. Mix up the grout according to the package directions. Use the flexible broadknife to put a couple of globs of grout on the grout float, then, holding the grout at a 30-degree angle, push the grout into the grout lines, using enough pressure to fill them.
With a damp grout sponge, gently wash off any excess grout, taking care not to pull any grout out of the grout lines. Rinse the sponge frequently.
After 30 to 60 minutes, use the damp grout sponge to finesse the grout lines, carefully removing any excess grout. Remove any grout haze with paper towels.
Wait 3-7 days to seal the grout and caulk under the bottom row of tiles.The amount of time depends on the size of the grout lines. Since our grout lines were very narrow and and shallow, we waited 3 days before proceeding.
Apply the grout sealer according to the the package directions. It’s really just a matter of getting the sealer on every grout joint and wiping away the drips.
After the grout has been sealed, it’s time to caulk. Begin by placing the tube of caulk in the caulking gun. Using a sharp blade, cut the tip off the tube of caulk at an angle, being careful not to make too large an opening.
Run a thin bead of caulk in the joint where the tile and countertop meet, as well as along the outside edges of the bullnose tile. Use a damp finger to smooth the caulk into place and follow up with a damp sponge to clean up any residue.
Finish the project by re-setting the outlets and switches with the longer screws, then replace the faceplate covers.
Touch up the paint along the caulked edge of the bullnose tile.
Guess what? You have just finished tiling a backsplash! Stand back and enjoy a job well done!
What was the cost to tile this backsplash?
Sundries: $41 (We only had to buy the thin-set, grout, grout caulk, grout sealer and grout sponge; we owned or borrowed the rest of the tools and sundries from a friend)
Total cash backsplash investment: $198
**Labor estimate for a professional tiler to install the tile? $1145**
The value of the information found in ‘Installing Tile: Secrets the Pros Will Never Tell You’ is obvious! Put this knowledge to use and create your own unique tiled backsplash.
Care to share your tile adventures? Have a tiling idea but are unsure how to proceed? What area is at the top of your tiling to-do list? Share pictures, questions and thoughts in Comments, below.
(Image by whatscookingamerica.net)
Are you tired of having such messy, cluttered kitchen cabinets that you cannot find what you want when you need it? ‘How to Organize Your Kitchen: As Easy as 1,2,3′ will show you some simple tricks to eliminate the mess and clutter, leaving your cabinet contents neat and orderly, with everything easily accessible.
(Image from Microsoft Office)
Empty Your Cabinet, Editing as You Go
- Take the time to empty each cabinet completely as you begin to organize your kitchen; trying to organize a cabinet without first emptying it is simply a waste of time and an exercise in frustration.
- Check expiration dates and toss anything that is past the recommended time limit. Spices and seasonings more than one year old should be thrown.
- Wipe down the cabinet interior to remove dust, grime or any sticky residue.
- Store, sell, give away or donate unnecessary multiples of dinnerware, glassware, cookware, bakeware, utensils, knives, small appliances, etc.
- Toss chipped, cracked and broken items, since germs can be harbored in the cracks.
- Store seldom-used and seasonal items away from the kitchen or on the top shelves of cabinets, if space allows.
(Image from Microsoft Office)
Group Items by Function
One of the best ways to organize kitchen cabinets is by function: baking, food prep, lunches, breakfast, coffee/beverage, etc.
Keep baking items with any related small appliances, cake pans, loaf pans, cookie sheets, pie tins, baking utensils, etc. Keep them close to one another and close to the oven.
(A baking tin is the ideal container to corral the bits and bobs used for decorating cakes, candies, cupcakes, and other goodies.)
Put coffee, tea, and other beverage items near a water source and their specific appliances and utensils. If possible, separate the beverage area from other functions to make it easy for family members to prepare their drinks without being in the way of others.
(If you regularly drink coffee, hang 4 mugs from cup hooks screwed into the bottom of your cabinet, seen above. This will make getting your morning brew easier and save a little cabinet space. If your coffeemaker uses filters, stow them in a covered container near your beverage station.)
- If bag lunches are regularly made, set aside an area devoted to everything necessary to that function: lunch bags or boxes, thermoses, sandwich and snack bags, napkins, bagged chips, fruit, etc.
(Image via Pinterest)
(Here is a clever DIY sandwich station, complete with everything needed to put together a bag lunch.)
(Made from a discarded drawer, waxed paper, clear wrap and paper towels are stored on dowels, while napkins, ziplocs and rubber bands can be simply pulled from their cubbyholes.)
Take Advantage of Organizing Aids to Maximize Cabinet Space
This is where it gets fun!
A plethora of organizing aids exist to help you make the absolute most of your existing cabinet space:
(Images from familyhandyman.com)
- One of the simplest ways to increase your spice storage and make it more visible is to use a tension curtain rod as a ‘shelf’ to hold your smallest spices.
- Another spice storage option is to use a slide-out format. This hold 20 large or 40 small containers. Add as many units as you need to hold your spices and seasonings.
(Image from copco.com)
- A turntable for spice and seasoning storage, as seen here, can be used inside a cabinet or on the countertop, as space allows. Single and double-tiered turntables are available in plastic, stainless steel and bamboo.
(Image by Dial Industries via Amazon)
- If you have a drawer available, use it for spice storage. Make the most of the space with this expandable spice rack, which includes a tiered center area.
(Image from papertreyink.com)
- If you are handy (or you know someone who is) and you have the room, consider building shelving onto the back of a door. The shelves, shown above, allow for storage of all the spices this cook uses, but the space could easily house canned goods, loose-leaf tea or whatever you want.
(Image from Storage Dynamics)
- If built-in shelves are out of the question, maximize your space by using an over-the-door hanging shelf for spices, seasonings, etc.
- Another hanging storage option is to use shoe storage, but slip in bottles/sippy cups, cleaning supplies, etc., in lieu of shoes.
- To keep large utensils tidy, slip in two or three expandable drawer dividers, which are held in place with tension springs.
- If your kitchen drawer space is limited, edit your cutlery and utensils to the minimum, then store everything using this expandable drawer organizer by OXO Good Grips.
Use risers and racks to make the most of your storage space:
(Image from graylinehousewares.com)
- Hang this wrap station on the wall or the back of a door.
- If you have room on a cabinet or pantry shelf, this tiered wrap rack is handy.
Every cook needs knives, but the emphasis should be on good knives, not a lot of knives:
A basic knife set should include:
Paring knife for peeling, paring, and intricate work
Chef’s knife for chopping and slicing
Serrated knife for cutting bread of all kinds
Utility knife (may or may not have a serrated edge, smaller than a chef’s knife, larger than a paring knife, used for miscellaneous cutting.
(Image from itsoverflowing.com)
- This knife block is designed to be stored in a drawer.
- In-drawer knife blocks range in price from around $20, as seen above, to over $100, depending on vendor.
(Image from familyhandyman.com)
- To save drawer and counter space, keep knives out of the way, but easily accessible, with this under-the-cabinet knife rack.
(Image from brightnest.com)
- Turn your backsplash into storage space by keeping your knives on a magnetic strip.
How to best store pots and pans have long been the bane of every home cook, but it need not be an issue any longer; simply take advantage of…
(Image from graylinehousewares.com)
- The 5-tier pan organizer
- A magazine rack better utilized as a lid holder.
Other lid holder options include…
(Image from Organize It All via Amazon)
- A small standing lid holder
(Image from Lipper International via Amazon)
- Multiple bamboo standing lid holders
Bakeware, cookware, and cutting boards can all benefit from organizing:
(Image from Regal via Amazon)
- This bakeware and dish rack features a weighted base to prevent slippage when inserting and removing items.
(Image from graylinehousewares.com)
- Lighter items, such as cutting boards, muffin tins, cookie sheets, etc., can be stored using the 4-count rack, seen above.
(Image from walmart.com)
- Keep Tupperware and other plastic container lids neatly held in an ordinary dish drainer.
Miscellaneous organizing ideas, such as those seen below, can add to your kitchen’s visual appeal:
(Image via Pinterest)
- Use hanging magazine racks to store fruits and vegetables
(Image via Pinterest)
- A condiment caddy keeps often-used items close at hand
(Image from bhg.com)
- A trellis used as a home for utensils, kitchen towels and magazines
Let the ideas found in ‘How to Organize Your Kitchen: As Easy as 1,2,3′ serve as your inspiration for your kitchen storage makeover. If you do not have time to do your entire kitchen at once, start small, but do make a start. Pick one cabinet, tackle that, then stop. Resume when you have more time and be sure to give yourself credit for a job well done with each step you complete.
Have questions, need help or want to share your successful kitchen organizing experience? Please tell all in Comments below!
Do you, like so many others, including myself, struggle with weight loss plans, attempting to get to and maintain a healthy weight? Today’s START To Downsize topic discusses the ’10 Commandments for Losing Weight’, in order to learn how to begin to put into practice what thin people seem to know how to do as a matter of course.
I have begun weight loss programs countless times, occasionally getting to a goal weight but never managing to maintain it for very long. Now, however, I am at an age when the probable health risks of being overweight are looming large (no pun intended) and I feel I am at the point where taking action to control my weight is necessary for my very well-being.
While surfing the Web for another project, I came across the ’10 Commandments for Losing Weight’. I have read them before and always thought, “Yeah, yeah, whatever”. I never followed them as though my very life depended on them, but now it does, and therefore, I will.
- Commandment #1 - This is a LIFESTYLE, not a diet
Every diet or weight loss plan I have followed has always involved a short-term fix, to one degree or another. Now, I must change the way I live, how I view food, and how I eat, in order to learn and adopt a new lifestyle.
- Commandment #2 – Get Organized
In my work, I make a big point of helping people get their homes and lives downsized, organized and in order, so it only makes sense to apply it to my physical body as well.
To help me get organized, I have enlisted the aid of a smartphone app, called My Fitness Pal. Once I loaded my vital statistics, goal weight, exercise goals and lifestyle, the app calculates my ideal daily calorie intake. When I add my daily exercise, additional calories are added to my total. It is my decision whether or not I choose to use them.
I have also enlisted the aid of another weight-loss pal, my husband, and we have both downloaded the app onto our phones. Using it, we are each keeping track of our daily food and water intake, as well as any cardio and strength-training exercise.
- Commandment #3 – Eat Small
Portion control is a big part of losing weight, so we are keeping our portion sizes in check. To help us in this area, we are using smaller plates, bowls and silverware. Smaller dinnerware makes portions appear more substantial and smaller silverware more or less forces us to eat more slowly.
- Commandment #4 – Learn to Leave Food on Your Plate
I understand that learning to leave food on my plate is to help me take control over compulsive eating, but since I am already limiting my daily calories, I am not sure I am willing to leave anything uneaten on my plate. Since this concept is new(ish) for me, does anyone have any thoughts on this that they would care to share? I would welcome your input…
- Commandment #5 – Never Feel Deprived
I am relieved to see this idea stated as a commandment and I intend to follow it to the letter. I know from experience that the minute I feel like I might be missing out on a yummy treat, I start to think about it constantly. Once I am thinking about what I cannot have, I want it all the more, until I finally break down and have it, end up feeling guilty, have more, and the downward spiral continues.
Since I am now journaling my food intake, I can make room in my daily calorie allowance for an occasional sweet treat, plan for a special-occasion meal, or a restaurant outing.
- Commandment #6 – Make a Meal Out of It
This one will require some reprogramming on my part, since it has been all too easy to eat in front of the TV or in the car as we eat on the run. I intend to start setting the table and eating there, sans TV, learning anew to engage in good old-fashioned conversation as I eat with my husband. What a concept!
- Commandment #7 – Eat Slowly
I have known for years that eating slowly allows the body enough time to achieve a state of fullness. Eating slowly will take some conscious effort, but if my husband and I work together, I know we can learn to do it successfully and continually.
- Commandment #8 – Enjoy Your Food
Food is meant to be a pleasure, not a punishment. Too often of late I have eaten whatever was quick and easy, which did not necessarily mean it was tasty or good for me.
I do enjoy cooking, so I intend to make the time to put together some appealing and satisfying meals. Since our schedule fluctuates greatly, I will try to do the bulk of my food prep at one time, then freeze individual portions for mealtime ease.
- Commandment #9 – Move It!
I know exercise plays a vital role in getting and keeping weight off, so assembling an exercise plan that my husband and I can and will stick to is vital for our successful long-term weight loss, maintenance and new thin lifestyle.
We do enjoy walking together, which can be done pretty much anywhere, any time. We know we have to incorporate some sort of strength training, which we have always found to be a bit of a bore. We are investigating a couple of options, but welcome any ideas you have found to be successful and fun.
- Commandment #10 – Get Enough Sleep
This last commandment surprised me a little, but upon reflection I realized that whenever I was tired, I was more susceptible to turning to food for some quick energy. I am a person who needs a good night’s sleep to be at my best, so I will have to learn to go to bed early in order to be rested the next day.
I would greatly welcome and any all comments, hints, tips and strategies you have used or are using to lose weight and change your lifestyle for the better. Please feel free to share your ideas below in Comments!
Have you put off appraising your antique tchotchkes, so you don’t have a clue how much they are worth in today’s market? If that’s the case, read the ’4 Warning Signs That Your Antiques May Already be Losing Their Value’ so you can equip yourself properly.
When I work with downsizing clients, going through their homes with them, they often show me pieces they have inherited from someone in their family and tell me these pieces have great monetary value.
After consulting with various estate sale and antique dealers, I have learned four warning signs that your antiques may already be losing their value:
1. Most items are just old, not really antique – Oftentimes, people misunderstand what actually qualifies as an ‘antique’.
According to Webster’s dictionary, an antique is defined as a “work of art, piece of furniture, or decorative object made at an earlier period and according to various customs laws at least 100 years ago” .
More often that not, people’s perceived antiques are not actually a hundred years old and therefore cannot be truly considered to be antiques; they are just old. Items that are just old generally do not have as much value as those which meet the true criteria of antiques.
2. Most items are not in good condition – As with anything, if an item is in good condition, it is worth more than if it is in poor condition.
Most of the items my clients show me are not antique, nor are they in good condition. This is especially true when it comes to furniture they have inherited.
Much of the furniture passed down to them was probably purchased in the 1930s to 1970s, most commonly from Sears, Montgomery Wards or some other large retailer.
Even though the furniture was cared for by the original owners, it was used for decades, because that was what people of that generation did. As a result, by the time it was passed down, the pieces showed definite signs of wear.
3. Most items are not scarce and/or do not fit today’s homes – Very little of the furniture I see handed down to my clients is unique, hand-crafted or one-of-a-kind; most of it was manufactured and sold in mass quantities. Without having the benefit of being scarce or rare, an item’s value plummets.
In addition, today’s homes are larger in scale than older homes, requiring furniture to be larger to fit these new spaces. This has resulted in less demand for older, smaller furniture, making all of it worth less.
4. There is simply too much supply and more coming every day – Another factor contributing to the continuing decline in value of many items is the simple fact that there is too much supply and too little demand.
Since January 1, 2011, there have been 10,000 people EVERY DAY turning 65 in the US, and that rate will continue daily from now through 2030. There will be literally tens of millions of people retiring.
As these hordes of people retire, many of them will move to smaller homes, requiring them to get rid of their excess stuff. If their heirs do not want or cannot use their things, these items are sold for whatever price can be gotten.
One needs only to peruse Craigslist or visit a consignment or antique shop to see the enormous amount of used furniture and household goods being added to an already burgeoning pile of stuff for sale.
With that being said, where does that leave you and your antiques?
- I seriously recommend you get appraisals as soon as possible for any antique you think may be truly valuable. If that is not possible, use the Internet as a starting place to get an approximate value. Check eBay, 1st Dibs and other online auction sites to find items similar to yours in order to get an idea of a possible price. It is much better to know what your items are worth than to continue to wonder if they have any value, or worse, think they have value when they do not.
- Make some time to sort through all of your belongings now, while it is your decision and not someone else’s, and edit out those things you don’t need, use or absolutely love.
- Ask your family now if they will want any of your possessions. They do not have to take anything now, but it will help you and the rest of the family to know everyone’s desires.
- Make a list of who wants what, then send a copy of the list to everyone involved, so there is no confusion later.
- After you have winnowed your belongings to the best of the best, enjoy everything, use it all, make the most of it.
That way nothing you have, including your antiques, will ever lose its value to you.
Have any questions or have something to share? Use the Comment section below to tell all.
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