Dust Bunnies

I’m hoarding dust bunnies. Who knew? I guess I should have, after all, I haven’t seen beneath my sofa or dressers in the almost four years I’ve lived here. But when my husband and I moved the bookshelves out of the study, there they were – tiny little bunnies all snuggled against the wall.

They weren’t very cute.

They make me sneeze, wheeze, and cough at night.

The perfect cure would be to rid our home of carpet. Bunnies love carpet, burrowing down, waiting to attack allergy-sufferers. Bunnies love to tuck deep inside the fibers, hidden amongst pet dander, mold, and even the little pollens that float in from outdoors.

Which makes carpet really, really gross. Here are a few (not-so-fun) facts about carpet:

-An infant can swallow 10 grams of dust a day (by crawling on the floor). Ten grams! Yuk. (home.howstuffworks.com – sourced from Green Guide)

-Dry vacuuming doesn’t pick up dust mites. (Webmd.com) In fact, when using a standard vacuum filter, allergens may escape back into the room. Nice.

According to carpet manufacturers, carpet is not a problem for allergy sufferers. They argue that carpet can be cleaned, and even site a study in which the incidence of allergies went up when carpet was replaced with hardwood floors.

I would love to know more about those claims. For instance, what is the carpet cleaned with? If it’s chemicals, is that better? Doesn’t that affect people with asthma the same, or more, than the mites themselves?

And what about that study? I have a hard time believing those were true hardwood floors. It’s hard to come by real wood anymore. Most of it is manufactured, and filled with all kinds of toxic glues. I wonder what that does to someone with allergy and asthma problems.

I wish I knew the answers to those questions, but I don’t. And honestly, even if I dug really deep, I’m not sure I’d ever get the real facts.

But I do know this, when I am around carpet, I have more problems. I sneeze and cough, get headaches, am stuffed up, and wheeze at night. No one can tell me that carpet isn’t a problem.

I’d love to get hardwood floors. But there are two problems. First, they are expensive. Second, like I said before, it’s hard to find real wood. It is engineered, veneer, plywood, and horrible glues that cause their own set of problems.

So for now, I am stuck with carpet fibers that clutch the dust bunnies. I will sneeze and wheeze until I can figure out how to rid my home of tiny critters.

And maybe I will have to move my furniture more often – before the dust bunnies have a chance to repopulate.

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My Eight Favorite Frugal/Budget Sites

What began as a journey into minimalism turned into a road of simplicity. Simplicity turned towards frugality, and frugality into budgeting. Funny how a path you think is so simple can take so many turns.
But I’m happy it has, and so is our bank account.

I’m not even close to being a money/budget/frugal expert, but I do know this, once I began saving, I couldn’t stop. To help me along the way, I enlisted the help of a few experts online. Listed below are a few of my favorites. As you explore them, don’t be surprised if you find hints of wisdom about minimalism and simplicity. It seems they are all tied together.

My Favorite Frugal/Budget Sites:

Living Well, Spending Less – What’s not to like? Ruth has it all. I especially love her “smart money” section. If you can’t find what you are looking for on this site, it probably doesn’t exist.

Wise Bread – I don’t know how long this site has been around. It feels like forever. In any case, it is absolutely filled to the max with everything from personal finance to career, with college stuff thrown in the mix. So much information, you will need days to explore this site.

A Cultivated Nest – Cute and well-put-together, this site is perfect if you need ideas on frugal projects for your home or garden. But check it out for yourself, there’s even more to explore on this site.

The Dollar Stretcher – Can’t have a list of frugal sites without mentioning stretcher.com. It is everything you can imagine about finance – budgeting, saving money, complete with categories like college and retirement. The topics in the food section alone overwhelm me – from babies to coupons to leftovers, and everything in between. If you want to save money, this site is for you.

Little House Living – More about simplicity than frugality. But like I said before, they kind of go hand-in-hand. Merissa is adorable, sharing loads of tips on saving money and recipes from scratch. Wish I had half her ambition.

Living on a Dime – Another great site with tons of frugal living advice, recipes, and even a section on staying organized.

Frugal and Thriving – A well-designed site, full of information, everything from saving money on food to paying bills, and much in between. One of the reasons I enjoy this site is because she recognizes the importance of a simple life.

And Then We Saved – Anna had a load of debt, $24,000 in fact. Within 15 months, it was gone. If anyone knows how to scrimp and save, it is Anna.

There you have it, my eight favorite frugal living/budget sites. What are your favorites? Share them in the comments below.

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The Simple Key to a Beautiful Home

My husband and I didn’t own much when we were first married, an old flowered sofa that took up one wall, a stand on which our tiny television sat, a big scooped blue chair that promptly fell apart when someone sat on it, a tiny metal table with drop leaves plus two chairs for the kitchen, and a (fake) brass bed whose paint was peeling. Sounds hideous, doesn’t it?

But we didn’t care. We were young and in love, and just needed something on which to sit, sleep, and eat. And sometimes, you when you have nothing, you will take anything.

Time went by, and pieces fell apart. We grew up, and so did our furniture.

We moved into a nice apartment building, bought a formal oak dining set, and a living room set complete with a large brass lamp.

The furniture was nice, expensive, and just what everyone expected of us. But for me, it was a bunch of wood and material taking up space.

I never loved the pieces we owned, they were a reflection of what I thought others expected of me. They were formal, grand, straight-backed, not-cushy at all, and none of it my style. Sometimes, I wonder if they were purchased to prove we could, and to impress others.

Our furniture moved with us into our new home. We purchased a couple of indestructible loveseats for our family, ones that two boys and their friends could never destroy. They weren’t comfortable (hard armrests you couldn’t lay on), and not pretty, but they worked.

Barren spots resided in the corners of each room, and though my husband and I never minded, it wasn’t long before well-meaning family members filled the empty corners and walls with their own discards. We never had the heart, or the guts, to say ‘no.’

Our house quickly became a mismatched orphanage, complete with spindly-legged peach chairs, a large curio cabinet holding cups and saucers, a grandfather clock, and other random pieces. It was pretty, but none of it was my style (or my family’s, for that matter).

Our home became a house of formalities, a place I didn’t feel I belonged. I tried to fit into our house, wearing pencil skirts, perming my hair, and putting on too much make-up. But I never felt like me. I had become a tangled mess of emotions, a simple hippie trapped inside a formal body, and inside a formal house. I even tried to change my family, which of course never worked.

Everything around me felt foreign. When I closed my eyes, I imagined a new home, complete with a deep-sinking sofa and a place on which to rest my feet. I wanted to rescue old wooden tables, strip their paint like flaky skin, and make them new again. I wanted comfort.

One day, we moved far away. Most of our furniture was left behind. The few pieces we brought were eventually given to a thrift store. We purchased a sinking sofa, and a large, cushy chair. But by then, I no longer knew who I was.

It is only now that I’m beginning to figure it out. With each furniture purchase, I look for a reflection of my personality. I look for simplicity, comfort, and love. I still make furniture mistakes, but I think I’m getting closer to who I really am. The good news is, in each mistake I have learned a lesson.

Lessons Learned:
I have learned that no matter what sits in my house, it is beautiful when it becomes a home.

I learned that even when I hated my furniture, I loved my home. I never thought about furniture when family was near, while sitting on a hard sofa reading a book together, or while listening to a large upright piano being played by a child. I never thought about it while eating pizza and playing games around an oak table. Even while leaning against a hard oak loveseat, watching movies and eating popcorn, the furniture was erased from my mind.

I learned that life was never in the clock or the chairs, in whether my furniture was formal or relaxed, it was in my family.

I learned that when family was near, that’s when I knew who I really was.

Our possessions may be a reflection of our personalities, but our family reflects our soul. I guess that’s all that ever mattered.

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What if There Were No Dreamers?

I once was a dreamer, an imaginer, a creator of all I envied, ripping old photos from magazines, making books of rooms I wanted: bedrooms with castle-like beds, covered in feathery blankets on white ivory sheets; teal pillows that sparkled beneath romantic chandeliers; wispy curtains billowing in the wind.

But I’m totally over that now. Can you tell?

Okay, maybe not totally, but I’m trying to be.

But the problem is, I can’t stop dreaming. I dream of colors, of vintage green cabinets and soft yellow walls, cream-colored sofas covered with flush rose blankets. I dream of red wooden stools and tall metal lamps. I dream. And I dream. And I dream.

I try to stop my dreams, but I can’t. They run with the wind, chasing things I’ve never seen, and even some I have – flowery bowls to set on a stand, antique lighting to hang in my study, tables holding flowers in large ceramic vases, large round mirrors in romantic bathroom havens.

I am a cloud-in-the-sky, head-floating-high, dreamer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my home, my office with my collection of books, the big soft chair in the corner of the living room, the large cozy blanket, the quirky pictures on the wall.

But my house is bland, beige walls left by painters nearly four years ago. Subdued, quiet, unpolished. The beige of brand new house.

So I imagine, and dream of walls that fizzle and sparkle and pop, of laughter sprinkled across a room, of a child’s personality tucked between cracks in the floor. A house tinted with character, washed in life.

Is it wrong to dream? To imagine? To create?

What if we had a world without dreamers, where would be? Would our world ever change, ever alter, ever grow? Would our world be as lifeless as beige colored walls in a newly developed home?

Much of our home remains beige. Only three small rooms have been given life. But our home is still vibrant, filled with humor and laughter, covered in dreams and personality, if only because it is our home.

I will keep on dreaming, imaging, creating, because I am a dreamer, imagining a home with a kaleidoscope of color.

Always dream, create, imagine. Without dreamers, where would our world be?

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I Don’t Like Tiny Houses

I don’t like tiny houses. You know, those little boxes that are popping up everywhere, 100 square feet, 300 square feet, topped with lofts you can’t even stand in. Those things drive me crazy. Sometimes, I wonder if they aren’t a fad, like bell-bottom jeans and glitter eyeshadow. One article I read even stated the tiny house movement was doomed to fail. (Read it here at www.hipdiggs.com)

I understand the concept of a tiny house. They save the owners money, on taxes, mortgage, and the actual building of the home. (Though if the family grows, wouldn’t they just need to build another bigger home?)

And the amount of stuff needed to place inside a tiny home is much less than a larger one. (Except for those few who managed to find storage in all kinds of crazy places in their homes. Not kidding. Watch a tiny home show and see how creative some people are in finding closets for their dozens of shoes, and shelves for their thousands of books.)

But all that aside, tiny houses, whether they save money or not, whether or not they are better for the planet, are not for me. I need space, room to breathe, to feel the air around me, to dance and move. To be.

I want a place for family and friends. And in a tiny home, I don’t think there is room for any of that.

My husband and I do not live in a tiny home. Our house is 1800 square feet, and while we may be criticized for living large for only two people, our home isn’t filled with a bunch of stuff. But what it is filled with is life.

There is room in our home for children to play, to bowl in the hallway, toss airplanes down the stairs. There is room for children to jump and dance, paint at the table, create in the study.

In our home, we have a place for guests to stay, a table to sit around, to visit, sip tea, drink wine, laugh, talk, and play games.

I appreciate the tiny house movement. I can’t predict whether it will stay, or whether it will fade away like many fads do. But I can guarantee this – I will never be a part of it.

What do you think about the tiny house movement?

As always, please feel free to share this article with others.

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