january wrap up


The only thing blooming in my garden right now.



I think I will try to end each month with a wrap up of sorts, you know looking back and seeing how things went. What worked and what didn't.

1.  Ok, so I think January has to go down as a 5 star month for my finances and I have you and the blog to thank. Staying committed was much easier with you along.  I looked at our bank statements from last January and we spent an average of $75 a week at the grocery stores and were also eating out a lot. So starting the new year like this is so motivating. All the money we saved this month was added to the principal of our mortgage. I wish I had woken up financially speaking, sooner. And I'm not just talking about grocery shopping.  I just wish paying my mortgage off had been a priority earlier in my life.  It always just seemed like such a large debt that would never go away but now I realize it is a lot like that saying...how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

2.  In February I will try shopping the farmers markets and see if I can buy local and still keep my expenses down.  We will see how that goes.  I don't know how you guys feel about me continuing the series.  It is an eye opener but I can see where it is boring too.  I really don't want this to become just a food blog.  So let me know what you think.

3.  Another thing I got from this grocery series is that seeing my groceries laid out like that really opened my eyes to exactly what I am eating.  For instance, the chips.  They went into my cart so easily.  But then had to be in that photo I took.  I realized I really don't want to be eating a bag of chips every week. Wait let me rephrase that...I'd love to eat a bag of chips every week but health-wise, I shouldn't.

4.  Also being so mindful about my groceries spilled over into every other aspect of my life (no shopping anywhere) so savings, savings everywhere.

5.  The rose garden is done.  All the roses have been pruned, new wells dug around each one and they've all been fed. What a job.

6.  A huge, huge thank you to everyone who tried one of the recipes I posted and to all of you who left comments.  The comment section of this blog is better than the blog itself.  I'm telling you this blog is nothing without you.  Thank you for putting up with my blather.  Seriously.

7.  And lastly, here are some links that I came across this month I'd like to share with you...

A reader here, Ashley, put up this link in the comment section.  I've added it to my Vegan Resource List.  What a fabulous link it is for vegan's or wanna be's.  You guys often ask questions that I can't answer and this site is a wealth of good info. Vegan Health.

Just because I watch this at least once a week and will never tire of it...My Friend Maya.

A peek into a friends kitchen storage.  Such Glamorous Simplicity.

Yuki's beautiful dining room.

A new blog I found, again through the comments here. Such A Beautiful Piece of Writing.

Are you thinking of going gray?  Stephen Andrew wrote an excellent post about it here.

And that my friends is a January wrap.  Tomorrow is the first day of February I will hopefully be back with my super bowl sandwich. (!)



103 comments

  1. Janet Thank you for your blog. I enjoy it so much. I wondered if you might do a post about what you carry in your travel/makeup/skin care kit. I just went to Palm Desert and packed way too much stuff and thought I bet Janet is more of a minimalist than I am with skin care and travel necessities thereby simplifying her packing for trips. Would love a peek inside your travel kit! Thank you! Debbie

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  2. Good Morning! I like the idea of this post...to have it all laid out and see your accomplishments as a whole. You have been a great friend and this blog has been a pleasure to read for the last couple of years. It has really grown into something wonderful. What you say here is motivating and that's a terrific and powerful quality to have. ♥

    Sarah xo

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing my post!
    I have found your grocery series fascinating. Especially because you were totally honest. It's inspirational and challenging to me to think that cutting a grocery bill like that can be done. I finished my taxes yesterday and was almost in tears realizing just how much money I waste. Good thing I bought my Le Creuset already because I am going to try and cut out my spending on non essentials.
    As for that elephant you're eating...I assume it's tofu? :) hope you have a great weekend!

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    1. THIS:

      http://www.simplysogood.com/2010/03/crusty-bread.html

      is the reason I will be buying a Le Creuset as well, even though I don't cook. Im with you that the honesty is inspirational, and challenging. Perfectly stated....

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    2. Thanks! Yes my Le Cruset is a little big for bread...maybe I should buy a smaller one too... :) looks like I need a shock collar for every time I decide to buy something I don't need!
      Janet makes bread in her Dutch oven too and it always looks gorgeous.

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  4. Hi Janet! I'm definitely enjoying your posts on recipes and groceries. It's something we all have to do, so we can all relate. If you are worried about it becoming a food blog, perhaps you can also do posts on other areas of life where there is room to save. Also, I remember a post way back about how you used to live in a big house. Maybe you could touch more on that and how you got from there to here, since most of us are probably closer to there. Have a fabulous weekend and enjoy the Super Bowl!

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  5. Please don't stop any posts that involve saving money. We're about to become a one income household and I could use all the tips I can get. Thanks!!!!!!!!

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  6. I know not everyone loves excel as much as engineers do, but my husband and I had an excel sheet that we maintained while we were paying off our mortgage. It had one curved line for the "old" mortgage pay off and a big, bold, bright red line for the new mortgage payoff. So every time we overpaid, we not only could see our new lower balance, but we could see how many months sooner we were going to be paid off. It was a great motivator for us. It also calculated how much extra principal it took to pay off an extra month. In the early months, it was a huge deal to see that $200 extra would save us a $900 mortgage payment down the road.

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  7. Janet, it's amazing how everyone loves homey stuff like this, I think keep doing it but add in other things too, if you want, don't get locked down.
    Glamorous simplicity that's so funny, because that truly is my style, I love glamour but must have simple or I go mad!

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  8. I have really enjoyed your January posts, Janet. And without consciously deciding to take a page from your book, I still seem to have absorbed what you said and have been approaching cooking and shopping differently.

    I know to each her own, but I personally think that a bag of chips a week is not a dealbreaker and that if you enjoy them, you should simply savour them!

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  9. Gail, in northern CaliforniaJanuary 31, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    My 73 year old husband died last July. Feeling helpless, hopeless and lost without him, your blog inspires me to take control of what's left of my life. While my income has been reduced dramatically, there are ways I can save money and truly exist on my own eating healthy. After watching that marvelous film My Friend Maya, it might not be too late for this 69 year old to start an exercise program too.
    A personal benefit to paying down a mortgage. My husband’s professional career ended January 1, 1995 when he retired.  I had been paying down our mortgage as fast as I could because I could see the terrible toll work and commuting was taking on him, mentally and physically.  In his mid-40’s he had collapsed at home while working on a project at the computer.  Doctors suspected a mini-stroke but he suffered no residual effects that we could see but I was worried.  Then when the company offered 5 years to their years of service tally, we decided he should take it.  Even though he was only 56, I believe it saved his life and we never regretted his early retirement.  That decision would have been impossible had we not paid off the mortgage.

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    1. I am sorry for your loss. Your story is extremely inspiring, thank you. We are working hard to pay off our mortgage too. Peace of mind is priceless :)

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    2. Gail,

      I remember you from when you used to read my old blog, HouseThingsILike. I'm so sorry to hear about your husband. That must be hard. Your attitude, though, is positive and strong.

      Stay well,
      Kathleen

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    3. Im so sorry. I love that Janet's calming blog helps us connect with others. Hugs.

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    4. gail, it is stories like yours that are so inspiring to me. maya is my hero and inspiration too. we should all be so lucky to live such a simple, peaceful life. good luck my friend.

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    5. I am so struck by your poignant comment and very sorry for your loss. I can tell you that my parents were self-employed for 40 years with a home-based business. They were very conservative and kept the business small. They could have made many home improvements but did not. They had inheritances and banked the money, spending only a tiny bit of it and instead lived on the interest. When my dad died and left my mom a disabled widow, he had over $250,000 cash in the bank and owned his own home, which they had never borrowed against. Their Social Security income wasn't huge and he did have a small veteran's pension. So, yes, when he died, she's down to the one SS income, no vet's pension and we had to start nipping at a little more (then a little more, and a little more...) of the savings to help her get by; then it was liquidating the life insurance. Once her health really started to go downhill and I simply couldn't physically take care of her anymore myself...she was dead weight (long story)...and still refusing to leave the house, we had to bring in outside paid caregivers, which took the rest of the banked money. She wound up with 24-hr care in the home which is the most expensive way a disabled senior can live; it takes a 'village' and we didn't have one, so you have to pay for one. The bottom line is, in the five years she survived Dad, she used up all the money; then, still of sound mind, decided to reverse mortgage her home. When she died earlier this year, there was little left of the loan from which to draw and her long-term care insurance, which Dad had paid thru the nose for but which was a great help, was reaching its conclusion (a policy which was finite and only for so much money whereas the ones my husband and I have since bought and paid for over ten years are lifetime policies, now paid up and with a built-in inflationary clause). She had said, "I'll use every last dime, then have to go on the 'dole,' go into a nursing home as indigent and just hope I'll die beforehand." This is very nearly what happened. Baby boomers especially, and I'm one of them, do not know what's ahead as life is lived long and we run out of money in the last few years of life. But if Mom hadn't owned her home outright, she wouldn't have gotten that last almost-two years of comfort she so sought by remaining with care at home. As her only child, I was left with a real mess and no money to work with...and probate is still not closed...but I'm to inherit her house soon, will finance a new loan to pay off the reverse mortgage people and then have the home hopefully shelter me for a few years yet just like it did them for almost 60 years (it's my childhood home). Never am I more interested in the comments and Janet's post about paying down a mortgage. I've got at least five years til hubby retires and I will be making it a priority because not only do I not want a mortgage to zap our meager retirement savings, I want this house to be a financial safety net for me like it was for Mom...although I would never recommend reverse mortgaging to anybody unless you absolutely, absolutely have no choice, which was our predicament. HUD calls it "use your home to stay at home" but, when it's gone, it's gone...

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    6. Vicki you should write a blog. I would definitely read it. Inspiring story.

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    7. Vicki, quite the cautionary tale. My in-laws currently have care givers 10 hrs. a day but at some point it will increase and it currently is costing almost 8k a month. My husband handles all of their personal finances and we were just discussing this a.m. how we think some of his siblings are banking on a large inheritance. Yes, my in-laws currently have money but in the end a lot of it could be used up on their care, depending on how many more years they are around. And with 7 heirs, it is definitely not something to count on.

      I also know someone that is definitely counting on their inheritance...they have mismanaged their money for years, borrowing money off their home equity so they could "keep up with the Jones". (just got back from a cruise they could not afford) I'm sure we all know people like that!

      Linda

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    8. LRS4Amanda: I had a whole reply going here...it got wiped when I hit Publish. Suffice to say, I wish you good luck; yes, nobody should count on anything until the day it's put in their hand, or bank account. It's the parents' money first, not the kids'...but when you know you have inheritance possibly coming your way, it's easy to feel a bit possessive/disappointed. (Just being honest!)

      What surprised me was how few of my friends or relatives had ever wound up being a family caregiver. It made it hard for them to relate to what was going on for me and my husband. I was often Debbie Downer...caught myself at that, but my life was so dominated by caregiving, I couldn't talk about anything else...so I gradually withdrew from my friends. The isolation wasn't good.

      Linda, my advice to you is to continue to get the help you need for your in-laws; don't try to do so much yourselves (or your husband will lose his sanity...and it's not right with all of your relatives that he has to have the full responsibility, because being completely in charge of another adult's complicated life is a really, really hard, mentally & physically depleting job with never a day off, never a weekend, never a vacation...unless you control it and stop putting your own life on a backseat). I have a friend who has brought her alzheimer's-ridden mother into her home but she does put her mother in respite care at an assisted-living facility from time to time, so that she (my friend) and her husband can get away, take a vacation, have some relief. I felt I could never do this...my mother would go so downhill with the slightest changes; she was quite physically disabled from the beginning; it was always a lot of care, not just a little that she needed. But I should have done it for myself; had some outlets, forced myself to work on a hobby to distract; anything. We love our parents; we try to do what's the right thing. But we can't lose ourselves in the interim. And the parents don't mean to take so much of you or to be selfish but they get to a point to where they are just trying to get thru a day, with disability and death closing in, losing ground, losing independence. So frightening for them...

      I've made my peace with all of it. My parents were good to me; I wanted to give back. It was just all a lot more than I ever expected; intense, hard...I had the constant worry of running out of money and how I was going to keep Mom in good care; it needled at me all the time. Did I wish I had the inheritance? Of course, a thousand times. But my folks had helped me 'way too much over the years already, embarrassingly so. I'm just glad we didn't lose their house back to the bank...that I still got the chance to inherit it and try to get it out of hock so I can live in it. See? My folks are still helping me; I can live better here. I got enough. It took me awhile to get okay with that...but I got enough. As kids, we shouldn't expect anything!

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    9. Thanks for your reply Vicki...my husband and I had a couple family meetings with his siblings a few years ago and it didn't take long to figure out that they just wanted to hire the help that was needed. And very little time was spent talking about them and their care, one sibling in particular would end up talking about their belongings, and how she wanted to start cataloging what things are worth, blah blah blah. My husband and I ended up doing everything for almost 2 years (doctors appts., light cleaning, bathing, food, etc.) until my MIL fell and then the hospital said she couldn't go home until they had care givers. Both my MIL and FIL have dementia as well. It took over 6 months for them to adjust to having in home care, my FIL would call the house 6-8 times a day yelling at my husband. It was awful! He even was going to have him taken off as executor! Blamed my husband for EVERYTHING. Now we have 2 good girls working there that they seem to like.

      I worry about my husband, on top of their personal affairs his parents still own a restaurant that my husband has to be involved in. (mostly the financial aspects) But at least he pays himself for that. On a positive note, my husband is a teacher and gets a month off 3 times a year. He needs it!

      You are so right, kids shouldn't expect anything. Even though in all likelihood we will get a decent inheritance, we are planning for our retirement as though we will not. So whatever we do get in the end will be a bonus. My husband is a little freaked out after seeing what it costs to stay in one's home in old age so that is why we are try to put away as much as we can. At least we only have one child to inherit our estate, so if we have to use some of our money there will probably be a decent amount left for her. Another reason we want to have enough saved is so we can hire help and not have to rely on her to be our care giver!

      Have a good night. :)

      Linda

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    10. Oh and one more thing...bless you and your friend for taking care of your Moms. I personally could never do it full-time, part-time was enough. Once when I was grumbling to my husband about his siblings not being involved, he told me "at least we won't have anything to feel guilty about". As the saying goes "more pennies from heaven"!

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    11. Yes, most people don't realize what all this stuff costs; surely we didn't, although I feel we and Dad SHOULD have known more. I was wrapped up in my own life with a certain amount of denial. I tried to talk with Dad about it later on but he always thought he'd survive Mom, saying "We'll figure it out at the time." With us, like what happens to a lot of people, it all descended very suddenly, too, with Dad's heart attack/failure; one day was one life, and the next day everything completely changed...for over five years. We weren't prepared. You jump in, muddle thru, wondering how long everything is going to last.

      Mother spent well over $100,000 a year to stay home with paid help. Most people can't sustain that kind of expense for very long, if at all. My and my husband's eyes are wide open on this subject because we nowhere near have the kind of assets/savings my parents had, nor are either of us going to allow the other to get worn down with caregiving in the home (we're also childless). We've had our talks about it, we know how much we need to save, we did our Wills and health directives when I was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year...and then we move forward, try to put that stuff to the side and concentrate on living; because life really IS beautiful and we can't waste a day of it!

      (Janet, thank you for letting Linda and I talk a little bit back and forth here..also me and Gail...
      didn't mean to stray from your post.)

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    12. I'm very sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis. I hope that you are doing well now and continue to be in good health. My husband and I have yet to make out a will or health care directive, we know it is something we need to do, but yet keep putting it off. :/

      (Yes Janet, my apologies... and to Gail too)

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    13. carry on ladies. i'm glad you are connecting. that's the point of blogging right?

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    14. Linda, no worries; I'm good. They say the cancer was eradicated with the surgery; I was still in Stage 1; really lucky. But that's why I'm also trying to improve my overall health because I don't want to take any chances. We should try to be healthy for all reasons anyway...like Maia. As I figured/feared(!), Maia is now my new obsession/inspiration. I googled her and found out some interesting things about her and said of her; there's a Facebook page on the film which is public domain (I don't do Facebook and they usually want you to log in) and I loved hearing her son talk about her. The short film is ALL over the web, obviously touching a deep chord in a lot of people. I feel blessed that Janet posted the film on this blog! (Thank you, Janet...for SO much!)

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  10. Your grocery series is very inspiring. As a recent retiree I am adjusting to living in a simpler fashion. Spending less on groceries is one of my top priorities and eating out less because I am in the kitchen more often as I am not at work so it makes sense that we can save money on food.
    I enjoy your blog and feel that you should post whatever is in your mind and heart to share.
    I plan to visit those links you have shared with us....I'd prefer a chocolate elephant to a tofu one any day.

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  11. Love your idea of a monthly wrap up. Inspired by you I've been shopping at a cheaper than normal supermarket (sadly nothing remotely like your 99c shop though) this month and have been taking my lunch in to work. Only small steps but they've made a difference.
    We ate the mushroom bourguignon last Friday. Soo good. It's cold and rainy again this Friday and I so wish we were having it again.

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  12. Blather? Hey I resemble that remark...I'd love to go Vegan. Leo...? Not so much. Hmmmm maybe I can ship him off to Utah. ;)
    Love ya,
    jeanne

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  13. Congratulations to your strong intro in 2014!

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  14. I have been using vegan beauty products, laundry products, cleaning products, some food products etc. etc. for 3 years but decided this year I would take the next step from vegetarian to vegan all because of your blog! even though I no longer purchase anything made from an animal I have decided that by the end of 2014 I will veganize my home & wardrobe. Thank You Janet for always inspiring! ruby w

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  15. I for one am voting a big YES for keeping the grocery store series. It has personally been very beneficial for me. Now when I eat and shop I am much more mindful. I repeat little phrases like "eat what you have" and "do you really need that?"

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  16. Thanks for the wonderful links! You are inspiring us with your blog and others! I am with you on the money saving - thanks to really being mindful, we spent $400 less in January than we did the same month last year. We have vowed to save $500 in February. I am loving the new simplicity in my life, the biggest of which is freedom from "want" which is WAY different than the human rights definition (which is the correct one!)

    Lots of love!

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  17. I love reading about the measures you take to save money. We are vegetarian, almost vegan, and that certainly does simplify the grocery list and save money. You were on my mind as I did my shopping this morning. Thanks for your blog. It is inspiring.
    Kathleen

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  18. Hi Janet - Thank you for the wrap up. Love it. You said that I could throw out some topics for you.. Here are some that I'd love for you to touch on:

    What non-food items you buy at the 99 cent store? and if you can't find it there and its an essential do you go to some other discount store like Walmart?
    Gift buying for family members/inlaws/friends/grandchildren? How do you handle?
    Love to see pictures of your basement! I know this sounds funny but I have a basement too and I'd love to see it. I'm really curious too because you say that you can "shop" down there.
    You have 3 boys - what did you do with all their memories? Your memories? ie: Childhood books, special papers, trophies, special items given to you when you were a mom etc. etc.
    What does the inside of your purse look like? How many purses do you own? Do you carry a purse?
    Traveling out of town for a weekend - how do you pack lightly? What does your cosmetic travel bag look like?
    What are your hobbies?
    What do you do for entertainment? If so, how do you do it frugally?
    How do you say "No" to people?
    How do you make sure you are not overscheduled in your week/month?
    How do you handle when a girlfriend or family member gives you a gift and you don't like it/need it/want it. Do you have any guilt giving the item away?
    Do you have a junk drawer?
    What is a typical day for you? Your routine?
    How do you store your paperwork? Insurance, taxes, coupons, manuals, etc.
    How many kitchen gadgets do you have? ie: food processor? Mixer? Ricer maker? waffle maker? food hydrator?
    crockpot, coffee grinder, popcorn maker, fondue pot, griddle, salad spinner, electric tea pot, milk frother? etc. etc. You get the idea. If fact, I own all of these. and probably more :(
    What does your garage look like inside? Are you in charge of your garage and its contents? Do you have that pared down too?
    If you won the lottery - would you want a 2nd home?
    How often have you gotten rid of something only to find out that you made a HUGE mistake and shouldn't have?
    Do you and your husband agree on your simple lifestyle? Are you on same page?
    Do you have Netflix or a DVR?
    Retirement nest egg - Not the amount of course.. ha ha.. just how you've handled that or are handling that?
    Will you ever consider Instagram? Facebook? Twitter?
    Do you own a smart phone? If not, why?

    Ok, that's it for NOW. after you are done with all these topics I'll have some more for you. LOL. Thanks Janet!!!! Jennifer

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    1. Wow! Lots of questions Jennifer - no pressure Janet... (haha) :)

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    2. Hi Jennifer, Most of these questions/topics are already in Janet's blog. You can start at the beginning and read a little each day and find most of the answers. I have read her entire blog more than once, and it's like a great novel. Hope this helps ;)

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    3. jennifer you are going to keep me in business for awhile. :)

      a lot of those questions have been addressed throughout this blog but i will try to work my way through your list. :)

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    4. They have? I have read and reread your blog several times - in fact my sister and I talk about your blog a lot together and maybe we are just wanting more specifics with regard to these topics BUT again its YOUR blog. Just suggestions, of course ! :)

      Thanks Janet!

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  19. Dear Janet,
    Any post you publish I gain so much from. I visit your blog e-v-e-r-y day, I guess I should just subscribe huh? Please keep the money saving ideas coming, we are attacking the mortgage too. I know you hear this constantly but you really should know how inspiring and motivating you are. Your common sense and simplicity is infectious. Thanks for your hard work!

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    1. Oh, and one more thing: thank you for leaving the "anonymous" option open for commenters! It's the only way I comment.

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  20. Hi Janet,
    I loved this entry and am inspired by the idea of doing a monthly 'look' at my life-food,financial,health goals,etc.
    I love the ambiance of your posts. I always feel that I am 'listening' to a gentle ,thoughtful person in the process of creating a life. I feel both comforted (esp. in hard times) and motivated by the consciousness of your writings. Thank you.

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    1. What a beautiful comment...

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  21. Thank you, Janet, for sharing the My Friend Maya link. I had watched this video some time ago and forgotten it. I am grateful to have found it again for its message is far more meaningful to me now. I am happy your blog is progressing so nicely. I hope you are enjoying the joy you bring to others through it! Louise

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    1. Ditto from me on the My Friend Maya clip. What an amazing, and absolutely beautiful, lady. I only know you through your blog, but it seems to me that you have many of the same qualities that she has.

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    2. Did anyone else notice she was wearing her bracelet while exercising......enjoying everything she has:)

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    3. I have never seen this clip. Interestingly, I have no audio/sound on my computer right now...but I was brought to tears anyway. Thank you, Janet. It's such a keeper. Simply beautiful in every way...

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  22. Hi Janet! I've seen My friend Maya before from a link in your blog but I'd forgotten about it. She is amazing and so beyond inspiring. What strikes me is all the nature in her life (down to details like the shell hanging in her window) and I LOVE the shot of her seat by the window (which is clearly used often). Thanks for sharing this again.....I think I need to start watching it weekly. Do you know if she's still alive? I know the video is from 2011. Hope you have a beautiful weekend! XOXO

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  23. I disagree with the anonymous commenter who says the answers to Jennifer's questions are already in the blog. I am an avid reader of the blog and have not seen posts on the subjects Jennifer asks about-- so I would LOVE to see Janet cover the many questions Jennifer asked.

    Thank you!

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    1. I agree with the "anonymous commenter", at least 1/2 of the questions are in the blog, maybe not titled as such but the info is there.

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    3. 2nd! Nice requests, interesting questions.
      I am also one of the readers here who read and reread many postings. Once I asked for the basement, too. There is one posting, somehow it seems to be well hidden? I used the google search on this blog, eight pages with postings, but no basement? At least not at first sight?

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    4. it wasn't easy but i found it.:)

      http://thegardenerscottage.blogspot.com/2011/02/in-order.html

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    5. Oh, Janet, I enjoyed that 2011 post! I, too, am wrinkling my brow over the fact that I'd thought I'd gone over the blog and really not missed anything only to find that quite a few of these posts I have indeed missed; I had no idea you had a basement. Of course, I couldn't help but laugh (with a grimace) over the idea of rain flooding you out...not at your problem, but the memory of rain in SoCal...

      The cottage/bungalow I just sold a few weeks ago was built in 1923 and we had a similar but larger, partially finished, 2-room basement with nice windows, which had been maid's quarters (poor maid) for the original owner; anyway, long since relegated to storage-only. Over 9 years, we filled it up with so much stuff and, I swear, we thought we'd never empty it; a bottomless pit (and PIT is a good word for it). I'd say, go down there often; keep purging. We only had a garage because the original owner was a early 20th century car dealer, so he built a 2-car detached garage in 1928 when nobody else in our town had anything like it. (I don't think other people might realize that basements are rare in Southern Calif. unless you have a really old house, and I was corrected by more than one insurer or appraiser who said they are 'cellars,' not basements.. Did I ever ask the question WHY we don't have basements? Is it because of earthquakes?)

      By the way, my husband loves the color of your cottage. Red is the only color he can really see due to his color-blindness. I said, "well, let's start with the new shed out back you just built." Your cottage looks smashing, and it seems to be in its own unique setting, but if I was to paint my house red in this conventional housing tract, I think I'd be ousted. One of the neighbors painted her house dark lavender and, oh my,, what an uproar...

      The old post was fun, too, because it had photos of your house inside I hadn't seen before. Thank you for digging it out for the other readers!

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    6. I took a peek at your basement post and noticed the content on your chalkboard. :-) I've got Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" on right now!

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  24. Love this post and the January grocery posts, thank you. Once your mortgage is paid off, what's next, retirement?

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  25. Excellent review! Yes -- please do continue with your shop/stock/make/bake series -- always helpful! Looking forward to reviews of farmers markets -- do you wash the fruits/veggies after you bring them home BUT before storing OR wash them as you use them? Do you use any vinegar in the wash water? Also LOVE to see photos of the gardens/plants/plant stores/garden centers around your area! Many thanks again for all of your hard work!

    Cheers! Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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    Replies
    1. i wash (with water) hard vegetables and let them completely air dry before storing them. but things like lettuce i was as i'm going to use it. :)

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  26. Thank you so much for sharing my dining room!! I just wrote a blog post about what I learned in the month of January and mentioned you as my blog mentor (because you are.) Thank you so much for all of the comments and advice you have left/given me on my blog!

    I really enjoyed your grocery series, and looking forward to reading more about it! I think the best part of the series for me was the recipes you shared based on the groceries you got. Thank you for all that you share with us readers.
    Have a lovely weekend! oxox

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  27. Love it. Turning 50 in February, so....
    1. Paid off a house (in the last few years) and my second car (in Oct). So, Im debt-free.
    2. Just downsized and bought a house, by writing a check. (Not bragging, just happy!)
    3. I love the saving-money, shopping, simplicity, downsizing blogs.
    4. I am also intrigued (like the previous commenter who requested more info on your downsizing). Maybe I missed it, and Im very sorry if I did, but could you elaborate? I love a sneak peak at other's lives and life paths - always looking for inspiration. VERY intriguing.
    5. But not really a "five," more like a "one." 1!!! Thank you for being so honest. and for tolerating my questions, and for continuing with your blog. I love it. Its my "free" indulgence!

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    Replies
    1. whoa, you should be proud! very impressive!!!

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    2. Dear Lor,
      Holy- kamoly I'm envious! Congratulations - well done. I'll be 50 next year and should be mortgage free by then or the latest 51. But wow, you wrote a check to buy a home outright - just wow. I bet if felt good. I am obsessed with frugality blogs too. Have you read the blog MrMoneyMustache? Love this!

      Delete
    3. I have not, but I will NOW! LOL Very fun. Quite the winding path, but it felt GREAT to buy a cute cottage with no bank involved. A tiny fixerupper, but its all mine. I shall cherish that feeling forEVER!

      Delete
  28. I forgot to ask, do you eat fruit at every meal? Your grocery bill shows just a little fruit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. larry is not as big a fruit eater as i am. but we try to eat 3 servings a day. some through smoothies and some just plain. i have free access to tons and tons of citrus. :)

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  29. I have truly enjoyed your January postings. I have been increasingly aware of where we spend money and the net gain for us as a family. Is it worth it, a good thing or would eliminating it be better? Not just in groceries, across the board. Your links are so good! Stephen Andrew's post is fantastic! I enjoyed the video, again, too. Very inspiring. Reminds me of my grandmother. I love her hair. Thank you for creating and maintaining your blog. It is a wonderful thing to come here. Happy Friday!

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    Replies
    1. Kathy, could I ask which post of Stephen's you are referring to?

      Thank you,
      Debi

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    2. debi i'm pretty sure she is referencing the link in my post he did on women graying.:)

      Delete
  30. I like seeing your groceries! I am kind of amazed, but I'm still transitioning to empty-nest mode and probably buy too much.

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  31. I'm amazed you can make a bag of potato chips last a week!! Thank you for reminding us about Maia-she is truly an inspiration
    Kristi

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  32. Loved your end of the month "wrap up".....What an amazing column you presented all January....addicted! And, thank you very much!

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  33. I loved the blog this month. I have actually never commented before, but lots of us are learning from your journey. I could see that seeing the same shopping list each week could get boring, but the accountability factor makes me so happy that I subscribe and learn from the blog. I think we are drawn to it because of your journey. So, keep it up - you will know when you need to back down... I love the blog! Paula

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  34. One of these days, you're gonna believe us when we tell you that you have an absolutely terrific blog. I think it's perfect. I love your posts and I love your readers. It's a wonderful community of people. I think January has been an amazing month for you and your blog; there's rarely a time when I don't pick up something helpful here. You are my GO TO blog and my only problem is ME and limiting my comments when I get so enthusiastic and interested about everything here. By all means, continue the food series! Just keep doing everything you're doing! Thanks. (I guess I could every sentence with an exclamation point; almost did...!!!...)

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    Replies
    1. I don't know who you are Vicki, but I think you're great. I am a fellow commenter who enjoys reading your comments - however overly enthusiastic you think you are, it's fine!

      Delete
    2. Vicki: Also love your comments -- I read every word! And yes -- I too use a lot of exclamation points! LOL! :) This IS a really nice group of folks -- just chatting and enjoying Janet's wonderful blog!

      Cheers! Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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  35. This home was featured in Country Living Magazine Jan 2014. What is amazing is that it's 665 sq feet and 2 adults and 3 kids live in it! Check it out: http://www.assortmentblog.com/

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  36. Thanks for the recipes--I'm revamping our menu plan and want to retrain my whole family (including me) to embrace the simple during the week. My husband who adores cooking can splurge a little on the weekends (I'm giving him a budget)!
    I really appreciate your outlook and always look forward to your posts. No fluff--I always know that whatever the entry, what you have is thoughtful--design, food or clothing related. I love to see how you are saving money in your little spot in the world. That's something we can all aspire to!

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  37. janet,

    i really enjoy these posts. it encourages me to also be more frugal and be conscious when i am buying.

    keep it up please.

    accountability for all of us, i think helps. i have tried to be more accountable with our finances with our family, after reading your posts.

    i find i can come up with a variety of outfits based upon what i already have and still feel good.

    this week i start on the food.

    ann

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  38. Really like this post, Janet. I like the food series and never feel that you "blather". Great idea with the links at the end. All good!! Thanks for what you do.

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  39. Just thank you for even paying on your mortgage, let alone paying it down. So many around me walked away with excuses like "Don't feel like it," "It's cheaper now to rent." No sickness, no job loss, just "didn't feel like it." Of course having homes around me go into foreclosure has cost me tens and tens and tens of thousands in lost equity, so I really appreciate honorable people like you and your husband who fulfill their obligations.

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  40. Love the wrap up post. Congrats to you for taking the money saved and applying it to the mortgage! what discipline that takes but will be well worth it. It is a wonderful feeling and accomplishment to own your home.
    Thank you for sharing your life with us. You are a best friend to your bloggers!

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  41. Janet,
    I have really liked your January food and shopping postings, very useful. please keep them coming, and your delicious recipes as well. but that does not mean I don't love the fashion, beauty, decorating posts as well. I watched again tonight the My Friend Maya video. it is so inspiring. tomorrow I will take a workshop with grand master yoga teacher
    Tao Porchon Lynch. she is an amazing woman of 95 who is still actively teaching as well as doing competitive ballroom dancing. I have taken classes with her before and she makes me feel better about aging, which of course we cannot avoid. I found the piece about going gray interesting. about 4 years ago I finally decided to go natural. i had no idea what my hair would look like. I had been coloring it my original dark brown for over 20 years then lightening it with highlights for few years after that.I just decided i had enough. I do think I get more complements now on my hair than I ever did when I colored it. i realize that i might look younger if i colored it but I like to show others that women of a certain age can still lead active lives, I do yoga, horseback ride, dance all night. and i really enjoy the comments by all your readers, not sure if its the best thing but so stimulating. dont like that i have to post an anonymous but i dont have my own blog so not sure how else to do it. anyway, have a great weekend!
    Darby

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  42. Janet, you are a dear....I had 400 hits on my blog you sweet thing! The Maya video has me longing for warm weather. Your series on grocery shopping had me thinking of you today at the dollar store. I spent a little more than I wanted but it is all I will buy this week (about $29.00) and I think I made some good choices. YOU are starting a revolution here. Just read what we are saying between the lines - we needed a role model and we found one. No pressure though ';)

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  43. I only found you blog in the last 2 months and I am so inspired to forge ahead with our debt and mortgage reduction plans. Due to some unfortunate set backs with my husbands career we are behind on retirement savings and still are years away from reducing our mortgage to a manageable amount. Your determination and wisdom to stretch dollars gives mr a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you.
    Karen

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  44. The comments sure are as fun as your wrap up.
    Pve

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  45. I love your comments section!! xxx

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  46. I've spent the last week re-reading EVERY one of your posts. I had commented on your New Years challenge to purge 100 things that I didn't think I could because I purge so often, but looking at all your past posts has me demotivated to get rid of things I don't love. My friends think I'm pretty ruthless about getting rid of things, but now I'm seeing just how much I've kept out of obligation or because I'm afraid I'll want it right after I get rid of it. We've also toyed with going vegetarian or vegan and I think this is the year we will. But, I can't bring my self to throw out all the food I've already bought so we'll eat through it over the next few weeks and once the meat and dairy is gone, it won't be replaced. You motivated me to shop the 99 cent store for food, too. I would shop there for other things, but not really food. So long comment longer, please don't stop the food posts or any of the topics you talk about. So motivating!

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    Replies
    1. Motivated, not demotivated! I swear that was the computer changing what I typed!

      Delete
  47. I love your blog.
    I love the comments.
    thank you

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  48. Hi Janet,

    I have been enjoying your series for January, and read all of your comments too. (usually not all in one sitting) :)

    Since you did your post on the 99 cent store, I have been there 3 times and I swear every time I go I see something that I did't before. (I did manage to snag a couple of the chocolate bars, there were only 3 left)

    Before I quit my job in 2002, my husband and I ate out about 3 times a week. Since I stopped working we might eat out once a month, and it's usually Chipotle or some type of ethnic restaurant. (unless it's a birthday/anniversary then we will splurge) I think of all the money we wasted back then and how unhealthy it was too.

    Thanks for all of the work you put into your blog!

    Have a great weekend.

    Linda
    xo

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  49. I just found your blog recently. I enjoy it very much. I never in a million years would have said "I wish I had a 95 year old's body." She has flexibility which I have NEVER experienced in my lifetime. God bless her.

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  50. I have enjoyed your wanderings away from fashion, thanks for writing!

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  51. I have no idea why or how, but you've never written a boring post. Really. Every post you write, including those about food, is lovely and interesting. And I can't say that about any other blog. I really enjoy getting "boring" insights into how you shop for food and cook and eat and decorate... it really is a different (and better) model from how much of America lives, and it feels refreshing to see and learn from a different, healthier example.

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  52. I love this series. It's eye opening to my own life....makes me think about my purchases at the store more thoughtfully. And for the other content, I love it all. I get to peek into your life and to me that is what's fascinating. I find it fascinating j to read how other people live and choices they make. Keep on writing! I

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  53. Its fine with me if you turn this into a food blog! Seriously. I love the way you make food, and I am learning so much from you. I've been vegan for sometime, but got stuck in a rut...I NEED the instruction of a professional chef, lol! Thanks so much for the effort you put into the blog. I'm ok with you throwing in fashion, home decor, whatever strikes your fancy...but keep the foodie posts coming, please! Blessings.

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  54. When I feel hammered and nailed at work, I watch My Friend Maya, sometimes over and over. It instantly reminds me to calm down. What a simply lovely home and lifestyle she appears to have. Inspiring and calming.

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    Replies
    1. i watch it a minimum of once a week. she's my inspiration.

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  55. Hi Janet,

    As always, your posts inspire me to be more mindful-- about spending, about eating, about what is really needed in order to live a happy, healthy life. Thank you for this wonderful gift of yourself. Your blog is the gift that keeps on giving. And, by the way, I am a total olive oil convert now. The best benefit I have noticed is when I run oil-covered hands through my wet hair after applying it to the rest of my body. My hair has never looked or felt so good!

    ReplyDelete

kindness is never out of style.

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