Travel Sewing Kit

A couple times while traveling in Ireland, I longed for a needle and tread to mend some small thing before it became a bigger thing that couldn’t be fixed.

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Like this unmendable tear in my daughter’s shorts.

When a few short days after I returned, my daughter split her shorts open, I harvested some of the fabric and string ties and buttons before throwing the rest away.

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Materials for travel sewing kit

I used the tie material as bias tape, and formed an envelope shape.

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All hand sewn

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When my daughter saw it at this stage, she asked if I would make a pouch for her too.

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I gave her the one with the button and reserved the one with the safety pin for myself.

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I added the needles, thread, safety pins and buttons from my home sewing kit.

I will probably put some nail clippers in there when I travel. I think they are allowed now by the airlines.

Custom-made sewing kit for free.

Trip to Ireland

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Cliffs of Moher

My son Patrick has been studying at Trinity College in Dublin for the past academic year. When he finished his studies, I went to Ireland and we toured the country together. Here are a few highlights of the trip.

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Patrick in front of St. Patrick’s cathedral.

We spent the first five days in Dublin, with Patrick showing me his favorite places.

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We consumed a lot of really good ale.


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We went biking in Phoenix park….


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…which has a herd of very human-tolerant deer. There are about 450 head that live in the park.

We enjoyed the shops.

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Lucky Charms for sale in a shop that boasts it sells the “finest confections.”


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We took a tour bus to the passage tomb at Newgrange, an awesome example of human engineering from approximately 4,000 years ago.


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We hiked on a rocky beach.


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We saw these birds resting on a small ledge on a cliff.

Then we rented a car and went exploring further afield. I was a little concerned about driving on the opposite side of the road that I am used to. We did not have any accidents, but I must say that I found the two lane roundabouts terrifying. Our first day out of Dublin, we drove to Derry and then next day went to see the Giant’s Causeway.

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Basalt columns at the Giant’s Causeway.


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Mansion on a hike we took.


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We drove through some very wild and beautiful places.


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Cliffs of Moher

The trip was a marvelous experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go. Let me share with you what I did to make it more affordable.

Plane tickets between Chicago and Dublin were running $1,200-$1,400 for non-stop flights. By booking with the Swedish airline and accepting a 16 hour layover in Stockholm, I got my round trip airfare for $605. Patrick can fly for free, as his step-mother is a flight attendant. Even accounting for the $120 hotel I stayed at near the airport, this was a bargain. Plus, it helped me reset my sleep schedule to European time and I had time to tour the old town of Stockholm.

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View from Stockholm’s old town.

Other than that one night in a hotel, the rest of our lodging was through Air B&B, with the cost ranging from $39 to $100 per night. Lodging costs for the entire trip were $880, for nine nights total. One of the things I really loved about Air B&B was meeting each of our hosts. They were as varied as they were welcoming. From a gentleman about my age, born in rural Ireland to a Turkish marketing student to a youngish couple with school aged children who cooked us dinner and served homemade pineapple wine to the real estate entrepreneur that served us fresh, homemade scones to the farm wife who funds her own travels with her Air B&B income–each host was warm and interesting.

We spent about $1,000 on eating out, ale, a few souvenir gifts, and local transportation (trains, buses, bike rental.) The car rental was $400. The total cost of the trip was $2,900. We could have saved a bit of money by not eating out as much, buying food at grocery stores for picnics, etc., but I enjoyed trying the new dishes and familiar ones, with an Irish twist. It was a great trip!

Summer Wardrobe

I did my count earlier this summer, but did not do the individual photos of the wardrobe like I usually do. Several of you requested I post these, so here they are.

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Sandals, boots, canvas lace ups and “yard work” shoes

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white T, brown jeans

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blue/black heather T, skinny jeans

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Blue T, wide leg linen pants (with pockets!!!)

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Another white T and cut-off brown jeans. You will note that these are a discreet above the knee length and not “Daisy Dukes.”

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Grey T and olive-green linen wide-legged pants. Also with pockets.

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Grey leggings and green sleeveless top.

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Knit linen white/grey heather top and black jeans

I have four exercise outfits. I sleep in those before I wear them to the gym. That minimizes the number of clothes I need, and also reduces my outfit change by one per day.

Organizing Paper Records

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Current file system

When we lived in the house, I had file drawer that was 55 cm deep. It was mostly full, and I went through it yearly to discard outdated stuff. When I moved, I was able to get rid of a lot of house related papers including my mortgage repayment instructions and the warranties for the house appliances. In the photo is the current file box, and an envelope for previous tax records.

Here is the system: each topic gets a hanging folder, and for many subjects that is all that is needed.  The automobile records don’t need any more organization. I toss in the maintenance receipts, the insurance coverage documents as they accumulate. During my yearly purge, I take out the outdated ones. Some topics need a bit more organization. The Money folder has three subdivisions (the manila colored folders): one for the credit card, one for the credit union accounts and one for retirement accounts.

The folder with my name has things like my birth certificate, my nursing license, my current item count. I used to have a folder for each of the kids with subdivisions of things like school, medical history, birth certificates and social security cards. As each child has turned twenty-one, I have given the contents of the folder to the young adult, who must then manage his or her own papers.

You may notice a folder titled Death. This folder holds my will, my Health Care Power of Attorney, my Do Not Resuscitate form, a brief set of instructions of what to do with my body and music I would like played at my memorial service. It also contains a letter to my children with money information, how to access the accounts. This letter I update each year, usually around New Year’s Day. Each of my children knows where this information is kept, so they can find it easily when I die.

Some of you will argue for a safe deposit box, or a fire-proof box to keep at home. If you desire these things, go right ahead. I have found I have no need for my marriage license or divorce degree, but they are available at the county courthouse, should I ever need a copy. I have been able to get new copies of documents like a Passport or a birth certificate, when they were destroyed by fire. I mostly hold onto papers that I might need to reference in the coming year or two.

The tax papers I save for seven years. When I file a new year, I destroy the oldest one.

I don’t think I will ever get rid of all papers–I like writing in a paper journal, I find balancing my checkbook easier with a paper statement of the account. But I do feel a bit lighter each time I recognize I no longer need something.

The State of Sheba

Sheba is dismantled and now in three basic components: a pile of metal scrap

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the thing in front is the floor rolled up

the trailer base

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Stripped to the bones

and a pile of rotten wood and plastic, fit only for the landfill

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what a mess

I hope to get the piles out of my host’s garage within the month. The trailer and the metal can be recycled and I will get a dumpster for the trash.

2017 Count: 83 Items

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11 personal care items. I count the toothpaste/toothbrush/floss as one item. I use the shampoo as soap and shaving lubricant.

Long time readers of this blog are aware that I count my possessions each year in June. This year, my kids are moving into their own places. As they leave, they take their stuff with them. Even more exciting, is that they are taking a lot of our formerly shared stuff too. Furniture, kitchen items, décor have all been spoken for.

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My closet

In this photo, from top left to bottom right: backpack, hat, suitcase, wallet (resting on the top of the organizer,) hanging organizer, socks, panties and bras (I’m not counting underwear separate this year, just including them in the 7 outfits–but if you would like to count them separately–there are 7 pair of socks, 7 panties and 4 bras,) 4 exercise outfits, 4 pair of shoes, ear warmer, gloves and swim suit, 9 hangers, black dress, 6 everyday outfits (I am wearing the 7th,) 2 coats (only one in the photo–the other is at the cleaners,) and the laundry basket. Counted in the clothing total, but not in the photo are a pair of earrings, a necklace and a hair clip. This gives a total of 35 clothing items. The laundry basket, suitcase, wallet and backpack I have included in the miscellaneous total.

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Miscellaneous items: framed photo, lamp, file box, towel, Christmas stocking, sewing kit, string shopping bag, glasses, sunglasses and case, lap top. Included in the count, but not photographed are my car and my cell phone.

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Saucepan, cutting board, mug, bowl with lid, mixing bowl, skillet and 11 utensils for a total of 17 kitchen items.

And lastly furniture, which is a new category for this count, as previously all furniture except my bed was included in the items that I shared with the kids.

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Only counting the table. The book is on loan and the plant is my daughter’s.

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This cabinet houses the internet router and the lap top when it is charging. In the past, it held my work lap top also. There is plenty of room to store library books, gifts that I’m holding until Christmas or other random items.

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My bed, which consist of a gel-foam mattress, a comforter/duvet and a pillow. This is where I sleep. During the day, the bed is rolled up and stored in my closet.

Other items you see in the photos belong to my kids. I am thrilled that when I move at the end of summer, I can get everything I own into the hatchback of my car.

Congratulations Kathleen!

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This past Saturday, my daughter Kathleen graduated from Macalester College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics (concentration in Astronomy) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian. Congratulations to an excellent scholar, a strong woman, and a wonderful human being!

I started my first blog: singlemomenough to be an encouragement to other single parents who were struggling to provide financial, emotional and spiritual support to their children without the assistance of a partner. I know how overwhelming if feels most days. Despite the many mistakes I have made, the kids are flourishing.

R.I.P. Sheba

It is with a bit of sadness (but only a bit, as we are talking about an object here) that I announce the Sheba renovation has come to a halt. I consulted with three construction experts over a period of 3 months. The consensus is that the Sheba project will not move forward. Technically, it is possible to repair the structural integrity of the trailer, in the same way that technically, it is possible to retrieve all of the Titanic artifacts from the ocean floor. It is just not worth the time and money involved.

So, this weekend I began demolition as Sheba is not strong enough to travel on the roads without shaking apart. Her roof is strong and heavy and I wasn’t sure I could bring it down on my own safely. First I removed the windows. Then  I removed some aluminum siding on the weakest side, hoping to have a planned “kneeling” in that direction.

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Windows out. Starting to remove the siding.

It was successful and I brought the roof down to where I can start to dismantle it safely. Here is Sheba at the end of the workday Sunday.

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What was the front–where the gas tanks used to be.

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Rear view. You can see what was the door frame laying on top of the heap.

Of course, I will recycle the aluminum and anything else I can find a home for.

To my readers:

  1. This project was full of lessons, do not be sad for me.
  2. I may do a tiny house in the future, but not right away as other projects/responsibilities are calling to me.
  3. I think I need to rename the blog. I am open to suggestions. I’m leaning to “A Minimalist Life” but I have not checked to see if the name is already taken. Suggestions?

Eating Well on $3 Per Day: Finale

First, my apologies that the cheese ($1.89) did not make it into the original listing of purchases. That runs the total (with tax) up to $46.04.

Over the past 2 weeks you have been able to observe some strategies for eating fresh and healthy on a budget. To recap:

~ buy inexpensive, basic ingredients that can be made into a variety of dishes so you don’t get bored eating the same thing over and over.

~cook a couple meals worth of food at a time, so you have something in the fridge when life is too busy to cook.

~make “plan overs.” That is, if you are making a marinara sauce, make enough for spaghetti and pizza and chili. If you are baking chicken, make enough to make chicken salad later in the week.

~eat what spoils quickest first. I ate the bananas before the oranges and the spinach before the cabbage.

Over time, you will start to look for sales on your favorite staples and be able to add spices into the rotation, making for even more variety. Recall, I initially spent less than $46 for 15 days of food and here is what is left, which will make a nice start for the next 2 weeks.

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Here is 12 oz. of spaghetti noodles, 20 oz. of oatmeal, 4 oz. of preserves, 2 oz. of peanut butter, 1/2 head of cabbage, 1# white beans, 1.5 oz. of cheese, 1 head of garlic, 1 onion. There was also 1/2 a loaf of bread that did not make it into the photo.

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Frozen: 1/3 of the marinara sauce, 2/3 cup of peas and about 80 or so tea bags.

 

There are a lot of strategies for eating well frugally. I would love to hear yours.