Why Is It So Hard Letting Go?

Back about seven or so years ago I boxed up all my homeschool supplies and packed them away in the basement. That’s not to say that I stopped homeschooling, but the supplies I finally put away were the Pre K – 4th or 5th grade stuff. This amounted to nearly 30 plastic bins of stuff.

This might sound like a lot of stuff, but my situation was not typical of a homeschooler. Having a son with Down Syndrome I tried anything and everything when it came to teaching him. If one workbook didn’t work, I bought another. If one manipulative didn’t hold his interest, I found others to try. My home was better equipped with teaching materials than most public school classrooms.

With the addition of our new freezer in the basement, although I made a space for it, I decided it was time to start parting with my homeschool materials. This would free up some much-needed space and get rid of lots of clutter. Even though the bins were stored out-of-the-way, having them still gave me a sense of clutter. I justified holding onto all this stuff by claiming that perhaps some day Grace might want to homeschool her children.

Grace is 19 and although she likes the idea of homeschooling her children someday when she has them, she is a very different person than I am. I wouldn’t say she is lazy, but she isn’t motivated either. I had a long conversation with her recently about this and I can see that she is pulling away from the homeschool choice already because she doesn’t want the work or responsibility that goes along with it. I can understand her point of view, as many times I was overwhelmed with the homeschooling aspect of our lives, but at the same time I wouldn’t change those years for anything. This will have to be a choice for Grace to make and if she does decide to do it, she will do it her way, not mine.

So over the long weekend I began pulling out a few bins of teaching materials and taking pictures of them to put up on Craig’s List. As I started sorting through the hundreds (and this is no exaggeration) of workbooks I have, I found myself setting aside certain ones that I remembered really liking. These were in the keep pile. The rest went in the sell pile, which was substantially bigger.

I posted five ads/five items in three categories each and then decided that perhaps a bulk ad advertising just “Homeschool, Teaching and Teacher’s Resources” would be better. It would be tedious to list each item individually.

Bright and early yesterday morning I received a phone call from a woman who saw one of my ads. She wanted to come by and take a look at everything I had. I asked her what she specifically was interested in and she said “EVERYTHING!” My heart began to race. I was thrilled or something, I wasn’t really sure. I told the woman that I would pull out more bins for her to look through and see what she was interested in and we made arrangements for her to come by later in the morning.

A few hours later the woman and her four little girls were seated in my great room looking through binders of workbooks, boxes of puzzles, stacks of books, and bin after bin of manipulatives and teaching aids. I have everything priced to go. workbooks are from $1 to $3 depending on the size of the binder they are in. All of my workbooks have had their bindings removed and been put in either a binder or file folder for easy copying, no writing in them whatsoever. Wood puzzles were $1 for small to medium and $2 for large. Books were $.25 each for readers – but I didn’t even bring up the 1000 books I still have in the basement. Manipulatives were from $5 to $15 depending on how much I know I paid for them which is at least 3.5 times those prices (teaching materials are not cheap).

The woman filled six boxes with stuff and ended up spending $200. Zeb and I packed the stuff away in her car and she asked me to contact her again when I pulled out more stuff. In all, I probably had pulled out about 1/3 of what I have. She didn’t buy everything, but she took nearly every workbook, quite a few puzzles, several stacks of readers, four different types of sorting, lacing, manipulative type sets, a videoscope lab, and bug collection.

After she left I sat on the couch looking at the empty spaces in the great room holding my money. It was a weird moment. I was happy to see my stuff going to a home where it would be used, but at the same time, there was this funny feeling in my stomach.

Hubby came home shortly after the woman left and was very excited that we’d sold so much. His excitement encouraged me, so after he left for work again a few hours later, Zeb and I once again headed into the basement to pull out more bins. I finished clearing out one storage room (another five bins) and then we went into the pantry and pulled another seven bins from there. I brought everything upstairs and began sorting through everything.

This time, as I sorted through all the workbooks though I noticed something, the pile to “keep” was increasing three or four times faster than the “sell” pile. Very quickly I had four bins of workbooks that for some reason I just could not part with. This was not to mention the four boxes of file folders in the basement I’d already eliminated from the selling option before even bringing them upstairs.

I stopped!

Why was this suddenly so hard to do? Why was I holding onto even one of these workbooks? It’s not like I’m going to use a Pre-K Numbers Workbook or Second Grade Math text-book, and even if there were ever an occasion for me to use or need such a thing, there is no reason I couldn’t go online and pretty much find anything I needed.

Still, that funny feeling in the pit of my stomach was turning into an ache and then an anxiety-ridden struggle. I want the extra space and all the clutter gone, but after watching that woman walk out of here with so much of my “stuff” that I used for so many years with my children, I feel an emptiness that is choking me.

Probably the best thing to do would have been to just take the bins out of storage and get rid of them without opening them, but I couldn’t do that. I had to organize everything again, make sure everything had every piece, and even clean some things. Touching every piece brought back so many memories and thinking of these gone is really hard.

So, this is what my great room looks like this morning:

It looks like -- No words! Just a MESS!

It looks like — No words! Just a MESS!

Craigs List  Blog-1

These are just some of the workbooks I have. There are two more bins of ones to sell and of course the bins I have hidden away in the office.

These are just some of the workbooks I have. There are two more bins of ones to sell and of course the bins I have hidden away in the office.

Craigs List  Blog-4

I have five other accessory-type charts for this thing!

I have five other accessory-type charts for this thing!

I can't even find my coffee table under all this stuff.

I can’t even find my coffee table under all this stuff.

I don’t know what to do. I am so afraid of regretting getting rid of all this stuff — but at the same time, it’s only stuff! Hubby pointed out to me when I began pulling all this out that it would be nice to make some of our money back on all this stuff, but as long as I got what I wanted from it, donating was an option. If I do donate it will have to be to a school for special needs children because that is where I would really like to see this stuff utilized, although I don’t know that they would even want it. Just giving it away and not knowing that it will be put to good use is not something I’m comfortable with right now. Getting rid of it period is not something I’m comfortable with right now.

I’m not sure if I should email the woman who was here yesterday to come by or contact another person who emailed me last night about my ad. I bet I could sell every one of my workbooks, even the ones I have locked behind the office doors, but how can I do this?

I have a rule that I try to hold myself to: Once something is brought up from the basement to get rid of, it doesn’t go back down. This has served me well when getting rid of other things, so when it wasn’t sold it was either thrown away or donated. There is no way I can leave my great room the way it is. Something has to be done, just what?

At the moment I’m at a loss. Grace made me a fresh pot of coffee, the weather is rainy and humid, but supposed to get cooler sometime today, and Bell needs to get out for a walk before I’m brought up on charges of dog neglect because she’s been homebound for so long because of the heat and humidity. I think I’ll get dressed and take her for walk to clear my head, come home and have a fresh cup of coffee, and then maybe my perspective will clear — and for this, I am trying to be Simply Grateful.


Oh Happy Day! We’ve Got A New Addition

Yep, it’s true. We have a new addition to our happy home. I have been wanting this for a very long time, longer than I can remember, and finally it’s happened.

Monday morning, as I sat on the couch, avoiding opening the refrigerator and facing the 25 pounds of plums still sitting there waiting for me to do something with them, I made a decision. I was NOT going to can one more plum this year.

Nope! Not me. And if I don’t do it, no one will, so other options needed to be explored.

The only method for preserving plums that I don’t think I’d tried was to freeze them whole, or at least in half, seeing as I would definitely want them pitted first. In order to do this, there could be no more excuses, delays, putzing, or any other form of putting this off — I needed another freezer.

Financially a new one was really out of the question, so off to Craig’s List I did go. Knowing selling this to Hubby was not going to be an easy task in the first place, I decided to make sure to look at freezers within a 15 – 20 mile radius. Luck must have been on my side, because I found two that had been listed within the past three days. Crossing my fingers I shot off an email to both sellers inquiring if their freezers were still available. Within minutes I got a response from one indicating she still had it.

This freezer was only 12 miles away, upright, less than 9 years old, in great condition, clean, in the garage (Hubby would not be receptive to having to lug a freezer up basement stairs, seeing as he’d be lugging it down ours), frost-free, and she could let me take a look at it that afternoon. I called Hubby and asked if he wanted to come with me or if he just wanted me to make the corporate decision.

Now me giving Hubby the option of coming or not might seem a bit harsh, because there was no discussion as to whether or not I was going to get one, just that I was going to, but we have been at odds on this subject for far too long and I don’t ask for a whole lot. Plus, I had $100 from my birthday in June that has been burning a hole in my pocket, so if this is what I chose to spend it on, I think I should be able to.

I’ve done my homework and know how much an additional freezer will cost per year to run, measured the area out in the basement where it is going to go, and have been sending baked goods and fresh picked veggies from our garden home with Hubby’s buddy that he works out with that has a truck for months now, so I felt fairly comfortable that I had everything pretty well thought out.

Hubby chose to come with me, in fact, he was all too cooperative — it made me nervous. Still, I was too excited at the prospect of just pitting and freezing the rest of my plums that I didn’t over-think it.

At 3:15 Monday afternoon we headed out to the woman’s house and found ourselves looking at an upright freezer larger than anticipated (a good thing), newer than I thought, ice-cold inside, and in excellent condition. She was asking $125 for it and from our conversation on the phone I knew she REALLY wanted it gone, so I offered her $100. She accepted. In fact, she jumped at it.

All the way home Hubby kept talking about how nice this freezer was and what a great deal this was. The one thing he did say that stung just a bit was, “Why do I think though that you’re just going to fill this up and then want more space.”

OUCH! What could he be thinking? Hasn’t he lived with me for nearly 23 years now? Where was this accusation coming from? I was hurt — but far too excited that I was getting a new freezer to even acknowledge his comment. I just diverted him by asking him how big he thought it was. I had figured by the dimensions it was 16 cubic feet, but Hubby said it was at least 17 possibly even 19. Perfect! That’s exactly what I wanted…I mean needed.

Tuesday afternoon Hubby’s buddy picked us up and we picked up the freezer at 2:30 and unloaded it into the garage by 3:30. At 4:30 I was at Wal-Mart picking up some baskets for the shelves. By 6:00 I was home with my baskets and started cleaning the new freezer. I bleached it inside and out, although it really didn’t need much cleaning. Still, I felt better sterilizing everything and making it smell absolutely new. I plugged it in, put a cup of water in it to freeze overnight, and went to bed.


Wednesday morning I checked the freezer and the cup of water was frozen solid. Later in the afternoon Hubby and I moved the freezer into the basement, ran the extension cord, and plugged it in. It purred like a kitten. Right away I set to work at pitting my plums and placing them in the freezer on cookie sheets to freeze. By Wednesday night all the plums I wanted frozen were done.

Then today it happened. Remember Hubby’s questions/premonition about me filling the freezer…

Freezer Blog-4

Okay so I filled it. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Now I didn’t go out and buy a bunch of stuff to fill it with, I just reorganized my other three freezers and moved all the things I wanted in this new freezer in it. So although my new freezer is pretty full (I’m sure I can still get quite a bit in here), I have freed up a ton of space in my other freezers and can organize them a lot better so I can find what I’m looking for when I want and see what might have been forgotten about because it was buried at the bottom of my chest freezer or tucked away somewhere in the back of my refrigerator freezer.

I’m happy, oh so happy and Hubby is gloating because he was right, but at the same time not exactly, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Ever-Growing To Do List

A “To Do List” is something that is supposed to get smaller as the day goes on, not bigger, right? Well, if this is the case, I am doing something terribly wrong.

This morning, I started out with a To Do List with 24 things on it. Throughout the day I proudly marked off six or seven of these tasks, and yet at the end of the day, I now have 28 things still to do. How does this happen?

What I really like to do is add things to my To Do List as the day goes on, that I’ve actually completed that were not already on the list. This really makes me feel like I’m making progress.  Unfortunately, for some reason all those other tasks that were on the list from the start, never seem to earn that ceremonious crossing-off. Yep, I can see all the things I’ve done, but this is overshadowed by all the things I haven’t done.  They sit there, staring up at me,  laughing at me, mocking me, reminding me that there is STILL so much to do.

One task that was not on my To Do List that I did today took up about an hour and a half of my day, and I do have to say it was time well spent. Yesterday I answered an ad on Craig’s List that offered canning jars for $3 and $4 a dozen. I jumped all over it, sending out an email the moment I saw it. This morning I got a response, and by 9:30 I was on the road to pick up 22 dozen quart, pint, half-gallon, 8 oz. and 12 oz. jars. These could not have come at a better time, as I have been steadily depleting the stockpile of jars I collected throughout last winter and spring.

You’d think that 22 dozen was enough, but tomorrow I am heading to a garage sale that boasts “250 jars – Priced to go – Cheap.” What they consider cheap and what I consider cheap might not be the same thing, but after I drop Grace off at work tomorrow, it’s only about a 10 minute drive to the sale. At this point, with my stockpile somewhat replenished, I won’t pay more than $3 a dozen, regardless of size. The only factor that might make me consider $4 a dozen would be if they came with the bands. That is the one thing I am definitely running short of.

I have been removing the bands from all my canned goods and reusing them because I don’t have any to spare. Thankfully I learned this trick a few years ago. As long as the bottle is sealed, the band is not necessary. It’s main purpose is to hold the lid in place while it seals. Once sealed, the band can be removed and the lid should stay secure. I do check my lids every couple of weeks to make sure nothing has come undone, but so far I have not run into any problems (knock on wood!).

Although something not on my “Daily” To Do List, I did complete something on my “Canning” To Do List today as I was making dinner (yes, I wrote “make dinner” on my To Do List after I made it). Finding a recipe for sweet and sour pork or chicken that tasted like carry-out Chinese sweet and sour has been something I have been working on for years. Finally, last fall, after combining several recipes, tweaking the ingredients a bit, and vowing it was my very last time ever trying, I did it. At least I think so and so does hubby and the kids.

With the recipe part done, my next task was to see if there were some way to simplify making this somewhat labor-intensive meal. What did I come up with? Well, canning of course. I’m not much on canning meat, but canning the sweet and sour sauce so I wouldn’t have to spend an additional 35 to 40 minutes mixing, cooking, and reducing over a hot stove, sounded like a great idea. So that’s exactly what I did and here is the recipe.

Sweet & Sour Sauce


2 1/2 tsp. Soy Sauce
1 1/2 Cups Ketchup
5 Cups Water
1 1/4 tsp. Canning Salt
3 3/4 Cups Sugar
2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
4 Cups Pineapple Juice
5 Tbsp. Clear Jel mixed in 1/3 Cup Water
5 Onions, cut into wedges
2 Green Peppers, cut into 1“ square pieces
2 Red Peppers, cut into 1“ square pieces
3-4 Tbsp. Peanut Oil

Heat peanut oil in wok or stock pot to medium-high. Add onion and peppers and cook until crisp-tender.


Remove from heat and wipe out remaining oil.
Combine remaining ingredients in pan and bring to boil. Add onions and peppers.


Boil hard for one minute.
Ladle sauce into jars, place lids and bands on jars, and process in water bath for 30 minutes.

To use: Prepare pork or chicken to your preference. I like them breaded or not, it depends on how much time I have. Once the meat is cooked through, pour one to two jars of sauce over meat and bring to boil. The longer you cook it, the thicker the sauce becomes. Serve over rice.


I love canning jams, jellies, spreads, syrups, concentrates, and pie filling, but there is something to be said for canning something that will make putting dinner on the table quick and easy when time runs out — like it usually does. Sweet and Sour Sauce is now going to be a staple in the pantry, ready to use when my To Do List keeps growing exponentially, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Canning Jar Junkie

How many canning jars is enough?  Don’t answer that.  I know the answer.  There are never enough!  At least not for me.

I don’t know if it’s an obsession or a compulsion but call me crazy because I am always on the lookout for deals on canning jars.  Everyday, at least twice a day I go on Craig’s List and search for anything related to canning.  Most of the time the site is full of ads from people that WANT canning jars.  Every once in a while though I do come upon an ad offering canning jars for sale.

How some people come up with pricing for the jars they are selling, I’ll never know.  It’s as if they think their jars are worth more than brand new ones, and these are not the collector-type, they are just the run-of-the-mill standard canning jars.  I just love it when they ask $1.00 each and have say six or nine jars.  Don’t they know that brand new, with bands and lids, a dozen jars goes for $11.98 — tops.  Jelly jars go for less, pints go for less, but quarts run about $12 a dozen at Walmart, K-Mart, or Meijer’s.  Of course if you are bargain saavy, like I try to be, you wait until there is a special for 15% off or even a coupon.  Then the price comes down.

I have calculated I won’t pay more than $0.33 a jar for quarts and $0.25 a jar for pints and jelly jars.  The reason for this is that lids, which will have to be bought for sure, cost around $1.78 for regular mouth jars and $2.98 for wide mouth.  Of course if you  need lids AND bands, then you are looking at $3.50 for regular mouth and $4.98 for wide mouth.  Typically I have enough bands, but it’s the principle.

The other day I found an ad for an estate sale about 30 minutes from home offering canning jars among the list of items for sale.  The ad had been up for less than three hours and there was a phone number.  I called immediately to find out how many they had for sale, what price they were asking for them, if they’d do a bulk discount if I took them all, and if they’d be interested in doing a pre-sale.  I left a message.  Within 30 minutes I got a call back.

About 50 jars, all different sizes, $0.25 each, and yes she would do a pre-sale.  She told me she would call me back when she was going to be at the house, as it was her Aunt’s house.  I hung up elated.

The euphoria died as quickly as it came when the day passed without a call.  The next morning I decided to send her an email with my cell phone number because I was going to be out.  Actually I just needed an excuse to contact her again.  I didn’t want her to forget me.  No call.  By this time I was getting very nervous.  Had she gotten another call?  Had they offered her more money?  Had she lost my number?  All these thoughts filled my mind and meant a restless sleep.

Day three, the day the sale was to start, I wasn’t sure if I should go to the sale and see if the jars were there or forget it.  While I debated, I happened to check my email and in my inbox was a response to my email.  It had come at 10:45 the night before.  The woman told me she was going to set all the jars aside for me and I could come by anytime to pick them up.  I called her right away.

Forty-five minutes later I was at the sale, 30 minutes after it had opened.  Traffic was slow at the sale.  There were only a few people there.  I found the woman in the basement pulling the jars from a crawl space.  We spent the next 35 minutes boxing and pulling the jars from shelves in the farthest corner of the crawl space.  In the end there were more than 130 jars, three huge boxes of plastic freezer containers, and a large box full of bands.  There were also several boxes of unopened lids.  Before checking out I went through the house and found a Vitro Food Mill in the box (I already have one but could not pass this one up) for $10, a Mirro pressure canner in the box for pint jars for $15, and a strange looking metal strainer thingy that no one knew what it was for so I had to have it for $5.

The total for my haul was $57.50.  I’m not sure how she came up with that amount because she wanted $5 for all the plastic freezer containers and $0.25 a jar, but I wasn’t going to argue.  I loaded up my car and headed home.

This morning I could hardly wait to start sorting through my jars.  I haven’t finished going through them, but so far I have put three dozen pints through the dishwasher and separated out three dozen wide mouth quarts and three dozen regular quarts and I haven’t even opened two of the boxes.  What a find!

It’s a good thing I don’t find deals like this every week.  I didn’t need more regular mouth quarts, as I found a guy selling 11 dozen on Craig’s List about a month ago for $40 and picked those up without hestitation, but it is so hard to pass up a great deal.  I never know how often these deals are going to come along.  I hadn’t found any deals like these since last September when I got more than 100 jars for $20.  They were fill with ants (still alive), filthy, and every shape and size, but I was glad to have them.

So if you ask me, “Don’t you think you have enough canning jars already?”

I’ll have to say, “It’s never enough.”

And for Craig’s List and all the seller’s that offer their jars for a reasonable rate or better, I am Simply Grateful.

Such A Deal!

Buying something on sale is a special feeling. In fact, the less I pay for something, the more it’s worth to me. I have a dress that I paid so little for that I am afraid to wear it. I could spill something on it and then how would I replace it for that amount of money?
~ Rita Rudner


Whether finding something on sale or getting a great deal at a yard sale or on Craig’s List, I get the same type of rush.  My biggest problem when it comes to these “great deals” is knowing when to say no.  This is especially a problem when it comes to canning jars and food that I can put up.  Regardless of how much applesauce I have in the pantry, if I find a box of apples on the clearance table at Randazzo’s ( a large box for $2.00), I can’t pass it up.  Same goes for mushrooms, lemons, strawberries, or anything that might be canned.

Canning jars are even harder to resist.  Recently there was an ad on Craig’s List for 250 canning jars for $50.00.  I called immediately. The man selling them told me he would hold them for me until morning, when I could talk to my husband and see if he agreed this was a good buy.  Although $50.00 was an excellent price ($.20 each for quarts and pints), my husband pointed out that I would have to drive more than an hour and fifteen minutes one-way to get them.  I’d be paying in gas what I’d be saving in canning jars.  Maybe not quite, but it’d be close.  Plus, I already have more than 250 jars in the garage waiting to be filled.  My belief that “you can never have too many canning jars” can only go so far.  I had to pass on the deal.

I emailed the seller and he was glad I’d let him know.  He had three other people who wanted them.  I was jealous, but knew I’d made the right decision.

Great deals are what keep my pantry full and has made my canning obsession possible.  If I had to pay full-price for canning jars or food to preserve, I doubt we’d have half of what’s in there.  And for this, I am Simply Grateful.