Mar 26 2011

it’s alien poo out of an alien dumpster! [day 303]

Maybe I’m a mean mom, but I make my kids try new foods.  I don’t make them eat it if they don’t like it and I don’t go out of my way to get things that will gross them out.  Both of them like pistachio nuts so I thought I would make some pistachio pudding for dessert.  Here’s what happened.

Let me just defend myself here.  I have never fed my kids anything out of a dumpster.  I get food from grocery stores and I don’t know any aliens.  I don’t like food waste, so I bought just one box of pudding, however my timing on it wasn’t great.  I was going out of town the next day and since nobody liked it, it sat in my fridge for 5 days.  I guess the aliens came in peace though, as this is the shape the pudding cracked into.

Okay, so I added the little piece at the bottom between the two small lines, but it looked like a peace sign when I pulled it out, as the other 3 lines were cracked in.  So what’s the best way to avoid food waste with kids?  Here’s a few tips.

  • Small portions. When eating out, I sometimes make them share or order small quantities because we can always order more.  At home, I let them fill their own plates with the understanding that they must eat what they put on it.
  • Plan leftovers. If you go out, don’t get food that will taste bad as leftovers.  French fries are just gross as leftovers.  Order something that you or your kids will eat the next day.  At home, make extras of the foods that will keep well as leftovers and cook only what will be eaten on the right-now foods.
  • Let your kids cook. I don’t do this often enough, but if they help in the meal planning and cooking, they’re more apt to eat it.

This won’t eliminate waste, but it sure will cut it down to an extreme minimum.  It also never hurts to communicate your grocery budget to the kids and let them shop.  Keep in mind this can backfire when your 10 and 11 year-olds go to the neighbors house and tell them they’re spending way too much money on groceries, telling them everything they know about saving money when buying food.  I’ve found that works better than the ‘starving-kids-in-other-countries’ talk.  If we’re less wasteful, we’ll have more resources to help others.


Feb 7 2011

downsizing the kitchen & food supply [day 256]

I’ve been doing a lot of downsizing lately.  Right before snowmageddon, I decided to clean out the kitchen, not just utensils and cabinet crap, but food.  I don’t like being wasteful, and although we waste a lot less than the average American family, I felt that we needed to make some changes.  We made some radical changes and some subtle changes, and the results are proving to be really good.  I’ll share the overall goodness of this, the process of cleaning out the kitchen and a couple of mini-challenges.

The big picture.

We haven’t died of starvation. Again, we started this a couple of weeks before the ice storm.  We have much less food in the house, but we had plenty to eat during the 4-5 days at home.  I didn’t buy extra, in fear that we would starve and have nothing to eat for a week.  I bought a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread the day before the storm hit.  We had plenty, and I was even able to feed the two painters working in my house a couple of times.

Airstream… I mean streamline. Okay, I want an Airstream, but that has nothing to do with my kitchen.  The tasks of cooking, grocery shopping and cleaning the kitchen is much easier.  Cooking is easier, as there’s less stuff to shuffle around and I know what ingredients I have on hand.  Grocery shopping is easier, again, because I have less and I know the few things I need.  Cleaning is easier too, as I have a lot of extra pantry and cabinet space.  So much extra, that I was able to move all of my pantry items into empty cabinets while the oil paint takes 5 days to dry.

Here a snack, there a snack, everywhere a snack snack. My kids will open every bag of everything we buy at the store.  We could have, and have had, a pantry overflowing with food, and yet the kids can’t find a thing to snack on.  With much less in there, this is not a problem anymore.  It’s easy to see we have two open bags of crackers or pretzels.

Waste not, want not. We are wasting very little food these days.  Not that we wasted a lot before, but it was still more than I was comfortable with.  Waste is unnecessary, and by making some small changes to lessen it allows us to save a little money, be better to our environment and enables us to help others that don’t have enough to eat.

What did we do?

Downsized the pantry. If you have a smaller house like mine, the pantry is a small closet.  The picture is my “before” picture.  I don’t have an after right now, as the oil paint is still drying.  Whether your pantry is large or small, stuff always gets hidden in the back.  My pantry wasn’t horribly unorganized, it just had too much in it and could use a little more a system of “first in, first out”.  We took everything out and carefully selected what would go back.  I had cedar balls that didn’t smell like anything anymore.  Out.  Ridiculously expired stuff?  Out.  Open bags of stale crackers and chips?  Out.

We broke down the boxes and recycled them.  We couldn’t see all of the food behind the big boxes of crackers and cereal.  The boxes take up a lot of space.  I found it best to use see-through containers and baskets as much as possible.  Most of the stuff I didn’t know I has was in these black plastic crates and could not be seen. Continue reading


Jan 21 2011

are you sucktastic? [day 240]

I seem to be self-motivated by imposing challenges on myself, ones to better my artistic ability, to make positive changes or to just do something I feel is worthwhile.  Sometimes we get so bogged down with life that we don’t make time for the really important stuff.  A friend of mine has been struggling with not making time to be artistic, afraid that if she creates something, it will be “sucktastic”.  Okay, I love the word, but I hate what it means here.  Half of the crazy art I make is sucktastic, but it comes from my heart so it still has meaning for me.  I might not ever post my sucktastic art, but the artistic expression used during the making of it is a much needed emotional release.

Sometimes we have to be sucktastic before achieving fantastic.  I was listening to a talk radio show about success and failure in our school system.  They spoke about a pendulum, with success and failure on each swing.  The pendulum theory, as I like to call it, basically means that you’re allowed to succeed as much as you’re allowed to fail.  I have had many failures in all areas of my life, and sometimes it’s hard to get back up, brush yourself off and try again.  Allowing for big time failure can bring big time success, the sky being the limit.  If you allow for a little failure, you can achieve a little success.  This often feels like being in a box or being grounded, and sometimes we don’t even realize we’re in this position.  And the worst case scenario in this theory?  Non-movement or no room for failure.  This creates a vast black hole of nothingness.  Sometimes this is us being paralyzed with fear, sometimes it’s lack of motivation, but the important thing is identifying your issue and finding a way to move past it.

What does all of this have to do with Trash Society?  A lot.  Sometimes I loose sight of why I’m doing any of this.  Is it really making a difference?  I’m not in this for the money, obviously, as if I were to place a financial statement on it, it would be in the red.  I could use my blogging time to do freelance work.  I have a passion for what I’m doing, but I do sometimes lose sight of it.  Trash society is to make a difference, hopefully in less waste.  If you apply the pendulum theory to you and your talent, and if you’re not allowing yourself failure, then your talents are being wasted.  Where are you on the pendulum swing?


Jan 8 2011

behind again… [day 225]

It’s actually day 227, so I have some catching up to do.  Post holiday busyness?  Maybe.  :)

I like this logo I found earlier today.  Big thinking.  Transform.  Inspire.  Challenge. I have so many ideas in my head!  I need to be better about recording them.  I carry a journal with me, yet I haven’t been using it lately.  I think it’s time to break it out again.

So what’s the BIG idea?  I don’t know, but there’s definitely more than one.  :)

Think BIG today.  Transform, inspire and challenge yourself.


Dec 27 2010

the story of stuff [day 214]

I have an idea.  I know, no surprise…

I stumbled upon this little video called The Story of Stuff.  It’s a little over 20 minutes long, but I watched the whole thing.  Before I get into the details here, take a look if you haven’t seen it.  If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, skip around and take a quick look.

Although I like the overall message, I was questioning the statistics as I was watching it.  The presentation is awesome, the content easy to follow.  Again, the overall message here is a good one, but I have a few things to discuss and challenge.

The big picture of stuff. The message here is that we, as Americans, are abusing our planet, taking advantage of the disadvantaged and that we have all fallen victim to materialism.  On many levels, this is true, but some of the statistics seemed a little off to me.  After a bit of research on this video, I found they are using it in schools to teach children about materialism and “stuff”.  I’m not opposed to that at all, but this video is not just creating awareness, it’s trying to impose a guilt trip, and as Fox News stated, “Other critics have called it a “firehose of paranoia” meant to scare children into becoming environmental activists. They say the video romanticizes poverty in its attack on industrial nations and corporations.

I hope we’re teaching our kids to watch something like this and process it in a healthy way, as they should do with everything.  My kids question things, think about everything they take in, and sometimes have a viewpoint that even I haven’t thought of.  This video’s overall message is a good one, and unfortunately, it does paint an accurate “big picture” of our wasteful society.  The reason I say that, is because this video could be remade without all the statistics, showing both sides of the message about consumerism.  That’s a hint for my idea…   Continue reading


Dec 22 2010

white elephant gifts [day 209]

As usual, I had to look up some information on this.  The white elephant gift exchange is defined on Wikipedia like this:

white elephant gift exchange is a popular holiday party game found primarily in North America. It has many variations in both the name and the game play. Generally, white elephant parties need a minimum of six participants. With a larger group, game play may be more protracted. White elephant parties have been known to result in intensely vicious and/or playful rivalries between players trying to get sought after gifts. The goal of a white elephant party is usually to entertain rather than to gain. This game is sometimes called a Yankee Swap, Chinese Gift Exchange, Dirty Santa, Thieving Secret Santa, or Parcel Pass.

I think the key phrase here is the goal, it’s to entertain rather than gain.  The term white elephant is defined as:

white elephant is an idiom for a valuable possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth.

Most white elephant gifts I’ve seen don’t completely fit that description, but most are useless or outdated.  Here’s a few gifts from a white elephant gift exchange I participated in about a week ago.  Continue reading


Dec 19 2010

cool art made from junk mail [day 207]

I got an awesome little gift a few days ago, unexpected and very much related to trash society.  The gift?  An origami box with a photo album inside, all made with junk mail and paper stuff from the recycling bin.  Check it out…

Continue reading


Dec 16 2010

what are you getting your kids for Christmas if you can't retail shop? [day 204]

I’ve been asked a lot, “…what are you getting your kids for Christmas if you can’t shop?”  Here’s the answer you’ve all been waiting for.  I can shop, it just has to be pre-owned things, so here’s the plan.

Half Price Books. I got my kids each a gift card for $10 from Half Price Books.  They have a lot of used books to choose from, although I do allow my kids to retail shop, but only with their own money.  They love used books as much as I do.

Right after making this purchase, we got the Angel Tree list from each of their classes at school.  We always participate, but this year, we can’t buy the things on the list.  Instead of buying things on the list, I gave the cards I bought for the kids, then replaced them a week later.  Hopefully the cards might encourage the love of reading and buying things used.

Game Stop. Game Stop also carries used items, game systems, video games and accessories.  My kids both have a Nintendo DS and and an old Gameboy.  They together have an old Xbox and a Wii.  The great thing is that they enjoy the old gaming systems as much as the newer ones.  As a matter of fact, one of my friends saw my son playing with his old, beat up Gameboy and offered to give him a DS he wasn’t using.  I, of course, explained that he has one.  My kids are not technology deprived.  I don’t buy the best and newest stuff, I encourage them to use what they have.  I bought each of them gift cards with $20 on them.

Thrift store. I bought them some clothes at the thrift store.  They know their clothes come from there, and that’s the norm in our family.  This might sem a bit odd.  It’s not that I want them to not experience Christmas like their friends do, but I want them to hopefully think of it a little differently than what they learn in our culture.  Besides, they’re boys and they could care less about clothes, as long as they have some to wear.  The younger one is a little bit picky, but overall, they’re pretty easy in that department.  I got jeans, t-shirts and pajama bottoms.  I also found a camo water bottle and a school planner, both of which the kids asked for.  I also found a few cool books for them too.  Oh yeah, I also bought myself a robe.  See?  Even I’ve been culturally trained that I must have a gift under the tree.

amazon.com. There’s some specific books they both wanted, so we went online, found them used and ordered them.  Yes, they know what they’re getting, but that’s how we roll.  We don’t wrap anything either, we stick it under the tree in the box or envelope it was shipped in.  It’s more economical and environmentally friendly.

I posted a Santa Claus flashback from my blog last year and added a little bit to it this year.  It addresses some of the questions about gifts, Santa and kids, questions that most of us ponder when Christmas planning.


Dec 4 2010

food glitter [day 191]

I ran out of dishwasher soap a couple of weeks ago and had to wash my dishes by hand.  In the process, I realized that I wash all my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.  I’m sure this bizarre habit comes from my childhood of eating off gritty dishes from our dishwasher that was overloaded with food covered dishes, loaded with an expectation that the magic food removal fairy would clean them spotlessly.  I’m no rocket scientist, but I’m pretty sure these machines are not designed for such work, as I’ve never seen one that takes in lots of food without them coming out covered in food glitter.  Food glitter is gross.

I decided to wash my dishes by hand, set them in the dishwasher rack to dry, then put them away.  Without running my dishwasher, I’m saving water and electricity.  It was mostly an unnecessary step in the dishwashing process.  This doesn’t mean I won’t do it again, but I don’t need to use the dishwasher so often.  My dishes are just as clean, there’s no difference in time, but I’m being better with my resources.  :)


Dec 2 2010

holiday trash-tweet tips from Excessable Christmas [flashback]

These are some fun, funny, odd and disturbing holiday tweets from last year, published in my book Excessable Christmas.  The book is still available for sale on Blurb.  Book details:

ISBN: yeah, not so much.  Self published and I’m not famous… yet.

Price: blurb.com $26.95 + shipping.  From me, $26.00 and I’ll pay for the shipping. **All book proceeds go to Casa Hogar Elim**

Softcover: 120 full color pages (like I would ever do black and white)

Language: English, I think.

Book Dimensions: Square, I like squares, 7″ x 7″

Tweet Tips


SUPPORT SMALL BIZ: purchase gifts at local discount & hole-in-the-wall stores #shopsmart http://wp.me/p7CAn-3b

look 4 ‘symmetrical hazy plastic people nativity scene with flying peanuts’ in ur area. #sillyyardart #fun http://wp.me/p7CAn-3b

appreciate retail workers, be nice to them, retail sucks during the holidays #benice #putawayanitemoffthefloor

use fb for ur christmas card nxt yr. it’s the card that gives all yr long! #facebookrocks #holidaysmadebyhallmark

there’s no $ in reindeer games. dasher & donner r unemployed. #reindeerjobs #recession http://badecono.me

i hope santa delivers basic necessities to those in need. #besanta #volunteer #helppeopleinneed #ursanta

pause in ur busyness and make a phone call 2 someone u haven’t talked to in a while. #justcall #uhaverolloverminutes

stop & talk with an impoverished person. buy them lunch & learn their story. meet tom: http://wp.me/p7CAn-3K #listen

his sign said he was broke and hungry. aren’t we all? matt 22:37-40http://wp.me/p7CAn-3K #homeless #impoverished

the most important christmas icon of all is jesus, and I don’t mean the plastic one. @embracechaos   Continue reading