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


Dec 2 2010

did OJ really do it? maybe wikileaks has a document on that… [day 190]

There have been many days I have been called an activist.  I never really thought of myself that way until a couple of years ago.  Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky?  Could happen.  I do get overly passionate about many things.  I suppose that could be good or bad.

I heard an interesting term on the radio today… “hacktivist“.  It’s an activist computer hacker, and one by the screen name Jester took down wikileaks for a few hours.  If you combine words, I guess I might be considered a junktivist?  Or maybe a resourcivist?   Continue reading


Nov 24 2010

move it Ralph! this shelf is mine! love, Martha [day 182]

I had to shop yesterday for work, and I know now why I don’t shop.  Getting new stuff can be good, but the shopping process just isn’t fun.  I had to go to Home Depot, which is basically a toy store for me.  If I was shopping, that would be in my top 5.

Finding specific paint colors by numbers is no easy task.  While they were mixing the paint, I was helping my friend Shannon pick out paint colors for her house.  I immediately started looking for the Ralph Lauren paint chips, as I like the color selection and the paint covers well.  I looked around and quickly realized that Ralph has left the building, as Martha Stewart stood over my shoulder with a smug look on her face.  She has shoved Ralph out of the way to make room for her collection of more feminine, more subdued colors.

I asked the guy behind the paint counter about this observation.  He told me that Ralph is gone, replaced by Martha because she’s more popular and has a larger market share.  I didn’t buy RL paint because of the name, I bought it because I liked the color selection and the quality.  Do people choose paint because of a name?  Is there something symbolic about it?  Once it’s on the wall, does anyone care who made it?

What do the cans say?  Besides saying these are all great quality and they cause cancer, but only in California?  Martha’s paint has a ribbon around it with the words “color performance”, although I think the ribbon is a subliminal message that says, “I won.  Ralph is outta here.”  Ralph’s paint is the American icon of paint.  The design says traditional, the color pallet says traditional with good taste.  So I thought I’ll have my own paint line.  Jody’s paint is leftovers from her painting jobs and everyone else’s, excluding beige.  Jody’s paint peacefully sits in your garage, waiting for a touch up or a new painting project, but never trying to pull market share from other paint companies.  Can’t we all just get along?   Continue reading


Jun 15 2010

[book review] radical by david platt

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
  • Amazon: Buy the book
  • Kindle version: Get it now
  • ISBN-10: 1601422210

Amazon.com review from June 14, 2010

Although I really like much of the content in this book, and I am glad I read it, I struggled some with the author’s communication style of ‘you need to do everything I’m saying’. He has many great points about taking back your faith from the american dream. I live in a city where the income average is twice that of the national average. I have a 1780 square foot home, which here is considered extremely small, yet I consider it very big. I drive my 14 year old car next to many new and much fancier cars. Over the past couple of years, and a lot lately, I really have to wonder why God has me in a place where people are living the american dream… times 2. I clearly don’t fit in here, or do I?

David gives many opinions, and many of them really good, but I feel like I still don’t know what he’s about. He gave some personal examples, but not enough for me see that he is completely sold out to his opinions and vision. Before this book, I read Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical “Irresistible Revolution”, and it was clear by his stories and the way he communicated it, that he is sold out to his vision and beliefs. I do recommend reading this book, but I also recommend that you pray about God’s will for your life within the context of his thoughts.

The premise of the book is that everyone must make disciples everywhere in the world, no exceptions, and doing things locally is not enough. I will challenge this with a little different way of thinking. Yes, it would be great if everyone could go to other countries to help people. AND, he is right that we shouldn’t just send money and feel like we’ve accomplished something. First, I think God has a will for all of us to help, and when we all understand out how he wants us to be His hands and feet in the world, we should not ignore that. I think David is right that we should make sacrifices on some level and make helping the poor a priority, not a passing thing that might happen once a year at Christmas time or when you decided to clean out your closet and give away your discards. On page 130, he says, “What would happen together if we stopped giving our scraps to the poor and started giving surplus?” He is right, we should order our lives in way that allows us to help others. But if I don’t go out of the country, then I am not doing God’s work? I don’t believe that. I’m a single mom with a full time job and limited financial resources. I do go to Mexico on mission trips, although I hate calling them that, as these orphans we visit are family. I would love to go to Africa and many other places, but that’s just not a reality right now. So I can support someone who can go and I can also do many things here to support the impoverished locally. I’m not accepting the implied guilt trip. According to David, I am wrong.

I pray about what missions work I should be doing everyday, and not only that, I’m also teaching my kids to do the same. We might not be in other countries physically, but I’m not ignoring them. I know people are suffering globally and I can partner with people that are making a difference. My heart is with those people as well, and I think that’s what God is calling us to do. We should love everyone, be aware of global needs and not ignore them. These places are far away and they’re not in our day to day lives, and if we don’t look for them, chances are we will not ever see them. We have to be intentional about educating ourselves so we can reach out in the ways God has designed us to do just that.

I know this will end up being the longest book review ever to hit Amazon, so I’ll wrap it up. David’s challenges at the end of the book are this:

Pray for the entire world
Read through the entire Word
Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose
Spend your time in another context
Commit your life to multiplying community

I love these challenges! I read these and have started in a positive direction on all of them, but by praying through them and understanding what God wants from me and within my reality.

I had an idea from reading this, an idea about praying for the world, which I started last night with my kids. I’m doing a year of no retail shopping, which I’m blogging the process on […] (I’m only 19 days into it at the time of this review) Other than groceries and toiletries, I can purchase used stuff only, and only if needed. I went to the used bookstore and bought a world atlas. (used for $10. I would have purchased from Amazon, but I wanted to start my idea immediately) When my kids and I pray every night, we are now also praying for the people in a specific place every night. I realized my geography skills are… well, they suck. I could try to sugar coat that, but there’s no point. With the atlas, we can not only pray for people globally, but we can see where they live, learn more about them and better understand how we can help. I have every hope that we can visit some of these places someday and my kids have that desire too. They want to meet Angelo, our Compassion International sponsored child in Peru. How cool would that be? I have no idea if that could ever happen, but they continue to dream about it and I continue to support them in believing it could happen someday. We also write our name and date we prayed for places in the atlas.

So to sum it up, I recommend reading the book, there’s a lot of really good things to ponder. As a matter of fact, I have highlighted and underlined many things in this book and I will refer back to it. If you have the same struggle I did in relating to the author, read it anyway, consciously eliminating his opinions, but taking seriously his thoughts and ideas. Take his challenges too. The world would be a much better place if we all made some positive changes, even if it’s just a tiny one.


Jun 12 2010

the car wash [day 17]

I just couldn’t take it anymore.  My car was so messy and dirty!  Time to take it to the car wash.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking… “…isn’t that a retail place?”  I suppose it could be considered that, but hear me out, then you decide.  It’s retail, but I was not buying ‘stuff’, I was buying a service.

As I was driving to Qwik Wash in Frisco, I realized I was passing about four other car washes to get to there.  I’ve been taking my car to Qwik Wash for about 6 years now?  I had to stop and think about why I keep going back there.

Two reasons immediately came to mind.  Reasonably priced and great service.  In a society where companies are always cutting down on the labor force to save money, this place has plenty of employees.  Not only do they have enough to provide good service, but they seem happy to be there.  I did a little homework on the company.  They’re a small, local business.  I feel good supporting them as a place that provides many jobs in our community.   They have two locations, so it’s small, but they have big hearts for helping the community.  They support local fundraising and I also found out they have been a drop point for food drives.

When I pulled up to get my ‘regular’ wash package, they asked if I wanted to upgrade.  I said no (mostly because I’m too cheap to pay for that), however after ringing me up, because I have been a loyal wash and oil change customer, I got a free upgrade.  They take good care of their loyal customers.

All of the reasons I have mentioned to this point are enough to keep me going there, and anyone that knows me, also knows I will be their best advertising.   One more thing though.  As I was looking around, my car was clearly the oldest one coming through the wash process.  After all, this is Frisco, Texas, land of the American Dream X2.  (in future blogs, we’ll call this ADX2)  It amazes me how they can clean up my 14 year old vehicle to where it looks much newer than it is.  I’m also one of the few people that embrace door dings, as it adds character to my car.  (I actually met a friend through a door ding!)  I’m quite sure my vehicle is more work due to its age… well, and the ages of my kids who trash the back of it.  They clean my car just as well, if not better than, the brand new Mercedes next to me.

It made me happy to know that my old car represents what I believe in.  I don’t have a car payment, so no debt.  I’m content with what I have.  I was having a conversation with some people at work a few weeks ago about winning the lottery.  What would we do with the money?  I’m not sure how it came up, but I said I would not buy a new car.  I got some completely crazy looks, but it’s true.  I’m happy with what I have and I could wash it myself, but I feel like I’m supporting a business that is good… AND I’m not buying more stuff.  I do most things myself, but this is something I treat myself to about once every three months.

What did you decide?  Is this okay or should I be washing my car myself?