Mar 17 2011

vintage oven & stovetop [minimalist challenge item #28]

[item] 1956 retro GE built-in over and electric stovetop in turquoise blue

[purchase info] Purchased on eBay

[time in my possession] Approximately 4.5 years ago

[last used] Never

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium / hard

[destination] Craigslist

[info] I bought this when I was having a new house built.  The builder never started building the house, so I had to find an existing house, as I had a limited amount of time to move.  This has an interesting story behind it.

The people that owned it before me live in Minnesota.  I found this set on eBay for $300.  The house I was building had a place for a built in oven, but I couldn’t justify the amount of money it would take to ship it to Texas.  I happened to mention this to some friends (whom I had only known about a month) that just moved here from Minnesota.  They asked where in Minnesota, as they had to go back in a week and move their stuff here.  I told them.  Turns out it was 3 miles off their path and they offered to pick it up.

My grandma, who was visiting around this time gave me some money toward it as a housewarming gift.  Needless to say, I was disappointed when I realized I couldn’t use this.  Most of the homes now have the space for the range unit, not built-ins.  Well, not in my price range anyway.  (pun intended)

I really struggle with getting rid of this.  I know I have no use for it, but the fact that people are involved with it makes it a really difficult decision.  I haven’t listed it on craigslist yet, but I plan to in the next few days.  I’ll be asking $100 for both the oven and stovetop.  Both are in working order.


Jan 27 2011

surrounded by plastic [day 247]

Today, just a small collection of odd photos.  These remind me of a joke told by Steven Wright a long time ago.  He says he owns two rare photos, one of Norman Rockwell beating a child and one of Whodini locking his keys in his car.

Photo #1: Protecting the plastic

Seriously?  We need to wrap the plastic recycling bins in plastic sheets, and then place that wastefulness in a box?  What exactly is the purpose of the plastic wrap?  Maybe they did that so we would have something to place in our new recycling bins.

Photo #2: Surrounded

This is an old photo, taken in a motel room on our way to Mexico.  Did I really need a Starbucks latte that bad?  I have my own travel cups, but instead of bringing one I wasted a waxed paper cup, a plastic lid, a cardboard hugger thing and a plastic keep-your-coffee-from-spilling stick.  My roommate had a plastic bag sitting behind the coffee, and all of this sitting next to a plastic sign saying “save our planet”.  It’s a sign to place on the bed if you don’t want them to wash the sheets.  I wanted to place it on the bed, but we were only there one night, and I’m guessing the next guest would appreciate them being washed.

Photo #3: Sustainable styrofoam?

Wow.  What were these marketing people thinking?  Sustainably grown coffee, a beautiful story of how they’re helping the environment, all neatly packaged in a styrofoam cup.  My friend took this photo while traveling on an airplane.  Not like there’s a lot of choices at 32,000 feet above the earth.

These photos are just a few reminders of our disposable society.  How long will it be before our planet looks like a scene from a sci-fi movie?  No, I don’t mean the fun futuristic ones where we all own spaceships, wear silver clothing and have intergalactic space travel.  I mean the ones where people are trying to survive because there’s nothing left.  Yes, this might sound extreme, but is it?


Jan 16 2011

light bulb! an idea or just simply for light [day 234]

My friend that had the flood finally got to move back into her house yesterday.  As I was helping, I noticed the old bathroom light fixture sitting in the trash, with all of the old light bulbs still in it.  With the challenge, I can’t buy light bulbs, so I gladly unscrewed them all, placed them in an unwanted pink basket and brought them home.  I have 2 lamps that need bulbs.

I want to switch my bulbs over to the compact fluorescent energy saving bulbs, but that requires purchasing them.  It’s great to do this, but throwing away good bulbs seems like a bad idea to me.  I plan to switch them out as they burn out, as they are better for the environment and they use 25% of the energy of standard incandescent bulbs.

I decided to count the number of bulbs and the types that I have in my house.  Here’s the analysis.  (Whatever, it only took 5 minutes)

  • Incandescent – 43
  • Compact Fluorescent – 23
  • LED – 13
  • Halogen – 24
  • Low Watt – 8
  • Fluorescent tubes – 2

Dang!  I have a lot of lights in my house!  Only 41% of my lighting is energy efficient.  Using an energy star calculator, replacing all of the non-energy efficient bulbs in my house would cost just under $500, retail price.  The halogens would pay for themselves in 1 year in energy savings.  The incandescents will pay for themselves in 14 months.  So the big question is, do you replace them right away or do you replace them as they burn out?  Or some people might even be wondering if they should replace them at all?  What are the pros and cons here?  Let’s put these bulbs head to head and see what makes the most sense.

Pros: switching to energy efficient lighting

  • Saves money on your energy consumption. Up to 75% savings on CF’s and 90% on LED’s.
  • Much better for the environment. LED’s have no toxic materials in them and require no special disposal procedures.  CF’s help prevent the greenhouse effect and global warming.
  • Lamp life. LED’s last ten’s of thousands of hours, CF’s last approximately 6,000-15,000 hours, incandescents last approximately 750-1,250 hours, halogens last approximately 2,000 hours.  The life span of energy efficient bulbs are substantially longer than the non-energy efficient bulbs.  This makes the initial higher cost of the bulb a good value.
  • Costs. When factoring the bulb costs and the energy costs together, these save a lot of money in the long run.

Cons: switching to energy efficient lighting

  • The bulbs cost a lot more to purchase. The purchase price is higher, usually 2 to 5 times more.  The upfront cost is more, although the long term savings should be taken into consideration.
  • Lights on. CF’s take time to “warm up” and the light gets to it’s full brightness in about a minute.  For some people this is an issue, but I’ve gotten used to it.  It’s actually nice in the morning when you first wake up not to have bright lights in your face.
  • Lighting ambiance. LED’s light lacks in brightness and because of the light temperature, has a bluish hue to them.  Incandescents have a warm, yellow light.  Incandescents also have directional capabilities that the others don’t have, which is why you see a lot of halogen fixtures in stores and restaurants.  Lots of progress is being made with the energy efficient bulbs in this respect.
  • Disposal. Disposal of CF bulbs is tricky, as they contain a small amount of mercury.

For me, the pros outweigh the cons.  I will continue to replace the bulbs as they burn out with energy efficient bulbs when I can.  When the shopping challenge is over, I’ll consider replacing a portion of these that are in fixtures I use frequently.  Some of the accent lighting fixtures I don’t use often can wait.

Disposal and recycling issues. The recycling and disposal of the CF’s is still not easy.  (Jason, better late than never on this post)  Although there are many recycling programs, there aren’t many drop off places and the city recycling program doesn’t pick these up from your house.  It’s just not easy to dispose of these bulbs right now.  There are, however, two major retailers that participate in the recycling and disposal of these bulbs.  They are The Home Depot and Ikea.  Yes, it’s a little bit of work to save your bulbs and take them to the store, but you can plan it with a needed trip to that store.  Get together with you neighbors and take turns making a “bulb disposal run” each month.   Given the life span of these bulbs, it’s not a huge time sacrifice, and given the size of them, it’s not much of a space sacrifice either.  :)


Dec 29 2010

a year in pictures [day 216]

Honestly, some of these might be more than a year old, but they’re all the same, year after year… lots of stuff.  Most of these were taken in abandoned places, houses, farms, buildings, vehicles, you name it.  No matter where I go with my camera, I always find lots of stuff to shoot.  There’s something about each place that intrigues me, saddens me, excites me and disappoints me.  Take a look.


Nov 9 2010

sot barnslig is my new mascot [day 166]

Today, I am showcasing something Amy bought for me.  Now I don’t encourage buying anything from a retail store, but I have to say, this little guy is funny and I think he might be my new mascot for trash society.

!!??!?!???  Seriously?  I can understand one tag, but four?  Was the poor little guy constipated?  I decided to read the tags and do some research…   Continue reading


Jun 12 2010

sports, borrowing & recycling [day 15 & 16]

I’m going to play racquetball this morning, and I just realized I’m down to one ball.  Last time I played, the ball split in half.  Now I’m quite sure this is not attributed to my incredible upper body strength, but because I left the ball in the excessive heat inside my car.  These little rubber balls only last a few months at best when you play frequently.  So.  Racquetballs are not groceries, nor are they toiletries.  I can’t buy any, and the chances of finding any at a thrift store is slim to none.  I cannot expect my racquetball partner to buy them just because I won’t.  But I did come up with a solution.  When my last ball ends up dying the same death as the previous one, the rec center lends racquets and balls, so I will use theirs.  The availability of those to be borrowed are included in my monthly gym fees.

Again, not really much else to report on the shopping front.  Right now, I’m not missing it, although at some point I’m sure I will.

Also, a quick update on the recycling program.  [day 14] I have received some emails about that being unethical and it has stirred up some controversy.   I am planning a personal field trip to the Frisco recycling center.  If indeed my plan is not right, I will modify it.  If you have thoughts on any of my ideas, tactics or implemented plans, good or bad, feel free to comment on my blog.  The people that sent the emails have good points and I do take them into consideration.  More later, off to play racquetball.  :)