Apr 8 2011

garage sale for good [day 316]

While in the process of ridding my house of many unused things, I received a Facebook message about a garage sale.  This is not just any garage sale, it’s a sale to help someone in need.  Here’s the info from Facebook.

We will be holding a HUGE Charity Garage Sale at Third Monday Trade Days on Highway 380 in McKinney on Friday April 15th and Saturday April 16th. ALL proceeds will go to the Bereavement Fund to assist Tami and her children with life after the loss of her husband and the children’s Father. Medical bills are mounting and Tami is about to have her 6th child this April.

Plesae consider donating your items, volunteering to help run the sale, pricing, boxing, transporting items to the sale venue and even just sending this to ALL of your friends so we can get the word out! The more the better!

The timing on this, for me personally, is a little ironic.  I sometimes gather donations to take to the thrift store or to bring to an orphanage I love, and the first thing most people say is, “I have some old clothes I can send.”   This is sale actually a great place to send those unwanted clothes, as opposed to donating them to people that need other things.  (click here to read about situational needs)   I brought them some clothing, not because I didn’t want it, but because I didn’t need it.  I purposely downsized my wardrobe by over 50%, so this clothing isn’t out-of-style stuff, it’s good stuff with life left in it.

I gave lots of other stuff that I had slotted for the thrift store and craigslist.  I can always use the money I would get from selling stuff, but I don’t need it.  This is a way to infuse good into your stuff while blessing others.  In this process, I’m helping someone in need, I’ve met some really cool people I didn’t know, I’m blessing others with some of my unused material possessions and my life is slowly becoming less stressful, as I’m getting out of the gridlock of my belongings.

These photos were taken over a week ago.  I’m sure much more has been donated by now and this isn’t even all of the stuff.  Take a look.

Continue reading


Feb 27 2011

give some, get none [day 277]

Yesterday, I spent the early part of the day running errands before work.  Most of them were driving the Infiniti sleigh, full of donations, to all of the required destinations for drop-off.  I started at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, dropping off my old back door, extra slate tiles and a bag of hardware.  I went inside to look for a new front door.  The style I want, the size and that fact it needs to be used is making it difficult to find one.  Yesterday I found 3, and 2 of which I liked, but I decided not to purchase one.  I don’t need it and I’ve spent a lot of money on my house lately.

Next stop was the purple thrift store in McKinney, benefiting the Samaritan Inn.  I dropped off a few bags of my stuff, a box of stuff from work and two bags from my friends.  Of course I had to go inside, but I did it with my new minimalist trajectory.  Here’s what I didn’t buy.  2 blue ceramic bowls.  I thought about buying them because we don’t use paper plates or plastic utensils, even when entertaining, so I tend to keep more of these in the house.  I have all solid colored mis-matched dishes.  I chose not to buy them, as I really don’t entertain that much and I didn’t need them.  Just saved $2.  The other thing I didn’t buy was a metal orange tray for $3.  My kids like to occasionally use a tray to eat upstairs, which I allow about 2 times a year.  We have a plastic red tray, and I didn’t need the orange tray.  No need for 2 of anything like that.  I probably don’t even need to keep the red tray.  I didn’t need anything in there, so I left without buying anything.  Time for my next stop.

I decided to go to Half Price Books since I had a pile of books I didn’t need.  I’ve sold books to them in the past and I swore I would never do it again.  For the number of books, the value of them as used books and the condition, I always felt financially raped when I left there after selling books.  I thought this time I’ll go in, sell my stuff and be prepared for any amount of money I might get.  I gave them 8 classic novels, 4 current magazines, 1 current novel, 3 cookbooks and other miscellaneous books.  23 pieces in all.

All of these are used, my best estimate is $40.00 out of pocket.  Since it was a weekend, Half Price was busy so I had to wait a little while for them to process my stuff.  That was no problem, as I wanted to look around a little bit.  I was hoping to find some books on hoarding or materialism, but to no avail.  I looked on the ‘housekeeping / organization’ shelf first.  Continue reading


Feb 19 2011

dust, downsizing, donations and discards [day 269]

The Boyscouts are collecting food items in my neighborhood today to donate to our local food pantry, Frisco Family Services.  I want to help, but I just cleaned out my pantry a couple of weeks ago and drastically changed my shopping habits to not have too much extra food in the house.  I realized that I actually accomplished this when I had a friends kids over and I had to cook for 5 people.  Most of the things I had to cook would not feed 5 people.  As I was going through my pantry this morning, pulling out some things to donate, it hit me.

A flood of memories absorbed my thoughts as I reflected back to a few specific times when I was taught a lesson, yet I didn’t fully learn it until this morning.  My first big flashback was Hurricane Andrew.  I worked in Miami, and although my home in Ft. Lauderdale wasn’t hit, I knew many people that were homeless after the storm.  (It gave me a new appreciation for my one-way 62 mile commute to work)  My workplace was demolished.  The large retail company I worked for placed me in charge of coordinating relief efforts for their employees, which was approximately 150 families.  Other stores from all over Florida donated stuff, the company had it all sent to us in a semi truck.  As we opened it in anticipation of receiving some things that were desperately needed, that excitement turned into sadness as we saw the contents of the neatly stacked boxes from inside the truck.  It was filled with clothing discards, boxes stuffed with unorganized clothing chaos that looked as though it had been loaded into the boxes with a dump truck.  There was very little food or toiletries, the things that were really needed.

Next, were my thoughts of working in the FFS food pantry.  I enjoyed this time, and I learned a lot.  Although many people gave some great food items, at least once or twice a day we received the bags of very expired “I-finally-cleaned-out-my-pantry” food.  I saw food cans that had so much dust on them, we had to wipe it off to see the date stamp.  I worked there in 2010 and I saw a bag of food where most had expired in 1994.  These donations fill absolutely no need at the food pantry.  They cannot give out expired food.  When it gets close, or is only right after the expiration, they give it away on the free shelf, that requires no voucher, and is not applied toward their allotted amount.  I was afraid to ask what happens to the really old food like that, as I’m sure they have to throw it in the trash, but I just didn’t want to hear that answer.  Some things are better left unsaid.

My last thought was how many times I might have donated expired food, feeling good that I’ve helped people in need, yet was basically making life difficult for the volunteers at the food pantry and never helping anyone.  I was helping with good intentions, as I think we all do, but I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons.  Helping people is not an opportunity to get rid of my expired, unwanted food or to get rid of clothing that’s hideously out of style.  Helping should be an opportunity to make a positive difference in someone’s life, filling a need they have at one of the lowest periods in their life, in many cases.  Yes, others can be blessed by us donating some things we don’t need or want any longer, however the thought process should be that of, “What if I was on the receiving end?  Would I like this or want this?  Would I need this?”  As my friend Amy just said, “Sometimes your trash can also be another person’s trash.”

I filled a bag this morning in a completely different way.  It has food that I like and bought for me and my family to eat.  It’s not expired, nor is it stuff I don’t like.  My minset is this, if I’ve been blessed enough that I can feed my family with no problem, I should pay it forward.  I can easily replace this food.  Every so often we have, and will do more often, shopped specifically for food and toiletries to donate.  I’ve done this in the past to teach my kids about helping people in need, and just how important it is to do it for the right reasons, so how did I miss all the lessons?  My bag of food for the Boyscouts is not a big one, but all of the items are current and mostly things I just shopped for last week.  Geez, how many other lessons have I chosen to ignore?  Maybe I should keep one, dusty, expired can of some sort of gross food so I don’t forget.


Nov 5 2010

ask the chickens, maybe they know [day 162]

Last night at dinner, I was having a conversation about not being wasteful, mostly with food, but really anything else.  In efforts to not be wasteful, the conversation quickly lead to the subject of expiration dates.

Expiration dates are helpful in many ways, but also used for control.  I’ve had this conversation a few times with my friend E, who gets rid of everything the moment it expires.  I’m quite the opposite, so for her birthday last year, I found the most expired thing I owned and gave it to her.  It was a tube of Coppertone sunscreen that was 10 years expired.  Would I have still used it?  Yeah, probably, however it might not have worked, but it wasn’t going to kill me.    Continue reading


Aug 11 2010

biohazard bags [day 74]

Let me just say, if you are making a donation of any type of stuff, and you happen to have have a leftover stash of biohazard bags, please don’t place your donations in them.  I’m quite sure there are other uses for biohazard bags besides putting non-hazardous toys and clothing in them.  Buz Lightyear, Barbie and Mater didn’t look so happy to be in the red plastic dome of doom, nor did I enjoy moving them around, while in the back of my mind wondering where these toys came from and if they have radioactive superpowers.


Jun 25 2010

books, books and more books [day 30]

I worked most of day 30, so there was no time to think about shopping, even if I had wanted to.  Day 31 was a little bit different.

I had bags of clothing and toys from a few days ago when I cleaned out some of our closets.  I went to the thrift store to drop everything off, but the line was long and my car AC doesn’t work when the car is idle.  I had every desire to go park my car, walk my donations to the curb drop-off area and go inside.  I knew if I did go in, I had to need something in order to buy it.  So I parked the car, did the curb drop-off and went in.

I had an idea the other day for purchasing gifts.  I can’t buy new things and it’s still not completely socially acceptable to give used stuff for gifts.  (I have every intention of starting this new trend!)  I decided to look for used books, ones I am familiar with or topics that I know some of my friends or kids would like.  I usually do this with vintage books, but they cost a lot of money.  Books at the thrift store are $1, which I find very expensive since they used to be $0.25 each.  Until I find another $0.25 book store, I’ll guess I’ll have to deal with it.  After all, the money is going to a local charity and that’s a good thing.  I was without my kids so I got to leisurely look through all of the books, slowly scanning each shelf, reading the title of every book.  Now that’s some good down time!

Have you ever thought about the value continuum of books?  Expensive (full price), relatively expensive (on sale), good deal (a really good sale), screaming deal (everybody has a copy or has borrowed one and read it), free or really super cheap (garage sales & thrift stores), and finally with some books, back to very expensive (vintage and rare books).

Some call it frugal, some call it cheap, I really don’t care about the name as long as I’m getting a good deal.  I bought eight books.  One book that I’ve been wanting to read for a while, but didn’t want to pay $15 for, was right there on the shelf.  The other books will be for gifts.  I usually alter them a little bit, meaning I write a personal note in them and add artwork.

I also bought one more thing that I would see as a need.  My kids wanted to start battery recycling at the church.  We go through a lot of batteries with the mics and remotes in the tech area.  I bought a small metal trashcan with a lid for $6.99.  Supporting my kids in their efforts to make this world a better place seems like a good thing to do, especially when it’s just $6.99.  It might not have been a need, but it sure seemed like a good purchase.  :)