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 29 2011

aldi vs. walmart: a shopping comparison [day 248]

You asked for it.  Here it is.  The price shopping comparison between Aldi and Walmart.  After my post on day 241, many people asked for a price comparison with Walmart, some because they love shopping there, others because they believe Walmart to have the lowest prices.  So what’s your guess on the savings?

Aldi is still a lot cheaper in comparison t0 both of the other stores.  On similar size off brand and generic items, Kroger was 52% more and Walmart was 47% more.  The savings at Walmart for these brands is not much less than a regular grocery store, neither coming close to the savings at Aldi.  On the name brands, Kroger was 113% more and Walmart was 67% more.  Here’s where the Walmart savings come in.  Name brands you’re familiar with, for much less than other places.  This whole process has made me think about my previous grocery shopping habits and has encouraged me to make some changes.  I’m going to label these a little differently.  Let’s call these stores by type.

conventional grocery storediscount grocery storesuperstore – convenience store

All of the store types have pros and cons, however making educated shopping choices for your money and well being isn’t the easiest thing to do sometimes.  Here are a few of my observations and answers to questions I had before doing this comparison: Continue reading


Dec 31 2010

what would I buy today… if I could? [day 218]

  • Some setting materials for the pile of slate in my driveway.  I can make two countertops and finish my patio.
  • Some gray paint.
  • Caulk and wood filler.  (I got liquid nails for Christmas!!  Thanks Lloyd and Susan!)
  • A modern bathroom light fixture.

I guess I would only be buying stuff to repair and finish my house.  Nothing big.  The big stuff, I try to find used, like the modern light fixture.  Impossible to find used, even on eBay.  The couple I found were WAY expensive.  Overall, my shopping habits have changed.  It’s much easier to live with my means and to be able to help others that don’t have enough “means” to cover the basic necessities.


Nov 28 2010

paint the town red… or just settle for painting my bathroom brown [day 186]

I’m on vacation this week, or as some might call it, a staycation.  I have a few projects to get done around the house, things I can do without spending money or shopping.  I have about 10 outlets that need replacing, as they won’t hold a plug.  I have all the stuff in the grage to do this task, and I have for about 2 years now.  I even have the black one that goes on my fireplace, nicely matching the slate tile.

What I would really like to do is finish up a few painting projects.  I can’t do this without buying paint, and I can’t buy paint, as that would be retail shopping.  The only room that really needs painting badly is my master bath.  It’s been 80% painted for the entire 4 years I’ve been in the house.  The water closet room still has the original mid 90’s southwest style wallpaper and border with popcorn ceilings.  Now I have paint, lots of paint, but not enough of any one color to do a room.  My paint is leftovers from home projects, church projects, oops paint, hand-me-down paint… you get the picture.  I also have a wall to paint in the upstairs loft room.  I guess I’ll just have to get creative!  I have enough red paint to paint the town red, but not enough other colors to do what I would like to in the house.  I’ll keep you posted.  :)


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


Sep 20 2010

I have that color [day 116]

This weekend I would have shopped if I could.  I had a little time to work on some projects in my house.  I needed a gallon of paint to finish a few walls and a ceiling that needed to be touched up and painted.  I had to make due with the paint I had.  Let me just say I have a lot of paint!  Probably over 100 gallon cans that are partially full.  I only had a half gallon of the color I needed.  I made it work.

Looking in a new decor book I picked up at the library, I found a painted wall that I can do with the colors I have.  I’m painting a wall in my loft like this.  No shopping, using what I have available.


Sep 13 2010

fun photos [day 109]

Not much to report on the shopping front, so I thought I would just share a couple of photos.

Recycled art project:  These were donated to FFS, cute bags of flour that were used for a school art project.

Plane trip:  I’m sure glad they told me that I can’t bring my gallon of bleach on the plane, because I always travel with it.  😉

Smallest closet EVER: Not sure why the image is sideways, but you get the picture.  (pun intended)  If we had tiny closets like this, maybe we would thing twice before buying some of the things we do?  The newer the houses, the bigger the closets.  In my last house, the master bedroom closet was bigger then my bedroom as a teen.  No wonder we buy more stuff, we can store it and not have to look at it.