Feb 12 2011

theme your fire! [day 261]

It looks as though chimineas have become a seasonal item.  Now I really don’t understand why anyone would buy one of these, with the exception of someone like me, who likes to display holiday stuff on the wrong holidays.  Where do you store this giant, hollow chunk of clay on the off-season?  Provided there’s enough space to store him, he probably throws the plastic tarp to the side and has coffee with Mr. Pumpkinhead Chiminea and Santanea, as they wait patiently for the release of Miss Easter Rabbit.

Now I’m not sure what you think, but if this is a winter chiminea, how much use would anyone get out of it if it’s snowy and cold outside?  I have a fire pit (non-themed) and I use it about 7-8 times a year.  This is one of those items that don’t get used a lot.  If I had really thought through it, I would not have bought the fire pit.  Although it’s nice to have when I want to make s’mores, I don’t use it enough to justify owning one.

These are the changes I hope to make coming out of the challenge.  I want to really think through all purchases, large and small, making good minimalist choices and buying things I will use.  I have applied that to the used stuff I purchase and when I do get something, I use it.  My hot tub is used about 70% of the time and has great family-time value.  My freecycle lamp is fixed and now I have light in my dining room.

I hope Frosty enjoys the hot Texas weather or that he finds Karen, and she can get him on the train to the North Pole in time for the heat wave.  Oh, and Professor Hinkle, good luck getting your hat off this Frosty.

Oct 28 2010

I was targeted [day 154]

I had to go to Target to allow my son to exchange a birthday gift he received.  I put it off for a few weeks, but I needed to get it done.  I had to pick up a few groceries, and Target is a place where I could get both things done.

Of all the retail stores, I probably like Target best.  Honestly speaking here, I think it’s because they have stuff I like, but in every color imaginable.  I caught myself looking around and liking some of the things I saw, and I even thought about what it might be like to make a purchase.  Once I processed the thoughts through my ‘no retail shopping for a good reason’ filter, the items I thought about didn’t seem too appealing anymore.

Targeted. It’s almost halloween and here’s a new item you can get.  Themed halloween nutcrackers.  If they sell great at Christmas time, let’s make them for all holidays!  Wow.  I didn’t even buy a pumpkin this year.

Merrily targeted. I’m trying to teach my kids to save their money, and if they do spend it, to spend it wisely.  Does anyone else find this hard to do when every single thing in our society teaches impulse spending and that more stuff makes you successful?  Well, here’s your solution.  Save merrily with $10 Christmas themed piggy banks.  Candy cane pigs, reindeer pigs, elf pigs, ornament pigs and if you want to hear your child scream, get the satanic looking santa pig.  I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who leaves Christmas stuff out year round.  So does the money get stored away with the Christmas decorations?

I’ll merrily pass on this one.  They’re cute, but I see it as more clutter.  If it encourages your kids to save money, then this might be a good use of $10 though.  :)

Oct 19 2010

challenging the challenge [day 144]

Yes, I did it. I went into a retail store. It was Marshalls, and I went because I was asked to help pick out a tie and a shirt. Just for the record, we did look at the thrift store first, however it’s hard to find specific things in the right sizes. We were scheduled to go to a black tie ‘optional’ event, which means close to black tie. The thrift store didn’t have a white shirt or a cool looking black tie.

It felt weird, even just driving into the parking lot.  Once we entered the store, I felt this tremendous amount of guilt, like I was cheating on my challenge.  I wasn’t buying anything, but it was just strange to be in a retail store.  I decided to have some fun with it and see what challenges the challenge.  Off to the men’s department…

The underwear tie. Interesting tie here, pink with little designs on it.  Upon closer look, they look like little aliens, then after you look at it enough, it looks like little mini whitey-tightie underwear.  Or if you prefer, panties.  Is this a subliminal message tie of some sort?  Maybe.

We found the black tie he needed,  so let’s move on to the shirt.

The well-protected shirt. We found several white shirts, all of them nicely folded in plastic bags.  As Steve asked, “How am I supposed to try this on?  I’ll never be able to get it back in the bag.”  Hmmm, good point.  My thoughts?  If they want to sell it, they won’t mind you taking it out of the bag.  So we did.  Do you have any idea how much waste is involved in the packaging of just one shirt?!  Just in case you don’t, here’s the list:  Continue reading

Oct 17 2010

flying by the seat of our pants [day 143]

I had an interesting conversation with a guy I met recently in our church group.  Curt lived in Hawaii for a long time, after living in Amarillo, Texas.  We were discussing the “green issues”, possibly prompted from my lack of paper plates and plastic utensils while entertaining a large group of people.  He said when living in Amarillo, he didn’t think much about recycling, as it was never a priority since there’s so much room for landfills.  In Hawaii, that’s not the case.  Space is limited and people living there need to generate the smallest amount of trash possible.

As a society, it seems like we fly by the seat of our pants with things like this, then when it becomes a huge problem, only then to we create awareness and try to fix it.  (Halloween costume?  Check.)  Another guy in our group, Marc, was asking how we can be proactive to the problem of homelessness, which was our main reason for meeting.  Keyword: proactive.  What does it look like to be proactive in environmental and humanitarian issues?  If I answered that in one blog post, it would take me all year to write it.  I’ll take a different approach.

Why am I talking about this today?

Lots of reasons.   Continue reading

Sep 25 2010

slurpeevader [day 122]

Halloween is right around the corner.  It’s not even October yet and I’ve seen several houses that have already started decorating with the orange and black ghoulish accents.  Thinking ahead on halloween and my shopping challenge, I pondered the whole halloween event from many angles.  Here’s my brain dump.

Kids halloween costumes.

My kids have never been at a loss for costume ideas, especially Joe.  I bought their costumes last year… their overpriced alter-identities to be used for one night.  This year, it’s their dad’s turn to buy costumes, and as it turns out, the boys forgot to ask him.  Now they’re going to really have to be creative!  Joe saved his Slurpee cups and decided several months ago to be ‘Slurpeevader’, a mix of Slurpee Man and Darth Vader.  I guess Cole will have to come up with something too.  Costumes can be found at the thrift store and on eBay, but the pickings are slim on the low priced stuff and the good selection cost as much as new.


Halloween, just like all other holidays, cost a lot of money.  If we have kids, we are expected to decorate our houses, buy costumes, have lots of candy to give away, carve pumpkins, make treats and probably many other things that I’m not doing.  What happened to having some holiday fun without spending a lot of money to do it?  Does all of this halloween commercialism really make it better?  I don’t think so.  I think it’s more difficult because if I choose to not buy into the commercialism, my kids think we’re doing this all wrong.  Either they will turn out like me or need lots of therapy.  I started their funds already.   Continue reading