Mar 23 2011

you can take the turnip [day 299]

A long time ago, I had a friend a that used the saying, “You can’t get blood from a turnip, but you can take the turnip.”  I never paid that much attention to it, as I really didn’t need a turnip.  Fast forward many years and here we go with the turnips again.  According to my kids, I fell off a turnip truck, however if you ask them what that means, they don’t have a clue.  I’m not sure how turnips got such a bad rap, but they seem to be associated with not-so-nice references to people.  So let’s say you take the turnip.  What will you do with it?  You could throw it in the trash, deeming it useless.  Or maybe you could cook something with it, finding a small purpose for it.

I won an iPad 2 from actsofsharing.com yesterday.  That sounds really good, right?  It is.  Did I need an iPad?  No, I didn’t, but it sure is cool to have won an iPad.  The contest they were running was to see who could get the most new friends on their sharing site in a weekend.  I decided to try and win this, not only for the iPad, but because of the greater good of what they’re doing.  Here’s their mission statement:

It’s simple. Share the things you have with those around you. Nothing new, in fact, it’s something we have all engaged in at one time or another. And yet, we haven’t even touched the potential of this basic but most necessary act. Imagine a community of people like the early church, mentioned above, who made available every item which they had in their possession, who valued their neighbors as they valued themselves. Imagine being able to access tens and hundreds of times more stuff than you yourself have in your home. Imagine, before deciding to purchase an item, the ability to borrow it and try it out for yourself? In short, what if this community mentioned in the book of Acts was made manifest today, 2,000 years later? At Acts of Sharing, we’ve been imagining the implications, and we’re incredibly excited. Sharing is nothing original, but we think it’s revolutionary. And it will change everything.

I decided to take the good a step further.  If I won this, I told my friends I would share it on AOS.  (yes, it will be listed the minute I receive it)  Okay, one more step, I also told them I would donate $500 to The Samaritan Inn, our local homeless shelter.  So let’s look at the big picture of what happened here.

  • 55 of my friends are now sharing their stuff.  Not everyone will use this site, but several of my friends are already sharing their things.
  • Those 55 friends have more friends they can share with.  This will grow the sharing community.
  • My friends and I now have an iPad to share.
  • The Samaritan Inn received a nice donation and the homeless community was helped in the process.
  • A friend of mine decided to do a similar deal with her friends, and  as she said, she shamelessly stole my plan.  I wish everyone would steal plans like this!  That encouraged me to be more competitive.  [insert evil laugh]
  • I’ve now multiplied my accessibility to stuff without buying anything new and I’ve done the same for my friends.  Continue reading

Jan 31 2011

I don’t like to drink bubble bath [day 249]

I met with some friends at a local coffee shop a couple of days ago.  Coffee shops are good… the implied earthy feel, the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, the trendy decor, the comfortable seats, the people watching entertainment and the busy sounds of much needed liquid caffeine being altered into complex 8 word requests from the addicts.  I say all of that as I sit here drinking my one-shot, non-fat latte.  A latte I made at home for a fraction of the cost of a coffee shop latte.  Yes, I’m sitting at home, alone, looking at the mess I should be picking up, laundry I should be washing and saving money by not going to the coffee shop to blog.

Because I don’t like paper waste, I bring my own cup or mug to anyplace that will fill it, as opposed to a paper or styrofoam cup.  I brought my retro orange mug into the coffee shop, and thinking about the 2 lattes I’ve had already, I really didn’t need another.  But I also wanted to purchase something, as I’m sure they don’t appreciate me bringing in my own cup with my own drink.  (yes, I admit, I’ve done that before)  I decided to get a tea bag, as it’s probably the cheapest thing they have and I can use it a few times before it just makes hot water look dingy.  So I got a tea bag that was some sort of green tea.  “That will be $2.44…” the cashier said with a smile.  ??!!?  $2.44 for a tea bag?  I paid, irritated with myself for not looking for a price before ordering this.  I got my tea, in my retro mug and took at seat in the loft.

As I sat down and started to take a sip of my steaming hot tea, the shocking aroma of lilac stopped me immediately.  I was pretty sure I was about to drink hot bubble bath.  I took a deep breath and tried it.  It didn’t taste as horrible as it smelled, and for $2.44, I’m going to drink it.  I tell my kids not to be wasteful, so I’m gonna suck it up.  (pun intended)

I drank about 3/4 of it and spent a lot of time thinking of other uses for this tea bag.

Green tea?  Not so much.  Bubble bath?  Possibly, but it would stain my tub.  Fabric dye?  That would work, but I can’t think of anything I need to dye that color.  A drawer sachet?  I do not want my clothes smelling like that!  Air freshener?  Not a chance.  Perfume?  I could send it to my mom’s friend that used to wear vodka and lilac as perfume.  She my enjoy it.  Aroma therapy?  No, this would be like aroma torture.  Decor?  I’m creative, and even I can’t make this work as a decor item.  Any ideas?  It’s still sitting on my counter.

My idea.

I’m not opposed to spending $2.44.  I am opposed to spending that because I didn’t need anything to drink.  What if these coffee shops had a program to buy something for someone in need?  I go there, use their free wi-fi, take up table space, meet my friends there that are spending money, but my purchase is for a homeless person to have a cup of coffee or for a donation of their coffee to a local food pantry?  This could be a win-win-win.  I have a good place to meet friends, the coffee shop builds their business, someone in need gets a little help and our community is a better place.  Works in my head.  :)


Jan 24 2011

how many kids does it take to screw in a light bulb? [day 244]

My kids keep leaving lights on all the time.  Mostly in their rooms, but also other rooms, where I don’t have energy efficient lighting.  They weren’t always this way.  To make a point about electric costs and being wasteful, I used to charge them 25¢ each time they left a light on in the bathroom or in their bedroom.  At first, it was a nice offset to my utility bill, as they left the lights on frequently.  After a period of time, I got less money, as their habits started to change.  Over time, I stopped asking for payments, and over more time, their habits returned to forgetting to turn off lights and being wasteful again.  Time to regroup.

I could start charging them again, but I felt we needed something different.  Light bulb!!!  I had an idea.  I will educate them by showing them the utility bill, explain kilowatt hours and challenging them to a low utility bill.  If it’s lower than our projected amount, they get a fun dinner at Gattitown.  Also, because I thought they needed something tangible and a little out of pocket cost, I made them each buy 2 boxes of CF light bulbs.  This would allow me to switch out more of the bulbs we use frequently to save on energy costs.

We got the bulbs at Aldi.  They’re much cheaper there than anywhere else I could find.  You don’t have to buy yours there, but at least look to find them on sale, as many of the major retailers will run sales on them.  Aldi’s prices are half of what the other retailers charge for these.   I couldn’t find much info on this On brand off brand.  Ha!  Get it?  So far, these work as well as the other brands I have.  And I do have some of these I’ve been using for a while and they work great.

First, we replaced the 6 bulbs in the kids bathroom.  I replaced them with only 4 bulbs, and it’s still to bright, so much that the kids are complaining about it.  I’ll take one out, and that will have decreased the bathroom lighting cost overall by 87.5%.  Then I replaced all the lamp bulbs and the lights over my stove top.  I tried to replace the kitchen halogen lights, which have the standard bulb socket, however these won’t work, as the ballast on the bulb is too large to fit in the opening.  Bummer, because that would have been the biggest savings of all.

And don’t worry, I found a good home for all of the old bulbs, as they shouldn’t go to waste.  :)


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.  :)


Jan 8 2011

behind again… [day 225]

It’s actually day 227, so I have some catching up to do.  Post holiday busyness?  Maybe.  :)

I like this logo I found earlier today.  Big thinking.  Transform.  Inspire.  Challenge. I have so many ideas in my head!  I need to be better about recording them.  I carry a journal with me, yet I haven’t been using it lately.  I think it’s time to break it out again.

So what’s the BIG idea?  I don’t know, but there’s definitely more than one.  :)

Think BIG today.  Transform, inspire and challenge yourself.


Dec 27 2010

the story of stuff [day 214]

I have an idea.  I know, no surprise…

I stumbled upon this little video called The Story of Stuff.  It’s a little over 20 minutes long, but I watched the whole thing.  Before I get into the details here, take a look if you haven’t seen it.  If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, skip around and take a quick look.

Although I like the overall message, I was questioning the statistics as I was watching it.  The presentation is awesome, the content easy to follow.  Again, the overall message here is a good one, but I have a few things to discuss and challenge.

The big picture of stuff. The message here is that we, as Americans, are abusing our planet, taking advantage of the disadvantaged and that we have all fallen victim to materialism.  On many levels, this is true, but some of the statistics seemed a little off to me.  After a bit of research on this video, I found they are using it in schools to teach children about materialism and “stuff”.  I’m not opposed to that at all, but this video is not just creating awareness, it’s trying to impose a guilt trip, and as Fox News stated, “Other critics have called it a “firehose of paranoia” meant to scare children into becoming environmental activists. They say the video romanticizes poverty in its attack on industrial nations and corporations.

I hope we’re teaching our kids to watch something like this and process it in a healthy way, as they should do with everything.  My kids question things, think about everything they take in, and sometimes have a viewpoint that even I haven’t thought of.  This video’s overall message is a good one, and unfortunately, it does paint an accurate “big picture” of our wasteful society.  The reason I say that, is because this video could be remade without all the statistics, showing both sides of the message about consumerism.  That’s a hint for my idea…   Continue reading


Dec 24 2010

twas the night before Christmas… the culturally correct version [day 211]

Let me me be perfectly honest here.  I really hate holidays.  And, I’m an equal opportunity holiday hater, I don’t like any of them.  I love Christmas, that is the true meaning of Christmas, but I hate the cultural crap that comes along with it.  I just want to skip all this and move on to the new year.  I don’t want to spend a bunch of money I don’t have, I don’t want to eat a bunch of sweets, I don’t want to do the holiday dog and pony show, I don’t want to go to holiday parties alone, I don’t want to go to them with a spouse I don’t have, I do not like it in a box, I do not like it with a fox. I do not like green trees, this sham or culture’s Christmas, mad I am.

Some people think the Grinch stole Christmas, nobody cared, so he gave it back and everyone lived happily ever after.  That’s the fictional version of the story, because you and I know darn well, that if someone stole all of the things in our house and all the gifts from under the tree, we would not all be in the street holding hands and singing.   The story would be a little different…  Here it is, in the form of “Twas the night before Christmas.” Enjoy…

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the town

Many creatures were stirring, using credit around;

The plasma tv was unloaded with care,

In hopes that the credit bill was lost in the mail;

My kids wanting toys, finances in red,

While visions of electronics danced in their heads;

Me on my laptop, looking for deals,

Wondering where I will get the next meal;  Continue reading


Dec 13 2010

I've saved a lot of money, but that wasn't why I did it [day 201]

I’m speaking tonight at Preston Trail Community Church, in the Financial Peace University class, about the “no retail” shopping challenge.  I didn’t start this to save money, but it did turn out to be a nice benefit.  Here’s a recap of the posts from the last 200 days that have to do with saving money and thinking differently.  Enjoy & save!!

Basic & small money saving tips

A money lesson from Barbie. [day 198] – You can learn a lot for a dummy, I mean a Barbie.  This has tips on teaching your kids about money, and even though it’s Barbie, it’s good for boys or girls.

Saving electricity [day 191] – It’s a small thing, but these add up, as my last utility bill was $52.01 on a 100% renewable energy plan, 1,780 square foot house with huge vaulted ceilings and 16 year old appliances.

White elephant gifts [trashogram] – Give it away or trade it.

Junk drawer [trashogram] – You know there’s money there and also in your couch cushions.  It’s not collecting interest, that’s dust.

Made in China [day 176] – Know the difference between cheap and frugal.

To buy or not to buy? [day 167] – Kids spending money and get a small loan, because your going to the movies and buying popcorn.

Ask the chickens [day 162] – Expiration dates and tips on not being wasteful.

Fine!  Dress me up like a fairy princess! [day 161] – Tips on thrift store clothing shopping.

Shopping tips [day 160] – We’ve been subconsciously trained by little yellow tags.  Buyer beware.  Continue reading


Nov 11 2010

addiction? maybe… [day 168]

One of my favoriet scriptures is James 4:17.

17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

I have so many ideas in my head, many of which are goodwill ideas.  I know I should be doing a lot of them, so prioritization is hugely important.  I found a great place to use my creative gifts in a unique way, or to reword that, my friend Amy threw me, yet, another challenge.  “Oh, this looks like something that’s right up your alley.”  Anything creative is right up my alley…

Here’s my new addiction.  zooppa.com Here’s what it is, from their website.  “Zooppa is the global social network for creative talent. We are the world’s largest source of user-generated advertising, committed to the vision of real people and leading brands working together.” I am entering a few of the design contests, using humanitarian type ideas for the businesses participating.  Here’s one I turned in yesterday.   Continue reading


Oct 14 2010

toms shoes vs. bobs skechers. for real?! [day 141]

I would have loved to be in the brainstorming meeting when the Skechers people thought this was a good idea…

Exactly copying Toms Shoes, marketing program and compassion program?  Why?  The compassion part is understandable if they are wanting to make a difference.  Not if they’re just wanting to compete to make a profit.  Compassion marketing is the hot thing these days, as I blogged on a couple of weeks ago, and I’m not against it, nor am I against Skechers making money, but their motive seems shady to me.

Brainstorming meeting.

It might have gone something like this…

[marketing dude] “Toms has a great concept and they’re selling a lot of shoes.  We need a product line to compete with them.”

[design chick] “Why don’t we make some fun canvas type shoes.  We can make them in many styles and colors.”

[other marketing guru] “Yes, Toms is doing this great thing where they give a pair of shoes to someone in need for each pair someone buys.”

[everyone] Hours later…  no revolutionary ideas.  Continue reading