Apr 8 2011

4 kitchen thermometers [minimalist challenge item #50]

[item] Lot of 4 kitchen thermometers

[purchase info] Purchased new from housewares stores or coffee shops

[time in my possession] Approximately 13 years

[last used] Over 5 years

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Thrift store

[info] I had a ‘bouquet’ of these in a small vase of coffee beans.  This is a true picture of excess, as I can only use one at a time.  I kept my 2 favorites, one in use, one in the dishwasher if it’s dirty.  Why did I feel the need to have 6 of these???  My senselessness on display here.  :(


Mar 28 2011

mental gymnastics [day 305]

Buy one, purge one.

I’ve been practicing my “buy one, purge one” philosophy and it’s going well.  I was hoping to photograph all of the items, however that would take a lot of time.  I am doing it though.  I don’t shop near as much as I used to.  Even though I purchased things from a thrift store, it was still buying a lot of junk I didn’t need.  Now I’m much more selective and I buy much less, especially knowing I will have to get rid of something every time I buy something.  It’s a good plan and it’s not been a struggle at all.

I bought 2 pairs of shoes, a pair of jeans and a pair of swim trunks at the thrift store a few weeks ago.  I needed a pair of dress shoes that were comfortable.  I found just the right pair and I bought another pair that were on sale for $2.00.  I came home and got rid of 2 pairs of shoes.  The jeans, girl’s size 16, fit me, but a little snug.  I bought them with the intention of wearing them if I could, but if not, using them to repair some of my other jeans.  The boys needed a pair of swim trunks, as they’ve been fighting over the one pair they have.  I actually got rid of a lot of clothing, not just 2 pieces.  I’ll be blogging that soon.

Just a few days ago, I bought some throw pillows for my patio swing.  I’ve been wanting some because I love the swing this time of year and I like to lay on it and read.  Considering I got the swing for free from a friend and the cushions free from a dumpster, spending a few bucks at a thrift store on pillows seemed okay.  They’re the same fabric as my patio chairs and are from Pottery Barn, so they cost someone a lot of money.  I plan to dye or paint the unbleached cotton cushions.  So what am I getting rid of?  My colorful tile pot (that’s broken), some of my solar lights (a few that don’t work) and the shiny rocks (that are serving no purpose whatsoever).

Buy one, purge one is not difficult.  It’s a good feeling to know I’m not going to be accumulating more stuff when I do shop and it makes me walk away from many things I would have purchased with my old shopping habits.

Snap one, show one.

I started a quirky little habit.  I take photos of the things I considered buying, but chose not to.  I snap a photo and I show it here on my blog.  Here’s a couple of pics.  To the left are 4 square glass tables.  I thought these would be nice for my patio.  Mental gymnastics:

  • What would I get rid of?
  • Do I want to clean these?
  • Will I maintain the plants I want to put on them?
  • Where will I get the plants?  The pots?
  • Are these made for outdoor use?
  • Do I really want to spend $70?

I thought about all of that in less than a minute and easily decided against them.  Next was 2 latte mugs, the polka dot one and the orange rimmed one.  It’s rare to find oversized mugs.  Here we go again.  More mental gymnastics for he sake of consumerism.

  • Do I like these mugs?
  • Do I need these mugs?
  • What will I get rid of?
  • Do I need more dishes to wash?
  • How many cups can I use at one time?
  • How do these fit into my minimalist approach to downsizing?
  • Do they coordinate with my mismatched collection?
  • Do I really want to spend money on these?

Again, in less than a minute, I walked away from these.  I like the new habits.  They aren’t painful at all.  I haven’t quit shopping, but I’m spending my money less frequently and more wisely.  Time to kick it up another notch?  Probably so.


Feb 28 2011

leave the light on, but also leave the coffee pot [day 278]

My friend Lauren posted this photo on her Facebook page last month.  It’s her dead Mr. Coffee machine.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many comments on a photo before.  This very basic coffee machine lasted 10 years.  Now that’s impressive.  I found the comments interesting, and there’s a lot to learn here.  Here’s most of the comments feed.  No names though, as I must protect the identity of the world’s coffee addicts.  😉

Get a Keurig….you will love it! Fast, easy and very little clean up!!

I’m laughing right now! RIP Mr. Coffee Maker!

Bahl Oh oh oh!! I have a one cup coffe maker (Senso) if you’re interested in it. I don’t use it any more…

So funny – I have a Krups that I know has to be 14 years old and I ask myself everyday how long it will last. It is a 4 cup one and I love it! RIP little coffee maker….

Get yourself a Keurig – We got one for Christmas – love it. Mostly b/c Scott is the coffee drink and I love iced tea (yes, it makes that), cider and hot chocolate. We can make it one right after the other and there’s no aftertaste from the previous drink. Can you tell we love it?!

Aw…

I am so sorry for your loss. Poor guy rest in peace

It is a sad day when the coffee pot goes – we got a new Brew Station, but I kept the old one just in case.

I’m looking at that more closely now…did you steel that from a motel?? rofl

Wow! I think you got your moneys worth out of that one ; ) lol

Cuisinsrt Keurig! It does hot and cold coffee/tea!!! But, be warned… You will drink way more coffee…it’s just that good! (get the Donut House variety pack too!)

That does look like a hotel special

I LOVE my Keurig!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!!

Bahl SEE!!!! lmao…

That’s a great life! Get a Pasquini or anything that doesn’t use lots of tiny plastic cups to add to our landfills…

Motel 6 Leave the light on but also leave the cofee pot

Funny how we were all just talking coffee pots at church! I want a Keurig too, but can’t justify it with my handy dandy Cuisinart Grind and Brew.

I would say you got your money’s worth! And I think it is exciting ……there are so many cool coffee makers out there!!

Just got a Kureg (sp?) and I love, love, love it. Never really drank coffee much and now I am an addicted, shaking, nervous wreck, drinker now!!! Hee!

I want a Keurig too but mine is still going strong…..so I wait. Hopefully when mine goes a Keurig will be $20.00! I hope I don’t have to wait 9 years!

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your old friend! I have a spare Senseo (single cup coffee maker, kinda like Keurig) that you are welcome to. I LOVE love love mine… comes with an eco-friendly reusable pod thingy that you can fill with your favorite coffee – so no buying special things to go in it.

Those are great, I’ve used them before. I got my friend a Keurig machine at the thrift store for $4.99. :)

my spare Senseo came from freecycle, in like-new condition! :)

Awesome!!! I just got a modern lamp on freecycle this morning. If you’re not in a hurry, it’s great. Lauren, just “borrow” another machine from the motel until we can find you an environmentally friendly, free machine. LOL

Can I use this pic on my blog? :)

I am cracking up! Never dreamed this photo would warrant so many comments…ha! It was a faithful appliance… Before I saw all these comments and recommendations I was out last night and got another little 4 cupper…not fancy, but functional…and sad to say–I believe it looks even MORE like it came from a Motel 6 b/c it’s black. :) Will post a pic.

First of all, kudos to Lauren for using this little guy until its death.  She could have easily upgraded since there are many coffee brewers on the market now.  This good guy, Mr. Coffee, is not sleek looking, he doesn’t have any fancy features, he doesn’t accept any plastic pods and he certainly doesn’t look high tech sitting on your kitchen counter.  Mr. Coffee does however brew a good pot of coffee.  He does his job, he does it well, just without all the fancy bells and whistles.  Mr. Coffee is a simple guy, dependable, not complicated like some of his current friends.  Too bad Mr. Coffee is dead because I might date him.

It’s funny how we all responded to this, imposing our favorite coffee maker info and suggestions.  How is Lauren to decide?  It seems like the Keurig has a lot of votes.  If she’s looking for longevity, this is not it.  I’ve never seen one of these that lasted more than a couple of years, and with a price tag of $150, that’s not a good return on investment.  I can honestly say, every one I have ever touched is either dead now or on its way.  And to spare you the soapbox talk, let me just say all those plastic cups are not good for the environment, and probably not our health either.  The Keurig is like a flashy movie star.  They look good on TV, but would you really want to live with them?

The Senseo machine still has the ease of the pods, but not plastic ones, and the machines last a long time.  It looks as though he’ll bend over backwards (or forward) to make you a good cup of coffee.  Less expensive too.  This guy looks good, probably works out regularly and I bet he would go dumpster diving with me.  I can tell he’s into art too.

Krups and Cuisinart were also mentioned, but I don’t know much about those.  I’m the one that made the Pasquini comment.  You can read my cost analysis and purchase info on that, as it was a tough, yet easy decision.

So what did Lauren buy?

Another simple Mr. Coffee.  We can learn a lot from Lauren.  I didn’t get all of the details on how she arrived at this decision, but it’s a good one.  Oh, the paradox of choice.  So much to choose from, yet sometimes the best choice is simplicity.  :)


Feb 28 2011

starbucks travel mug & steamer pitcher [minimalist challenge item #11]

[item] Small Starbucks travel mug & a stainless steel steamer pitcher

[purchase info] Mug was free from work, left there by someone that never claimed it.  The steamer pitcher I bought new for $15.99

[time in my possession] Mug, about 6 months.  Pitcher, about 7 years.

[last used] Mug, one month ago.  Pitcher, many years.

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Thrift store

[info] I have many more travel mugs than what I can use.  This one is small and I like the larger ones for my lattes.  As for the steamer pitcher, I somehow accumulated 6 of them.  That’s clearly ridiculous.  I could see one back-up pitcher, but 6??!?  This one is a little bigger than the others.  I’m down to two of them now.

 


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.  :)


Dec 23 2010

the most referred to blog post… [flashback]

This is a blog post I did in October of 2008 on iembracechaos.com, and the one post I send people to most frequently.

is it coffee or an investment?

Anyone that knows me well, knows that I cannot live without my latte machine.  It’s a Pasquini machine, basically a smaller version of the ones in the trendy coffee shops.

This is a pricey machine, but after doing a cost analysis on how much I was spending at Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Caribu Coffee and many other coffee addict hangouts, I decided it was time to make a purchase.  (Yes, I did the cost analysis, I used to be a financial analyst)  Being the thrifty person I am, I had to price shop it to death.

The best place to buy beans, is also the best place to buy a machine. wholelattelove.com I bought this machine about 4 years ago.  It retailed then for $1700.  Again, being “one of those people” who will not pay full price, I bought it refurbished from whole latte love through eBay for $1300.  Yes!!!  A great deal.   Continue reading


Oct 5 2010

spoiled suburbanite [day 131]

I’m spoiled to my 1.5 mile drive to work.  I have an SUV and I fill it up about every 3 to 4 weeks, unless I have some unplanned trips to Dallas or something.  I decided to walk to work a couple of days ago.

It takes just under 30 minutes to walk to work.  I live in suburbia where people just don’t walk places, well, that is unless they are dressed in fancy running attire or walking a dog.  The looks I got from people driving by, silently said, “Oh, sorry your car must be broken down” or “I wonder what she’s doing”.  And there was the guy in the red Mercedes that was smiling and waving like he knew me.  Odd…

Today I’m riding a bike to work.  I only have 15 minutes to get home after work to pick up my kids, so walking won’t work.  My friend let me borrow her bike.  Thanks Diane!!!

Why? Continue reading


Jul 9 2010

the challenge: day 43 [a boutique]

Just when you think you’ve seen it all…

My friend E got an amazing espresso machine for Christmas last year.  It takes little pods (they call them capsules), similar to the Keurig machines.  E needed to stop at the retail store to buy some more pods.  Now I can go into retail stores, but I can’t purchase anything.  So I went with her.

I buy my coffee beans online from wholelattelove.com, and I have no idea if they have a storefront.  (I do know that the beans I buy are fair trade)  I’ve been to a few coffee stores before, but this was a coffee boutique.  We knew that immediately when the doorman opened the door for us.  At first I thought he was a bored employee just being  gentleman and opening the door for us.  Nope, that was the dude’s job.  He looked like a bar bouncer, as he was large, sort of mean looking and had that ‘secret service’ kind of stance that says, “I can and will throw you out if I need to.”

E went to the back to get her pods.  I walked around, wanting to take some photos, but that wasn’t allowed.  Besides, Guido saw my camera and he was ready to take action if needed.  The sales guy, who I’m pretty sure takes espresso much more seriously than anyone else on the planet, was giving another guy a demonstration of one of the machines.  I stopped to watch, until the sales guy gave me the evil eye, insinuating it’s not my turn and I better no mess up his sale.  I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman in the boutique, and I guess it’s fair he judged me that way, as I might actually carry that ‘thrift-store-cheap-i-have-no-money’ look, and without the rich boyfriend.  The customer guy was clearly enthralled and chatting on his iPhone to someone, giving the play by play of how cool the machines are and sucking down the espresso drinks.  Hmmm, free lattes?  😉

I joined E in the back, taking in all of the modern displays and rainbow color-coded capsules of espresso, carefully arranged to make you want to buy a box every blend.  The girl helping E was asking what model she had so she could add it to the ‘big brother’ database for future capsule-solicitation.   When she asked about the espresso button, she pronounced it ‘expresso’.  If you work in a coffee boutique, can’t you get fired for that?  Good thing Guido didn’t hear her.  E was then formally welcomed to the Nespresso club and told she can talk to a live coffee specialist anytime she wants to, just call the phone number on the receipt.  Now that sounds fun.  I would call the live specialist just for fun and ask questions like, “Where were you born?  Do you have a dog?  What kind?  Do you fold you underwear or just throw them in the drawer?”  What?  It could be fun.

I suppose this brand is geared toward rich people, but what if they didn’t have the boutique, all that overhead cost and Guido’s salary?  Maybe the machines would be a little more affordable.  Although it is not prominently displayed anywhere in the boutique, the capsules can be recycled… but not in the United States.  That doesn’t at all surprise me because the US has endless resources and a bottomless trash pit, right???  Wow.

So why am I telling this story?  Because I felt like it.  LOL, seriously, I’m a coffee addict and you can read about my machine and coffee choices here on iembracechaos.com.  Here are some tips for coffee addicts that want to support fair trade, save money and be green.

  • Do a cost analysis on your coffee drinking.  My Pasquini machine, purchased on eBay refurbished, paid for itself in 5.5 months.
  • Research your coffee beans. Do they participate in fair trade?  Do they have green practices?  In less than 5 minutes, you can research this on the internet and make choices that will impact many people and resources in our world.
  • Buy a used machine. Many people purchase these machines and then never use them, therefore making a good buyers market.  Read reviews on the machines to make a good choice, as there are many machines and many options out there.
  • Advertise. If you found a good machine, good fair trade beans or any other ‘good’ coffee thing, share it with others.

Simply taking a few minutes to research before you buy can mean a lot to a worker on a coffee plantation or make a better, cleaner world for all of us.  And don’t worry, Guido could find a job somewhere else, maybe as an enforcement official for an environmentally friendly, fair trade coffee company.  It could happen…