Apr 5 2011

function over form [day 313]

When you own a lot of stuff, especially anything with electronic parts, you’re going to have some maintenance to do.  Some will be planned, some will not.  Here’s a few things I’ve been thinking about buying if I could.

Car fuses.

I blew a fuse in my car.  It’s the fuse to the interior dome lights, but worse than that, it’s also the fuse to my garage door opener.  I don’t have any extra fuses so I’m living without these things.  It’s not so bad, as it’s teaching me to appreciate the small things in life.  I’ve never appreciated that machine that opens my garage door.  Now I use the back door instead of the garage door.  It’s less electricity, and the only time it’s a real hassle is if it’s raining or we’re bringing home groceries.

A water filter.

I would buy a water filter for my Softub.  Although yesterday, I moved the tub into its new location on the patio and now the GFCI plug isn’t working.  Gor $75 I can buy a new one, however the Softub tech isn’t even sure that’s the problem.  I’m going to take it apart and see for myself, but then what are the chances of finding a used part like that?  I’m guessing slim to none.  Not sure what I’m going to do if I can’t get it working.  I definitely will not be selling it, as I use it a lot.

A grill.

Yes, I finally got tired of fighting with my temperamental Brinkmann grill and I sold it on craigslist.  What?  You want to know what I got for it?  $60 cash.  It retailed new for $1,100, I paid $69.99 approximately 2 years ago.  In that time, the burners were replaced and the gas valve with tubing was replaced.  Even with the replacement parts, it was always a mystery as why it would work some of the time, but not all of the time.  I just got tired of fighting with it.  And yes, I sold it “as is” with a full disclosure of the issues I had with it.

As I was researching new grills (planing to buy one used), I came across this really cool looking grill.  It’s a Fuego Element, it’s designer a previous Apple product designer.  After some research, it seems as though this sexy looking grill is just not the easiest to use.  The top gets hot and it’s not attached so you have to place the hot lid somewhere when cooking.  The cast iron grates need care to prevent them from rusting.  In my efforts to downsize, this grill is super-appealing in its size.  But do I want the maintenance?

I looked at many other grills, I’ve read consumer reports on them, but I’m still unsure of my next grill purchase.  I used my old one a lot and got my money’s worth, but I want something smaller and simple.  I’m also looking at a Minden grill.  This is unique, as you can add features to it later like a side burner and ice chest.  The reviews are good, but it’s so new, there aren’t any used ones available.

I’m still deciding what to do about all of these situations.  The no shopping is making it a hassle for the small things, like the fuses, but it’s provoking some creativity in finding solutions for the big things.  I’ll keep you posted on the outcome of these situations.  I’m prioritizing function over form, but that’s easier said than done sometimes.


Mar 26 2011

it’s alien poo out of an alien dumpster! [day 303]

Maybe I’m a mean mom, but I make my kids try new foods.  I don’t make them eat it if they don’t like it and I don’t go out of my way to get things that will gross them out.  Both of them like pistachio nuts so I thought I would make some pistachio pudding for dessert.  Here’s what happened.

Let me just defend myself here.  I have never fed my kids anything out of a dumpster.  I get food from grocery stores and I don’t know any aliens.  I don’t like food waste, so I bought just one box of pudding, however my timing on it wasn’t great.  I was going out of town the next day and since nobody liked it, it sat in my fridge for 5 days.  I guess the aliens came in peace though, as this is the shape the pudding cracked into.

Okay, so I added the little piece at the bottom between the two small lines, but it looked like a peace sign when I pulled it out, as the other 3 lines were cracked in.  So what’s the best way to avoid food waste with kids?  Here’s a few tips.

  • Small portions. When eating out, I sometimes make them share or order small quantities because we can always order more.  At home, I let them fill their own plates with the understanding that they must eat what they put on it.
  • Plan leftovers. If you go out, don’t get food that will taste bad as leftovers.  French fries are just gross as leftovers.  Order something that you or your kids will eat the next day.  At home, make extras of the foods that will keep well as leftovers and cook only what will be eaten on the right-now foods.
  • Let your kids cook. I don’t do this often enough, but if they help in the meal planning and cooking, they’re more apt to eat it.

This won’t eliminate waste, but it sure will cut it down to an extreme minimum.  It also never hurts to communicate your grocery budget to the kids and let them shop.  Keep in mind this can backfire when your 10 and 11 year-olds go to the neighbors house and tell them they’re spending way too much money on groceries, telling them everything they know about saving money when buying food.  I’ve found that works better than the ‘starving-kids-in-other-countries’ talk.  If we’re less wasteful, we’ll have more resources to help others.


Mar 19 2011

la, la, la, la, la, la, la.. catscratch… [day 297]

 

One of our favorite cartoon shows is Catscratch.  Every time they see it or think about it, they want a cat.  My kids have been begging to get a pet.  With our lifestyle, a dog just won’t work.  My friend just adopted a kitten, which of course got them thinking about it again.  My kids have been good with their chores, so I’m pretty confident that they’ll help with a pet.

This is Zuri.  She’s up for adoption at the Frisco Humane Society.  Here’s her story:

This is one precious girl! Zuri leans up against you and purrs purrs when you scratch behind her ears or down her back. She’s a laid back beauty with simple needs – good food, cozy bed and loads of loving! She, her sister and her probable mom were jammed together in a small crate and left at a vet’s office. Zuri is more than content to perch on the back of your couch and watch the world go round – she’s not super imposing nor a crazy girl – lower play level. She gets along with other animals. Zuri is so sweet and will let you carry her around. She loves to be petted and has a great purr!

Zuri is the sister of my friend’s new kitten.  We’re going to pick her up today.  I found used cat supplies, a place for a litter box, but I’ll still need to get her something to scratch on.  Off to work and to get Zuri a little later today.  :)


Mar 15 2011

creativity on the fly [day 293]

Since I’m planning on rebranding my blog, I decided not to print up business cards for SxSW.  Yesterday there was a drawing for a book from the Go Virtual session and all you had to do was drop in a business card.  I sighed after reading the sign, then put my brain to work.

I have a coffee cup cardboard sleeve I’ve been carrying with me all week.  Yes, I’m using a paper cup, reluctantly, but I thought at least I can reuse the cardboard sleeve.  Light bulb!!  I’ll write my info on the cardboard sleeve.  I make my regular cards out of recycled stuff anyway, so this is not far from what I would have anyway.  I wrote my info, I dropped it in the bag and I listened to a great session.

After the session, they did the drawing for the books.  The girl doing the drawing had no idea that was in there, but as she was choosing a card, she said, “I’m going to grab this one that feels different.”  I won my choice of the two books AND I got my paper sleeve back.  My little Ecogrip has quite a journey going here.  I think I might need to give it an itizen tag.

Sometimes easy solutions can be found for life’s little problems, all it takes is a willingness to do something.  Not bringing cards probably wasn’t my brightest plan, but they have plenty of recycling materials here and I’ve made several cards on the fly.  Less than one minute of thinking about a solution yielded many great things.  I got a new book, people got to see how repurposing works, my cardboard sleeve is getting a long life, less paper was used, something created as disposable has been used over 5 times now and I have a great story.

If you run into a small issue today, throw one minute at creating a simple solution.  :)


Mar 14 2011

I didn’t buy it, but I wanted to [day 292]

I met Guy Kawasaki yesterday at a book signing.  Not only is he an extremely talented communicator and writer, he’s just a really nice person.  Just look on Twitter, hashtag #guykawasaki, and you’ll see what I mean.  Now I’ve been thinking, it’s kind of odd to go to a book signing without a book.  Knowing that he would be at SXSW, I decided to go to the used book store to find his new book.  I knew my chances were slim to none on finding his new book Enchantment, but I thought maybe I could find one of his older books.  I’ve been following Guy for a long time on friendfeed and he always has great stuff out there.

I had to go to a few locations before I found one of his books.  I found The Art of the Start. I bought it and I was happy that I would have a book for him to sign, although I wondered what I would say to him as I asked him to sign my not-so-new book with a red half price sticker on the front.

Yesterday, I found myself in a long line of people to have my book signed.  It’s pretty safe to say that I was the only weirdo in line without a fresh-off-the-press copy of Enchantment.  Soon, it was my turn.  I proceeded to the table and quickly explained my story.  “I’m doing a year of no retail shopping, so I can’t buy your new book, even though I really want to.  I bought a used copy of one of your older books, so could you sign this one?”  First, he laughed a bit and said he wouldn’t last a week without shopping.  Then he asked where I got the book.  I told him I bought it at a used book store and showed him the bright red price tag on the front.  He then proceeded to tell me that The Art of the Start never came out in paperback.  Mine is a paperback.  Either it’s a illegitimate copy or an unmarked advanced reading copy, intended for bookstores.  Either way, he said that was the best reason he’s ever heard from anyone as to why they’re not buying his book.

He signed my book and he even allowed me to have a photo taken with him.  I have to say, if there were more people in the world like Guy, the world would be a noticeably better place.  I plan to buy his new book and I found 3 used copies on amazon.com.  If anyone should teach us about enchantment, it should be someone that understands it and lives that way.  Guy seems to get it.

If you’re interested in his new book, here’s the amazon link.  There’s 2 used ones left, the 3rd one is mine, so leave it there.  😉

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions

I had the opportunity to just buy a new copy of his book, and I wanted to, but I didn’t.  I might be waiting a little longer to read his amazing book (prejudged from his awesome session at SXSW), but it goes to show that with a little pre-planning, you can have what you want while saving money and being good to the environment.  Thanks Guy!


Mar 14 2011

the new sharing economy [day 291]

Do you share your stuff?  If you need a drill, do you go out and buy one or do you try to borrow one?  I mean, you just need a hole, right?  I own a drill.  My dad gave me a new DeWalt drill about 10 years ago, but that one got lost on a mission trip.  I never found it, although another older drill with a chuck key showed up unclaimed.  I took it, so that’s why I have a drill now.  I don’t really need one though.

So why don’t I need one?  Doesn’t everyone have a drill in their garage?  Let’s look at the logic.  I need a few holes, so I use the drill for approximately 4-8 minutes in a years time.  Maybe a little bit more if I have some home projects.  I could borrow one from a friend.  I could rent one when I’m doing projects.  I could share a drill.  Yes, I said share.  I could co-own a drill with some friends or I could use a sharing service.  This is really a great and upward trending process.

First, there’s itizen.com.  You can print QR codes for all of your things in order to tell stories about them, to share them and to track the life of them.  Here’s a blurb from itizen’s site:

Why we do what we do.
We want to celebrate the cool things around us — period. We are inspired by the artists, makers, and retailers who provide us with these wonderful things, and we are fascinated by how storytelling can give these things meaning and purpose. Most important, we are passionate about supporting a culture of giving and sharing that allows others to benefit from these things and share in the joy.

If you don’t have a QR code reader, there’s lots of free apps out there that can be downloaded.  You can scan it and it will bring up the info right away.  The code to the left is a legitimate code for something I’m getting rid of.  Take a look and see if you want the item.  😉

I’m really liking this concept of sharing and swapping.  I’m still researching this whole thing, but I see so many benefits.

Cost savings: Not only does it save you money buying things, but also saves money on the maintenance and storage of these things.

Environmentally friendly: Reducing consumption means less production and fewer resources used.

Manufacturer behavior change: Manufacturers will start to make products based on consumer demand.  If we want to share quality products, but we’re buying less of them, manufacturers will start making more quality items and with the needed features we desire.

Less clutter: Less stuff is less stress and less to clean.  It’s also easier to find the things you do have.

Builds community: Sharing with friends, and even people you don’t know yet if you choose to do that, is a great way to build community, especially among neighbors.  In this day and age, at least where I live, knowing your neighbors is not the norm.  My neighbors let me borrow stuff all the time, and if they need something, they ask.

Helps eliminate poverty: This process can help eliminate poverty by lowering the cost of living.  If I don’t need to buy as much and I can share with others, I can live on less.

Job shifts: Jobs become more service oriented.  This is due to a shift from consuming stuff to being consumers of services.

We are on the front end of a wonderful trend that will change the way the world functions, utilizing technology to change our distribution systems, creating a community of sharing that will better our lives.  I’m still doing a lot of homework on this, but I will be posting more on it soon.  Sharing is an old concept, but it’s finding a new life through social media.

I just bought a used iPad from a friend of mine who’s upgrading.  I’ve decided to share my iPad.  I will be using a service such as snapgoods.com or I might do a co-ownership of it.  If this intrigues you in any way, let me know your thoughts.

Would you share something you paid a lot of money for, but something that sits unused for large periods of time?


Mar 8 2011

hoarders on craigslist [day 285]

My friend was garage sale-ing and ran across an estate sale from a hoarder house, listed on craigslist.  I had to work Saturday and Sunday, but decided to check it out after work on Sunday.  Unfortunately they had closed up shop but I snapped a few photos while making a few observations.

As we drove up, the obvious signs were the furniture pieces in the front yard.  The front door area was cluttered, and after several knocking attempts, I decided to peer into the window.  Yes, we were at the right house, as one of the windows was blocked with a large shelving unit and the other window being a small display of a very large mess.  I’m not sure how people walked around in there to shop for treasures, but I guess if you’re determined enough, you’ll find a way.

Thinking maybe they have something going on in the back of the house, we walked around to the alley of this corner lot home.  The house itself, probably circa 1950’s, was large and looked nice, yet unkempt.  As we got to the back, we realized they were probably done with the sale.  The driveway was completely clear of any junk or trash.

Disappointed, as we drove almost 20 miles to see this, I thought about how many people must go through this is there are indeed 3 million hoarders in the United States.  (statistic provided by the TV show Hoarders)  As we were leaving, the mailbox made me laugh.  Yes, I know, I have a weird, off-beat sense of humor.

Border – hoarder.  It rhymes.  I don’t know why that’s funny, but it just is.

I decided to look up the word “hoarder” on craigslist just to see how many different listings I could find.  I did this search in all 50 states from at least one city.  I found some interesting listings and I’ll share a few with you.  I’ve shortened these a bit, but tried to keep in all the good parts.  Some were really long.  I’ve also highlighted a few interesting things.

HOARDER SEEKS SWAP MEET AND THRIFT STORE OWNERS.

Having a garage sale in my backyard, by appointment only. I have a 32 year accumulation of personally handpicked items. The prices to the public are $1.00, $2.00 and $3.00; with other items ranging over $100.00. THERE ARE NO BURIED TREAUSURES HERE! No furniture, no gold or jewelry. The items are mostly “GUY STUFF”. I know the value of these items, same as you. However I am attempting to offer them to you, at a price where you can make a profit and come back as a repeat customer.
I am offering “YOU’S” an opportunity to cherry pick my estimated inventory of 2,000 pieces [which represents about 20% of all the items needed to be eliminated]. If you like something, you offer me a price, based upon what you think you can sell it for. This eliminates the potential of you having to buy any junk mixed in. FYI, there is no junk, just items you can or can not sell to your customers.

THIS IS NOT A FUND RAISER. I just simply do not understand the value in having such a ridiculous accumulation; causing me to store and periodically to reorganize it. Candidly, despite knowing that I have an item, I seldom can ever really find it in a timely manner.

Predictively the average swamp meeter will have no problem scooping up $500.00 worth of merchandise for their inventories.

Confessions of a potential hoarder..Big Back Yard Sale – $1

We have all seen the show, I opened my storage unit the other day and said I won’t go down that road :^)  Continue reading


Mar 7 2011

like new computer backpack bag [minimalist challenge item #18]

[item] Case Logic backpack 17″ computer bag

[purchase info] Purchased about a year ago for around $35 online

[time in my possession] Approximately a year

[last used] Almost a year ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Craigslist (this is still for sale, please comment if interested)

[info] This is like new, it was only used once.  I bought two, one for my computer and one for my kids.  They don’t need one, as I don’t allow them to take the laptop anywhere, it’s set up as a desktop.


Mar 5 2011

new t-shirt with tags [minimalist challenge item #16]

[item] Brand new with tags men’s gray Old Navy t-shirt

[purchase info] Purchased new for $7.50

[time in my possession] Approximately 2.5 years

[last used] Never

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Given to a friend

[info] I bought this t-shirt to make a custom t-shirt for a friend.  This is the perfect example of why I should not have too much stuff.  I had no idea I even had this.  Should I make it a hand-me-down?


Mar 2 2011

a new hand-me-down [day 280]

This Children’s Place t-shirt is for sale NEW, and not a used hand-me-down, even though it says it’s a hand-me-down.  Am I missing something here?  I don’t get it.  Why would someone buy this new?  If you buy it new, your kid is walking propaganda that you’re a liar.  Also, if you’re buying new stuff, why would you want it to say that it’s a hand-me-down if it’s not?  I guess you could buy it, put it on your kid for a few minutes, wash it, then give it away?  Still not getting it.  I like the recycling and reusing message on the shirt, but really?  This should be a custom made t-shirt… on a used t-shirt.