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.


Apr 4 2011

silicone hot pads [minimalist challenge item #46]

[item] 2 red silicone hot pads

[purchase info] Given to me by a friend that had 2 sets of them

[time in my possession] Approximately 8 years

[last used] Over a year

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Given to a family starting over

[info] I like my old, crappy looking Calphalon cloth hot pads.  I like that these are easy to clean, but I don’t like using them.


Mar 3 2011

I’m scared… [day 281]

…of toilets.  Yes, it’s true.  I cannot bring myself to fix one of these when it breaks.  This fear stems from my childhood.

When I was about 8, we lived in a house that had 1.5 bathrooms.  My mom, being the neat freak that she was, only allowed us to use one of the bathrooms.  The other bathroom got used so rarely that the toilet water evaporated and there was always a ring around where the water had been.  You could count the rings, similar to telling the age of a tree, but there rings being measured in days, not years.  The main toilet was having problems, so my parents showed me how to fix it, just in case it happened when they weren’t home.  My, how times have changed!  Home alone.

If the toilet kept running, I was to jiggle the handle.  If that didn’t work, I was to remove the top and jiggle the little white thing.  Seemed simple enough.  Even at that age, my dad had to hide his tools because I would build stuff out of anything I could get my hands on.  So, of course, I came home from school one day, used the bathroom and the toilet kept running water.  I jiggled the handle, waited, knowing good and well that I would eventually have to remove the lid.  Yes, lid time.  I took it off, jiggled the white thing, and in seconds I had a 3 foot geiser going.

I panicked.  There were no instructions for this disaster!!!  All I could think about is how my mom was going to kill me for making a huge mess.  I quickly placed my finger over the spot where the water was coming out.  Then I thought, “Where is all this water going that I’m holding back??”  Look, I was 8 years old people.  A new panic set in at that point.  I let go, ran to the phone and called my friend next door.  She ran over to my house and found me back at the toilet, holding back the water that was probably flooding someone’s house in China.  After two young kids deliberating over something they knew nothing about, my friend ran outside to find some help.  She came back in less than five minutes with some guy she found on the street.  Again, this was a different day and age.  The man came in, turned off the water and quickly left the house.  I lived in a middle class, suburban area and I still wonder, to this day, where that man came from.   Continue reading


Feb 12 2011

ditch your high maintenance vacation [day 262]

My kids and I decided to make a purchase a couple of years ago from craigslist.  It was a bright red Sebring convertible that we fondly called the “vacation”.  We couldn’t take a vacation that year, so this was our substitute for it.  It wasn’t uncommon to hear, “Mom!  Are we taking the vacation?”  And my reply was always something like, “Is it raining?  If not, of course we are.”

Let me start by saying this was not a well-planned purchase.  We had the vacation for about a year and a half, and during that time, we got a lot of use out of it.  It was a sad day when we had to end our vacation, but all three of us knew it was the right thing to do.  We had so much fun in our vacation!  Although it didn’t initially cost a lot, the maintenance, repairs and insurance just made the vacation too expensive.  The previous owner carefully hid many of the mechanical issues, and I, being in love with the thought of having a convertible, didn’t do my due diligence on this item.

This was our second car, as I would never consider parting with my 15 year old Infiniti.  Actually, I had 5 or 6 people that were ready, cash in hand, to buy my Infiniti, but I will own that car to its death.  I will get 300,000 miles out of it… or more.

I’ve been downsizing everything lately.  My housewares, my wardrobe, pretty much everything I own.  I never realized how much stress is associated with stuff.  Embracing the chaos has a whole new meaning for me.  I can embrace the chaos by managing the chaos.  Less stuff = more time, more money and more peace.  I lost about $1,000 when I sold the vacation, as the A/C compressor went out right before I went to sell it.  Not having the vacation and all of it’s associated costs, monetary and otherwise, gave me some peace worth more than what I lost.  We have some great memories from our vacation and we’ll always have those to cherish.

Where is your vacation?  Is it time to end it?

[side note:  I got rid of the vacation before I started the challenge.  I realized I will never have a need for two cars.]


Jan 14 2011

11 rotary dial phones & 1296 gift cards [day 231]

A few years ago, in my “excessable” art show, I had a gift card rug made out of 1296 gifts cards from different stores.  The show was in July and I left the rug in the car a little too long in the heat, melting a good portion of it.

I recently used some of the gift cards in a video shoot.  I had to take them out and clean them up, as they’ve been sitting in my garage for years.  I’ve added a few to the collection, with thoughts of putting the rug back together.  Problem: no box tape and no retail shopping.  I need to get creative with the pile of cards.  I have a few ideas…

I did get creative with the pile of rotary dial phones that were used in the show.  I really had no intention of keeping them, but they’re just fun to have around.  I’ve used them for many photo shoots, video shoots and props.  Right now, they’re a permanent art fixture in my foyer.

Here’s some of the photos…

I know it’s crazy to keep all this stuff from my art show, but it’s not in a landfill and I do use it occasionally, or some of it, all the time.  I think I’ll hang on to the phones and gift cards for a while.  If I do get rid of them, I’ll make sure they go to a great home.


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 8 2010

swept under the rug… and sofa, and table, and bed, and… [day 195]

There’s no possible way any household vacuum cleaner could possibly suck up all the crap on our floors.  It begs the question, “Why do we have so much little stuff and where did it come from?”

First of all, Spongebob seems to be everywhere in our house.  This pile is only the upstairs sweep, as I didn’t even make it downstairs yet.  Yes, I know, it’s a little weird to share my dirt pile, but it does make you think, right?  It’s like trash I Spy or trash art.  Where’s Waldo maybe?  He’s about the only thing that’s not in here.  This motivates me to get rid of more stuff.

Oh, and a quick tip:  When you clean the house, it’s good to put away the vacuum cleaner instead of leaving it next to your bed.  In the morning, it looks like someone standing over you.  :0


Aug 11 2010

biohazard bags [day 74]

Let me just say, if you are making a donation of any type of stuff, and you happen to have have a leftover stash of biohazard bags, please don’t place your donations in them.  I’m quite sure there are other uses for biohazard bags besides putting non-hazardous toys and clothing in them.  Buz Lightyear, Barbie and Mater didn’t look so happy to be in the red plastic dome of doom, nor did I enjoy moving them around, while in the back of my mind wondering where these toys came from and if they have radioactive superpowers.


Jun 12 2010

sports, borrowing & recycling [day 15 & 16]

I’m going to play racquetball this morning, and I just realized I’m down to one ball.  Last time I played, the ball split in half.  Now I’m quite sure this is not attributed to my incredible upper body strength, but because I left the ball in the excessive heat inside my car.  These little rubber balls only last a few months at best when you play frequently.  So.  Racquetballs are not groceries, nor are they toiletries.  I can’t buy any, and the chances of finding any at a thrift store is slim to none.  I cannot expect my racquetball partner to buy them just because I won’t.  But I did come up with a solution.  When my last ball ends up dying the same death as the previous one, the rec center lends racquets and balls, so I will use theirs.  The availability of those to be borrowed are included in my monthly gym fees.

Again, not really much else to report on the shopping front.  Right now, I’m not missing it, although at some point I’m sure I will.

Also, a quick update on the recycling program.  [day 14] I have received some emails about that being unethical and it has stirred up some controversy.   I am planning a personal field trip to the Frisco recycling center.  If indeed my plan is not right, I will modify it.  If you have thoughts on any of my ideas, tactics or implemented plans, good or bad, feel free to comment on my blog.  The people that sent the emails have good points and I do take them into consideration.  More later, off to play racquetball.  :)