Feb 22 2011

a smart shopper [day 272]

I was asked last night if I ever shopped like a real woman.  I’m not quite sure how I should take that…  Yes?  At least I think so, from what I’ve studied about them.  😉  Seriously, my shopping habits are more like a man.  I have an easier time buying a $500 TV than a $50 pair of jeans.  Big ticket items just seem like more value for the money, I suppose.

In the past, I would go to the superstore places and buy things I didn’t need, buying them only because I liked them.  I never thought long term about them, much of the stuff ending up on eBay or in a thrift store.  I also loved shopping in thrift stores, but I would buy things just because I liked it a little bit, but it was a great deal.  Again, much of this went back to the thrift store.  I would sometimes want to redo a room in the house, and I would go buy things for that room, usually making the Ross-Marshall’s-TJ Maxx-Tuesday Morning run.

This is the only explanation of how I accumulated so much stuff.  In the future, I hope my shopping habits aren’t defined as “shopping like a woman” or “spending like a guy”, but as being a smart shopper.  Maybe this will be the one time people can call me smart without following that word with a smaller 3 letter word.  😉


Feb 21 2011

where did all this stuff come from? [day 271]

I spent a few hours yesterday in my garage, again.  I’m making progress and getting rid of a lot of stuff I don’t need, or even want for that matter.  So this begs the bigger question.  Where in the world did all of this stuff come from and why do I have so much?

Space. Maybe it’s because I downsized from 3,300 to 1,780 square feet, but that was 4 years ago.  I took everything from my old house because I could, everything but the furniture.  It wasn’t my style, so I gladly left it.  The photo is of my ‘formal’ living room in the old house.  A useless room that was used once a year at Christmas time.  I loved the red walls, but I couldn’t take those.  I hated the coffee table so much, I listed it in the divorce decree as the ‘ugly coffee table’ that he could keep.

I’m realizing the I don’t need this much stuff to live or to be happy.  I don’t need to keep a lot, I don’t need to buy a lot and I don’t need to pack every inch of my house with stuff.  My neighbor saw my master bedroom closet and said it’s the smallest she’s ever seen.  It’s small, but it’s only about 1/3 filled, and that’s with the shelf I took out.  Empty space is good.  I want more of it.

Personal attachment. I don’t have many of these items.  Some would say it’s because my heart is 2 sizes too small.  It could be.  I do keep a few things.  My kids each have one plastic tote in the attic.  I place items in there that are meaningful to them like their favorite outgrown toys or art projects.  I kept one thing from my grandma, her turquoise blue double boiler pan.  Useful, and it reminds me of her cooking french toast for me when I visited.  It’s about the memories with a person, not the stuff. Continue reading


Feb 17 2011

dual purpose get-togethers [day 267]

Several months ago, I conducted a Photoshop training class at the church where I work.  It was something I did for fun, and for free.  All I asked is that people bring something to donate to the local food pantry or a thrift store.  The photo is of the food that was donated, however there were many more bags with housewares and clothing.

I hosted a Super Bowl party at my house a couple of weeks ago.  It was mostly our singles church group, but lots of other good friends as well.  Since I’ve been encouraging everyone to clean out their spaces and donate what they don’t need or want, I thought it would be a good idea to have them bring it, and I would get it donated.  I can’t believe how much stuff people brought!  It was cold, so I put it in my garage, adding it to a pile of coats and blankets, recently donated by a lady at church, whom I think did the same thing, collect stuff during get-togethers or locally in your neighborhood.

On your next evite or get-together, ask people to bring something to donate.  This is a great way to build community, get people thinking outside themselves, get some unwanted stuff to people who will be blessed by it, feed some hungry people and have a great time with good friends.  It’s a win-win-win-win-win?  😉

[All of the donations have been taken to the appropriate donation destinations, all of the stuff much appreciated!  My garage is quickly becoming empty and can now safely be used as an exit.]


Feb 10 2011

the desire to get new stuff [day 260]

After having my house painted, and having everything moved, I was very careful with what I moved back into my space.  I rearranged a few things, but mostly, I purged a lot of stuff.  Unfortunately, because of the weather, it’s all sitting in my garage.  My new “minimalist” approach to my space is nice, but yesterday, I did have the desire to buy a few things.  I didn’t, and I won’t, but I thought I might share what I wanted to buy.

New lamps. I need a couple of more lamps, as my house is still a bit dark.  I wanted some hanging lamps for over my bed for reading lights.  Right now, I’m using a nice looking lamp, but one that doesn’t really fit in the space.  But it’s light, I can see and it will work for now.  I also have a matching set of lamps that were out in the garage and I decided to bring them back in the house.  The bottom is busted out of the floor lamp and I got tired of cleaning up the sand from it.  It’s in a fixed place now, still broken, but not causing me any hassle.

I will still keep looking on eBay and craigslist for one or two more lamps, but I’m in no hurry and I will only buy what I want… pre-owned.

Bedding. Mine is still in perfect condition, but I want a new color.  There.  I said it.  I had a desire to buy something I completely don’t need.  So I’m not, but the thought did cross my mind.  How many times in the past did I want new bedding and I actually went out and bought it?  How many times have I done that with other things?

Door knobs and broomsticks. Okay, so I really don’t want any broomsticks, but I do want new door knobs.  My house is 17 years old, a couple years older than my car.  After having all of my doors painted, I have no desire to put the shabby looking gold knobs back on.  As a matter of fact, I’m leaving them off until I find the ones I want to put on.  I’d rather look at the holes in the beautifully cream colored, satin finished doors than to see them with the ugly brass-gold knobs.  My house is very modern and that’s the last detail item that needs changing.  Need… probably a strong word there.  They don’t really need to be changed, but I want them to be changed.  I’m going to hold out for the brushed nickel ones, looking daily on craigslist and eBay.  I’ve found some, but they were too far to drive.  I’ll probably check the Habitat Restore too.  I’ll also make sure my old ones go to a loving home, a home that likes that style and color.

I’m not going shopping, and the funny thing is, I will probably forget about the bedding, I will get a lamp when I see one I like and I’ll probably get used to the holes while I’m looking for knobs.  By the way, the bathroom door still has a knob, so you can come visit and use the bathroom without it being an awkward situation.  😉


Jan 19 2011

the clothing experiment update [day 237]

Here’s the experiment.  I decided to reduce my wardrobe by 50%.  I also threw out a mini-challenge.  Take 25 pieces of clothing from your closet, place them in a box or plastic tote.  Put it away for a month and see if you miss any of the stuff in it.  If not, take it to the thrift store.  If so, take out the item(s) you missed.  Here are some updates.

50% reduction

I still have a long way to go on achieving a 50% wardrobe reduction.  I’m close, but I still need to purge some more stuff.  I went through my drawers and got rid of about 40% of that.  I need to make my 2nd and 3rd passes there.  I also had 2 loads of dirty laundry that were not included.  I didn’t count the pieces, but just guessing, I need to get rid of about 75-100 more pieces.  I’ll do that later in the week.

my boys did the mini challenge

I had both of my kids pull 25 clothing items out of their closets.

My youngest, 10, has some emotional attachments to his clothing, and to stuff he’s never even worn. Wow, we all start this process early. He has a lot of hand-me-downs that he intends to wear. The process was not easy for him.

My oldest, 11, is way pickier than I thought. I learned a lot about him in the process. He hates yellow and thinks it makes him look like a clown. He won’t wear anything with a collar. He had a lot of clothes in the back of his closet that were too small, and some clean laundry. I thought he had a lot of clothes, but he doesn’t because his brother, being the same size, has hoarded them all.

50 pieces of clothing is going to the resale shop.  And my boys? They feel good about it. It’s easier to keep their rooms clean.

others taking the challenge

I have gotten some great responses to the mini-challenge.  Besides the several people doing it, here’s some great feedback.   Continue reading


Sep 21 2010

stuff, stuff and more stuff [day 118]

I finally finished cleaning out my garage!  I still have tubs of stuff to go through, but at least I now have space to create art.

Last Saturday I brought 2 carloads of stuff to the local thrift store, Frisco Resale.  Normally my routine is to drop off a load, then go inside and shop.  I love to shop at thrift stores, as it’s treasure hunting to me.  After dropping off the second load of stuff, I was going to go inside and look around, but thought about it and decided not to.  Why?  Because I really don’t need anything.  I suppose sometimes shopping is fun, therapeutic or entertaining for some people, but maybe it’s not always a good thing to do.  I need to shop when I have needs, not to just collect more stuff.  The problem for me is that I’m and artist and everything I see is a blank canvas.

People see thrift stores in different ways.  Some think it’s a bunch of junk, some think it’s good stuff that is cheap and many others fall somewhere in the middle.  A friend of mine would buy clothing for her kids at thrift stores, but would not tell the kids where it came from because the kids might tell someone and she would be embarrassed.  The perception is that only poor people shop at thrift stores.  I see it differently.  I think smart people shop at thrift stores.  Apparently rich people do too…


May 29 2010

questions about the challenge.

I had some questions posted on my blog from my friends about the details of the challenge.  I’m going to attempt to answer them, although I’m not sure I’ve thought of everything, you know, like the batteries.  (day 2)

The plan:

The plan is to not buy anything new, other than groceries and toiletries.  No new stuff for the house, no new clothes, no new electronics, no new toys, no new anything.  The only places we would shop would be resale shops and thrift stores.  We can buy used stuff, but only if needed.  No shopping at retail stores.  The kids and I decided Half Price Books would be okay, but only used books.

Why?

I do not want to be materialistic and I tend to justify buying stuff.  I’m not in debt, and I have the money to buy things, but I clearly don’t need more stuff.  I have seen a different world than the one where I live.  I have ventured out of the affluent bubble I live in and I can’t ignore what I’ve seen and experienced.  I’m uncomfortable with being comfortable.  I don’t want to support major superstores and mega marts.  I want to buy only what I need, when I need it and used.  I’m going to do this for an entire year.  I guess maybe I want to prove to myself that I really just don’t need so much stuff.  Food, water and shelter.  I also want to be able to have more to share.  More financial resources and more time.

Reality check!

So what happens when my kids need new clothes or shoes?  I plan to go shopping at the thrift store.  This is not a big change for me, as I buy 90% of my clothing and the boys clothing at thrift stores.  Most of my shoes have come from the thrift store, but finding shoes that are in good condition in the boys sizes isn’t going to be an easy task.

School supplies will be another challenge. I should be able to get some of them used or reuse some from last year.  I clearly didn’t think through all of this!  I did think through the important part, that part being the importance of this.  This is more of the radical, cold-turkey approach instead of just making some simple changes.  The teachers won’t be digging this explanation when it comes time to bring the brand new, pristine supplies to school.

Gifts won’t be a problem, as I can buy used books, make an art piece or donate money in someone’s name to their favorite cause.

I’m sure there are many other things I haven’t thought through.  Every day will be a reality check.  :)

What qualifies as retail?

I don’t travel much, but I do have one flight this summer.  I drive to Mexico pretty often for short-term missions.  I never really thought about the travel thing being a part of this.  I don’t travel much so I don’t think much of cutting back on it.  I always shop for the best deals on everything.  I guess there’s no such thing as a used plane ticket!  It wouldn’t get you very far if you found one.  Airlines I suppose, don’t count as retail.

The fast food thing has been on my mind a lot lately.  My kids and I went to Mooyah for my birthday last weekend.  I was so completely irritated with the large amount of paper waste in bags, cups and wrappings that it takes to eat there.  It’s not even like I had it to go.  It’s ALL made ‘to go’, doesn’t matter where you sit.  Again, ease and comfort and any cost.  And don’t get me started on the ridiculous portion sizes!  I think I’m going to add fast food places to my list of things not to do.  Restaurants without all the paper waste I will still patronize.

As for groceries, we have to eat, and yes, food is retail.  (Yes Amy, potato chips included… LOL)  My challenge excludes groceries and toiletries.  I do hope to make better choices with these purchases though, meaning containers that are better for the environment, more fresh produce and fair trade foods.  Before I buy my quarterly coffee supply, I’m going to do some research to make sure Lavazza is a fair trade coffee.

So what now?

I have a feeling I will encounter many things each day that will challenge me to be more creative in how I approach my wants and needs.  Please keep the questions coming!  We can all learn to do this together.