Feb 7 2011

downsizing the kitchen & food supply [day 256]

I’ve been doing a lot of downsizing lately.  Right before snowmageddon, I decided to clean out the kitchen, not just utensils and cabinet crap, but food.  I don’t like being wasteful, and although we waste a lot less than the average American family, I felt that we needed to make some changes.  We made some radical changes and some subtle changes, and the results are proving to be really good.  I’ll share the overall goodness of this, the process of cleaning out the kitchen and a couple of mini-challenges.

The big picture.

We haven’t died of starvation. Again, we started this a couple of weeks before the ice storm.  We have much less food in the house, but we had plenty to eat during the 4-5 days at home.  I didn’t buy extra, in fear that we would starve and have nothing to eat for a week.  I bought a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread the day before the storm hit.  We had plenty, and I was even able to feed the two painters working in my house a couple of times.

Airstream… I mean streamline. Okay, I want an Airstream, but that has nothing to do with my kitchen.  The tasks of cooking, grocery shopping and cleaning the kitchen is much easier.  Cooking is easier, as there’s less stuff to shuffle around and I know what ingredients I have on hand.  Grocery shopping is easier, again, because I have less and I know the few things I need.  Cleaning is easier too, as I have a lot of extra pantry and cabinet space.  So much extra, that I was able to move all of my pantry items into empty cabinets while the oil paint takes 5 days to dry.

Here a snack, there a snack, everywhere a snack snack. My kids will open every bag of everything we buy at the store.  We could have, and have had, a pantry overflowing with food, and yet the kids can’t find a thing to snack on.  With much less in there, this is not a problem anymore.  It’s easy to see we have two open bags of crackers or pretzels.

Waste not, want not. We are wasting very little food these days.  Not that we wasted a lot before, but it was still more than I was comfortable with.  Waste is unnecessary, and by making some small changes to lessen it allows us to save a little money, be better to our environment and enables us to help others that don’t have enough to eat.

What did we do?

Downsized the pantry. If you have a smaller house like mine, the pantry is a small closet.  The picture is my “before” picture.  I don’t have an after right now, as the oil paint is still drying.  Whether your pantry is large or small, stuff always gets hidden in the back.  My pantry wasn’t horribly unorganized, it just had too much in it and could use a little more a system of “first in, first out”.  We took everything out and carefully selected what would go back.  I had cedar balls that didn’t smell like anything anymore.  Out.  Ridiculously expired stuff?  Out.  Open bags of stale crackers and chips?  Out.

We broke down the boxes and recycled them.  We couldn’t see all of the food behind the big boxes of crackers and cereal.  The boxes take up a lot of space.  I found it best to use see-through containers and baskets as much as possible.  Most of the stuff I didn’t know I has was in these black plastic crates and could not be seen. Continue reading


Dec 22 2010

white elephant gifts [day 209]

As usual, I had to look up some information on this.  The white elephant gift exchange is defined on Wikipedia like this:

white elephant gift exchange is a popular holiday party game found primarily in North America. It has many variations in both the name and the game play. Generally, white elephant parties need a minimum of six participants. With a larger group, game play may be more protracted. White elephant parties have been known to result in intensely vicious and/or playful rivalries between players trying to get sought after gifts. The goal of a white elephant party is usually to entertain rather than to gain. This game is sometimes called a Yankee Swap, Chinese Gift Exchange, Dirty Santa, Thieving Secret Santa, or Parcel Pass.

I think the key phrase here is the goal, it’s to entertain rather than gain.  The term white elephant is defined as:

white elephant is an idiom for a valuable possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth.

Most white elephant gifts I’ve seen don’t completely fit that description, but most are useless or outdated.  Here’s a few gifts from a white elephant gift exchange I participated in about a week ago.  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


Dec 2 2010

holiday trash-tweet tips from Excessable Christmas [flashback]

These are some fun, funny, odd and disturbing holiday tweets from last year, published in my book Excessable Christmas.  The book is still available for sale on Blurb.  Book details:

ISBN: yeah, not so much.  Self published and I’m not famous… yet.

Price: blurb.com $26.95 + shipping.  From me, $26.00 and I’ll pay for the shipping. **All book proceeds go to Casa Hogar Elim**

Softcover: 120 full color pages (like I would ever do black and white)

Language: English, I think.

Book Dimensions: Square, I like squares, 7″ x 7″

Tweet Tips


SUPPORT SMALL BIZ: purchase gifts at local discount & hole-in-the-wall stores #shopsmart http://wp.me/p7CAn-3b

look 4 ‘symmetrical hazy plastic people nativity scene with flying peanuts’ in ur area. #sillyyardart #fun http://wp.me/p7CAn-3b

appreciate retail workers, be nice to them, retail sucks during the holidays #benice #putawayanitemoffthefloor

use fb for ur christmas card nxt yr. it’s the card that gives all yr long! #facebookrocks #holidaysmadebyhallmark

there’s no $ in reindeer games. dasher & donner r unemployed. #reindeerjobs #recession http://badecono.me

i hope santa delivers basic necessities to those in need. #besanta #volunteer #helppeopleinneed #ursanta

pause in ur busyness and make a phone call 2 someone u haven’t talked to in a while. #justcall #uhaverolloverminutes

stop & talk with an impoverished person. buy them lunch & learn their story. meet tom: http://wp.me/p7CAn-3K #listen

his sign said he was broke and hungry. aren’t we all? matt 22:37-40http://wp.me/p7CAn-3K #homeless #impoverished

the most important christmas icon of all is jesus, and I don’t mean the plastic one. @embracechaos   Continue reading