Apr 8 2011

garage sale for good [day 316]

While in the process of ridding my house of many unused things, I received a Facebook message about a garage sale.  This is not just any garage sale, it’s a sale to help someone in need.  Here’s the info from Facebook.

We will be holding a HUGE Charity Garage Sale at Third Monday Trade Days on Highway 380 in McKinney on Friday April 15th and Saturday April 16th. ALL proceeds will go to the Bereavement Fund to assist Tami and her children with life after the loss of her husband and the children’s Father. Medical bills are mounting and Tami is about to have her 6th child this April.

Plesae consider donating your items, volunteering to help run the sale, pricing, boxing, transporting items to the sale venue and even just sending this to ALL of your friends so we can get the word out! The more the better!

The timing on this, for me personally, is a little ironic.  I sometimes gather donations to take to the thrift store or to bring to an orphanage I love, and the first thing most people say is, “I have some old clothes I can send.”   This is sale actually a great place to send those unwanted clothes, as opposed to donating them to people that need other things.  (click here to read about situational needs)   I brought them some clothing, not because I didn’t want it, but because I didn’t need it.  I purposely downsized my wardrobe by over 50%, so this clothing isn’t out-of-style stuff, it’s good stuff with life left in it.

I gave lots of other stuff that I had slotted for the thrift store and craigslist.  I can always use the money I would get from selling stuff, but I don’t need it.  This is a way to infuse good into your stuff while blessing others.  In this process, I’m helping someone in need, I’ve met some really cool people I didn’t know, I’m blessing others with some of my unused material possessions and my life is slowly becoming less stressful, as I’m getting out of the gridlock of my belongings.

These photos were taken over a week ago.  I’m sure much more has been donated by now and this isn’t even all of the stuff.  Take a look.

Continue reading


Mar 28 2011

the affects of effects [day 306]

It starts when we’re born.  Accessories.  “My daddy is the best” and “My mom is better than your mom” on our shirts, iconic pacifiers, hair bows in more styles and colors than Baskin Robbins has flavors, complete ensembles of coordinated clothing, all in large quantities.  When did babies become fashion statements?  Aren’t they cute enough already?  I see a lot of people talking to parents with small babies and hearing more compliments about the clothing than the kid wearing them.

It continues through adolescence, expanding to toys and games.  I have boys (thank you God) that don’t care much about fashion and will probably need future therapy for their lack of stylish clothing options.  They do however have accessories.  They have Nintendo DS’s that have lots of games, a universal charger, a fancy light sabre stylus and headphones, all packed inside a custom case.  Society says, “You need more” and we respond by buying more.

Into adulthood now, and I’m not exempt from this.  I might not have a lot of fancy, trendy clothing but I do have some nice things in my house.  Most from eBay, craigslist and thrift stores, but nevertheless, lots of things.  Accessories.  I have decorative things that serve no purpose other than to sit there and look nice.  Now I’m an artist of sorts, so this is an important topic.  I love to create things, but with a purpose.  Much of my art is chaotic, but has meaning and purpose behind it.  The vase sitting on my shelf, not so much.  I’ve been sucked into the American vortex of more is better.  I created this photograph several years ago.  This has many meaning for many people, but I see it as how we become background fixtures in the sea of stuff we own.

Continue reading


Mar 23 2011

a bunch of miscellaneous stuff [minimalist challenge item #34]

[item] A large bin and huge bag of miscellaneous stuff

[purchase info] Most of this was purchased new, but on sale.  Some came from thrift stores.

[time in my possession] Many years

[last used] Over a year

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy to medium

[destination] Freecycle

[info] This is a lot of random stuff… Christmas lights, toys, art supplies and office supplies.  I have several storage bins of junk that I still need to go through, but this is a good start.  These bins are like junk drawers on steroids.


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


Jan 29 2011

aldi vs. walmart: a shopping comparison [day 248]

You asked for it.  Here it is.  The price shopping comparison between Aldi and Walmart.  After my post on day 241, many people asked for a price comparison with Walmart, some because they love shopping there, others because they believe Walmart to have the lowest prices.  So what’s your guess on the savings?

Aldi is still a lot cheaper in comparison t0 both of the other stores.  On similar size off brand and generic items, Kroger was 52% more and Walmart was 47% more.  The savings at Walmart for these brands is not much less than a regular grocery store, neither coming close to the savings at Aldi.  On the name brands, Kroger was 113% more and Walmart was 67% more.  Here’s where the Walmart savings come in.  Name brands you’re familiar with, for much less than other places.  This whole process has made me think about my previous grocery shopping habits and has encouraged me to make some changes.  I’m going to label these a little differently.  Let’s call these stores by type.

conventional grocery storediscount grocery storesuperstore – convenience store

All of the store types have pros and cons, however making educated shopping choices for your money and well being isn’t the easiest thing to do sometimes.  Here are a few of my observations and answers to questions I had before doing this comparison: Continue reading


Dec 29 2010

a year in pictures [day 216]

Honestly, some of these might be more than a year old, but they’re all the same, year after year… lots of stuff.  Most of these were taken in abandoned places, houses, farms, buildings, vehicles, you name it.  No matter where I go with my camera, I always find lots of stuff to shoot.  There’s something about each place that intrigues me, saddens me, excites me and disappoints me.  Take a look.


Dec 28 2010

my kids are okay with it [day 215]

Here’s the answer to the big question, “Were your kids okay with this no retail shopping Christmas?

Yes.

I’m very proud of them.  I’m imposing some of my challenge on them, but just by the stuff I get for them.  They both work for their allowance and they are allowed to spend it retail if they choose to.  My 11 year old could care less about money or buying anything.  My 10 year old, who likes money and shopping, has had $150 in his wallet for over 2 months now.  He’s had several opportunities to spend it, and has not.

When it came to Christmas, my kids didn’t really want much.  As a matter of fact, I got a text from their dad saying he had no idea what to get them for Christmas, as every time he asked, they didn’t really give him an answer.  The one thing they both showed an interest in was an iPad.  After ignoring that for the first 20 times they said it, I thought about it.  I told them they would have to share it, but I would put some money toward it if their dad and grandma would too.  Grandma agreed, dad did not.  It was a bit of a relief, as I really didn’t want to give them a lot of money.  It would be better than them having a bunch of small stuff that will be used for about a week, then end up at the thrift store.  Anyway, no iPad in the Wissing house.

So what did my kids want?  Books.  The Bones series and some of the Pokemon series.  We shopped together on amazon.com and got everything they wanted… used.  I got a book too, Journal Junkies.  I also got them each a gift card from Gamestop, as they have used games, fitting that into my no retail plan.

When they came home from their dad’s house, where they didn’t get anything extravagant for Christmas, they were excited to come home and have Christmas at our house.  Driving home, I was thinking how disappointed they’ll be, as their friends got electronics and lots of toys, and all they’ll get is some books.  I didn’t even wrap anything, the mailer envelopes under the tree, displaying my lack of Christmas consumerism.  We got home, they opened their gifts, and guess what?  They were happy.  They spent the next hour reading, and it would have been longer if I hadn’t made them go to bed.

I don’t know if what I’m doing is good for them, but I’m doing it for the right reasons and I’m sensitive to their reactions to it.  I’m not sure what I would have done if they were disappointed, but I know I would have tried something to make it good, yet still doing what I feel is the right thing.  After seeing from my mom right before Christmas, and hearing how “ridiculous” I am for the no retail shopping challenge and for recycling, because after I’m gone, nobody will care and there won’t be any less trash in the world, I felt okay.  I’m encouraging my kids and I’m not shoving this down their throats.  Christmas will never be good for me, but hopefully it won’t be bad for my children.


Dec 11 2010

lesson learned through a pink bag and Barbie dolls [day 198]

Yet another trip to Target.  This time it was for my son.  Here’s the somewhat funny, yet disturbing story…

I was presented with a ziplock baggie full of Barbie doll parts this past week.  Normally, this would be okay, as someone might be giving me these for an art project or something.  This time, it’s because my son, along with a friend, decapitated and dismembered some dolls that obviously weren’t his.  He said he took the heads off, but didn’t do the rest, however he did choose to make a puppet show out of them.  I don’t have a pic of the dolls right now, but I’m quite sure they’ll be in a future trashogram.

I’m mostly upset by this because he isn’t being respectful of other people’s things.  These dolls belong to the church, and he made a really poor decision in destroying stuff that’s not his.  Now knowing my somewhat quirky parenting style, I came up with a pretty creative punishment.  My style has been compared to Henry Spencer from the show Psych.  It’s odd, but it works.  I’ll stick with it.  So my punishment started at Target…

First, my son had to go into the store with a pink “green” bag.  The friend that helped him also came along, as they’re both to purchase new Barbie dolls for the church.  She offered to carry the pink bag, and at some point, I allowed it.  The punishment, or so he thinks, is that I will video him in the doll aisle, selecting the new Barbie dolls and checking out at the register.  I did do the videos, but I’m not sure if I will actually post them.  As upset as he was, I think he might have learned his lesson.  The money came out of his bank account and he also has to write an apology letter to the kids director at church.  Continue reading


Dec 1 2010

you know they're good friends when they let you dive in their trash bin [day 189]

I was at my friend’s house finishing up a painting project when I noticed she had cleaned out the garage.  Upon opening the garage door, I also noticed a truck full of junk.  Now this is an invitation for me at anyone’s house.

First, let me say that if I really did this in my garage, I could fill up 4 of these trucks… one alone with paint.  I have made so many trips to the thrift store to donate things I don’t need that I can’t even claim it all on my taxes without itemizing it, which by the way, I’m not doing.  So was there any good stuff in the truck?  Not a lot, but yes.  I got a grill pan and a 5 gallon bucket I needed.  There were a few things that could go to the thrift store.

I did rummage through a bag of small toys and a few other things.  Just to make my point clear, we all have the things I’m about to show in some trashograms, my friends here are just being good and clearing out the clutter.  My point in showing this as art is to visually show our shopping habits and thought processes when making purchases, even the small ones.  Some small changes would mean less waste and less clutter.  If we have less stuff, there’s nothing to pick up, although I would have to find something new to harass my kids with.  Here we go…

Tiny plastic things. We all love tiny plastic toys if we’re over 3 years old and they don’t pose a choking hazard.  Plastic clutter comes in the form of toys, kid’s meals, impulse items in retail stores and are advertised this time of year as stocking stuffers.

What’s under your tree?  Is it things people want or is it things that will create more clutter in your house?  I purposely shaped the beads into an infinity symbol because it seems never ending.  Forget the crayon melting machines, maybe we need to have is a plastic melting machine so we can take all the tiny plastic toys and mold them into new and useful things.  Okay, so it’s a toxic idea, but probably only in California.  Maybe I’ll use this image for my Christmas card?  Oh yeah, I don’t send cards.   Continue reading


Nov 27 2010

BLACK FRIDAY: the video [day 185]

Any other day of the year, no retailer would allow you to walk around their store with a camera around your neck, they would stop you and make you put it away.  On black friday, that’s not the case.  With the busyness and chaos of the thousands of shoppers, extremely long lines and merchandise everywhere, nobody stopped me.  Here’s the black friday 2010 video to the tune of AC/DC’s Back in Black.

A few black friday observations:

  • It’s controlled chaos. The retailers are creating it and they’re prepared for it.
  • There’s a size relationship. The bigger the person, the bigger the packages.  Oh, how some psycho therapist needs to analyze this.
  • People like to get a deal. I’m not sure if they really want or need this stuff, but there seems to be an accomplishment once they’ve gotten a deal.  If they researched a possible purchase during the year, they could probably find a similar savings.  Is it really a deal if it’s cheap and not needed?
  • Loss leaders. There are some deals that can’t be found throughout the year, but these loss leaders are only available to the first 3-5 people according to the ads.  Not a bad deal, but I would do the cost analysis, time and effort versus cost savings.
  • Warranties. Many of the big ticket loss leaders have very limited warranties.  Before buying, you better make sure it works before you put it under the tree.  Many items have 15 days warranties.  They might as well just skip that altogether.
  • 2 types of men. The ones that like electronics with a willingness to get up early and fight for it and the “my wife made me do this and I better get sex tonight” male drag-a-longs.  I might start a line of t-shirts before next year.
  • Sporting event. I’m pretty sure most women see this as some sort of sporting event.  It’s a race for the best deals and to get all the shopping done at one time.  Most of them are getting lots of practice time during the year, so it should be a good game.

There’s much more, but that’s the big stuff.  Now, what to get my kids for Christmas without going shopping?