Archive for October, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

it’s in the bag

target tree

If you’re not already saving money at Target plan to start soon.  Along with smaller stores such as Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmer’s Market, Target will be giving a 5¢ credit for each reusable bag shoppers bring with them.

USAToday had the full story

The Target program, which will roll out on Nov. 1 at all 1,700 Target stores nationwide, could save billions of plastic bags. The chain posts upwards of 1.5 billion transactions annually — most ending up in more than one bag.

A pilot test in 100 Target stores earlier this year resulted in a hefty 58% reduction in plastic bags used, says Shawn Gensch, vice president of marketing. “The best-case scenario is that we’ll have 100% success and every consumer will use a reusable bag.”

I’ve been using my own bags at Target for a while, now I just get paid for doing it.  What’s not to like.


Monday, October 26, 2009

hang in there

I know I went AWOL.  This past week has shown me the true challenges of having small children.  It’s them or this.  I’m sorry, I chose them.  I don’t get on the computer when Toddler L is at home unless he’s sleeping.  When he sleeps I need Baby S to be cooperative and either sleep or sit comfortably so I can work.  That didn’t happen this week. 

Someday I’ll figure out how to work in my sleep.

On a completely unrelated note, check out this idea…


I have always really liked the look of an eclectic grouping of pictures.  Now that grouping can be useful as well as beautiful.

Grab some thrift-store frames, fiberboard and lovely paper.

Cabinet knobs and pushpins hold necklaces and bracelets. Earrings dangle from lengths of ribbon hung horizontally across a frame.  Brooches and pins slide easily into a corkboard backed frame.

I’m thinking yes. 

Now if only I could get my hands on that gorgeous bag too.

via DIYIdeas

Monday, October 19, 2009

are weekly accounts weak?

Boy giving his vote to girl

I’m having a tough time decided whether to keep the weekly accounts posts.  I still make my weekly menu plan and we certainly track our budget.  I just don’t know if anyone cares to see it other than us.

I can tell by my blog stats I have more than 10 readers, but you are a very quiet bunch.

That’s okay.  Just knowing you’re there is nice.

Bud I do have a question I hope you will answer, it won’t require you to reveal your identity or even post a comment.  Just take this survey and I will listen to the masses.

I want you to be totally honest with me on how the machine makes you feel (can you name that movie?), I won’t be hurt if it’s a resounding “don’t care”, I will just fill the space with something more (or less) interesting.

Thank you for your help in this incredibly important decision.  (There was humour there.  Just sayin’.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

food waste


Every week I talk about food waste.  Why?  Other than it’s so cool and fun?  In the hope that it will make me aware of how much food (and money) I’m throwing away when something gets tossed in the garbage and not eaten.

Americans waste more than 40 percent of the food we produce for consumption. That comes at an annual cost of more than $100 billion.    via Wasted Food

Kristen, over at The Frugal Girl started documenting her food waste in March 2008, added pictures and then challenged her readers to join the fight.  Don’t be a Grouch, keep it out of the can.


I know this cream cheese looks pretty tasty but want you can’t see is a fine mist of mold over much of the top.  And yes, I do know that mold on cheese is not that big a deal.  On hard cheese I do tend to cut it off but this is whipped and I tend to be somewhat cautious with what I eat while breastfeeding Baby S.  And I would care about Toddler L too, especially as this cream cheese what bought for him.  But after the first two crackers he decided he didn’t want any more.

In fact, the last time he had it was while driving to Portland.  I had just bought the tub when I realized we were leaving town in a couple of days.  So I packed it in a cooler and took it on the road.  Crackers and cheese should be a good car snack, not too messy.

Toddler L had a cracker smeared and asked for another.  A few minutes later here’s the scene;

Toddler L, from the back seat: “Crackerhead.”

I turn and look.

Toddler L, nicely strapped into his car seat: “cracker…where’d it go?…where’d it go?”

My darling child has taken his cracker, using the cream cheese as glue and stuck it to his forhead.

After smearing it through his hair.


I have no flippin’ idea.

Toddler L has a look of nonchalance on his face and doesn’t seem at all concerned that my eyes are tearing up as I try to hold in the laughter.  I can’t afford to encourage this behaviour, who knows where he would take it from here.

But alas, that was the end of his interest in cream cheese.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

industrial renovation: a new life for old things


Sometimes a story just works.  This is one of those times.  (No, not this story.  This story.)

The text is rather limited and bland but finding out that these old Viennese gasometers had been reborn as live-work-shop spaces made me nod my head in approval.



What else would you do with four 113 year old red-brick cylinders standing 230 feet tall and 197 feet in diameter?


– Over 70 shops, restaurants, bars and cafes
– A multiplex cinema with 12 screens
– An events hall with room for 4,200 people
– A daycare center
– The Vienna National Archive
– 11,000 square meters (118,403 sq ft) of office space.
– 615 apartments
– A 230-bed student dormitory

Works for me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

fashion weak

Angela, over at My Year Without Spending, wrote a post about The Skirt.  The skirt that tempted her to break her Compact resolution.  She didn’t do it.  But she did pose the question about how to avoid the temptation (and high price) of fashion.  Her closing comments included the statement:

“there’s no reason you can’t be stylish without spending tons of money. You can buy less trendy clothes and wear them longer. You can shop secondhand. Or you can eschew fashion altogether. That’s probably the most effective way to break the addiction.”

This made my head rear back in affront.  (Not really, but doesn’t that sound like a great effect?)  It did make me think though.  I am certainly not addicted to shopping.  Even when I could shop in any store I wanted I never really liked the act of it.  And I’m not sure I’ve ever really been in fashion.  But I do like to appear fashionable.  So the idea of eschewing fashion to save money just made me shake my head.  Nope can’t do it.

Lucky for me, the next blog post I read was over at say YES! to hoboken where Liz modeled this gorgeous tee.


Best of all, she made it.  I love the look and it affirmed my belief that fashion doesn’t have to have a price tag.  Although I won’t be making one for myself as I look ridiculous in ruffles.

If Angela is staying out of the fashion houses to ease her addiction I guess I’ll have to put away the computer because seeing pictures like this one


just make me crave a new camera lens like nobody’s business.

*no animals were harmed in the making of this post but I did take a portion of Angela’s post out of context.  That’s the way my head works.  And if it weren’t for secondhand I’d have no cashmere.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

food waste


Remember last week when I oh-so-confidently stated “I have none.” about food waste?

I lied.

It was a lie of omission of sorts.  Or a lie of poor housekeeping if you will.  Upon review of the refrigerator’s contents I can claim not 1, not 2, not even 3, but 4, yes 4 jars of food to be tossed away.


Clockwise from the bottom right:

• about 1 tablespoon of pesto sauce – no excuse

• about 1 cup of sauerkraut – I don’t eat the stuff, apparently the husband doesn’t eat it fast enough

• about 1 cup of pasta sauce – no excuse

• a full jar (yup, completely full, never opened) of REAL Mayo – this one just makes me laugh, then cry, then laugh again.  I bought this jar of mayo before Toddler L was born.  (Toddler L just turned 2)  I was in the throws of “I’m cooking all the time now, I’m home every day, I’m sure I’ll need this for something right?”.  Wrong.  My family was not a mayonnaise family.  I don’t know how to use it.  Obviously.  The unopened jar is now months past it’s “best before” date.

I am well aware of the best by issues so I ask you – what can I do with an expired jar of REAL Mayo that I never intend to use?  Anyone live in the LA area that wants to pick it up?  I’ll leave it outside the front door starting Saturday morning with a “take me, please” sign.

Until the boys start eating me out of house and home I guess I’ll have to keep a better eye on the back of the fridge.  And make more pasta.  Gee, why didn’t I think of that last week?

Monday, October 5, 2009

the beauty in life

I’m feeling uninspired these days.  At least when it comes to my blog.  I have tons of thoughts about creative projects I’d like to do and plans I’d like to make.  But I just don’t seem to have much to share about the Compact, how it’s affecting my life or what I’m doing about it.  I’m not sure what to write or if I want to write at all.

So instead I thought I’d share a few of the images that do inspire me.  Our trip to Portland and subsequent drive down the Oregon and California coastline has reminded me of one thing…

Get outside.  Life is happening all around us.

IMG_7304this way

IMG_7306that way

IMG_7307over here

IMG_7315stop and smell the roses


IMG_7326and up

IMG_7382a little boy in a great big world

IMG_7384may we always keep that sense of wonder


IMG_7410ahhh, brotherly love

IMG_7418my perfect family

Saturday, October 3, 2009

weekly accounts


A big part of my keeping to a budget has been menu planning.  Each week I take a look at what’s in the cupboard and decide what to make for dinner each evening.  Breakfast is every man for himself and lunch is dependent on whether the husband is home or not.  Planning dinners has allowed me to shop sales and make sure the food we buy gets used and not thrown away.  Plus I love to find recipes and then ignore them when I cook, the menu plan gives me a starting point.  So let’s see what’s on for this week…

Saturday – salmon was on the menu but got left in the freezer so we ended up eating out on our way home from the fair

Sunday – pancakes

Monday – I’m looking for a recipe for the salmon filets I didn’t use on Saturday

Tuesday – black beans and rice

Wednesday – pizza

Thursday – baked pasta

Friday – the husband and I are out, Grandma will be running the kitchen


We are using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget.  Each week we calculate how much we spent overall and I announce if we are under or over budget.

eating out – $174.50

grocery – $54.10

grocery non-edible – $6.53

Not pretty, but not as bad as it could have been.  All of this eating out was because of our travels so there’s not much we could change there.  Now we’re home and back to some semblance of a budget.  I hope.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

why buy when you can barter?

I learned something new today.  (Now can I go back to sleep?)  I’ll share with you and maybe you’ll learn something new too.

The concept of bartering is not new.  Nor are bartering websites.  I’ve even had my own experiences with them.  But I didn’t know about all the sites that made ecosalon‘s top 20 list.

Here are a few that were new to me…


What’s traded? Books…and book-related gossip.

How does it work? It’s not just a site to swap books back and forth (you list the books you have; other people request them when you’ve posted your list; you get credit to request books yourself). It’s a reading community, with reviews, discussion forums and all sorts of lines of communication at work. That final “Relate” in the tagline is what makes it distinct from its competitors.


What’s traded? Only your home, dude. No biggie.

How does it work? Obviously this is a big deal, in every sense. This site is all about permanent house trading, and so it’s really a sophisticated way of getting in contact with people – no PayPal purchasing here – but the backbone of the site is a very real Real Estate Network.


What’s traded? Well, now, this should polarize you. Fancy putting on the slightly used makeup of a stranger?

How does it work? You browse the items on offer – you find something of your own that the swapper would be willing to accept in return – and off you go. The FAQ notes that all swapped items should be cleaned with alcohol before swapping, and only unused mascara should be swapped, but even so, there will be some people who will flinch. Since there’s a feedback system and therefore an element of accountability, there’s probably little to fear. Satisfied or disappointed swappers can also air their views on a product review page.


What’s traded? Clothes and books.

How does it work? Rehash is in it for the good of the environment (their recycling-style logo is a big clue). When you “rehash” (i.e. put up for swap) an item, it’s listed as a page in the site’s Trading Post hub, and people make offers that you can flick through and weigh up. Once you’ve confirmed a mutually acceptable deal, the mechanics of getting item to new owner are left completely up to you. The site also has a nice line in community-based activities and reference resources.


What’s traded? Unwanted bags of seeds – anything from vegetables to trees.

How does it work? Unfortunately, by the looks of it, it isn’t working – there’s not much going on in that site right now. But it’s such a fun idea that I felt it worth including for the concept alone. Trading plant seeds has terrific potential (although food-related legislation might be a hurdle to clear) – and postage? Cost of a stamp.


What’s traded? Everything under the sun.

How does it work? Want the push & pull of a negotiated deal? This is the place for you, because you don’t swap based on existing predetermined values – you decide how much your swap is worth, by haggling (using their fancy electronic negotiation system). When you both see eye to eye , the swap can take place – accompanied with the quiet satisfaction of knowing you gave it your best shot.


What’s traded? In theory, anything you like, large or small. (Since it’s new, it’s still sparsely-populated).

How does it work? There are no points, no credits…it’s all about how much you think your swappable item is worth. You use this SF-based site to come to an arrangement on your terms only. It looks nice, there are plenty of great features (such as finding deals within so many miles of your home) – but right now it’s waiting for enough people to bring it alive. One to watch.


What’s traded? In a word, glam. Clothes, accessories, cosmetics, shoes.

How does it work? You build up your swapping potential by gaining a positive feedback score, so that other people can see you’re a trustworthy recipient of their fashion triumphs. You can also go for Address Verification status, which is a physical letter containing a code that once entered, confirms you’re where you say you are. Once you’re trusted and verified, you never have to wear the same thing twice and you can keep your principles intact.


What’s traded? Mainly music, but generally a bit of everything in the realm of the small to medium-sized.

How does it work? This site is much more eBay-esque in that you can offer an item for swapping, but also choose to sell it, transacting via PayPal. There’s no fancy automated bartering engine behind the scenes: you create adverts, you sift through e-mails, and you move items and/or money around. It’s strictly hands-on, so if you’re a control freak, this is the one for you.


What’s traded? Books, music, film & television DVDs, and video games.

How does it work? It’s all about the barcode. Input the UPC or the ISBN from the back of the item you have, and the fancymajiggery behind the scenes at Swaptree will find what items are offered for trade in return, and display them Amazon-style down the screen. What’s more, it’ll keep searching while you’re logged off, meaning you’re faced with a new list of potential swaps every time you log on. Specific to entertainment media – but brilliant at what it does.


What’s traded? Things from the very, very small to the astounding large.

How does it work? “World’s Largest Online Barter Exchange Auction Site”, TradeAway boldly claims. It’s big, we’ll give them that, but that big? Anyway, there’s plenty to see here. Listings range from the so-brief-they-must-be-spam all the way to exhaustively detailed multimillion-dollar property offers, but the theme is bartering. It’s true: this is where hugely expensive real estate gets swapped!

For the full list of 20 be sure to check out the article here.