Posts tagged ‘Blogging’

Thursday, January 28, 2010

life happened…

…to be continued.  Hopefully someday soon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

the fixer

I was so encouraged by the spirit of this post about reusable bags, in part because it touched on my love of all things inherited.  Lucky for me, Tara[ “tar” (the road stuff) – “uh”], aka The Organic Sister, is way cool and allowed me to share her words with you.  Check out her story, I’m incredibly envious of her family’s up and coming adventure.

. . .

These canvas shopping bags are about 20 years old. They belonged to my mom; proof we’ve been living green before I even knew what it meant.

The average reusable bag has the lifespan of over seven hundred disposable plastic bags.

I love the fact they have lasted so long! Canvas shopping bags are the best; their durability is obvious. I’ve seen some reusable bags that were poorly made and had holes or broken handles within a year.

Repairing Vintage Grocery BagsThe red is even still bright!

Using canvas bags can save an average of 425 plastic bags per person, annually!

Our “vintage” bags (as the store clerk calls them) only recently broke a couple straps. We load them up pretty heavily and the stress started to show in two of the 8 bags’ handles.

Their canvas material makes them easy to repair: I just overlapped the two halfs of the broken handle by a few inches, and machine-sewed vertically and horizontally until it felt good and secure. Nothing fancy and it shortened the handles a bit but it extended their use at least another decade!

An estimated one million birds and 100,000 turtles and other sea animals die of starvation each year after ingesting discarded plastic bags which block their digestive tracks.

Other than some day owning family heirloom bags, want some more interesting reasons to switch to reusable bags? Click here:

Go Reusable Bags!

. . .

Yeah, hey, hey
When somethings dark, let me shed a little light on it
When somethings cold, let me put a little fire on it
If somethings old, I wanna put a bit of shine on it
When somethings gone, I wanna fight to get it back again

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, fight to get it back again
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

When somethings broke, I wanna put a bit of fixin on it
When somethings bored, I wanna put a little exciting on it
If somethings low, I wanna put a little high on it
When somethings lost, I wanna fight to get it back again

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, fight to get it back again
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

When signals cross, I wanna put a little straight on it
If there’s no love, I wanna try to love again

I’ll say your prayers, I’ll take your side
I’ll find us a way to make light
I’ll dig your grave, we’ll dance and sing
What’s saved could be one last lifetime

Hey, hey, hey
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, fight to get it back again
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Fight to get it back again, yeah, yeah, yeah
Fight to get it back again, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

A new favorite song of mine, fitting no?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

missing in action


I miss you blogosphere.  I miss talking to you.  I miss having time to talk to you.  I thought not shopping would give me more time?  I guess I shouldn’t have had a second child if I wanted time to do fun things like write a blog.

I hope to talk to you soon.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

much ado


There is so much going on I don’t know where to start.  I took a few days off as the family was traveling and my oh so perfect schedule was thrown into chaos.  Okay, I don’t have a perfect schedule.  But I do have chaos.

(I haven’t digressed in a while, so here goes…  The husband put on one of my favorite albums as we sat down to our computers tonight.  I’m slightly distracted because it is so soothing and I greatly enjoy it.  I also greatly enjoy a husband who loves music completely yet plays an album he doesn’t love because his wife does.  Was that enough digression?)

Back to your regularly scheduled meanderings.  To start off on a high note, I won an award while on vacation.  (Can you be on vacation if you don’t have paid employment?)  It may come as a surprise to those of you who don’t know me, but I can’t remember the last time I won an award.  It might have been that 5th grade science fair.  I won a trophy a few years back, but that was for gambling so I don’t think it counts.

This time, I’m truly honored.  Angela, from My Year Without Spending, gave me a Superior Scribbler Award!  Thanks Angela.  What started out as an idea no more well thought out than the one to join the Compact has really changed my days.  (And if that sentence doesn’t just emanate Superior Scribbler I don’t know what does.)

The first Superior Scribbler was an accomplished journalist/blogger/teacher.  In her wisdom, that Scribe passed along her appreciation for other scribblers.  And so on, and so on, and so on…  Almost two years and 800 recipients later is little ol’ me.  This blog has become a part of my daily life in so many ways.  Beyond the enjoyment I receive just from writing, I have come across some amazing people and ideas that have enriched my thinking about living within our means and how to give the most to my family while still keeping something for myself.  If I can pass that along then I truly feel accomplished.

As with any award, there are a few hoops to jump through.  Here are the Superior Scribblers’…

1.  Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass the award on to 5 most-deserving bloggy friends.

2.  Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

3.  Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to this post, which explains The Award.

4.  Each blogger who wins the Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky list. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who wins This Prestigious Honor.

5.  Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

To fulfill rule #1, I give you my five (in no particular order)…

acme eclectic – it’s not girly/frugal/design/food/green/parenting or anything else you might think I would read, but it’s great writing and it makes me sound well read when in conversation with the husband.  Check it out, you might be surprised.

Good Pens – I like a good obsession.  I also like pens.  I don’t obsess about them, but the Good Pens Junkie does.  If you know how to retrofit a vintage ballpoint with a $2 Bic insert (or you’d like to), this blog is for you.

Pleasure Notes – through some pretty serious ups and downs Emma has blogged about life.  Specifically her life, with some great randomness thrown in.  I especially love the weekly flowers she brings into her (and at least digitally my) home.

Dispatches from Utopia – I found this blog via another project she has, Eating Well on $50 a Week, which I found out about from my father-in-law.  Cari is truly a kindred spirit.  She lives in the city I hope to one day call home.  She feeds her family well by cooking her own food and she has a sense of humor.  Sounds just like me right?  Okay, so she might actually be a writer with training and skill but other than that I’m sure we have a lot in common.  Check her out.

Creature Comforts – I couldn’t not give props to a design blog.  As you know, I’m a design junkie.  I love a good design idea.  I love a good design download.  And whoa, a design freebie?  You’ve got my number.  Creature Comforts has all that and more.

. . .

If you don’t spend all your time checking out these great blogs be sure to come back.  I have some ideas, and some blog changes, up my sleeve.  As a Superior Scribbler I will do my best to enlighten you.  Okay, maybe I can at least amuse you.  If not, too bad, I amuse myself.  And that’s enough for me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

got fun?


I have not worked in nearly 2 years.  For almost that long the husband and I have been discussing how to get on a budget.

Neither of these things were even a whisper of a thought when I decided to join the Compact.

I did it because I thought it made sense to be more sustainable.  And I love old things so why not make a commitment to renewing their use.  I started this blog to discuss how being a part of the Compact has affected our lives.  I know, I’ve strayed.  I can only hope somebody else has benefited from my work.  If not, I’m happy in the knowledge that my decision to Compact has opened up this whole new world of living to me.  Including finally getting that budget we’ve talked about for so long.

So what?  You say.  Say what, I say.

Say what I’m grateful for.  I like being a part of the Compact.  I like coupon clipping and finding a good deal.  I like cooking all our meals.

I also like doing things.  For fun.  You remember fun right?  There’s been a big push about frugality recently (yes, the new F word), and  many seem to see it as an end to fun.  I didn’t start this year thinking I would be frugal.  In fact, I don’t think I’d thought about the word since Frugal Rock.  Or was that Froogal Rock?  I’m old.  I can’t remember details.

All digressions aside, fun and frugal can coincide.  Saturday night we went to a baseball game at UC Long Beach.  Neither husband or I have an affiliation with the school.  We just thought it would be fun.  You know, something to do.  Tickets were a whopping $5 each.

Husband had a blast, Toddler L had a blast, and I love that more than I care that I don’t really care about college baseball.  It was a great night out.

It cost money.  So what?  If you forget to have fun, frugal really is a dirty word.

Monday, April 27, 2009

monday – menus and more


The second week home after a vacation or even a three day weekend is when everything starts to feel normal again.  I’m starting to feel normal.  I’m trying to build up my routines.

Boy #2 is due the end of June.  I have about 9 weeks of routine before all hell breaks loose again.  But in the meantime I’m making my lists, checking them twice…oh, wait, that’s another story.  Back to my story.  Grocery list, check.  grocery shopping, check.  Menu plan, check.

Let’s see what we’ll be eating…

Sunday:  leftovers

Monday:  chicken breasts, mashed cauliflower (I love this dish, it’s like mashed potatoes but healthier)

Tuesday:  boneless pork sirloin chops, sautéed carrots

Wednesday:  pancakes

Thursday:  WOHO (wife on her own)

Friday:  pulled chicken sandwiches, green beans

Saturday:  tuna pasta (not sure if this is going to be traditional with cream of mushroom soup or something lighter with flaked tuna, oil and some veg.  I guess it depends on the weather that day.)


Our budget was $80, we spent…

Sprouts Farmers Market – $9.09 (this was all of our produce [minus the bananas] and eggs for the week, amazed even me.)

Vons – $24.96

Trader Joe’s – $10.95 (I can’t believe how little I shop here now, I still don’t want to live without a TJ’s nearby but they used to be my go-to for almost everything.)

Walgreens – $22.41

Target – $7.86 (no food but household items that I consider part of the budget)

99¢ Store – $2.00 (potatoes AND bananas!)

Lots of stops this week but with a final total of $77.27 I think it worked out to shop around for the deals.  All of these stores are within a couple miles and typically on our way home from some other outing.


I came across this picture essay from about the foods and budgets of families around the globe.  Although it’s quite old it’s definitely worth checking out.  Can you guess which is the American family?




Wednesday, April 8, 2009

creative license with the compact

Talking about how Compact my life is can be…well, compact.  Sometimes there’s just not much there.  Because of my husband’s and my decision to have another child instead of sending me back to work (thank you husband!), we are also living a more cost conscious life.  Call it frugal if you must.  I call it…our life.

So this blog has become something of a morphosis project for me.  It is a platform for me to talk about what’s on my mind.  Whatever that is.  Like, how can we get back to Laura Ingalls as a role model for our little girls instead of Britney Spears.  No, that wasn’t really on my mind.  But now it is.  Glad I have boys.

All digressions aside, I just don’t have anything to say about how living a Compact life has affected me today.  Instead, I”ll tell you how it’s going to affect me in the future.  Here are six projects I’d like to try.  Why are they Compact?  Because they all involve using recycled materials.  And isn’t that the basis of how to live a Compact life?  That was rhetorical, I just want to see how many times I can say Compact in one post.


You still there??

Thought I’d lost you.  Back to the projects…


I am a sucker for a monogram.  I might be working on this one tomorrow. Round up scraps of pretty patterned paper and a few frames. Cut a piece of patterned paper to fit the frame opening. Die-cut or hand-cut an oversize monogram and, if desired, a mat. Mount the initial to the patterned-paper background with adhesive foam, add the mat, if using, and slide the assembly into the frame.


I have a mission.  Collect as many frame pendants and frame pendant wanna-be’s that the thrift stores have to offer.  This may take a while, but I think this project might be worth it.  Love the charm of it.  (sorry couldn’t resist.) Use up even the tiniest pieces of leftover or favorite fabrics with these wineglass charms. Cut small squares of selected areas of the fabric and insert each into a frame pendant. Earring-hoop wire threaded through the pendant loop makes it easy to attach the charm to a wineglass stem.


I love decorative balls.  All the different kinds Crate and Barrel, Anthroplogie, Z Gallerie and every other corner design store have been pushing as must haves for the well photographed home.  Now who’s got the last laugh?  And the last dollar saved? An easy craft to make, these fabric-wrapped balls use up scraps from your stash and can be displayed in a pretty bowl. Cut strips from coordinating fabrics and use glue to adhere them to foam balls. Select a variety of fabric patterns and use both small and large balls for extra interest.


This is a definite favorite!  I always said I can’t draw without a ruler.  Now they have an even better use in my studio. Use a miter box to cut old yardsticks to length, creating colorful and graphic photo mats that turn basic frames into works of art.


Next time I see a Hannah Montana suitcase at the thrift store I’m grabbing it.  I always worried about the girls that just had to have such things.  Guess they have a higher purpose after all. A small suitcase from a secondhand store becomes a graphic and colorful storage unit when prettied up with paper and paint. Remove and paint the hardware. Decoupage the case with scrapbook paper. Replace the hardware, securing it with metal glue and decorative brads painted the same color.


I’m more of a favorite old mug kinda gal, but any excuse to have a wood plane sitting on my desk has my attention. Turn an old wood plane into an all-in-one desk set simply by drilling a few holes. Look for inexpensive or damaged planes at flea markets, garage sales, and auctions.

All images and ideas borrowed directly from the Better Homes and Gardens website.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

monday – menus and more


I’m starting lots of new practices around the house, all in the spirit of living with less.  Less spending, less, stuff, less waste, lots of less.

The changes included creating a grocery list, clipping coupons, having a weekly food budget and menu planning.  That’s a lot of stuff just to have less.  And I have much to learn about how to do it all well.  But I’m working on it.

Since I’m not the best at creating tasks and sticking to them I thought I’d make it more of a challenge.  Each week I’ll create a menu and post it here.  It’s not a new idea, I know.  In fact, it’s all over the web, I’m just one of a herd of menu planners.  But it’s all about the process.  Read the circulars, find out what’s on sale, create the grocery list, create the menu, adjust the grocery list, go shopping, everything’s in the house to make the meals, no wandering the store aisles buying willy-nilly.  Follow the logic?  I used to do a lot of willy-nilly.  Now I willy-nilly no more.

If it makes no sense to you, don’t worry.  You may not be of the menu planning herd.  That’s okay.  If I could I’d be of the eating someone else’s food all the time herd, but that’s just not an option.  Unless you’re a chef and want to work for me.  For free.  Or your the perfect grandparent and you’d like to adopt me.  I have a very nice family.

So, what’s on the menu?  Let’s see…

Sunday:  boneless pork chops and broccoli (I really wanted mashed cauliflower but the store that had it on sale didn’t have any and I’d already been to 4 stores and spent my budget)

Monday:  chicken and corn on the cob

Tuesday:  hamburgers , homemade buns, mac ‘n cheese, salad

Wednesday:  pasta, salad (maybe spaghetti, maybe garlic and oil, kinda depends on my mood that day)

Thursday:  leftovers, if there are none – eggs in spicy tomato sauce

Friday/Saturday:  I get a pass as we are going out of town for the weekend.  No cooking!!

And yes, it’s only one meal a day.  We eat more, I just figure you don’t need to know about every calorie.  These are the major ones – dinner.  I know, the descriptives are a little vague.  I’m not a fan of recipes so I don’t always have the complete dish in mind but I know the main ingredient.  Don’t worry, if I’m ever planning anything specific (like Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti) I’ll be sure to link to it.

This is week 2 of menu planning and week 1 of telling you about it.  So prepare for changes.  I don’t know what they might be so I’m preparing too.

♦ ♦ ♦

I’ll also tell you what I spent.  Again, in a vague way.  But enough so that I feel some compulsion to stick to the budget lest I have to tell you I failed so soon after starting.

Here goes, week 1 of $80 budget…

Sprouts Farmers Market – $25.73 (not only are their prices good, I get 5¢ back for every bag I bring in)

Trader Joe’s – $12.64 (I think this is the least I have ever spent at TJ’s for a weekly shop, blame it on Sprouts)

99¢ Store – $2.80 (Never thought it would happen, but I went and got three food items.  Less than 3 bucks!)

Vons – $43.18 (I will say, with coupons and card savings this was a $34.16 savings.  Plus I bought 2 5lb bags of flour and dry milk which are beyond a weekly food item.)

So, I’m $4.35 over budget.  I’ll just have to try better next week.  Although, I’m actually thrilled with where we’re at.  I have a stocked freezer of chicken, beef and pork and my pantry is not looking to shabby.  Consider that my freezer is a small above fridge compartment and my pantry is 4 shelves of an over-the-counter cupboard before you judge me.  I just like to make sure you have all the facts.  Feel free to judge away.

Where did the $80 limit come from, you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  The Frugal Girl uses $80 (sometimes $100) to feed her family of 2 adults and 4 kids.  That’s beyond impressive to me.  I took into consideration where we live, stores available to us and some items we feel are musts.  I balance our need for organic milk (at a much higher price, of course) and my desire to shop at the weekly farmer’s market versus the better prices available on sale produce at the stores.

It’s a work in progress.  Consider these my thoughts on the matter.  I’m just sharing them out loud.  Lucky you.

Feel free to share back.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

a look back


It’s almost the end of the month and it is the end of the week.  It sounds like a good time to take a look at where we’ve been.  Or how far we’ve come.  Or what we’ve done.  Or haven’t done for that matter.  But you get the idea.  We are a month into this here Compact year.  How’s it going so far?

Well, ever since I wrote that post about forgetting my bags I haven’t forgotten my bags.  I guess I just needed to verbalize my issue.  I should keep that in mind.  Maybe I’ll just start writing about all my problems.  Hmm, I might lose a few of you.  I think I’ll stick to the topic at hand.  What was that again?

I’ve also been doing a lot of cooking at home.  And I mean a lot.  More than I ever thought I would want to do.  And guess what?  I’ve been enjoying it!  Shhh, don’t tell my husband.  I cook, he does laundry.  If he thought I enjoyed the cooking we might have to change our deal.  And it works so well for me.  But in addition to actually enjoying my cooking I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can go to the farmer’s market, buy a bunch of different produce and actually make real meals out of it.  It’s kind of a learning curve you know?  I started with fruit and have worked my way up to cabbage, bok choy, various lettuces and so much more!  What’s next?  No, not that.  It won’t happen.  If there is any baking going on it won’t be me.  I’m quite happy with my Organic Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Trader Joe’s.  A handful of those a day and I am golden!

We’ve had to buy four birthday presents this month and I was able to find great gifts (at least I think they were great, I hope the getters did too!) all at our local thrift and consignment stores.  I think we’ve been to Target twice and it was for soap, toothpaste, kleenex (I know, I know, I use hankies but husband just can’t get on that bandwagon, what’s a girl to do?) and Nature Babycare wipes.  All in all, I think we’re doing great on that front.  I was also able to score 11 linen napkins at the flea market last Sunday for only three bucks!  And I really like them to boot!  Got a new (circa 1979) bookshelf to be used as a TV stand in a friend’s apartment too.  A coat of paint and that will be one sweet find.

That friend’s apartment…it’s a design job I’m doing.  More like a favor really.  A favor she’s doing for me.  I’ve wanted to spruce up this place for years.  Now’s my chance.  And my first order of business (after finding the bookshelf) was to select all low VOC (actually Dunn Edwards NO VOC!) paints.  It’s truly the best.  Playing with furniture, fabric and paint in an eco-conscious way with someone else’s money (on a budget – I like a challenge).  This rocks!  Okay, I know that was a major digression.  Back to my Compact accomplishments.  (Wow, does that sound like a pat on my own back!)

We’ve been back to Walser’s with all of our pre-sorted recycling.  Did you know they even take the metal hangers that (annoyingly) come from the dry-cleaners?  They are so great.  Really.  And yes, we dry-clean.  My husband’s work shirts.  I don’t iron.  Not like that anyway.  I know it’s not environmental (although we do try to use the green cleaners) but that’s why I try to do so much else.  I am working to find the balance.  I take small steps.

And to keep things honest and real – I’m ashamed to say I threw away some celery today.  Granted the whole thing only cost me a dollar at the farmer’s market.  But still, I’m not happy about it.  I was making soup and had taken as much as I could use for that already.  The rest was so limp it bent like a willow branch in a strong wind.  I couldn’t think of a use or how to save it until I could think of a use.  I’m sorry.  I feel terrible.  I just thought you should know.

To end on a positive note though, I will say that I am really looking forward to the next month of this adventure.  And the one after that.  And I promise to have more pictures tomorrow.  Pictures make everything so much more fun don’t they?  Well, to hold you over until then I will leave you with this…

what's the message?  no message.  just a pretty picture.

what's the message? no message. just a pretty picture.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

fun and frugal – what more could you want?

Arctic Circle by Alex Hallatt

Arctic Circle by Alex Hallatt

♦ ♦ ♦

And if that’s not enough for all of you, my favored readers I give you this…

lat-thriftyMan, what a bargain

Typically I will refrain from simply posting links to other stories but I just thought this was too good to pass up.  It actually came to me from my husband.  He might be a little unsure about which bag a particular item of trash get’s recycled into but he is always thinking of you, dear readers.  Or thinking of my thinking of you.  Whichever is the culprit he passes this nugget on and so I give it to you.

A reporter for the Los Angeles Times wrote an article for the Business section about thrift stores.  And this is not the article you might think.  It is not about how well thrift stores are doing in this time of recession and spend-thrift.  Or about how thrift stores are lacking for goods as people are hanging onto their stuff longer instead of replacing everything at break-neck speed.  Both of these may be true, I don’t know, I haven’t done any studies.  Or asked anyone for that matter.  (Digression, I know, I know.)  This great article is about how this particular newsman gets his fabulous, high end, designer wardrobe from thrift stores!  And if you live in the Los Angeles area he even names names!  It makes me want to run out just to see what I can find.

Hey, maybe I can find a Chanel suit and that elusive potato masher!  What’s the best thing you’ve found at a thrifty?