Posts tagged ‘challenge’

Thursday, January 28, 2010

life happened…

…to be continued.  Hopefully someday soon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

compacting – act II

We have officially started the second phase of this Compact adventure.  (It’s a coincidence that we’re also halfway through it.)

Early Monday morning (so early most people would consider it Sunday night) Baby X joined the family and officially became Baby S.  Now that we’re all back home and setting up a routine I have started to think about how the Compact will affect our newest family member.

When I decided we would follow the guidelines of the Compact this year we had a toddler.  All in all, toddlers don’t need that much stuff.  At least, this one doesn’t.  Or at least he doesn’t know he doesn’t have or need much.  We have had great success finding clothes and other necessities for Toddler L at the thrift and kids’ consignment stores.

Since we have said toddler we already had most of the baby items we needed.  Bonus that they are both boys so I don’t have to dye pink bedding or traumatize a boy with a Strawberry Shortcake car seat.  Are there other baby needs I don’t remember or am too tired to realize yet that we can’t meet in a Compact world?  I don’t think so but I guess it’s all part of the adventure to find out.

I was very happy to see some changes in what the hospital thought we needed too.  As we were at the same place Toddler L was born I remembered them being so nice and wanting to give us so many goodies when we were checking out.  It wasn’t until I started to go through it that I realized there were at least three diaper bags and numerous cans and samples of formula.  I already had a diaper bag and these “freebies” were all heavily branded by the formula companies.  Another product I wasn’t really in need of.  More than anything I remember the nurse’s surprise when I tried telling her I didn’t want any of it.

Just because something is free doesn’t mean I need it.  (That goes for you too husband.)  Other families might, so I will happily leave my share for them.

This time the bag of goodies arrived and I was the surprised one.  The bag was full of diapers.  Now that is something every new baby needs.  (Yes, yes, I know all about cloth diapers and am a huge supporter, we just can’t use them – a story for another day.)

I only hope they re-distribute the many papers and pamphlets we were given that I carefully left behind after reading.  Re-use comes before recycle.


On a completely different train…

If you have any suggestions for watermelon I’d love to hear them.  We were given a good size one for the 4th that I assume needs to be cut into soon and with only the husband, Toddler L and I I’m not sure how we’ll get through it all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

not political, just independently minded

I love a good idea.

Maybe not as much as I love good chocolate, but that’s temporary.  Or so I tell myself.


For those of you saying “remember the Compact?  We don’t buy new stuff”.  I say, do you eat out?  Do you shop at a local thrift store?  Do you buy handmade products from artists in your community?  Do you get your shoes repaired or your clothes dry cleaned?

When Cinda Baxter first dreamed up the 3/50 Project I imagine she wasn’t considering people who had put Compact style buying restrictions on their lives.  This shouldn’t stop you from participating.  I don’t believe the Compact was begun to say “don’t spend money”.  It’s about being considerate of how much money you spend and what that spending in turn means to the environment.

And if you’re not a Compacter, just think of all the establishments you could be saving.  As Cinda said:

It’s about funneling revenue back into local business. You know-—the folks that pour money back into the community via commercial property taxes, payroll taxes, sales tax, and salaries (not to mention all that good will by way of volunteer time, silent auctions, sponsored softball teams, workshops, book signings, etc.).

Many people who are community minded, or live in a small town, may take an idea like this for granted.  But for those in the big city, and especially those who are used to shopping by convenience, it’s a great reminder that who we choose to patronize has bigger implications than what we walk out the door with.  (Even if it’s just a full belly.)

Even if you don’t shop or eat out often why not do it at independent, local places?

Friday, May 15, 2009

friday forum

It’s week two following The Frugal Girl‘s food waste challenge and I don’t have a picture.

No, not because I don’t have a picture.  Because there’s nothing to take a picture of.  I can happily report I have thrown no food away this week.  Although I’m not really sure this was a week.  I don’t remember cooking, much less eating, so I guess I probably haven’t really gone through that much food this week.

But that’s neither here nor there.  The point of the story is I threw nothing away.  There were hardly an scraps from Toddler L too.  Maybe I forgot to feed him.  Or maybe I should wander around in a daze more often, there seem to be some benefits.

Nah, I think next week I’m going to try to live life to the fullest.  I’m going to put my best foot forward.  I’m even going to do a menu plan.  I hope.

I will say, I still have that freezer burned chicken from last week so if anyone has any great ideas how to use it I’d really appreciate it.  (I already claimed it as food waste, if I throw it away next week you can’t count it against me.  You can’t.)


Strange but true.  An actual Compact derived comment…

We are headed to a kids consignment sale that promises to be massive.  Way bigger than that ten family garage sale your neighbors had last summer.  This is supposed to be the mother-lode.  As we are driving over an hour to get there I really hope it is.  I’ll let you know what we find.

Send thoughts of booster seats and kid-size basketball hoops our way.  Good karma is always appreciated.

Now off to have a great weekend.  I need to kick-start a better next week.

Monday, May 11, 2009

monday – menus and more


This weekend had all the makings of being perfect.  I got a truly wonderful surprise on Saturday when a group of friends had a surprise baby shower for me.  I don’t expect those kinds of things and I certainly didn’t expect this.  I hadn’t even considered having a shower as we have so much from our first for the new baby to use.

Occasionally I have been given to some apprehension about having a baby in a year we decided to buy nothing new.  But the few items we would not have been able to find used were just gifted to us (thanks again ladies!!) and I think we are pretty much set.  We were given a gift card to a favorite kids consignment store as well as a renowned kids store – Crate and Barrel.  (What?, that’s what the card said.)  (I will admit though, my first thought [okay second thought, right after YEEESSSSS!], was how expensive everything was going to seem.)

The husband and Toddler L gave me a cake and a glorious bouquet of flowers from our neighborhood, independent florist.  And after a strict reminder that I would appreciate NOT getting a store-bought card, husband went into the card drawer (we have many blank cards from pre-Compact days) and found something perfect.

Alas, the weekend did not carry through quite as beautifully and I haven’t been able to write or do all that I would have normally written or done.

I have no menu plan for the week.  Right now, I’m leaving it as a fill in the blank.  If you’d like, feel free to make suggestions.  I have moderate cooking skills, basic staples and foods and no imagination at the moment.

Let’s see what we’ll be eating…








Perhaps we will simply have Mother’s Day cake every day.

Yes, I think we might.


As for the number of stores visited this week just to do our grocery shopping, YEE GADS.  I know.  But we walked to one and all others (minus one) were directly en route to other destinations.  And with savings like what we saw at CVS (3 boxes of favorite cereal 88¢ each), Ralph’s (6 boxes Barilla pasta 99¢ each) and Walgreens (husband’s preferred deodorant 27¢) it’s hard to not make a quick pitstop sometimes.

Our budget was $80, we spent…

Sprouts Farmers Market – $27.91 (savings = $0.15)

Vons – $7.69 (savings = $4.80)

Ralphs – $5.94 (savings = $9.80)

Walgreens – $2.27 (savings = $2.50 + $2.00 credit | original cost $4.49+tax…final cost $0.27)

Target – $1.84 (savings = $4.49)

Cost Savers – $14.49

Trader Joe’s – $11.62

CVS – $2.64 (savings = $10.93)

Bakery Outlet – $4.18

Costco – $46.93

So, before Costco we spent $78.58 , still under budget.  But Costco pushed us over.  I’m still trying to figure out how to work the Costco trips into our budget.  We didn’t really buy that much, just 5 items.  But the savings made it worth while for sure.  I probably would have spent about $16.00 for just a portion of these items if I had bought them this week at another store.  Now I don’t have to buy them for at least a week or several months depending on the product.

I’m figuring about $30 extra spending due to the Costco trip.  If I allow myself that much over budget for a monthly trip I can plan to work at keeping the remaining weeks as much under budget as possible.  Typically, I’m pretty happy staying under budget, but this scenario would have me really working to keep it as low as possible.  I don’t know how feasible this is but it’s the current thinking.

What do you think?

Do you warehouse?  As I was considering the inherent value in this I found a post on the very subject over at Money Saving Mom.  Apparently there is great debate over buying in bulk.  Who knew?

Friday, May 8, 2009

friday forum

I am officially taking up The Frugal Girl‘s challenge to display my wasted food.  Last week I posted about some food waste issues and patted myself on the back for not really having any waste.

That was dumb.

It’s pretty much a given that as soon as I commit such unabashed narcissism I will have to wipe the smirk off my face.

This should do it…


The bread was a piece of crust I intended to make bread crumbs with.  Too bad I didn’t get to it when I intended.  Now it’s waste.  It really irks me this happened, and I have to live with that.

In the bag are three frozen chicken strips.  If they’re frozen why are they waste, you ask?  Well, let me tell you.  Because I’m an idiot.  Or at least a sleep deprived, brain-malfunctioning, less-than-perfect human being.  On Tuesday, I set them on a tray in the freezer to freeze individually.  The intent was to leave them about an hour and bag them.  Again with the dang intentions.  I found them while looking for lunch on Thursday.  Completely freezer-burned.

Unlike the bread, I haven’t actually thrown them away yet in case somebody has a good use for freezer-burned chicken.  Any help here?  I’m kinda draggin’ cuz I’m not even done.

What didn’t make it into the picture was about a 1/2 cup of heavy cream.  In my sleep deprived, brain-malfunctioning, less-than-perfect state I considered the cream perfectly good until the stamped date of May 26th.  Unfortunately, I forgot that having been opened about 2 weeks ago that date means nothing.

So there you have it.  I am a food waster.  This was a bad week.  Here’s to hoping that the public humiliation has some purpose and next week is better.


On a completely different note.  Still food related.  But pretty much the opposite of waste.

This is the pantry I want if I’m ever stuck with no outside access for weeks…

pantry #65

The Perfect Pantry takes a look at Other People’s Pantries every Saturday.  This week’s photo (not pictured above) is of a pantry converted bedroom.  The thought boggles my mind as I prepare to tackle our measly kitchen cabinets tomorrow to make way for this week’s groceries and stock piles.  (Stock piles meaning I might have two of something.)

The only thing I ogled more was a recent look at Martha Stewart’s prop closet.

MS props1

Some closet MS.

Friday, March 27, 2009

cooking, shopping and getting it done

Wow, I have been so busy being frugal I haven’t had a moment to tell you about it!  Let’s see, a recap of what’s been going on…

  • I made more bread!  It was sooo much better than what we started with.  I thought I loved my new toy but waking up this morning and finding fresh, warm bread when I got to the kitchen really clinched the deal.  Uuummmmyummmyum.  I got this recipe from the Hillbilly Housewife.  It’s my new daily bread.  It is so good.  But I already mentioned that.  It’s so good it deserved another mention though.  Really.  Try it.  I told you, you will have a good life.  Maybe next time I’ll take a moment to get a picture before I cut into the fresh loaf.  If I can wait that long.
  • I slaved for hours to get our grocery shopping and meal planning in order.  I created a grocery list.  It’s very detailed.  It includes price breakdowns for multiple stores.  It lets me vent some organizational OCD.  I may even be able to send the husband to the store by himself one day.  It’s truly a thing of wonder.  Or not.  But hopefully it will keep the pantry stocked and the dinners flowing.
  • Speaking of dinners, I decided to try a weekly menu planner.  Based on the weekly specials I hope to will plan meals and buy the appropriate foodstuff.  The Frugal Girl does it and writes about it.  I’m impressed.  I want to be just like her when I grow up.  No really, I do hope some of her planning skills rub off.  And her baking skills.  She makes bread all the time.  I need to exercise more so I can eat more bread.

Although I just read about The Non-Consumer Advocate‘s system of filling the pantry and cooking from what’s there.  She has a pretty good list of staples to work from.  I still think I’m going to stick to my meal planning for now.  The extra planning will help me not lose sight of the perishables and hopefully I won’t be throwing away any more unused bok choy.  That one hurt.  I like bok choy.  As this is week one (day one really) of our new regime I am open to any successes and failures.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted.  Can’t wait, can you?

  • Lastly, a non-food related item.  I’m currently working on a fabulous gift for a 3 year old boy.  Unfortunately, I have no idea what a 3 year old boy likes.  Plus, my favorite kids consignment store was out of everything labeled “fabulous gift for 3 year old boy”.  I’m off to see what other Compactors have come up with.  The party’s on Saturday so an Ebay score of baseball cards and chewing gum is probably out.  What do you think?  I’m not panicking but I could use your help.


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

conscious frugality


On my usual meanderings through the blogosphere I came across a great post over at The Non-Consumer Advocate.  Like me, she is a mom who joined the Compact and has been reviewing what it means in her life.

“Which brings me to the term conscious frugality. To be mindful with one’s money without being miserly or blowing it on poorly made stuff that’s was never manufactured with longevity in mind.”

I have to say, that could mean a departure from the tenets of the Compact.  So far this year I have been quite happy to shop used for what we have needed.  It has met our needs and I don’t think we have missed out or bought less than comparable quality because of it.  But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider buying something new of great quality, (and for that I mean production quality, not necessarily brand quality or cost) that will last my family for years to come.  Think about it, many of the things we (being me) buy at thrift stores and flea markets are 15-20 years old at least.  If they weren’t quality to begin with, they wouldn’t still be around for me to be the second, third or subsequent owner.  The problem lies in the fact that most things are not made the way they used to be.  Which brings us to the stuff issue.

Reading Ms. Wolk-Stanley’s post reminded me that my desire to join the Compact was not to limit my family to second-hand goods, but to take a year to look at what we buy, what we spend our money on and perhaps save some of that said money.  Conscious frugality.  It has a ring to it.  I like it.

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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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Monday, January 26, 2009

exceptional updates

the ultimate salad spinner

the ultimate salad spinner

It’s that time.  I have found things I can’t live without.  Okay that might be a bit extreme.  But I have thought of some new things to add to the exceptions list.  Of my own ponderings and some recommendations I have the following additions:

  • toddler shoes – although I will continue to hunt and peck through the consignment and thrift store shelves I have also resolved to buy new shoes for Toddler L if need be as foot binding is just not my thing.
  • hardware – this one was less obvious in the beginning but if I need a certain do-hicky/screw/latch thing to fix something I am running straight to my locally owned hardware store (just being ridiculously clear here, you might be saying “duh, no shit sherlock” but I like complete clarity).rings
  • jewelry – now this is a very specific ring so I’m allowing myself a free pass.  When our son was born my husband gave me a ring with his birthstone (the baby’s not my husband’s).  It’s part of a set.  I get jewelry with every labor and delivery.  It’s only fair.  And I’m not letting this one go just because a kid is being born this year.
  • salad spinner – I promise to hit all the nearby thriftys and on-line for this first but if I don’t find it soon I’m going native.  I figure this one eliminates the waste of food so it’s a wash.
  • potato masher – this one follows the same logic as the potato spinner.  I’d love to make mashed potatoes but can’t figure out how without a way to mash the suckers.

That’s it.  I think.  What do you think?  Is it just that I’m losing my resolve already?  Or have I found some justifiable needs?  Are these things my shower curtain?