I hate cleaning the garage, but I love an art project

The garage (cleaning) art project.

My garage is always a diaster area.  I couldn’t fit a car in there if I tried.  Heck, I’m not even sure a bike would fit.  Now let me be clear.  Even if I could fit a car in my garage, I wouldn’t put one in there.  I like to use my garage space as an art studio, a place where I can do crazy projects like projectwarm.us or any other crazy idea that pops into my head.

Being an artist, I see everything as a blank canvas and every little trinket having some artistic value.  My garage clearly reflects my views.  Continue reading

is it politically correct to say, “no?”

Why didn’t I just say, “No thank you?”  It was nice that the doctor gave each of my kids a plastic sports bottle, but I knew as he was offering them that we’re not keeping these.  Why did I not speak up?  Would it have been rude to say no?  Do these advertisement bottles really work to get new clients in?

I went through all of the mental gymnastics and it all pointed to the fact that I won’t use these and neither will my kids.  Thoughts swimming around in my head…

  • I don’t need more stuff.  I have enough sports bottles.
  • I’m not a fan of advertising on my stuff.
  • How do I know these don’t have BPA in them?
  • Braces are expensive!  Give me a discount and keep the bottles.
  • If I take these and keep them, I have to get rid of 2 things.
  • They’re just not attractive.
  • Mental image: bottles in the recycling bin

Am I the only one who even considers not taking the plastic crap that comes to us in situations like this?

blogging for good… elsewhere

Over the past week, most of my blog efforts have been going to launching projectwarm.us.  It might be crazy to try an collect 5,723 coats and blankets for the homeless by Thanksgiving, but that’s not going to stop us from trying!  I started this with my friend Lin, and since then, my friends Amy and Elizabeth have come on board as major players in this effort.

We have collected 61 coats and blankets so far.  That doesn’t seem like a lot, but we’re still setting up the drop points and getting the word out.  We do not count a coat or a blanket into our total until it’s in our hands.  We have lots of pledges though!  Would you like to help?  Although there’s a comprehensive list of ways to help on the projectwarm.us website, I would like to share 3 of my favorites with you.

Trick-or-treat, help our feat!

An idea on collecting coats and blankets on Halloween night!  If you have a wagon or a bin with wheels, follow your kids with it.  After they ‘trick or treat’, go behind them and give out one of these little mini-flyers…

Once you hand it to them, ask for and old coat or blanket.  They’re already standing next to their coat closet!  They might actually give you one right then and there!  If not, now they have the little flyer.  Let them know you can come back by and pick them up at a later time or where they can find the drop points.  Not only is this a good way to get people involved, but it also gets your kids involved and you get to meet some more of your neighbors.

Waste time for a good purpose.

Utilize social media to spread the word.  We hear “Facebook is a time waster” or “Social media takes too much time”.  If you’re on there at all, blast out the projectwarm.us website and ask your friends to participate.  So blast this out on your selected social media sites…  Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Friend Feed, Readit, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Google…  Tell your friends you are collecting coats and blankets for the homeless.  Contact us when you have your stash and we’ll come pick them up!

Involve your kids.

This is a great teaching opportunity to teach your kids the value of helping others.  Some Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops can get credit (badges) for this type of thing.  The world will be a better place for our kids if they understand the value of giving.

Thanks for your help!!!!!!!!

food with more color than the package…

I don’t usually blog about food, but clearly this is a topic that falls into the “living differently” and “downsizing” categories.

Flashback to 6 years old.  I remember eating cereal called Kaboom.  Do you remember it?  The cereal itself was more colorful than the box it came in.  “100% minimum daily requirements of vitamins and iron in 1 oz. sugary oat cereal with marshmallow stars!”  As a child, I always wondered where they were hiding the vitamins in this stuff.  If I saw a funny shaped piece or a burnt piece of cereal, I would avoid it because surely that was the vitamin.  I didn’t need it, I already took my Flintstones vitamins, so leave my cereal alone.

My mom didn’t leave my cereal alone.  Apparently she didn’t think there was enough sugar in the sugary oat cereal, so she dumped 3 or 4 tablespoons of sugar into it.  When I was done with the cereal, I ate spoons full of purplish milky sugar from the bottom of the bowl.  I’m pretty sure I never got the hiccups.

So what’s the big deal?  They don’t sell this anymore, right?  As of about 10 years ago, I did find some at Big Lots.  An what makes Froot Loops any better?  I would love to get my hands on the nutrition info for this stuff and compare it to other cereal.  Here’s an interesting article I read this morning on the use of food coloring in food:  The dangers of artificial food colors  There’s always been lots of controversy about this topic.  Why chance it?  If there are non-colored foods available, why not buy those?  They taste the same.  The color is only for presentation and marketing.  Yes, I buy foods with coloring, mostly because I don’t pay attention to this very much.  I do buy low fat and healthy foods when there’s an option for it.  Honestly, I spend more time price shopping food rather than nutrition shopping our food.  I should be doing both.

The thing that made me think of all this food stuff is bacon wrapped asparagus.  I love grilled asparagus and I can even get my kids to eat that way.  My friend that was coming over to cook dinner with us said he would bring bacon to wrap around the asparagus I was cooking.  My kids would love this without a doubt, but I don’t want to even let them know this is an option.  If they like it grilled, without butter, fat or covered in cheese, why would I mess with that?  Trust me, I let them eat plenty of unhealthy stuff, but I do try to teach them to eat low-fat and low-sugar options when they are available.

This is an area where I really need to be rethinking good.  And if anyone can find me a box of Kaboom cereal, I would be forever grateful!

downsizing your house

I recently looked into downsizing my house.  This idea came into my head for many reasons, which we can visit another time.  I decided to do a little research and see if this was feasible.  First, there’s a few things you should know about where I live.

  • Frisco, Texas
  • Population: 122,000+
  • Average income: $101,000+ (over twice the national average)
  • Average house size: 3,100 sq. ft.

My house is less than 1,800 sq. ft.  I won’t get into my salary here, but I’ll just say God has a great sense of humor having me here in Frisco… for many reasons.  Still, I decided to look into downsizing my home, just a little bit.

My options were slim to none.  I could buy a foreclosure, a smaller sized one, but by the time you add in the repairs (new house and existing house), realtor fees, cost of moving and the emotional toll on my kids, it’s just not worth doing.  I have seen a few people downsize their house, many of them upsizing again.

This whole process intrigues me.  I want to know more about it.  Who downsizes?  Why?  I’m doing some research on this topic and I would love your feedback.

  1. Have you ever downsized your home, or anything else?
  2. What were the costs?
  3. Were there any unexpected results?
  4. In the end, did it accomplish your financial or simplification goals?  
  5. If you looked into downsizing, but it wasn’t a good option, why not?
If you hate typing, but would be willing to answer these for me, please contact me.

minimalist challenge update… 88% depreciation?!

With a goal of 365 items, downsizing one item a day over a one year period, has proven to be more difficult than I imagined.  With the exception of my garage, there’s just not much left to downsize in my house.  When I open a cabinet or a drawer, thinking I might be able to find some things I’m not using anymore, I’m rarely able to find anything.  This is good, as I don’t have a lot of clutter and a lot of stuff, but on the other hand, I still have 214 items to go.

Now I still have a lot in my garage.  Way less than I had a few months ago, but still way more than I need.  The problem with that right now is the heat.  It’s too hot to clean anything out, as my garage faces west. It’s a sauna x3.

At 150 items, here’s some financial info… that makes me want to cry.  Think we don’t spend a lot on stuff we don’t need?  Take a look at this.

If I bought these 150 items right now at the store, full price, it would cost me $12,320.36.

I paid $8,523.89 for these items, mostly shopping second hand and discount stores.

I didn’t sell much, as I gave most of it away.  I have made $180.00, with an estimated potential of $1,487.00.  Best case scenario, my stuff depreciated by 88%!!  If this isn’t a reality check, I don’t know what is.

Wow.  Even I’m astonished at these numbers.  Even though I’ve had much of this stuff for many years, it’s still a disturbing snapshot of how much money I can waste.  Have you ever added up how much money you’ve spent like this?  If so, please share.

The 3 most difficult things to part with so far 

Continue reading

the value of your stuff [day 357]

One of my neighbors was talking about getting rid of some planters and clay pots that have been sitting on the side of her house for a while.  She said her husband was going to throw them out if nobody wanted them.  I have no idea if that meant the trash of the thrift store, but I went and picked them up… just in case.

It’s amazing how much money is sitting around our house or garage, valued in stuff we’re not using.  My friends Jason and Carrie are going to Uganda and were collecting stuff for a yard sale fundraiser.  I had just given a lot of my stuff to another fundraiser like this, but surprisingly I still had much more to give.  Much of it will be posted on my daily-get-rid-of-one-thing blog posts.

Here’s Carrie on the Whirly Wheel I gave them.  I didn’t buy this, a friend from church gave it to me, remembering I blogged about this being one of my favorite childhood toys.  My kids an I played with it for a couple of weeks and passed it on to the fundraiser.

Here’s Jason with a lamp I’ve had sitting around the house, never being used.  Again, I didn’t buy it.  A lady from church donated it back when we had office space to use stuff like this.  It’s being passed on for a great cause!

You can read about their yard sale here.  They raised over $2,000!  I’m going to make a few more passes through the house and garage.  I’ve downsized a lot, but I still have some stuff laying around that can go.  Less stuff is less stress.  I can be much more toward the minimalist, yet keep a good balance.  :)

more stuff gone for good [day 344]

In efforts to continue the downsizing of my possessions, I had another opportunity yesterday to do something good with them.  I gave a bunch of stuff to Jason and Carrie for a yard sale, one that will help fund their mission trip to Uganda, Africa.

I really thought with all of my downsizing that I wouldn’t have much stuff left to give away, and comparatively speaking, it’s not much, but more than what I thought.  Had I done this a year ago, it would have been several truckloads!  The one year is almost up for the no retail shopping.  Not only has it changed my shopping habits, it’s changed me.  I really have no idea what exactly was in my head the morning I decided to wake up and do this, but whatever it was, I’m glad it was there.

I almost changed this blog to allgoneforgood.com, and this act of getting rid of my stuff would be a great example of that.  If you’re going to get rid of some stuff, this is a great way to do it.  There are many people out there that have a heart for changing the world.  This is a great way to support them.


outdoor gas grill [minimalist challenge item #75]

[item] 6 burner Pro-series Brinkmann gas grill

[purchase info] Purchased at the thrift store

[time in my possession] Approximately 2 years ago

[last used] 3 months ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Craigslist

[info] I bought this grill for $70 at the thrift store.  New, it retailed for $1,100.  Great deal, and I’ve gotten a lot of use out of it, but it’s a temperamental grill.  Sometimes it would work, sometimes not.  I just got tired of fighting with it.  I sold it on craigslist for $60, full disclosure.  I did put some money into it over the 2 years, new burners and a new gas valve.  I want to downsize the grill, as I don’t need one this big.  I bought a cheap working one for $25 on craigslist, so I did replace this item, but I got rid of some other outdoor things to keep up with my one-for-one purging.

a picture is worth 1000 things [day 338]

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words.  I’ve never actually tried to type that up to check it, but it seems accurate.  What if we take that one step further… a picture is worth 1,000 things?

So what do I mean by this?  If you own a camera, you can snap a memory of anything you see.  With digital photography, there’s no extra cost for taking a lot of photos like in the film days.  Isn’t life all about people and relationships?  Our society says it’s more about materialism.  Wouldn’t it be better to have a photo of your child at Disney World versus having those ridiculous mouse ears laying around?  Has anyone actually ever worn those after the plane ride home?  Instead of buying souvenirs or mementos, snap a photo if you need something to remind you of that moment in time.

Mouse ears… $19.00

Other souvenirs… $136.00

Cleaning person to pick up all the junk you’ve accumulated… $175 a month

Memories with your loved ones?  Priceless.