no retail shopping challenge: 1 year later

It’s the one year anniversary since I finished the no retail shopping challenge.  Why did I do the challenge?  Straight from my original blog post:

I wanted to live differently, meaning finding creative ways to not buy stuff I really don’t need, to share stuff with others, to not be wasteful and to be more environmentally friendly.

So what did this accomplish?  Looking at it one year later, it accomplished a lot more than I could have ever imagined.  Since I blogged it every day for the entire year, I have a great record of how the year progressed and all of the lessons I learned through the challenge that many called crazy.  Let me share a few of the posts with you.

Top 3 blog posts, as chosen by readers:

Continue reading

…customers will form a line outside the store…

I love reading and making fun of the Black Friday ads, but better than that, reading the fine print can be quite entertaining.  I started this last year on black friday.  I got to do it this year with my friends Jason and Carrie.  You can read last year’s post about this or just read this year’s insanity.  Get out your reading glasses…

Let’s start with the big stuff.

ACADEMY.COM OPEN THANKSGIVING DAY!  Wow!  What a great idea!!  Have your online story open on Thanksgiving day!!  Why didn’t anyone else think of that???  LOWES.COM says you can start on Thursday.  Sure glad they gave me permission!

Guitar Center:  They have happy returns and surprise protection.  And you can shop from your smartphone!  Again, why didn’t I think of that???

Kohl’s Early Bird Deal:  For $19.99 (regularly $49.99) you can get a motion-activated candy dispenser.  (a) It’s plastic crap nobody needs, (b) do you really want candy spilling out on the floor every time you walk by this thing?  (c) It probably takes batteries, and really big ones.  (d) Does your family need candy?  You probably still have leftovers from Halloween.  (e) Candy not included.

Now for some fine print.

Old Navy:  Customers will form a line outside the store.  I guess it’s good to be prepared.  It’s kind of presumptuous though.  And they’re giving out cameras.  If they’re a clothing store, why give out cameras?  I just don’t get it.

Burlington:  *Savings off other fine department stores.  Great!  they’re cheaper than Neiman Marcus!  I’m getting a deal!!

Dick’s Sporting Goods:  Something about a cash bonus.  Here’s a picture of it, because I cannot read it easily and it would take so long to figure out what this deal really is that it’s just not worth it.  The one thing we know is that your $99 purchase must be all the same brand, even though they have 3 brands pictured.  Don’t even think about mixing and matching!

 

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!

hours and hours of fun for only $16

The first thing I do when I’m on vacation in a new city is scope out all of the local thrift stores and resale shops.  It was raining yesterday, so the kids couldn’t do some of the things they had planned, so we hit the thrift stores.  The first one had some cool stuff, but way higher prices than what I’m used to.  The second store was a combo resale-thrift store.  I found a great t-shirt there, but they only take cash.  Of course I didn’t have any cash with me.  The boys found a treasure here, something I had when I was their age, but I said no impulse buys.  If they wanted it, they were going to have to return the next day to get it.  I was going back, after a bank run, to get my t-shirt.

The third thrift store didn’t have much that peaked my interest, that is until I turned the corner and found this little gem for $2.  A vintage Polaroid 600 camera.  Now that there’s a company making film for these, they’re not as easy to find.  These are selling on eBay from $10 to $50.  Replicas are going for up to $150.  This little beauty was only $2, an expenditure that was not part of the $16 hours of fun that I’m about to share with you.  I’ll have to order the film for this.  Did I need this?  No.  My kids and I will have some fun with it, then probably turn around and sell it.

My kids were talking the entire time about the vintage toy back at the second shop.  Honestly, I knew they would appreciate it and it was a cool flashback for me.  When we returned, the nice lady working there greeted us with a big smile and said, “You’re back!”  We bought the vintage toy…

Meet Rex, a 70’s vintage string puppet named after our favorite restaurant in Steamboat Springs, CO.  He cost $16, a price that seemed fair for a real vintage toy.  My boys have a great appreciation for vintage things, as they love our 12 rotary dial phones as much as I do.  We decided to take Rex out on the town!  Continue reading

top-ics [day 356]

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately over the past year and how my life has been impacted by the no retail shopping challenge.  It has taken me in directions I’d never expected and changed my thinking in so many ways.  I’m not sure what I was expecting that morning I woke up and decided to do this, but I’m glad I did it.  I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with all of the lessons I’ve learned, but whatever that might be, I hope it blesses the world in some way.

I decided to look up the top topics and most read blog posts from over the past year.  This is a ‘guesstamation’ since I moved my blog once and renamed it.  3 sets of traffic stats.

Top 10 topic searches

  1. Shopping / price comparisons
  2. Hoarding
  3. Organization
  4. Toms vs. Skechers
  5. Sweatshops
  6. Dumpster diving
  7. Lee M. Cardholder
  8. Spongebob Squarepants (this is an entire blog post in itself)
  9. Trash / junk art
  10. Recycling

Top blog posts

  1. Tom’s shoes vs. Bob’s Skechers.  For real?!
  2. Give some, get none.
  3. Downsizing the kitchen and food supply.
  4. Hoarders on Craigslist.
  5. What does an organized hoarder look like?
  6. Aldi vs. Walmart: a shopping comparison.
  7. A 25¢ lesson cost me hundreds.
  8. A lesson learned through a pink bag and Barbie dolls.
  9. Motion art sharing.
  10. The affects of effects.


peace and humor are running low [day 350]

When I stated the challenge almost a year ago, a few people asked, “Did you buy a bunch of stuff in preparation to not shop for a year?”  The answer is no.  This was an idea I had when I woke up one morning and I implemented it the moment I thought about doing it.  Preparation for this would have defeated the purpose.  Today, I’m running extremely low on peace and humor, not in the conventional sense, but in lipstick.  I use Bed Head lipstick and the colors are ‘peace’ and ‘humor’.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking.  I don’t wear much makeup, if any at all.  I suppose this is an example of how little I do wear, as I started the challenge with less than a half stick of peace and a little more than half of humor.  We all know that if you don’t have a lot of peace, you definitely need more humor, so at least my ratios were good.  With just a few days left in the challenge, humor is low and peace is almost gone.  In the beginning of the challenge, I kept thinking there’s no way this will last to the end.  I guess I wear less makeup than I thought.

Just for the record, I’m not going to run out and buy any until they’re all gone.  Why?  I’m scared.  Here’s a flashback and it was my first ever blog post.  :)

You simply can’t discontinue happiness…

A couple of years ago, I did a photo shot of a woman and I couldn’t believe how well her lipstick stayed on and looked so perfect. First, let me start by saying I’m NOT a makeup person. But on occasion when I wear it, I usually just wear lipstick. So I asked her what brand it was and she replied it was made by Bed Head.  Continue reading

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.

A post Christmas story of be longing [flashback]

This was written 4 days after Christmas last year on my blog iembracechaos.com.

What is out of the ordinary?  Choosing to help others and live differently in a way that changes life as we know it.  My kids really didn’t seem all that bothered by the lack of gifts they got from me.   They still received the mandatory 27+ gifts from my mother, gifts they will never give a second thought to once they are put away.  They were both on board with the plan of donating money to their favorite charities, but I just wasn’t so sure come Christmas, they would still feel that way.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Christmas evening, after the kids came home, we rented a few movies and enjoyed some time together.  After all, I had not seen them for almost a week.

Yesterday we ventured into the stores, only for the purpose of grocery shopping and finding a small rug for my closet floor.  No store was exempt from the typical long return lines and post-holiday sale events.  Seriously, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

I decided yesterday to clean out my closet and get rid of the mountain of unused linens.  Why do I feel the need to hang on to stuff that I will never use again?  I made the compulsory closet purge, filled up the Infiniti sleigh and headed for the thrift store.

After unloading our surplus of worldly possessions, we went treasure hunting.  No, not shopping, treasure hunting.  Shopping is buying overpriced new ‘goods’ at large chain stores.  Treasure hunting is finding something special, previously owned by someone else at a price that doesn’t break the bank.  My kids quickly made their way to the toy section, disappointed that it was mostly baby toys.  I headed for the crowded book area, my kids not far behind.

I found a Man Ray photography book for 50 cents, which in the bookstore, was probably closer to $50.  Man Ray is one of my photography inspirations, mostly for photograms.  My photogram ‘Coffee Addict’ is one of my favorites… not that I have coffee issues or anything like that.

Cole found a Star Wars picture book, which he kept directly in front of his face in the entire time we were there, miraculously not walking into anyone or anything.

As we were making our way toward the front of the store, I stopped to see if there were any jeans or sweatshirts for the boys.  I guess everyone has been doing their Christmas purge, as the racks had three times the amount they usually do.  I found this t-shirt that pretty much sums up what society is teaching our kids.  “WARNING: allergic to lame gifts.”  I wanted to buy the shirt just so I could destroy it and take it out of the clothing circulation.  I would have saved the small candy cane skull icon though, as it seems appropriate to use as a symbol of our cultural Christmas consumerism.   Continue reading