you put it where?!?

Yes, that’s a piece of art hanging on the wall outside, on my patio.  I was painting this canvas in my garage, but the 100+ temperatures warped the wood frame.  I still love the painting, and although I never finished it to my final idea, it’s now looking good in my backyard.  So, the question I get all the time, “Can you put a painting outside?  Doesn’t the paint wash off?”  The answer is no.  Here’s a few tips for putting things outside… things that maybe weren’t meant to be outside.

    • Water.  How will your item take the rain?  As for this canvas, it’s not gonna last forever outside, but I’ve had paintings like this outside for several years before they were too worn to leave up any longer.  I have standard couch cushions on my patio swing and they take a little longer to dry, but they look great.  They’ve been out there over a year.
    • Heat.  I live in hel… Texas, where it’s really hot.  Don’t put your candles outside.  Heck, your artificial plants would even melt outside here.  The sunlight will also fade your stuff, like the pillow in the photo.  It was bright orange at one point.  It’s a couch pillow.
    • Wind.  So, I had a giant Jesus painting in my backyard for about 3 years.  It was 8′ x 4′, mounted on plywood, a painting donated to our church.  Apparently, I was the only one who liked it, therefore it came to my house.  Well, it looked great, and I got a lot of comments on it, but I didn’t expect the wind to catch it.  The giant Jesus took out my grill and a couple of ceramic pots.  Anchor anything that might be taken away by the wind…

Please only apply these tips to things that are okay to loose.  Don’t put your favorite pillows or home decor items outside.  They might last several years outside, but probably not a lifetime.  Oh, and this is not an invitation to put your dad’s old recliner on your front porch.  I just don’t need the hate-mail associated with that.  😉

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.

doing a 360 [day 360]

I guess if you’re changing something in your life, doing a 180° turn is completely changing to the opposite of whatever you were doing.  So, in the case of the no retail shopping challenge, I think I did a 360° turn.  Yes, I made a full circle.  When I started the challenge, I was already doing a lot of the things I’m doing now, like shopping at thrift stores and trying my best not to be wasteful.  It’s like this challenge took me on this amazing journey to keep doing what I’m doing and more of it, while adding new and better ways to shop, or much of the time, not shop.

I was asked today what my last blog post will be and if it will be this big, epic ending.  The answer is I’m not sure what the blog post will be, but it probably won’t have an epic ending, simply because it’s not ending.  The challenge will end, I will take a small break from blogging, but I don’t plan to change the way I shop.  My lifestyle has changed for the better and all of the great things I’ve learned and experienced would be wasted if I went back to my pre-challenge shopping habits.  I’m not saying I won’t buy anything new, but I won’t go to the store when I’m bored and I’ll still look for other options besides buying something new.  There’s only 5 days left in the challenge!  I really don’t need to buy anything, as the Windex fairy came to visit last night and brought me a used bottle of Windex.  He knows me well.  I am getting my new (used) camper repaired and that might involve having to buy a few parts.

No, this is not the end.  I plan to keep on with the 360° turns, but adding new levels to it.  At a recent staff retreat, they gave us Slinky’s to play with.  Our creative team is easily entertained with a spiral of plastic.  Knox was taking cool photos of the insides and I actually talked Jerod into holding one end to his eye, promising I wouldn’t pull the ‘Lucy football’ thing on him.  (It took everything in my being not to let go…)  The slinky makes me think of a 360° turn.  Keep on the journey, adding new levels, revisiting past ideas but looking at new ways to improve upon them.  Sometimes a 180 is needed, but a 360 can be good too if you don’t stop where you started.  Take it up a notch and if you do stop in the same place, start a new circle.

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.

t minus 20 [day 345]

Twenty days left in the challenge.  I’m going to answer this question again, as I hear it 3 or 4 times a day now.

“When it’s over, are you going to go shopping?”

The answer is no.  Honestly, the only thing I was going to buy is a 7.5 amp fuse for my car so I have a dome light and I can open my garage door, although the ‘run and jump’ has been fun for the kids.  One of my friends knew I needed this and bought one for me so I guess I have nothing to get now.

On a larger scale, I would still like a yard.  Some of my grass is growing, but I would like to do a little bit of landscaping.  The thought of shopping, even for this, just doesn’t feel right.  When I do go back into a retail store to make a purchase, it’s going to feel really weird.  It feels odd just thinking about it.  I like this new system of shopping.  There are so many benefits to living a little differently than what society teaches us.  Yes, I plan to keep doing what I’m doing for the most part.  When I do make any purchases, you know they’ll be on here.  😉

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.

downsizing the kitchen & food supply [day 256]

I’ve been doing a lot of downsizing lately.  Right before snowmageddon, I decided to clean out the kitchen, not just utensils and cabinet crap, but food.  I don’t like being wasteful, and although we waste a lot less than the average American family, I felt that we needed to make some changes.  We made some radical changes and some subtle changes, and the results are proving to be really good.  I’ll share the overall goodness of this, the process of cleaning out the kitchen and a couple of mini-challenges.

The big picture.

We haven’t died of starvation. Again, we started this a couple of weeks before the ice storm.  We have much less food in the house, but we had plenty to eat during the 4-5 days at home.  I didn’t buy extra, in fear that we would starve and have nothing to eat for a week.  I bought a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread the day before the storm hit.  We had plenty, and I was even able to feed the two painters working in my house a couple of times.

Airstream… I mean streamline. Okay, I want an Airstream, but that has nothing to do with my kitchen.  The tasks of cooking, grocery shopping and cleaning the kitchen is much easier.  Cooking is easier, as there’s less stuff to shuffle around and I know what ingredients I have on hand.  Grocery shopping is easier, again, because I have less and I know the few things I need.  Cleaning is easier too, as I have a lot of extra pantry and cabinet space.  So much extra, that I was able to move all of my pantry items into empty cabinets while the oil paint takes 5 days to dry.

Here a snack, there a snack, everywhere a snack snack. My kids will open every bag of everything we buy at the store.  We could have, and have had, a pantry overflowing with food, and yet the kids can’t find a thing to snack on.  With much less in there, this is not a problem anymore.  It’s easy to see we have two open bags of crackers or pretzels.

Waste not, want not. We are wasting very little food these days.  Not that we wasted a lot before, but it was still more than I was comfortable with.  Waste is unnecessary, and by making some small changes to lessen it allows us to save a little money, be better to our environment and enables us to help others that don’t have enough to eat.

What did we do?

Downsized the pantry. If you have a smaller house like mine, the pantry is a small closet.  The picture is my “before” picture.  I don’t have an after right now, as the oil paint is still drying.  Whether your pantry is large or small, stuff always gets hidden in the back.  My pantry wasn’t horribly unorganized, it just had too much in it and could use a little more a system of “first in, first out”.  We took everything out and carefully selected what would go back.  I had cedar balls that didn’t smell like anything anymore.  Out.  Ridiculously expired stuff?  Out.  Open bags of stale crackers and chips?  Out.

We broke down the boxes and recycled them.  We couldn’t see all of the food behind the big boxes of crackers and cereal.  The boxes take up a lot of space.  I found it best to use see-through containers and baskets as much as possible.  Most of the stuff I didn’t know I has was in these black plastic crates and could not be seen. Continue reading

are you sucktastic? [day 240]

I seem to be self-motivated by imposing challenges on myself, ones to better my artistic ability, to make positive changes or to just do something I feel is worthwhile.  Sometimes we get so bogged down with life that we don’t make time for the really important stuff.  A friend of mine has been struggling with not making time to be artistic, afraid that if she creates something, it will be “sucktastic”.  Okay, I love the word, but I hate what it means here.  Half of the crazy art I make is sucktastic, but it comes from my heart so it still has meaning for me.  I might not ever post my sucktastic art, but the artistic expression used during the making of it is a much needed emotional release.

Sometimes we have to be sucktastic before achieving fantastic.  I was listening to a talk radio show about success and failure in our school system.  They spoke about a pendulum, with success and failure on each swing.  The pendulum theory, as I like to call it, basically means that you’re allowed to succeed as much as you’re allowed to fail.  I have had many failures in all areas of my life, and sometimes it’s hard to get back up, brush yourself off and try again.  Allowing for big time failure can bring big time success, the sky being the limit.  If you allow for a little failure, you can achieve a little success.  This often feels like being in a box or being grounded, and sometimes we don’t even realize we’re in this position.  And the worst case scenario in this theory?  Non-movement or no room for failure.  This creates a vast black hole of nothingness.  Sometimes this is us being paralyzed with fear, sometimes it’s lack of motivation, but the important thing is identifying your issue and finding a way to move past it.

What does all of this have to do with Trash Society?  A lot.  Sometimes I loose sight of why I’m doing any of this.  Is it really making a difference?  I’m not in this for the money, obviously, as if I were to place a financial statement on it, it would be in the red.  I could use my blogging time to do freelance work.  I have a passion for what I’m doing, but I do sometimes lose sight of it.  Trash society is to make a difference, hopefully in less waste.  If you apply the pendulum theory to you and your talent, and if you’re not allowing yourself failure, then your talents are being wasted.  Where are you on the pendulum swing?