…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!

 

new dos, new shoes and nothing to lose

I got to participate in a really cool thing yesterday.  New Dos and New Shoes at the Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center.  Under-resourced kids got new shoes and new hairdos for going back to school.  Several hairdressers got together to provide these services.  I don’t cut hair, but I told them I would be ‘sweeper girl’ and just support them.  I ended up helping prepare the kids by wetting their hair and combing it out.  I know now why God gave me boys after helping all the cute little girls.  They have lots of hair with lots of tangles.  I guess I would know that if I ever actually brushed mine.

There’s a lot of good in new shoes and haircuts for kids, but this went one step further.  The 3rd good in this was the 3 radical haircuts, where they went from long to short.  I did Locks of Love 2 years ago so I thought surely we can find some rubberbands in this place.  We did.

Carolina is a teenager that was looking for one of those cute shorter haircuts thats longer in the front and shorter in the back.  I’m not a hair chick, so I have no idea what that style is called.  She was the first donation.

Brianna was next, a preteen, looking for a shorter cut.  Again, we scrounged around for some rubber bands and got a lock to send off for donation.

Alisha, our last donor, was one of the kids mom.  She had really long hair and showed an interest in donating hair, after she saw the other two ponytails on the table.  Her hair was still a pretty decent length after the donation.

Since my best friend is a hair stylist, I know how busy they can get, especially with appointments back to back.  Donating hair is such a great way to bless another person with minimal work involved.  The only things you need to have as a hair dresser to be prepared for that radical moment someone decides to go short is this:

  • Plastic baggie
  • Padded envelope
  • Rubber bands
  • Ruler

Why not be prepared?  You have nothing to lose, only goodwill to gain.

Here’s the 3 major hair donation places and addresses:

Locks of Love – 10″ minimum

Locks of Love
234 Southern Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL 33405-2701

Pantene – 8″ minimum

Pantene Beautiful Lengths
Attn: 192-123
20770 Westwood Dr
Strongsville, OH 44149

Wigs for Kids – 12″ minimum

Wigs for Kids
24231 Center Ridge Road
Westlake, Ohio 44145

I dug out my photos from when I did it.  I like the lower maintenance of shorter hair, but I look like the little dutch boy on the paint can with short hair.  Some people can pull it off, but not me.  I also like being able to do a ponytail at any time.  I’m glad I did it, but I was also happy when my hair started getting longer.  10  inches is a lot!

One more really cool thing was that my church allowed them to take all of our adjustable stools out of guest central to use for the hair cuts.  Setting up a make-shift salon is no easy task.  The stools worked perfectly!  It’s amazing all of the good that can happen when people with really big hearts get together for good.  It’s always great to be a part of working events like this.  A big thanks to everyone that had any part in doing this.  :)

 

back to school… supplies & demand lessons

Yes, it’s time to start preparing for back-to-school.  My kids are in denial that they’re going back soon.  I’m in denial that I have to spend a lot of money on school supplies.  Of all the challenges a year of no retail shopping posed on our lives, school supplies was the most difficult and time consuming.  (You can read about this: Back to school [day 58] and School supply update [day 83])  I think the difficulty is because of the specific list of “must buys” from the school district.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to providing school supplies for my kids, I just don’t understand why they require brand names and why they don’t let the teachers make their own specific lists.  We have the technology now to do that.

Back to school for us means going through all of last years’ stuff.  On the last day of school, my kids ran in the house, threw all of their school stuff in the back of the closet and it hasn’t seen the light of day since.  I pulled it all out.  My 1st find was a lunch bag… with a partially eaten sandwich.

Lesson #1:  Go through this stuff before it goes into the closet.

On to the backpacks and reusable shopping bags that are filled with who knows what.  Yikes!  Could they really have used this much paper??!?  All of this went into the recycling bin.  Can’t these workbooks be designed to be used more than once?  Is there a way to use less paper?  I’m not a teacher so I’m not even going to pretend that I could suggest a better way.  I think teachers are a huge blessing to our kids.

Lesson #2:  Get backpacks with wheels to avoid future doctor visits for back problems.  Continue reading

rethinking good in frisco style magazine

Thanks so much to Frisco Style Magazine for rethinking good in their August 2011 arts issue.  No retail shopping for one year has proven to be a great way to rethink no only shopping, but the way we live life.  Here’s a few of the blog posts related to the article if you would like more details.  Thanks again for rethinking good!

What is the no retail shopping challenge? [info]

Back to school [day 58]

School supply update [day 83] 

To Infiniti and beyond! [day 175]

Airing my dirty laundry… and clean laundry [day 235]

My new minimalist challenge [day 266]

Cost analysis, kid style [day 309]

Do you share your household budget with your kids? [day 337]

Continue reading

shhh! I’m a spy in the witness protection program!

Procrastinating is something I try not to do, but I seem to do it well.  Apparently it’s one of my many gifts…  Procrastinate.  Watering my plants, returning the 1,000 emails in my inbox or renewing my drivers license.  The plants are dead, I have a few people not so happy with me and I now have to change my name.  Yes, I have to change my name because I waited too long to renew my driver’s license.

It’s bad enough that the procrastination cost me an entire day of vacation, but I have no one to blame but myself.  Actually, the procrastination started about 13 years ago.  I got married.  Yes, changing your name on your social security card is part of the deal, but a part that didn’t work out for me.  I got the paperwork, filled it out, mailed it in and they lost it.  “We’ll send you another set and you can do it again.”  Really?  Yeah, because that’s gonna happen.  I thought as long as I get my tax refund, who cares?  Uncle Sam doesn’t care, why should I?

Fast forward to today.  My drivers license is about 3 weeks expired.  The window of opportunity to renew it online is closed.  I came to stand in the long, outside line to get my license renewed early in the morning.  It’s going to be 100 degrees outside today.  Wait.  Wait some more.  Keep waiting…  After standing in line for two and a half hours, I finally get to the front of the line and made it to the counter.  Yes!  It’s almost over!  No.  It’s not.  I was denied a renewal.  What??!!?!  The name on my license did not match the name on my social security card.  She said I could get a licence in my old name, but only if I showed my social security card.  I don’t carry my social security card with me.  My aliases have caught up with me.  Sadly, I’m going to have to give up my career as a spy in the witness protection program.  At this point, I would have taken a license in any name.  I just want to drive legally, I don’t care what name they call me. Continue reading

a sign of peace [day 363]

I decided to take the day off yesterday and spend some time playing.  I haven’t been to a thrift store in a while but I needed to find some flip flops for my boys and boots for all of us.  Yes, I know it’s summer, but I’m tired of ruining shoes on my urban explorations and them when they go hunting with their dad.

I went to Half Price books to look around while waiting for the nail place to open.  What?  It’s my once-a-year pedicure.  It’s a service.  I found this while browsing the store.

Charge Large.  A board game that encourages you to borrow money to buy big and build big.  Ages 12 and up.  First of all, my kids would chew me out for buying something like this, which is good.  Second, isn’t this teaching your kids that credit is good?  And fun?  I can’t believe this even exists.  And the people that buy it, do they put it on credit?  It would seem a little wrong not to.

So I made it to the nail place, started getting my pedicure when the girl asked me, “Do you want me to do your eyebrows?”  I said, “No.”  I don’t tweeze my eyebrows and I sure don’t let anyone else do it.  I like my eyebrows.  She then asked one more time, only this time she said she could fix them.  Fix them?  I had a flashback of a Mary Kay thing I went to for a friend, with the promise that I didn’t have to put on any makeup.  I remember this complicated chart of what my eyebrows are supposed to look like.  I’m pretty sure God knew what he was doing when he made my eyebrows.  I like them, so I’m not ‘fixing’ them with tweezers, string, lasers or any other crazy methods.  If my eyebrows are so hideous that you can’t look at me, just look away.  I really don’t get most of this girl stuff, and although I do participate in a small amount of it, it just seems like a lot of work.

Then I went to the thrift store, found the flip flops, had lunch with Elizabeth, then I decided to visit the Henna Salon.  I turned really old yesterday, so the henna place was to get a tattoo.  A tat that lasts only two weeks is not much of a mid life crisis, but it was something out of the ordinary.

I went inside the Henna Salon, which is typical Frisco, with the addition of an Indian flair.  I asked about the tattoos and they were reasonably priced and it didn’t take a long time to do.  The girl said I could bring my own design or choose from one in their book.  I wasn’t prepared with my own design so I chose one from their photos.  I asked the girl if she could add a peace sign to the middle of the one I chose.  She said that would be no problem.  I sat down and she started working on my henna tattoo.  It was difficult to be still but I managed.  The tat is on the side of my left leg, so I could see her working, but not the work itself.

After a period of time, she looked up and asked if I would like a large peace sign next to the design.  She pointed to the side of it and I said, “Yes, that would be great.”  She went back to work and in a minute or so, she pointed to my leg and asked if I liked my peace sign.

I looked down expecting to find a peace sign, but I had a “P” sign.  ??!!?!?!?!?  Well, something was definitely lost in the translation here!  I now have “P” on my leg.  Actually there’s two P’s…  I wanted to burst out in laughter so I had to rush to get out of there.  I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe!  Good thing it’s not permanent!  So to answer the question most people are asking, no, I didn’t say anything or ask her to fix it.  I decided not to get one on my hand, as there’s no telling what that would have had on it.  As my friend said, “You wouldn’t want “P” on your hand!”

I plan to go back.  I did have someone challenge me on this being a retail purchase.  I see it as a service, tinting my skin.  I didn’t buy some object that will sit around my house, and no, the henna wasn’t used.  I keep laughing every time I look at it though.  You just need a sense of humor in life.  I think I like the “P” better than the peace sign.  My friends are using and emphasizing all “P” words and it’s just a funny story to tell.  Some other person might have been angry or asked them to fix it, but I’m personally enjoying it.  I will go back there again, but next time with my own artwork.  Oh, the possibilities!  Peace is a choice.  I’ll embrace my “P” for two weeks, and who knows, maybe I’ll ask for another “P” sign.

cost analysis, kid style [day 309]

My youngest son came home with this a few weeks ago.

I’m not sure why he decided to draw this, but I’m glad he gets it.  Joe likes money and likes to spend money, but he also lives in the real world.  He’s 10 years old and somewhat budgets his money, that is, enough budgeting to get what he wants to buy.  He talks about buying stuff all the time, but he’s selective when it comes to actually making a purchase.

My oldest talked about an idea he had for an environmentally friendly missile.  While we were sitting in our think tank (hot tub), Cole spent almost 15 minutes telling me about his missile design.  It’s a missile that puts out an environmentally friendly gas that temporarily paralyzes people, allowing the police to ‘go in’ and get the bad guys, place them in prisons, and when the gas wears off, nobody is harmed in the process.  Here’s the blueprints.

Here’s the best part.  Yesterday, he did a cost analysis and figured out was his profit margin will be.  ??!!??!  How does he know how to do this?  He’s eleven years old.  I’ve talked about cost analysis stuff, but I’ve never shown him the process on paper.  Take a look.

Not only did he think of the labor costs, but when Joe talked to him about advertising, he adjusted the analysis accordingly.  I’m guessing Joe’s ad plan for him was to advertise during the Super Bowl.  If my two radically different kids partner together in the future, using their gifts to collaborate for good, they’ll do great things.  Yes, I’m the proud parent today.  :)

used or reused? [day 301]

I decided to check out a little boutique in downtown Frisco.  Yes, I said boutique.  I heard a story about some recycled jeans they are selling and decided to check it out.  The Blue Door Boutique, a cute little shop with a lot of style, carries a lot of interesting clothing and home decor items.  Unfortunately for me, none of it is used.  They did have the jeans I went in to see.  I had heard about these jeans from one of my writer friends.  The jeans, made from recycled textiles, were prominently displayed on a table.

At first, I thought REUSE jeans were jeans that were made from old jeans; in the way of taking old jeans and embellishing them or modifying them by merging pieces from several pairs of old, worn out jeans.  When I first saw them, I knew the story had to be different from what I had in my head.  All of the jeans looked the same in style and in color.  They also had a price tag of $85!

Now, in the world of new jeans, this is an acceptable price.  For me, this is crazy expensive, as I could go to the thrift store and get a pair of USED jeans for $3-$6.  I looked up REUSE to see what they’re all about.  I needed to know the story behind this nice looking, yet expensive, clothing line.

REUSE jeans are made from 80% recycled textiles.  Here’s a blurb from their site about why they recycle.

“In our world of overflowing landfills and global warming, recycling is more relevant than ever. Recycled jeans help counteract the human effect of the disposable fashion industry, while contributing to a cleaner, more sustainable earth.”

I like that they’re utilizing old clothing to make new clothing, but the price point is bothering me.  Here’s some info about that from their site.  Continue reading

around the corner [day 300]

Wow!  Day 300!  Actually, that was yesterday, as I’m a day behind on the blogging.  It’s just a number, but I feel like I just made that last turn into the final stretch.  The funny thing?  I plan to keep going once I hit the finish line.  I’m sure I’ll start something new, but I plan to keep shopping the way I’ve been shopping.  There are so many good things that the challenge has produced, results I never would have expected.

  • My shopping habits have changed drastically. I think a lot more about things, all things, before I buy them.  Even small things like a pack of gum.  I look at everything long term now and I shop for the future, not the here and now.
  • I’ve lost my desire to shop. I still like to treasure hunt on occasion, but there’s no part of my being that wants to go into a superstore or the mall.
  • The amount of good things that have come out of no shopping. Since I’ve been blogging this everyday, it’s easy to go back and see all of the amazing things that have come out of the challenge.  Money I’ve saved, people I’ve met, ideas for sustainable living, and the list goes on.

Nope, I don’t want to go back to the old way of doing things.  I’ll stick with the new plan.  It’s very freeing.

dust, downsizing, donations and discards [day 269]

The Boyscouts are collecting food items in my neighborhood today to donate to our local food pantry, Frisco Family Services.  I want to help, but I just cleaned out my pantry a couple of weeks ago and drastically changed my shopping habits to not have too much extra food in the house.  I realized that I actually accomplished this when I had a friends kids over and I had to cook for 5 people.  Most of the things I had to cook would not feed 5 people.  As I was going through my pantry this morning, pulling out some things to donate, it hit me.

A flood of memories absorbed my thoughts as I reflected back to a few specific times when I was taught a lesson, yet I didn’t fully learn it until this morning.  My first big flashback was Hurricane Andrew.  I worked in Miami, and although my home in Ft. Lauderdale wasn’t hit, I knew many people that were homeless after the storm.  (It gave me a new appreciation for my one-way 62 mile commute to work)  My workplace was demolished.  The large retail company I worked for placed me in charge of coordinating relief efforts for their employees, which was approximately 150 families.  Other stores from all over Florida donated stuff, the company had it all sent to us in a semi truck.  As we opened it in anticipation of receiving some things that were desperately needed, that excitement turned into sadness as we saw the contents of the neatly stacked boxes from inside the truck.  It was filled with clothing discards, boxes stuffed with unorganized clothing chaos that looked as though it had been loaded into the boxes with a dump truck.  There was very little food or toiletries, the things that were really needed.

Next, were my thoughts of working in the FFS food pantry.  I enjoyed this time, and I learned a lot.  Although many people gave some great food items, at least once or twice a day we received the bags of very expired “I-finally-cleaned-out-my-pantry” food.  I saw food cans that had so much dust on them, we had to wipe it off to see the date stamp.  I worked there in 2010 and I saw a bag of food where most had expired in 1994.  These donations fill absolutely no need at the food pantry.  They cannot give out expired food.  When it gets close, or is only right after the expiration, they give it away on the free shelf, that requires no voucher, and is not applied toward their allotted amount.  I was afraid to ask what happens to the really old food like that, as I’m sure they have to throw it in the trash, but I just didn’t want to hear that answer.  Some things are better left unsaid.

My last thought was how many times I might have donated expired food, feeling good that I’ve helped people in need, yet was basically making life difficult for the volunteers at the food pantry and never helping anyone.  I was helping with good intentions, as I think we all do, but I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons.  Helping people is not an opportunity to get rid of my expired, unwanted food or to get rid of clothing that’s hideously out of style.  Helping should be an opportunity to make a positive difference in someone’s life, filling a need they have at one of the lowest periods in their life, in many cases.  Yes, others can be blessed by us donating some things we don’t need or want any longer, however the thought process should be that of, “What if I was on the receiving end?  Would I like this or want this?  Would I need this?”  As my friend Amy just said, “Sometimes your trash can also be another person’s trash.”

I filled a bag this morning in a completely different way.  It has food that I like and bought for me and my family to eat.  It’s not expired, nor is it stuff I don’t like.  My minset is this, if I’ve been blessed enough that I can feed my family with no problem, I should pay it forward.  I can easily replace this food.  Every so often we have, and will do more often, shopped specifically for food and toiletries to donate.  I’ve done this in the past to teach my kids about helping people in need, and just how important it is to do it for the right reasons, so how did I miss all the lessons?  My bag of food for the Boyscouts is not a big one, but all of the items are current and mostly things I just shopped for last week.  Geez, how many other lessons have I chosen to ignore?  Maybe I should keep one, dusty, expired can of some sort of gross food so I don’t forget.