play plinko at the farmers market

I decided to go to the Frisco Farmers’ Market today.  As the words farmers’ market suggests, I expected to find lots of local produce vendors and maybe a few other food-type vendors.  Since the name starts with Frisco, maybe my expectations should have been a little different.

From Wikipedia:  A farmers’ market (also or farmers market) consists of individual vendors—mostly farmers—who set up booths, tables or stands, outdoors or indoors, to sell produce, meat products, fruits and sometimes prepared foods and beverages. Farmers markets add value to communities.

From the Frisco Farmers’ Market website:  Local growers offer juicy melons, peaches, vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh corn on the cob and lots more. Also offered are baked breads, meat from local ranchers, honey, arts and crafts, and various other products.  Something for everyone.

I was surprised that out of 30 vendors, only 9 of them sold produce or locally grown items.

I enjoyed my trip to the outdoor market, which may be better description of it.  In my opinion, if it’s a farmers’ market, it should be farmers selling their fruits and vegetables.  Now, as it is described on the website, it’s all that including arts, crafts and various other products.  If that’s the case, call it what it is.  An outdoor market or farmers’ market and more.   Continue reading

crayons are non-toxic, but I don’t want to eat them.

Being the extremely frugal person I am, I was not going to let the leftover queso go to waste.  I was with a large group of people from church, half adults and half kids.  I placed my queso in a non-styrofoam to-go container and realized my kids had leftovers too.  I was warned that there might be crayons in it, but I packed it up anyway.

And yes, I heated some up today and there were crayons in it.  They must have been yellow or really small pieces, as I didn’t see them, but I sure tasted them.  Yuck.  :(

the eco-awesome business model

I found a place of business a few days ago that models everything I believe in.  The Grass Roots Eco Cleaners & Market is a wonderful place in Frisco that everyone should know about.  So why is this place so great?

  • The cleaning is eco-friendly
  • The fixtures and decor are all repurposed materials
  • The market features gift-style items that are made by local artists and crafters, and mostly from repurposed materials.

Their slogan is “clean green & shop local.”  I not only love this because it’s great for the physical environment, it’s also good for the mental and humanitarian environment.  Choosing to support local artists is a great way to build community.  As for the mental part?  I could tell from the minute I met Courtney that she loves what she’s doing here.  This place is not close to my house (relatively speaking from my ‘I want to walk there’ mentality), but I’m sold.  I don’t do much dry cleaning, but when I do, I will be taking it here.

What if all small businesses did something like this?  Even on a small scale?  Now I’m aware that the first thing you learn in entrepreneurial business school is to do one thing, stick to it and do it well.  Don’t deviate.  But what if that one thing was a broadened horizon of meeting several community needs in one place?  Yes, Grass Roots has done well here!  There’s a lot to learn from this business model.  Being different is good.  Supporting local community is good.  Repurposing materials is good.  Doing something you love is great.  Doing all of it together is priceless.

Did I also mention how I found this place?  They were already supporting projectwarm.us by collecting coats and blankets for the homeless.  On this one, they’re supporting a community in need.  I just can’t say enough good things about Grass Roots, but I can say, “thank you!”  Grass Roots is a drop spot for project warm us.  Stop by and check out their place.  Also, get 10% off your dry cleaning by making a donation.

“We are taking donations at our store! When you donate, we will give you 10% off your dry cleaning bill and big “High 5” for being awesome and making someone’s life a little better! We are at: 5999 Custer Rd @121 next to Starbucks!”

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.  😉

is it really any different because you buy it somewhere else?

I said, “No fast food through the end of the year.”  Why?  Mostly because of the wastefulness of it.  The amount of disposable plastics, paper and styrofoam bothers me.  We do fast food places out of convenience.  I just wanted to see how badly I needed fast food in my life.  My kids have missed it a little bit, but not much.  I also miss it on occasion, but not too much either.

I had to work today, and right after work, I had to bring a main dish to a potluck lunch.  I went to Cane’s Chicken.  It’s clearly a fast food place, complete with a drive-thru and lots of paper waste.  I bought in bulk, only buying the tailgate 25 piece pack.  Now I could have stopped at Kroger and picked up some chicken that was already prepared.  It would also be in disposable containers, although I could have placed it in a reusable bag.  So my big questions is…

Is it any different buying prepackaged (prepared) food at the grocery store versus a fast food place?

I have to answer, “No.”   I will still continue my no fast food places, but I need to add on these simple shopping changes.

  • Compare.  If the paper waste is the thing that’s bothering me, whether I shop at the grocery store or anywhere else, I need to consider the waste involved.  Just because I buy it at the grocery store doesn’t mean that I’m not being wasteful.
  • Call it what it is.  The grocery store has fast food.  It’s in the form of deli sandwiches, sushi, fountain drinks and many other forms.  If I buy a ham sandwich already made at Tom Thumb, that’s the same as buying a burger from a fast food place.  Same container, same pre-made food, same waste amount.
  • Plan.  I should have done a better job planning ahead for my potluck meal.  I could have made something the night before and picked it up on the way over there.  My bad.

There’s a new container-less grocery store opening this fall in Austin, TX called in.gredients… if they meet their fundraising goals.  I love this idea!!  Listen to the radio talk about it.  This is such a cool concept!  See how it works.

This is greatness.  Maybe I should help them get rolling in Austin, then I’ll open one here.  Check out the in.gredients website.

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

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

I paid full price… twice

Yes, I paid full price.  Two times.  But it was planned.

As I said early on in the no retail shopping challenge, I would love to have a pair of TOMS shoes.  I love what they’re doing and if I buy a pair of shoes, a child that is in need of shoes gets a pair.  The one-for-one model.  [day 295]  I went to the mall… I know, but let me explain!  I went to the mall to go have my phone checked out at the Apple store.  I told my son I would take him to the Lego store too.

After going both of those places, wondering how I’m going to lower my blood pressure, I made my way back to Nordstrom’s, where I parked.  The ambient noise included crowds of people doing their weekend shopping routine and the louder noises of my son chatting about plastic crap and how Lego pieces are not crap and his friend begging to go to girl stores to clothes shop.  Why are these kids with me??!?

We stopped in Nordstrom’s in the shoe department to try on some TOMS.  I guess I could have bought them there, and I might have, but they didn’t have the color I wanted in the right size.  I decided to go home and buy them online.  The shopping experience is just not my happy place.

I bought my ash gray canvas TOMS online.  I paid about the same price I would have at Nordstrom’s when you calculate shipping for the online order versus tax that I would have paid retail.  I also bought a pair of TOMS boots, or botas, as they call them.  These were not an impulse buy, as I’ve been planning on buying boots for months.  I’ve been looking at thrift stores but either women don’t have boots or they don’t give them away.  Now that I have two pairs of TOMS, I feel like I bought two pairs of blank canvases to paint.

While thinking of what I will paint on my TOMS, I found a pair of beige Sanuk’s at Plato’s Closet for $10.  Screaming deal, but I’m allergic to beige.  Yes, these are perfect to paint!  I can practice my painting techniques and ideas on these.  I used fabric paint, fabric dye, old fabric scraps, glue and acrylic paint.  I also used a piece of iridescent plastic and some paint pens. So what happened?  All of my ideas worked just fine.  They’re a bit bright, so my next pair of painted shoes will be toned down a bit, but all in all, they turned out good.

I feel good about all three of these purchases.  Why?

Goodwill. Two kids somewhere got a pair of shoes they desperately needed.  TOMS are not cheap, but what they’re doing is awesome.  I will gladly support a company that helps people in need.

Good deal. the Sanuk’s were a good deal.  They retail for $54 and I paid $10.  Not my best deal, but still good.  Very comfortable shoes!

Good practice. I was glad to have a pair of practice shoes to paint before painting my TOMS.  I’ve painted shoes before [day 145] but these would be a little different.  $10 is not a bad investment.  I had all of the painting and embellishment supplies.

I also thought of a fundraising idea to do with TOMS to help the kids down at Casa Hogar Elim, and the ball is rolling on that.  Great stuff!  Yes, I feel good about these purchases.  :)

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.  :)