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.  😉

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

air is not free [day 355]

So I did take a day off to pick up the camper and to play a little bit.  I have to ‘fess up.  I had to make a purchase.  There was no possible way around it.  I had to buy a tire and some air. Here’s the story.

The camper had been sitting for 4 years, probably most of it on the flat tires.  We were able to fill them up with air, including the spare, although one of them was looking a little leaky.  Might as well try to use them, right?

We decided that on the way home we should stop and check the tire pressure and see how they’re doing.  One of the tires was a little low, and I didn’t have any cash for the air pump at the gas station.  I made a joke about using a credit card for the air pump, but I honestly had no idea… the pump had a credit option!  I guess I must be old, as I remember the days when air was free.  Now air costs $1.00.  I decided to suck it up and pay for the air because at this point, we still had the pumped up flat tires.  I slid my debit card in the machine, still in disbelief that this air pump took credit cards.  Is buying air really buying anything?  Still shaking my head, I pulled the card out, waited for it to authorize my account for $1.00 and the pump started.  As it turns out, the hose had a leak, so I paid to lose 2 or 3 pounds of precious pressure in the low tire.  So I really did pay for air because I got nothing out of that machine.  On to another gas station to pay for more air.  We filled up with gas and we never did stop again for air, we stopped for the tire blow out.  Continue reading

our happy place [day 347]

Happy post Mother’s day!  I took off of blogging yesterday to relax after work and take a nap on the trampoline.  It’s covered by trees, providing a beautiful shade cover… and lots of sharp branches to hit your head on while jumping.  The chainsaw is coming out Saturday.  Like most everything else we own, our trampoline is used and sometimes I’m amazed that it’s still standing.  A large tree feel on it 3 years ago, it has lots of rust spots and the safety net is full of holes, yet it’s still standing and works as well as any new trampoline.  And yes, those are swim noodles duct taped to the poles.

We’ve talked about getting rid of this eyesore, but we just can’t imagine our house without it.  I’m sure the neighbors would like to see it go… as it’s the reason for the loud music that plays in our backyard along with the screaming kids.  More family time happens here than anywhere else in our house.  Yes, this is our happy place.

leave the light on, but also leave the coffee pot [day 278]

My friend Lauren posted this photo on her Facebook page last month.  It’s her dead Mr. Coffee machine.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many comments on a photo before.  This very basic coffee machine lasted 10 years.  Now that’s impressive.  I found the comments interesting, and there’s a lot to learn here.  Here’s most of the comments feed.  No names though, as I must protect the identity of the world’s coffee addicts.  😉

Get a Keurig….you will love it! Fast, easy and very little clean up!!

I’m laughing right now! RIP Mr. Coffee Maker!

Bahl Oh oh oh!! I have a one cup coffe maker (Senso) if you’re interested in it. I don’t use it any more…

So funny – I have a Krups that I know has to be 14 years old and I ask myself everyday how long it will last. It is a 4 cup one and I love it! RIP little coffee maker….

Get yourself a Keurig – We got one for Christmas – love it. Mostly b/c Scott is the coffee drink and I love iced tea (yes, it makes that), cider and hot chocolate. We can make it one right after the other and there’s no aftertaste from the previous drink. Can you tell we love it?!

Aw…

I am so sorry for your loss. Poor guy rest in peace

It is a sad day when the coffee pot goes – we got a new Brew Station, but I kept the old one just in case.

I’m looking at that more closely now…did you steel that from a motel?? rofl

Wow! I think you got your moneys worth out of that one ; ) lol

Cuisinsrt Keurig! It does hot and cold coffee/tea!!! But, be warned… You will drink way more coffee…it’s just that good! (get the Donut House variety pack too!)

That does look like a hotel special

I LOVE my Keurig!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!!

Bahl SEE!!!! lmao…

That’s a great life! Get a Pasquini or anything that doesn’t use lots of tiny plastic cups to add to our landfills…

Motel 6 Leave the light on but also leave the cofee pot

Funny how we were all just talking coffee pots at church! I want a Keurig too, but can’t justify it with my handy dandy Cuisinart Grind and Brew.

I would say you got your money’s worth! And I think it is exciting ……there are so many cool coffee makers out there!!

Just got a Kureg (sp?) and I love, love, love it. Never really drank coffee much and now I am an addicted, shaking, nervous wreck, drinker now!!! Hee!

I want a Keurig too but mine is still going strong…..so I wait. Hopefully when mine goes a Keurig will be $20.00! I hope I don’t have to wait 9 years!

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your old friend! I have a spare Senseo (single cup coffee maker, kinda like Keurig) that you are welcome to. I LOVE love love mine… comes with an eco-friendly reusable pod thingy that you can fill with your favorite coffee – so no buying special things to go in it.

Those are great, I’ve used them before. I got my friend a Keurig machine at the thrift store for $4.99. :)

my spare Senseo came from freecycle, in like-new condition! :)

Awesome!!! I just got a modern lamp on freecycle this morning. If you’re not in a hurry, it’s great. Lauren, just “borrow” another machine from the motel until we can find you an environmentally friendly, free machine. LOL

Can I use this pic on my blog? :)

I am cracking up! Never dreamed this photo would warrant so many comments…ha! It was a faithful appliance… Before I saw all these comments and recommendations I was out last night and got another little 4 cupper…not fancy, but functional…and sad to say–I believe it looks even MORE like it came from a Motel 6 b/c it’s black. :) Will post a pic.

First of all, kudos to Lauren for using this little guy until its death.  She could have easily upgraded since there are many coffee brewers on the market now.  This good guy, Mr. Coffee, is not sleek looking, he doesn’t have any fancy features, he doesn’t accept any plastic pods and he certainly doesn’t look high tech sitting on your kitchen counter.  Mr. Coffee does however brew a good pot of coffee.  He does his job, he does it well, just without all the fancy bells and whistles.  Mr. Coffee is a simple guy, dependable, not complicated like some of his current friends.  Too bad Mr. Coffee is dead because I might date him.

It’s funny how we all responded to this, imposing our favorite coffee maker info and suggestions.  How is Lauren to decide?  It seems like the Keurig has a lot of votes.  If she’s looking for longevity, this is not it.  I’ve never seen one of these that lasted more than a couple of years, and with a price tag of $150, that’s not a good return on investment.  I can honestly say, every one I have ever touched is either dead now or on its way.  And to spare you the soapbox talk, let me just say all those plastic cups are not good for the environment, and probably not our health either.  The Keurig is like a flashy movie star.  They look good on TV, but would you really want to live with them?

The Senseo machine still has the ease of the pods, but not plastic ones, and the machines last a long time.  It looks as though he’ll bend over backwards (or forward) to make you a good cup of coffee.  Less expensive too.  This guy looks good, probably works out regularly and I bet he would go dumpster diving with me.  I can tell he’s into art too.

Krups and Cuisinart were also mentioned, but I don’t know much about those.  I’m the one that made the Pasquini comment.  You can read my cost analysis and purchase info on that, as it was a tough, yet easy decision.

So what did Lauren buy?

Another simple Mr. Coffee.  We can learn a lot from Lauren.  I didn’t get all of the details on how she arrived at this decision, but it’s a good one.  Oh, the paradox of choice.  So much to choose from, yet sometimes the best choice is simplicity.  :)

heaven has a 30-day return policy [day 268]

What!??!?!  I can’t hear you, the angels are singing to loudly.  The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is heaven on earth… it’s a giant hardware building supply store, but all used stuff.  I found some of the home repair stuff I’ve been needing… okay, and one want thing.

Doorknobs. I found a few used brushed nickel doorknobs in the sea of brass knobs, and installed them on the most used doors last night.  A little goof-off and they look brand new.  I guess all the knobs won’t match, but that’s okay.  I’ll place matching ones where you can see other doors.  It’s all good.

Light fixtures. I found a replacement fixture for the laundry room light, basically to replace the one that shoots sparks when you try to replace the bulb.  Definitely a need.  I also found an outside light fixture to replace the weathered, broken one by my front door.  It still works, but it looks terrible.  As a matter of fact, terrible might be an understatement.

A new (used) door. I’ve needed a new backdoor since I moved in the house.  Either the people that lived here before me had some extreme tempers or the evil spirits were trying to exit the house, as the bottom of the door is bent outward.  The three layers of weatherstripping doesn’t even fill the gap.  And who invented the little criss cross crap on these doors?  It’s hard to paint and impossible to clean.  I will not miss this door.  I will donate it in case someone needs the glass or the criss cross plastic piece that I detest.

The Habitat ReStore had a lot of great doors.  And being the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person, I had no measurements for any of my doors that need replacing.  As I flipped through the rows of doors, I saw many I liked, but none that I thought would fit.  Then at the end of the aisle, I heard the angels getting a little bit louder.  There it was.  My new back door.  It looked to be the perfect size, as I visualized myself walking through it.  No criss cross crap, a few blemishes which meant a good price, clearly used and perfect.  But what if I’m wrong about the size?  No problem, as there’s a 30 day return policy.

My door is not installed yet, as it will need new hinges, but I already sanded it, my painter repaired it and painted it, so it’s ready for its new, loving home.  It will still have the ugly brass hardware, but at some point heaven will have brushed nickel.

Okay, so maybe the heaven references are a bit much, but it’s great to know that this stuff isn’t in a landfill and it’s all going to be used.  This new backdoor is not what would be considered perfect condition, but it’s 1000 times better than the one I had.  If you replace something in your house, and the old items still have some life left in them, please consider donating the items to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  They’re doing many great things.  :)

hello, my name is jody and I’m a hoarder [day 252]

So this is the third day we’ve been “iced” in.  This is clearly not snow, as you can walk on top of it.  I even saw a video of a kid ice skating in the street.  My kids are bouncing off the walls and I’m so ready for this mess to go away, and them to be back in school.  I’ve been working from home most of these three days, but I’ve also spent a little time cleaning too.  It’s forced cleaning, and here’s why.

I finally hired someone to paint all of my doors and baseboards.  As much as I would like to do this myself and save the labor cost, I simply don’t have the time, or the desire, to do it.  My time will be better spent doing other things and the guy I hired really needs the work, so much that he drove here in the icy crap to work in my house.  It’s a win-win.

Having baseboards and closets painted is basically like moving.  It’s a good opportunity to not only clean everything, but to purge.  I still have way too much stuff and I need to keep downsizing.  I’m a hoarder.  Not to the extent of the people on the TV show, as those are the most extreme cases, but I’m a low level pack rat.  The few rooms I have downsized are really making me think how much stress and hassle it is to own so much stuff.  It’s simply not needed.  I listed a bunch of stuff on freecycle and it all went within a day.  I have so much more to get rid of!  Being in my house with all this stuff is making me crazy!

My garage is now the “last stop” in the process of purging.  Everything from my house is going out to the garage, from there, it will be sorted, purged then the remaining items will be organized, cleaned and brought back in.  I can honestly say, not much as come back in.

When purging and organizing you stuff, here’s a few tips that might help.  I could write a whole book on everything I’ve learned through this process, but I’ll just share a few of the major points.

Sort the mess.

Have bins or boxes set up for all of the “stuff destinations” you have planned.  You’ll stay in gridlock, shuffling things around with some basic sorting plans.  Here was my destination list:

  • freecycle
  • eBay / craigslist
  • keep
  • thrift store
  • recycling
  • trash
  • someone I know that wants this

Waste not, want not.

Keep in mind that you might not want this stuff, but that doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t be blessed by having it.  It’s not any additional work to take things to a thrift store versus the city dump.  And freecycle?  People will come get it right from your house, you don’t even have to take it anywhere!  Less physical work and just a small amount of time on the computer listing it on freecycle.org.

What to keep, what to part with.

This is the most difficult part of the process.  My first question to myself is, “Can I easily get this again if I need it?”  Other questions might include, “When is the last time I used this?” or “Do I see a need for this in the near future?”  Go through this process.  If you’re hung up on an item, put it in the keep bin.  Once you’ve done this process once, go through it again.  I sometimes make 4 or 5 passes through my stuff.  I’ve purged a lot and so far, I’ve had no regrets of anything I gave away.

Staying organized.

Once you’ve purged a room, keep the clutter out by having an area to put things.  My garage is the “catch all” for every room.  The clutter goes out there in a designated spot, and rarely does any junk make it back into the house.  When organizing a room, don’t pack everything in, leave space for a few new things and space to stay organized.  Also, when cleaning out a room, take everything out.  Start from scratch.  It’s easier and you will be able to purge more and organize more easily.

Again, this is not a comprehensive list, but it’s a few of the biggest helpers in downsizing.  I have to say, it’s a long process, but it feels really good!