I hate cleaning the garage, but I love an art project

The garage (cleaning) art project.

My garage is always a diaster area.  I couldn’t fit a car in there if I tried.  Heck, I’m not even sure a bike would fit.  Now let me be clear.  Even if I could fit a car in my garage, I wouldn’t put one in there.  I like to use my garage space as an art studio, a place where I can do crazy projects like projectwarm.us or any other crazy idea that pops into my head.

Being an artist, I see everything as a blank canvas and every little trinket having some artistic value.  My garage clearly reflects my views.  Continue reading

they should make them bigger & call them ‘placesheets’ [minimalist challenge item #230]

[item] Placemats

[purchase info] Purchased new in Africa

[time in my possession] Approximately 6.5 years

[last used] Over a year ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] A fundraiser

[replacement item] None

[info] I really love these, but in my house, placemats are just another thing to clean.  It’s not like my kids are going to drop all their crumbs and spill stuff directly on the mat.  I’ll still have to clean the table, the chairs and the floor.  Unless they make ‘placesheets’, I just don’t see the value here.

paintbrush comb [minimalist challenge item #165]

[item] Purdy paintbrush comb

[purchase info] Purchased new at Home Depot

[time in my possession] Approximately 5 years

[last used] Several months ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Thrift store

[info] I have two of these.  Still getting rid of duplicates.

 

minimalist challenge update… 88% depreciation?!

With a goal of 365 items, downsizing one item a day over a one year period, has proven to be more difficult than I imagined.  With the exception of my garage, there’s just not much left to downsize in my house.  When I open a cabinet or a drawer, thinking I might be able to find some things I’m not using anymore, I’m rarely able to find anything.  This is good, as I don’t have a lot of clutter and a lot of stuff, but on the other hand, I still have 214 items to go.

Now I still have a lot in my garage.  Way less than I had a few months ago, but still way more than I need.  The problem with that right now is the heat.  It’s too hot to clean anything out, as my garage faces west. It’s a sauna x3.

At 150 items, here’s some financial info… that makes me want to cry.  Think we don’t spend a lot on stuff we don’t need?  Take a look at this.

If I bought these 150 items right now at the store, full price, it would cost me $12,320.36.

I paid $8,523.89 for these items, mostly shopping second hand and discount stores.

I didn’t sell much, as I gave most of it away.  I have made $180.00, with an estimated potential of $1,487.00.  Best case scenario, my stuff depreciated by 88%!!  If this isn’t a reality check, I don’t know what is.

Wow.  Even I’m astonished at these numbers.  Even though I’ve had much of this stuff for many years, it’s still a disturbing snapshot of how much money I can waste.  Have you ever added up how much money you’ve spent like this?  If so, please share.

The 3 most difficult things to part with so far 

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tomorrow is the last day! [day 364]

No, I’m not predicting the end of the world.  It’s the last day of the challenge!  It’s been a really good year.  I thought I might look back at the post from day 1.  Wow!  A lot has changed since then!!  Here’s the first post.

Day one of any long time period challenge is more of a normal time than a reality check of the radical decision you just committed to.  I decided to do this challenge very early in the morning, which is the time my monkeys are the most active.  Yeah, I should probably explain that.  My friend Steve says my thoughts are like a bunch of monkeys next to a banana tree, so we frequently refer to the monkeys in my head.  Monkeys are fun and cute, so we’ll go with it.

So I had breakfast with my kids and decided to tell them the news!  We will not be shopping retail for a year.  No new toys, no new video games, no new clothes.  After the silence, then denial, they reluctantly agreed that it was a good plan, although they thought a year was a bit excessive.  Well, with all the excess in our society, why not add a little more excess?  LOL

The ironic thing here is that I still have to shop sometimes for work, and this being the first day of the challenge, I had to go to Ikea for stage set stuff.  I had an Ikea gift card for $50 in my wallet, just to complicate things.  So off I went to shop, placing the stage items in the cart, along with a few things that I could buy with the gift card.  Well, as we all justify the stuff we absolutely need, my justification here was that I should use up the gift card since it probably will get lost or decrease in value over a year.  As I was about to check out, I put the stuff back.  I don’t NEED it and I’m not even sure I WANT it.  I was there, I had ‘Ikea’ money and everyone needs more stuff, right?  I still have the gift card and plan to give it to someone I know that is getting his first apartment and actually has a few basic needs.

I told a few people about my plans, or my challenge.  A few people thought it was a good idea and were not surprised.  (They obviously know me well and there’s not many things I can do to surprise anyone)  Others said it was cool, but they could never do it.  Let me just say here that I like to shop, but not like most people.  I hate malls and I hate spending money.  I like material things though.  There.  I said it.  I have an internal struggle with wanting simple and less fighting with a desire for more.  I was raised in a very materialistic house.  I have to call it a house, not a home, because a much higher value was placed on the material things in the house, not the people living in it.

I suppose I’m doing this to prove to myself that I don’t need a lot of stuff.  I’m also doing this for my kids to teach them about another world, a crazy different world that exists outside this wealthy, affluent bubble we live in.  A world where poverty and hunger exist because 20% of the world has 80% of the stuff, including food and water.  As Gandhi said,“There’s enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed.”

This challenge is a very small step.  I know I have a long way to go here, but if everyone just made some really small sacrifice, our world would change in a radically wonderful way.  The monkeys are still processing all of this, along with my kids.  Off to day 2…

I had an art show several years ago called Excessable, all of the photographs depicting the excess in our society, how accessible it is and how it doesn’t fulfill us.  I’ve used some of these before in my blog posts, but today, they have more meaning to me.

Continue reading

you can learn a lot from a dummy [day 358]

I get teased pretty often about my use of paper towels, or should I say lack of use?  Over the last year I might have used almost 4 or 5 rolls and 3 of them were in the first part of the year.  I don’t have any now.  When people come over to eat and I did have paper towels, I would tear them into smaller pieces.  Now I use cloth napkins.  I clean my house with dish towels, not paper towels.  If I’m out somewhere and I get extra napkins that I know will be throw away, I take them home.  I might go a little toward the extreme side of things, but there are ways to cut down on disposable paper products, ways that aren’t difficult or time consuming.

When I cleaned out my garage a couple of months ago, I found an individually wrapped paper towel.  I keep this in my (minimalist) junk drawer.  It freaks people out that I would even have something like this.  I don’t know where it came from, but I make jokes about it being my emergency paper towel.  Continue reading

rethinking a good purchase [day 340]

Some would say I broke the challenge on a purchase this weekend, but if I did, it was in every effort to rethink good.  I was in Mexico, which is why I haven’t been blogging the last few days.  The internet was sporadic and I simply had something better to do… spend time with over 100 beautiful kids.  So what did I buy?   3 corn brooms and 2 padlocks.  I bought other stuff, but that fell into the approved categories of food and toiletries.

My Spanish is limited to about 25 words, so even had I wanted to explain the no shopping challenge, that would not have been possible.  These kids work so hard to keep the orphanage clean, I would have bought them a truckload of brooms if they wanted them.

The locks, although not spoken, had to be for the food pantry and cleaning supply room.  It’s just easier to maintain these when there are some controls in place.

These kids are completely amazing and they take care of each other like nothing I’ve ever seen.  I miss them terribly and I can’t wait to get back down there.  I’ll blog a little more on my shopping trip and other fun adventures down there shortly.  Shopping for necessities really doesn’t take that much thought.  We bought what they needed.  No more, no less.  So did I break my challenge rules?  Yes, no doubt, but it was the right thing to do and I feel great about it.

I don’t need no stinkin’ plastic liners [day 307]

I quit using plastic garbage bags, or any type of plastic lining in my trash cans.  Why?  I just don’t see why we need to place trash in plastic bags, taking much longer for it to decompose in a landfill.  I thought back to my kids earlier diaper days and the Diaper Genie.  I had one and used it for about a week, but I never understood why it was a good idea to turn dirty diapers into plastic sausage links.  It made no sense to me whatsoever.

I have, what most people consider, a very small trash can and recycling bin in my house.  They’re so small they fit under the sink cabinet.  They’re both plastic bins, making them easy to wash and they don’t leak.  Also, the small size makes them easy for my kids to empty into the outdoor containers.

I ran out of plastic liners a few months ago.  I decided to try going linerless.  It felt a little weird at first, but soon I started to wonder why I ever used plastic liners in the first place.  They really don’t do anything other than make the trash less biodegradable.  If I have some wet trash, typically food, I can place that in another piece of trash like a plastic wrapper from another piece of food.  This new system has been good.  No issues to report.  Buying things to purposely throw away is making less and less sense to me.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned in this process and a few tips I’ve picked up in researching this topic.

Biodegradable garbage bags. These bags cost a bit more, but if you absolutely need a trash liner, this is a good way to go.

Repurpose shopping bags. Instead of buying bags, reuse the ones you get from shopping.  They’re usually not big, but just consider it a motivation to cut down on the amount of trash you produce.  Use these for the ‘wet trash’ only when needed.

Learn what can and can’t be recycled. You would be surprised at the list of what can and can’t go into the recycling bin.  Pizza boxes?  No, because they have grease on them.  Styrofoam?  Yes, they started recycling this a couple of years ago.  I’ve found that most waste can be recycled.  We fill up our recycle bin way before the trash bin.

Separate your trash into bins. Some people have a compost-type bin for food trash, separate from the regular trash.  I have a separate bin for plastic caps so I can take them to Aveda for recycling.  I don’t do composting yet, but the change in our grocery shopping habits yield way less waste and trash.

Consider composting. I’m still considering it.  :)

Repurpose you trash.  If you need a liner for something, use a bread wrapper or potato chip bag.  You’re not adding anything to the trash and you’re not spending money buying fancy plastic liners to make your trash more attractive for the garbage truck.

Use plastic washable containers. Get rid of the metal trash cans, use small plastic ones, then you won’t need liners.

If you’re not sure about this, try it for a week.  You can always go back to using liners.  If nothing else, you’re saving money on trash.

 

grocery shopping update [day 304]

I’ve gotten a few questions on my new grocery shopping plan.  I shop more frequently, but buying less, limiting myself to 25 items or less.  You can read the story about the downsizing and new shopping plan that was published in early February 2011.  Take a look.

Here’s the before and after photos of my pantry.  The after was taken a couple of weeks ago and even has less in there today.  I don’t have photos of the refrigerator or freezer, but they are sparse as well.  Here’s some of the results or the new way of shopping.

Money savings.

I started shopping at Aldi versus Kroger, Tom Thumb, WalMart or Target.  That, coupled with the 25 items or less, has produced the following monetary results.  These amount reflect groceries, the occasional toiletry items and some wine.

February 2011: $268.95

March 2011 (so far, 1 week left): $149.89

I started this in mid January, so I didn’t look at that month.  Here’s what I spent the 2 months prior.  Continue reading

clean up your digital mess! [day 298]

I have a lot to blog, I just have a mess of photos to edit, writing to organize and lots of work to do.  I’m going to regroup a little bit today and tonight, basically regrouping my digital mess.  I found this image on musicfordance.com and I thought it was applicable.  I need to be a digital mess superhero today.  To the batcave!!!