Snack packs & disposable stuff I appreciate [day 27]

Honestly?  The challenge isn’t so bed.  Trying to blog it everyday?  That’s the difficult part. I think I need to do my challenges, take notes, then blog about the lifestyle changes.  OR, maybe I just don’t blog everyday.  OR, I micro blog with social media.

Today, I’ll add 3 photos.  It’s like a blog picture book.  I can do pictures.  😉

Here’s a disposable item I like.  Needles and syringes.  My recent trip to the doctors office made me think that there a few things that are good being disposable.

needles and syringes Continue reading

If it’s the thought that counts, think about it.

I wasn’t going to do much blogging on holiday shopping, but people keep asking me what kind of stuff I’m buying for Christmas gifts or what are good gifts to give that give back to people in need?  So here it is… my brain dump on Christmas shopping.  Yes, I call it Christmas shopping, not holiday shopping.  I suppose we could also call it Black Friday shopping.  It seems as though that’s become a bigger holiday than the actual Christmas holiday we’re shopping for.

Now that I think about it, these principals could apply all year long and to any holiday where it is customary to give a gift.  Birthdays and Christmas are the two big ones.

So what gift shopping is considered good?  Shopping in and of itself is not bad, it’s some of the things associated with it that are bad.  Debt is bad.  Buying gifts for people you don’t want to buy gifts for because you’ve succumbed to the cultural purchasing pressure is bad.  Buying people stuff they don’t want or need is bad.  Spoiling kids with a bunch of stuff they don’t need is bad.  If it’s the thought that counts, then let’s think about it.  There are many positive ways to shop, supporting good for humanity, the environment and for your pocketbook.

Service, not stuff.

You might believe our country is using up most of our planets’ resources and you might be trying to lower your carbon footprint as much as possible, or you might even think that’s all an bunch of hype.  No matter which end of the spectrum you’re on, buying services versus physical goods is, well, all around good.  Why?

  • You’re supporting a skill or a trade.
  • You’re helping the economy without physical stuff.
  • You don’t have to worry if the recipient likes your gift, and the best part? No looking around their house to make sure they’re using the item you gave them and no getting your feelings hurt when they tell you the dog broke it.
  • Maybe the gift recipients will get this concept too, then they won’t give you anymore giant golf ball candles, Chia pets or Santa figures that poop candy.
  • Most service places have gift cards or gift certificates.
  • It takes less time to shop because you can shop at places you do business while everyone else is in line at W*%#@!t.
  • There’s a better chance they’ll have a need for a service than a need for more stuff.  If you need something, or even want something, you go buy it, right?  Why would your giftees be any different?  Well, they could be unemployed.  If that’s the case, they have needs, not wants.

So what are good services to buy?  There are many choices here, some more practical than others.  Some of these services could be provided by you, which means no cost to you other than your time.   Continue reading

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!”

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

the anatomy of a gift [day 336]

Let me start by asking a few of the big questions here.

Is re-gifting good or bad?

Is it okay to get rid of a gift?

Should you ever give a used gift?

I think people mostly view these as bad things, and although there’s no simple answer to these questions, there are some instances when they’re good.  Let’s first look at the anatomy of a gift.

Okay, so there’s no image that perfectly represents all gifts, as they’re as different as snowflakes.  “It’s the thought that counts…” is the first thing you hear about gifts.  If this is true, then is re-gifting or giving away a gift you received considered symbolic of the thought, the gift, both or neither?  I suppose it all depends on the gift itself, the person that gave it to you, the occasion and the thought behind it.  Again, there’s no easy answer.

I’m blogging on this topic, as it’s been on my mind a lot as I downsize.  I have gotten rid of things people have given me, and yes, even put them on my blog.  I won’t lie, it feels a little weird, but at least it’s honest.  I haven’t re-gifted anything, probably because I don’t really get many gifts.  Don’t get me wrong here, I actually like this gift status.  I’m not married, my kids are young and I don’t have any family close by to share holidays with.  Considering that I’m not a fan of holidays, this works fine in my life.  But when I do get a gift, it’s usually something meaningful.  Continue reading

motion art sharing [day 327]

I was given a challenge several weeks ago to come up with an artistic creative element to do during a church service.  I remembered about two years ago, I had seen some motion sand art created on a light table with a camera mounted above it.  As I started fantasizing about doing that myself, I started bringing in other objects like colored glass and string.  I’m not sure when I mentally poured the sand out, but my idea was to use the light table with 3 dimensional objects, bringing an altered art concept to the table.  Here’s a video of the motion art, however the music isn’t perfectly synced on the first song.  Video is obviously not my strongest art form.  😉  [the video will not play on mobile devices]

3D motion art to Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) & Stronger

So what does this have to do with my ‘no retail shopping’ challenge?  A lot.  When I started the challenge almost a year ago, I said I would need to be able to shop at work if I was told to do so.  I had to get all of the supplies for this project, including the light table.  Of everything needed to create this, I bought 2 things, one of them outside of the challenge, but it was for work.

Continue reading

suggestions for stuff [day 322]

I received this list of gift suggestions from eBay a little while back.  I know this type of marketing must appeal to the masses, but there’s nothing on the “for her” list that even remotely interests me.  We’re surrounded by advertisements of stuff, most of it things we not only don’t need, but never would have even considered buying until we were told we need it to be comfortable or stylish.

I’m not buying anything, and the few items my kids want, they’ll shop on eBay to find the exact things they want, and will use their own money to purchase them.  As for me, I completely don’t understand any desire for diamonds.  They cost a lot, they don’t do anything and they make you a target for getting mugged.  If anyone wants to spend $4,000 on me, buy me a MacBook or something useful.

Suggested stuff could help if you need to buy a gift, but shouldn’t you know the person well enough to be able to choose something they would like?  How about a nice meal so you can spent time with them?  That’s a win-win, as you’re spending time together and the they’re not collecting more things to regift or leaving things unused due to the obligatory “keepsake” nature of received gifts.  I would take the meal over the MacBook.

my kids are okay with it [day 215]

Here’s the answer to the big question, “Were your kids okay with this no retail shopping Christmas?

Yes.

I’m very proud of them.  I’m imposing some of my challenge on them, but just by the stuff I get for them.  They both work for their allowance and they are allowed to spend it retail if they choose to.  My 11 year old could care less about money or buying anything.  My 10 year old, who likes money and shopping, has had $150 in his wallet for over 2 months now.  He’s had several opportunities to spend it, and has not.

When it came to Christmas, my kids didn’t really want much.  As a matter of fact, I got a text from their dad saying he had no idea what to get them for Christmas, as every time he asked, they didn’t really give him an answer.  The one thing they both showed an interest in was an iPad.  After ignoring that for the first 20 times they said it, I thought about it.  I told them they would have to share it, but I would put some money toward it if their dad and grandma would too.  Grandma agreed, dad did not.  It was a bit of a relief, as I really didn’t want to give them a lot of money.  It would be better than them having a bunch of small stuff that will be used for about a week, then end up at the thrift store.  Anyway, no iPad in the Wissing house.

So what did my kids want?  Books.  The Bones series and some of the Pokemon series.  We shopped together on amazon.com and got everything they wanted… used.  I got a book too, Journal Junkies.  I also got them each a gift card from Gamestop, as they have used games, fitting that into my no retail plan.

When they came home from their dad’s house, where they didn’t get anything extravagant for Christmas, they were excited to come home and have Christmas at our house.  Driving home, I was thinking how disappointed they’ll be, as their friends got electronics and lots of toys, and all they’ll get is some books.  I didn’t even wrap anything, the mailer envelopes under the tree, displaying my lack of Christmas consumerism.  We got home, they opened their gifts, and guess what?  They were happy.  They spent the next hour reading, and it would have been longer if I hadn’t made them go to bed.

I don’t know if what I’m doing is good for them, but I’m doing it for the right reasons and I’m sensitive to their reactions to it.  I’m not sure what I would have done if they were disappointed, but I know I would have tried something to make it good, yet still doing what I feel is the right thing.  After seeing from my mom right before Christmas, and hearing how “ridiculous” I am for the no retail shopping challenge and for recycling, because after I’m gone, nobody will care and there won’t be any less trash in the world, I felt okay.  I’m encouraging my kids and I’m not shoving this down their throats.  Christmas will never be good for me, but hopefully it won’t be bad for my children.

A post Christmas story of be longing [flashback]

This was written 4 days after Christmas last year on my blog iembracechaos.com.

What is out of the ordinary?  Choosing to help others and live differently in a way that changes life as we know it.  My kids really didn’t seem all that bothered by the lack of gifts they got from me.   They still received the mandatory 27+ gifts from my mother, gifts they will never give a second thought to once they are put away.  They were both on board with the plan of donating money to their favorite charities, but I just wasn’t so sure come Christmas, they would still feel that way.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Christmas evening, after the kids came home, we rented a few movies and enjoyed some time together.  After all, I had not seen them for almost a week.

Yesterday we ventured into the stores, only for the purpose of grocery shopping and finding a small rug for my closet floor.  No store was exempt from the typical long return lines and post-holiday sale events.  Seriously, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

I decided yesterday to clean out my closet and get rid of the mountain of unused linens.  Why do I feel the need to hang on to stuff that I will never use again?  I made the compulsory closet purge, filled up the Infiniti sleigh and headed for the thrift store.

After unloading our surplus of worldly possessions, we went treasure hunting.  No, not shopping, treasure hunting.  Shopping is buying overpriced new ‘goods’ at large chain stores.  Treasure hunting is finding something special, previously owned by someone else at a price that doesn’t break the bank.  My kids quickly made their way to the toy section, disappointed that it was mostly baby toys.  I headed for the crowded book area, my kids not far behind.

I found a Man Ray photography book for 50 cents, which in the bookstore, was probably closer to $50.  Man Ray is one of my photography inspirations, mostly for photograms.  My photogram ‘Coffee Addict’ is one of my favorites… not that I have coffee issues or anything like that.

Cole found a Star Wars picture book, which he kept directly in front of his face in the entire time we were there, miraculously not walking into anyone or anything.

As we were making our way toward the front of the store, I stopped to see if there were any jeans or sweatshirts for the boys.  I guess everyone has been doing their Christmas purge, as the racks had three times the amount they usually do.  I found this t-shirt that pretty much sums up what society is teaching our kids.  “WARNING: allergic to lame gifts.”  I wanted to buy the shirt just so I could destroy it and take it out of the clothing circulation.  I would have saved the small candy cane skull icon though, as it seems appropriate to use as a symbol of our cultural Christmas consumerism.   Continue reading

twas the night before Christmas… the culturally correct version [day 211]

Let me me be perfectly honest here.  I really hate holidays.  And, I’m an equal opportunity holiday hater, I don’t like any of them.  I love Christmas, that is the true meaning of Christmas, but I hate the cultural crap that comes along with it.  I just want to skip all this and move on to the new year.  I don’t want to spend a bunch of money I don’t have, I don’t want to eat a bunch of sweets, I don’t want to do the holiday dog and pony show, I don’t want to go to holiday parties alone, I don’t want to go to them with a spouse I don’t have, I do not like it in a box, I do not like it with a fox. I do not like green trees, this sham or culture’s Christmas, mad I am.

Some people think the Grinch stole Christmas, nobody cared, so he gave it back and everyone lived happily ever after.  That’s the fictional version of the story, because you and I know darn well, that if someone stole all of the things in our house and all the gifts from under the tree, we would not all be in the street holding hands and singing.   The story would be a little different…  Here it is, in the form of “Twas the night before Christmas.” Enjoy…

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the town

Many creatures were stirring, using credit around;

The plasma tv was unloaded with care,

In hopes that the credit bill was lost in the mail;

My kids wanting toys, finances in red,

While visions of electronics danced in their heads;

Me on my laptop, looking for deals,

Wondering where I will get the next meal;  Continue reading