Back in the day… [day 18 & 19]

On my recent road trip, I found so many interesting things to photograph.  Most of the interesting things were vintage or antique.  What’s the difference?  My boss asked that question on Facebook a few months ago.  Vintage is 7+ years old and antique is 50+ years old.  Just for the record, I’m still vintage.

Life has changed radically over the past few decades.  Here’s a few photos I found interesting.

vw bug slugbugSlug bug!  I just had to stop and take a photo of this VW Bug, sitting in front of an auto salvage yard.  It’s probably out front because people still love these little beauties.  Some turn them into art projects, some restore them and some use them for parts.

This car, brand new, back in 1969 cost about $1,800.  The same car now (44 years later, for those of you who hate math), brand new, costs $19,995 for the basic model.  A restored 1969 model in decent shape is in the $4,000 range.   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.  :)

2 stores in store [day 228]

I had to go to 2 stores for work yesterday.  I needed a frame, a mat board and to have 1 photo printed.  I decided to go to Aaron Brothers for the frame and mat board, because in January, they have their “buy one, get one for a penny” sale.  I found the perfect frame, however I have no idea what we’ll do with the second one.  1¢ is too close to free to pass up.

It felt strange to be in a store.  I looked around a little bit, as they have art supplies, but I had no desire to buy anything.  I really didn’t want to be there.

Next, I decided to go to Wolf Camera for the print.  Now, I love camera equipment, but walking into the store still felt odd.  The aroma of film processing chemicals was a sweet reminder of the past, having to pay a lot of money for my photography habit.  It sparked a momentary appreciation for digital photography.

I rarely print photos, so I had to ask the quickest way to get one photo printed.  The sales guy pointed to the large yellow machine that does instant prints.  After several failed attempts to get it to read my jump drive, the sales guy tried.  After his many more failed attempts, I decided that wasn’t meant to be.

I had no desire to shop in either of these places.  Had I wanted to buy something, and did, it would be classified as an impulse buy, right?  It made me think about how many times I’ve done that in the past.  Going into a store to buy something I wanted and coming out with other things, things I didn’t need.    Continue reading

can’t live with it, can’t live without it… reversed [day 203]

I ran across two interesting things this week, one posted on my Facebook page and the other in a Yahoo! Groups post on Compact.

These sites, xmaswithoutchina.com and the Marie Claire Yahoo! Shopping post, when combined together, portray a picture of our consumeristic “can’t live with it, can’t live without it”, but not necessarily in that order.  First, we must have it.  How many times have you looked at the “made in” tag on something you purchased?  I don’t do it very often, if at all.  Well, not now anyway, because of the challenge.  But before, when I was shopping, I rarely looked at these tags.  It’s a law that the place of origin, or manufacturing place be listed on the item, or on the packaging.

I decided to pick up 50 random items in my house to see where they were made.  My findings were not surprising.  60% were made in China, 38% in other countries besides the USA and 2% in the USA.  The 2%, accounting for one item, is an art bowl, purchased at a local art show.  Just in case you’re wondering, the items were such things as clothing, electronic games, toys, computer equipment, home decor items, alarm system, cookware, bedding, light fixtures and small appliances.

The Christmas without China is a challenge to take everything made in China out of your house and to shop for Christmas gifts, making sure none are made there.  This is the start of a documentary on this subject, by a man from China.

The 19 unusual gifts nobody wants is crazy stuff, available for purchase just in time for Christmas.  Let’s look at a couple of these items.   Continue reading

gee, that will look great in my garage… [day 140]

The challenge seemed to go quickly at first, now it feels a little slower.  Things I might buy if I could, right now:

  • A gas regulator for my grill. It’s still having some issues.
  • Stain for my house. I want to stain my bright orange bricks like I did in the back.
  • Paint. For my house and for art.  I don’t need much, but I would buy a few tubes here and there when they’re on sale.
  • Camera remote. A remote shutter release for stop motion videos.

Okay, so the list isn’t very long.  I don’t miss the mall, as a matter of fact, I can’t stand the mall.  I don’t miss retail stores much either, although it would be nice to just go in there and simply buy something when needed.  The no retail shopping takes work when you need some small little item, like for a house repair or for the kids school projects.  Continue reading

what is it? [day 78]

You know, there’s just not a lot to blog on with the no shopping challenge.  So how is it going?  Really well.  I guess I don’t like to shop too much.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my days of too much shopping in the past, purchases heavily associated with debt.  I think I’m just becoming more content with what I have and I really hate debt.  It’s not that I don’t ever think about getting something new or that I don’t have a desire to buy something I want, I just do it differently now.  I ponder a few things:

  • Is it a need or a want?
  • How can I get it used?
  • Will I use this long term or is it an impulse buy, something that will get used 1 or 2 times then collect dust?
  • How does it impact the environment?
  • Is it a fad or a style thing that will not be useful in a short period of time?
  • Is it a good deal?

I suppose the most interesting thing I’ve learned so far in this process is this:  I don’t miss it, that is, the stuff I don’t buy.

I some sense, that means I never really wanted it.  It was there, priced well, nicely merchandised and by definition, an impulse buy.  I have also saved a lot of money in the process, but I seem to spend more on food and eating out.  Well, at least I found my next challenge.  😉

My experience?  It usually costs a lot and it will sit around until it eventually ends up long lost a garage or in a landfill.  So what is it?

psych & impulses [day 29]

I really don’t have a desire to shop right now.  Almost a month, and I just really don’t miss it.  Not that I did it a lot, but I would make my regular visits to the major retail superstores and hardware stores.  An artist girl can never have too many power tools.

I think most of what we buy is impulse stuff.  Well, it is for me anyway.  I still have times where I think, “Oh, I should go buy a __________.”  Now that I can’t (won’t), I either have to just forget about it, or if it’s a need, figure a way around it.  The reason I know these are impulse things, is because I know I’ve thought about buying stuff, but I could not for the life of me tell you what the stuff was that I thought of buying.  If I really needed it, or for that matter, really wanted it badly, wouldn’t I remember it?  I have no idea what it is!  Continue reading

free stuff

When we arrived to the Mission Arlington conference Saturday morning, Tillie was quick to put us to work. What better way to see what is going on there than to experience it first hand? Works for me, I’m ready! She quickly found drivers for the three buses filled with garage sale leftovers. She then asked for volunteers to go with the drivers to take these buses to specific apartment complexes to give it away. I have no idea what other jobs she had, as Christine and I jumped on this one.

We headed out to our bus with Mark and Joan. Mark was driving and we figured we would just get in the bus and go. The bus, an old handicapped city bus, was packed so full there was no place to sit, much less get in. We decided to sit on the steps of the bus and ride along. Probably not the safest thing, but it’s God’s work and to me, it made perfect sense.

None of us had a clue that MA did this kind of stuff. They go to garage sales that are over and pick up all of the remaining items. What an awesome way to get this stuff to people that can use it, not to mention it’s a great way to be green and help others.

When we arrived, we found a grassy area by the office and mailboxes to unload the bus. Storm clouds were rolling in however it was not raining yet. Our instructions? Unload the bus, knock on doors to let everyone know that we’re there with free house wares, clothing and other free stuff and give it all away. Honestly speaking here? I did not want to knock on doors. I quickly offered my services of unloading the bus. Turns out we all started unloading the bus before knocking on the doors.

I’m not sure what got into me at this point… well, it was obviously God, but after about ¾ was unloaded, I said, “I’m going to knock on doors.” I quickly ran off to spread the word: free stuff. It was about 10am? Not a lot of people answered their doors, probably one in four or five. I was also reminded yet once again that I don’t speak Spanish and should really learn just a little bit.

As I was going door to door, my brain was on overdrive. This is not a world I am familiar with, yet it felt very comfortable, like I was meant to be there. Some of the million thoughts running through my head… I didn’t plan on doing this today. What was I planning? I need to learn some Spanish. These people can cook, that smells good. I wonder how many times this building has been painted? These doors are heavy and have a lot of locks. My knuckles hurt. I wonder what these people are thinking when they look through the peephole and see me? It’s chilly in these hallways. I wonder how many people are over there getting stuff from the bus? How do we do something like this in Frisco? I live in a palace. I have a lot of stuff. How can this world be a 40-minute drive from where I live? Why haven’t I been here before? I worked for a low-income property management company, could I have done something to help people? Can I still contact them now and do something? Wow, many of the apartments that opened the door have a picture of Jesus on the wall, some with candles. Okay, you get the picture, through my ADHD eyes.

Mark came looking for me, apparently I just kept going and knocking. Well, I hadn’t gone to all the doors yet, right? I knocked on a few more and went back. The area was swarming with people! How incredibly cool is that?


As people were shopping, or as I like to call it, treasure hunting, it began to rain. Just a little bit at first, but that didn’t slow down the hunters. Tillie had told us before we left the we might have to do the rain plan since it was going to rain. So what was the rain plan? It was the same as the dry plan. Always was, still is and will continue to be that way. Helping others doesn’t stop with a little rain, or even a lot of it. I’m guessing when we have a few snowflakes and all of Texas goes into an unnecessary panic-shut-down mode, Mission Arlington does not.

While I was knocking on doors, a gentleman that sells taquitos came by and left a food package for us. We didn’t have anything to drink, but they smelled so very good. As the shopper traffic died down, we sat in the bus and ate our food. There was a baggie of green chili sauce that smelled so good, I could have just opened the bag and ate it all by itself. Without drinks, if it was spicy, we were all in some trouble. I decided to try it. It was not too spicy, but it did have a little kick to it. The others declined the green mystery sauce. I had some left over, and yes, I packed it up and placed the green liquid gold into my backpack to finish later.

It started to rain much harder, so we moved all of the stuff onto the sidewalk under an eave. The few shoppers that were there stopped to help us. We moved everything right in front of the mailboxes so we were hoping the mail person didn’t come anytime soon.

We got a chance to talk to some of the later shoppers before we packed up to leave to go back and be assigned to our next adventure. We only brought back maybe a fourth of what we had. As we were about to drive away, the mailman showed up. God’s timing is perfect.

There are so many lessons to be learned here, and this was only the beginning of the weekend. I suppose besides the obvious lesson of always helping others, it was weighing on me a lot of just how wasteful we be. I’m not judging anyone here because I can be wasteful too, purchasing things I don’t need, getting sucked into the strategically placed retail ‘impulse’ items and buying things to make my life easier without thinking of the consequences.

After this experience, I’m even much more intentional about shopping at thrift stores, not retail stores. I’m trying to be better about not being wasteful and teaching my kids that as well. And don’t get me started on impulse purchases. My kids and I have a plan. If it’s something we didn’t plan to buy when we went to the store, we walk away for at least 24 hours. If we remember the item and we still want it (and can afford it), we can go back and get it.

I’m not sure what the shoppers were thinking about this whole process, maybe a subconscious appreciation for the people that bought the stuff in the first place. Maybe they were happy to get some free stuff, needed and wanted. Maybe they didn’t even think about it at all. Either way, I hope they felt loved.