no retail shopping challenge: 1 year later

It’s the one year anniversary since I finished the no retail shopping challenge.  Why did I do the challenge?  Straight from my original blog post:

I wanted to live differently, meaning finding creative ways to not buy stuff I really don’t need, to share stuff with others, to not be wasteful and to be more environmentally friendly.

So what did this accomplish?  Looking at it one year later, it accomplished a lot more than I could have ever imagined.  Since I blogged it every day for the entire year, I have a great record of how the year progressed and all of the lessons I learned through the challenge that many called crazy.  Let me share a few of the posts with you.

Top 3 blog posts, as chosen by readers:

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rethinking good in frisco style magazine

Thanks so much to Frisco Style Magazine for rethinking good in their August 2011 arts issue.  No retail shopping for one year has proven to be a great way to rethink no only shopping, but the way we live life.  Here’s a few of the blog posts related to the article if you would like more details.  Thanks again for rethinking good!

What is the no retail shopping challenge? [info]

Back to school [day 58]

School supply update [day 83] 

To Infiniti and beyond! [day 175]

Airing my dirty laundry… and clean laundry [day 235]

My new minimalist challenge [day 266]

Cost analysis, kid style [day 309]

Do you share your household budget with your kids? [day 337]

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a not-so-edible mini challenge

My new mini-challenge… no fast food through the end of the year and no eating out for a month.  (one exception: my friend’s birthday dinner)  It pains me to see all of the paper waste from eating fast food.  Not doing the fast food thing through the end of the year should give me a good idea why I’ve done it in the first place.  It’s convenience, but is it really necessary?  I really dislike cooking, but I will have to cook more now.  As for the not eating out for a month, that’s more due to money.  We ate out almost everyday on vacation, so it’s time to cut back for a bit.

We really don’t eat a lot of fast food anyway, so my kids won’t go into culture shock… at least I don’t think they will.  Fast food is not really healthy either, so this is a good choice to make.  Here’s a few tips I’m using to make this work:

Menu planning.  I will have to plan meals a little better than I have in the past.  I won’t do this everyday, but I will have to do it more often than I do now… which is never.

Get the kids involved.  What do they want?  And my boys need to learn how to cook, although Cole will probably tell me his future wife will cook for him, right before she washes his dishes.  Yes, he really said that.

Travelling and field trips.  These things will have to be planned in advance.  I could bring a cooler and / or pack a picnic.

Wish me luck!  Here we go…

doing a 360 [day 360]

I guess if you’re changing something in your life, doing a 180° turn is completely changing to the opposite of whatever you were doing.  So, in the case of the no retail shopping challenge, I think I did a 360° turn.  Yes, I made a full circle.  When I started the challenge, I was already doing a lot of the things I’m doing now, like shopping at thrift stores and trying my best not to be wasteful.  It’s like this challenge took me on this amazing journey to keep doing what I’m doing and more of it, while adding new and better ways to shop, or much of the time, not shop.

I was asked today what my last blog post will be and if it will be this big, epic ending.  The answer is I’m not sure what the blog post will be, but it probably won’t have an epic ending, simply because it’s not ending.  The challenge will end, I will take a small break from blogging, but I don’t plan to change the way I shop.  My lifestyle has changed for the better and all of the great things I’ve learned and experienced would be wasted if I went back to my pre-challenge shopping habits.  I’m not saying I won’t buy anything new, but I won’t go to the store when I’m bored and I’ll still look for other options besides buying something new.  There’s only 5 days left in the challenge!  I really don’t need to buy anything, as the Windex fairy came to visit last night and brought me a used bottle of Windex.  He knows me well.  I am getting my new (used) camper repaired and that might involve having to buy a few parts.

No, this is not the end.  I plan to keep on with the 360° turns, but adding new levels to it.  At a recent staff retreat, they gave us Slinky’s to play with.  Our creative team is easily entertained with a spiral of plastic.  Knox was taking cool photos of the insides and I actually talked Jerod into holding one end to his eye, promising I wouldn’t pull the ‘Lucy football’ thing on him.  (It took everything in my being not to let go…)  The slinky makes me think of a 360° turn.  Keep on the journey, adding new levels, revisiting past ideas but looking at new ways to improve upon them.  Sometimes a 180 is needed, but a 360 can be good too if you don’t stop where you started.  Take it up a notch and if you do stop in the same place, start a new circle.

getting caught up with 10 days to go… [day 354]

I’ve been blogging everyday for almost a year and I’ve never been behind more than a day.  I’m two days behind and trying desperately to catch up.   I was at a staff retreat for two days and spent one day playing.  There’s only 10 days left in the challenge!  Where does the time go?

I’m still getting the same question over and over, “Are you going to go on a shopping spree?”  I’ve answered this several times with the simple answer, “No.”  The other questions is, “What’s the first thing you’re going to buy?”  I do have an answer for that.  This is what I’m going to buy…

Yep, that’s it.  A bottle of Windex.  Real Windex, not the cheap knock-off stuff.  And I don’t know who used up all my Windex at work and refilled the bottle with the blue non-Windex liquid, but I know the difference.

life without fear [day 341]

I’m pretty sure when God handed out our humanly traits, he did so in alphabetical order.  Clearly I received my ADHD first, because something distracted me from a few of the other lines like crying and fear.  I was probably off looking for abandoned clouds or painting with rainbows.

Missing the crying trait isn’t so bad, but it can be a little awkward sometimes if everyone else around you is leaking ocular fluid.  The fear thing is a different story.  My lack of fear sometimes gets me into trouble, but it has also helped me focus and think clearly in some really bad situations.  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

function over form [day 313]

When you own a lot of stuff, especially anything with electronic parts, you’re going to have some maintenance to do.  Some will be planned, some will not.  Here’s a few things I’ve been thinking about buying if I could.

Car fuses.

I blew a fuse in my car.  It’s the fuse to the interior dome lights, but worse than that, it’s also the fuse to my garage door opener.  I don’t have any extra fuses so I’m living without these things.  It’s not so bad, as it’s teaching me to appreciate the small things in life.  I’ve never appreciated that machine that opens my garage door.  Now I use the back door instead of the garage door.  It’s less electricity, and the only time it’s a real hassle is if it’s raining or we’re bringing home groceries.

A water filter.

I would buy a water filter for my Softub.  Although yesterday, I moved the tub into its new location on the patio and now the GFCI plug isn’t working.  Gor $75 I can buy a new one, however the Softub tech isn’t even sure that’s the problem.  I’m going to take it apart and see for myself, but then what are the chances of finding a used part like that?  I’m guessing slim to none.  Not sure what I’m going to do if I can’t get it working.  I definitely will not be selling it, as I use it a lot.

A grill.

Yes, I finally got tired of fighting with my temperamental Brinkmann grill and I sold it on craigslist.  What?  You want to know what I got for it?  $60 cash.  It retailed new for $1,100, I paid $69.99 approximately 2 years ago.  In that time, the burners were replaced and the gas valve with tubing was replaced.  Even with the replacement parts, it was always a mystery as why it would work some of the time, but not all of the time.  I just got tired of fighting with it.  And yes, I sold it “as is” with a full disclosure of the issues I had with it.

As I was researching new grills (planing to buy one used), I came across this really cool looking grill.  It’s a Fuego Element, it’s designer a previous Apple product designer.  After some research, it seems as though this sexy looking grill is just not the easiest to use.  The top gets hot and it’s not attached so you have to place the hot lid somewhere when cooking.  The cast iron grates need care to prevent them from rusting.  In my efforts to downsize, this grill is super-appealing in its size.  But do I want the maintenance?

I looked at many other grills, I’ve read consumer reports on them, but I’m still unsure of my next grill purchase.  I used my old one a lot and got my money’s worth, but I want something smaller and simple.  I’m also looking at a Minden grill.  This is unique, as you can add features to it later like a side burner and ice chest.  The reviews are good, but it’s so new, there aren’t any used ones available.

I’m still deciding what to do about all of these situations.  The no shopping is making it a hassle for the small things, like the fuses, but it’s provoking some creativity in finding solutions for the big things.  I’ll keep you posted on the outcome of these situations.  I’m prioritizing function over form, but that’s easier said than done sometimes.

mom!! the ice cream truck!! [day 312]

I have really come to hate the taunting music played from the ice cream truck, getting louder as it gets closer to my house.  As soon as I hear the fain sounds of it, I know what’s next.  Mom!!!!!  The ice cream truck!!!!!!  My kids know I’m not a fan of the van filled with overpriced, well advertised sugar products, stopping to fill the air with carbon monoxide and invading my territory.  While I was away and had a sitter, they went to the truck.  My youngest, knowing I would not be happy about this, decided to make something good out of it.  He decide to get something that was in a container we could reuse, and he also talked all his friends into doing the same.

We use these little containers in our lunch bags.  I did not end here.  The next time the ice cream truck came by, I said, “No.”  After much deliberation, I decided to have some fun with this.  I let him go out and get some ice cream from the truck.  I think I freaked out my neighbors, but here’s what happened…

 

 

I haven’t checked at Kroger yet to see if they carry Popsicle Shots, but I’ll be checking today.  I’m all about people making a living in creative ways, and the ice cream truck driver is a good way to make some money.  It’s like fast food that comes to your house with dessert.  I never buy this for my kids, I make them use their own money.  If they feel good about the purchase, then I’ll go with it.  I don’t always say yes to the ice cream truck, but I don’t always say no.  Balance.  It’s all about balance.