Looking homeless in suburbia is to NOT look homeless

I keep trying to make these postings into something perfect.  I want to post each one with some info about what it is, you know, setting the context.  Then I want to make the post and ask questions about it afterward.  I want to edit, read, reread, rewrite… you get the picture.  The problem?  Time.  I haven’t had time to do all of this, so I’m choosing to let it go.  I’ll be posting what I have written already so I can get it out there.  Here’s another journal entry about homelessness in suburbia.

Journal entry: Looking homeless

The goal today is to not spend a single penny, blend into suburbia and put more miles on my shoes than my car.

I order to fit in, you need the critical mass crowd, meaning enough people around you to make you invisible.  Looking homeless in suburbia means to not look homeless.  I guess that’s why I didn’t fit in at Starbucks this morning.  I looked like I just woke up, my hair a mess and my clothing not that of the typical customer in this area.  And just wait until the next time I try to get a refill with my paper cup.  Even with all of the cleaning and care I’ve given it, the seams are swollen and stained and some of the coffee spots on the outside of it are permanent.  It’s starting to look as though I might have pulled it out of the trash can, which may be my next option.  Continue reading

is it really any different because you buy it somewhere else?

I said, “No fast food through the end of the year.”  Why?  Mostly because of the wastefulness of it.  The amount of disposable plastics, paper and styrofoam bothers me.  We do fast food places out of convenience.  I just wanted to see how badly I needed fast food in my life.  My kids have missed it a little bit, but not much.  I also miss it on occasion, but not too much either.

I had to work today, and right after work, I had to bring a main dish to a potluck lunch.  I went to Cane’s Chicken.  It’s clearly a fast food place, complete with a drive-thru and lots of paper waste.  I bought in bulk, only buying the tailgate 25 piece pack.  Now I could have stopped at Kroger and picked up some chicken that was already prepared.  It would also be in disposable containers, although I could have placed it in a reusable bag.  So my big questions is…

Is it any different buying prepackaged (prepared) food at the grocery store versus a fast food place?

I have to answer, “No.”   I will still continue my no fast food places, but I need to add on these simple shopping changes.

  • Compare.  If the paper waste is the thing that’s bothering me, whether I shop at the grocery store or anywhere else, I need to consider the waste involved.  Just because I buy it at the grocery store doesn’t mean that I’m not being wasteful.
  • Call it what it is.  The grocery store has fast food.  It’s in the form of deli sandwiches, sushi, fountain drinks and many other forms.  If I buy a ham sandwich already made at Tom Thumb, that’s the same as buying a burger from a fast food place.  Same container, same pre-made food, same waste amount.
  • Plan.  I should have done a better job planning ahead for my potluck meal.  I could have made something the night before and picked it up on the way over there.  My bad.

There’s a new container-less grocery store opening this fall in Austin, TX called in.gredients… if they meet their fundraising goals.  I love this idea!!  Listen to the radio talk about it.  This is such a cool concept!  See how it works.

This is greatness.  Maybe I should help them get rolling in Austin, then I’ll open one here.  Check out the in.gredients website.

hours and hours of fun for only $16

The first thing I do when I’m on vacation in a new city is scope out all of the local thrift stores and resale shops.  It was raining yesterday, so the kids couldn’t do some of the things they had planned, so we hit the thrift stores.  The first one had some cool stuff, but way higher prices than what I’m used to.  The second store was a combo resale-thrift store.  I found a great t-shirt there, but they only take cash.  Of course I didn’t have any cash with me.  The boys found a treasure here, something I had when I was their age, but I said no impulse buys.  If they wanted it, they were going to have to return the next day to get it.  I was going back, after a bank run, to get my t-shirt.

The third thrift store didn’t have much that peaked my interest, that is until I turned the corner and found this little gem for $2.  A vintage Polaroid 600 camera.  Now that there’s a company making film for these, they’re not as easy to find.  These are selling on eBay from $10 to $50.  Replicas are going for up to $150.  This little beauty was only $2, an expenditure that was not part of the $16 hours of fun that I’m about to share with you.  I’ll have to order the film for this.  Did I need this?  No.  My kids and I will have some fun with it, then probably turn around and sell it.

My kids were talking the entire time about the vintage toy back at the second shop.  Honestly, I knew they would appreciate it and it was a cool flashback for me.  When we returned, the nice lady working there greeted us with a big smile and said, “You’re back!”  We bought the vintage toy…

Meet Rex, a 70’s vintage string puppet named after our favorite restaurant in Steamboat Springs, CO.  He cost $16, a price that seemed fair for a real vintage toy.  My boys have a great appreciation for vintage things, as they love our 12 rotary dial phones as much as I do.  We decided to take Rex out on the town!  Continue reading

I really tried, but I just couldn’t do it

Since the no retail challenge ended over a month ago, I stil haven’t shopped retail very much.  Shortly after it ended, I thought I would buy a car charger for my phone and a case to protect my iPad 2.  No, I didn’t buy the iPad, I won it.  I’ve been carrying it around in a Ziplock baggie and my friends say it looks like an evidence bag.

Off to Best Buy.  I had no desire to go in there, but I reluctantly crossed the threshold into the air-conditioned abyss of electronics and accessories.  I quickly found the iPad cases, ranging from $39 to $69.  I picked them up, touched them, then I set them right back down.  I just couldn’t spend that kind of money on a case.

I then found the car charger.  $29.99 for the cheapest one.  I carried it around for a little while, then put it back.  I thought maybe I should get one of those car plug converters that change the car outlet into a standard plug outlet.  That was $35.  Again, I picked it up, held it for a moment pondering this purchase, then I put it back.

I left the store feeling like I had wasted time.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to make those purchases and be okay with them.  I ended up using my evidence bag for a couple more weeks until I got my faux leather case for $12.00, including shipping, on eBay.  As for the charger, I ended up buying one retail at the Apple store out of necessity.  I paid $24.99 for it.  I don’t feel great about it and I doubt I will do that again anytime soon.

After a year of no retail shopping, I have really changed.  Honestly, I don’t have less stuff than other people and I don’t live much differently than other people, I just go about my shopping process a lot differently.  Retail shopping just isn’t my thing.  So what if I need something?

Plan. If I plan ahead, I don’t have to buy it right away and I can ‘shop’ around for the best deal.

Need. Do I really need it?  The iPad case was a need, as I have two boys that use it.  It needed protection.  But before I buy something, I like to look for alternatives.  The baggie worked nice for a little while, for screen protection anyway.

Think. Had I really thought about it, I would have realized that buying these things at a retail store would cost more than what I was willing to spend.  And I would have been right.  There’s an hour I’ll never get back.

I’ll retail shop again at some point, but those visits will be few and far between.

a sign of peace [day 363]

I decided to take the day off yesterday and spend some time playing.  I haven’t been to a thrift store in a while but I needed to find some flip flops for my boys and boots for all of us.  Yes, I know it’s summer, but I’m tired of ruining shoes on my urban explorations and them when they go hunting with their dad.

I went to Half Price books to look around while waiting for the nail place to open.  What?  It’s my once-a-year pedicure.  It’s a service.  I found this while browsing the store.

Charge Large.  A board game that encourages you to borrow money to buy big and build big.  Ages 12 and up.  First of all, my kids would chew me out for buying something like this, which is good.  Second, isn’t this teaching your kids that credit is good?  And fun?  I can’t believe this even exists.  And the people that buy it, do they put it on credit?  It would seem a little wrong not to.

So I made it to the nail place, started getting my pedicure when the girl asked me, “Do you want me to do your eyebrows?”  I said, “No.”  I don’t tweeze my eyebrows and I sure don’t let anyone else do it.  I like my eyebrows.  She then asked one more time, only this time she said she could fix them.  Fix them?  I had a flashback of a Mary Kay thing I went to for a friend, with the promise that I didn’t have to put on any makeup.  I remember this complicated chart of what my eyebrows are supposed to look like.  I’m pretty sure God knew what he was doing when he made my eyebrows.  I like them, so I’m not ‘fixing’ them with tweezers, string, lasers or any other crazy methods.  If my eyebrows are so hideous that you can’t look at me, just look away.  I really don’t get most of this girl stuff, and although I do participate in a small amount of it, it just seems like a lot of work.

Then I went to the thrift store, found the flip flops, had lunch with Elizabeth, then I decided to visit the Henna Salon.  I turned really old yesterday, so the henna place was to get a tattoo.  A tat that lasts only two weeks is not much of a mid life crisis, but it was something out of the ordinary.

I went inside the Henna Salon, which is typical Frisco, with the addition of an Indian flair.  I asked about the tattoos and they were reasonably priced and it didn’t take a long time to do.  The girl said I could bring my own design or choose from one in their book.  I wasn’t prepared with my own design so I chose one from their photos.  I asked the girl if she could add a peace sign to the middle of the one I chose.  She said that would be no problem.  I sat down and she started working on my henna tattoo.  It was difficult to be still but I managed.  The tat is on the side of my left leg, so I could see her working, but not the work itself.

After a period of time, she looked up and asked if I would like a large peace sign next to the design.  She pointed to the side of it and I said, “Yes, that would be great.”  She went back to work and in a minute or so, she pointed to my leg and asked if I liked my peace sign.

I looked down expecting to find a peace sign, but I had a “P” sign.  ??!!?!?!?!?  Well, something was definitely lost in the translation here!  I now have “P” on my leg.  Actually there’s two P’s…  I wanted to burst out in laughter so I had to rush to get out of there.  I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe!  Good thing it’s not permanent!  So to answer the question most people are asking, no, I didn’t say anything or ask her to fix it.  I decided not to get one on my hand, as there’s no telling what that would have had on it.  As my friend said, “You wouldn’t want “P” on your hand!”

I plan to go back.  I did have someone challenge me on this being a retail purchase.  I see it as a service, tinting my skin.  I didn’t buy some object that will sit around my house, and no, the henna wasn’t used.  I keep laughing every time I look at it though.  You just need a sense of humor in life.  I think I like the “P” better than the peace sign.  My friends are using and emphasizing all “P” words and it’s just a funny story to tell.  Some other person might have been angry or asked them to fix it, but I’m personally enjoying it.  I will go back there again, but next time with my own artwork.  Oh, the possibilities!  Peace is a choice.  I’ll embrace my “P” for two weeks, and who knows, maybe I’ll ask for another “P” sign.

make money with excess! [day 351]

Just in case you ever wondered about the excess in our society, here’s a nice picture of it.  No, this was not a shopping trip for personal gain, this was a shopping trip for resale.  My friend supported herself and her son for well over a year through an eBay business.  She bought all of this at deep discounts and resold it.  Some of this is mine, as I did the same thing.  It’s a lucrative business and takes a lot of time, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme.

I suppose this is a positive side of consumerism in some ways.  If you’re motivated and looking for ways to make extra money, or in this case, to survive, the opportunities are out there.  I shut down my eBay business 5 years ago.  It was great extra money, but I decided to focus elsewhere.  :)

peace and humor are running low [day 350]

When I stated the challenge almost a year ago, a few people asked, “Did you buy a bunch of stuff in preparation to not shop for a year?”  The answer is no.  This was an idea I had when I woke up one morning and I implemented it the moment I thought about doing it.  Preparation for this would have defeated the purpose.  Today, I’m running extremely low on peace and humor, not in the conventional sense, but in lipstick.  I use Bed Head lipstick and the colors are ‘peace’ and ‘humor’.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking.  I don’t wear much makeup, if any at all.  I suppose this is an example of how little I do wear, as I started the challenge with less than a half stick of peace and a little more than half of humor.  We all know that if you don’t have a lot of peace, you definitely need more humor, so at least my ratios were good.  With just a few days left in the challenge, humor is low and peace is almost gone.  In the beginning of the challenge, I kept thinking there’s no way this will last to the end.  I guess I wear less makeup than I thought.

Just for the record, I’m not going to run out and buy any until they’re all gone.  Why?  I’m scared.  Here’s a flashback and it was my first ever blog post.  :)

You simply can’t discontinue happiness…

A couple of years ago, I did a photo shot of a woman and I couldn’t believe how well her lipstick stayed on and looked so perfect. First, let me start by saying I’m NOT a makeup person. But on occasion when I wear it, I usually just wear lipstick. So I asked her what brand it was and she replied it was made by Bed Head.  Continue reading

it might be new [day 349]

I’ve done over 5,000 transactions on eBay.  Not recently, and not all purchases either.  I had an eBay business from the late 90’s until about 5 years ago.

I still shop on eBay and so do my kids.  I just had an interesting observation.  Many of the items I have searched for recently on eBay are listed, but they’re not used.  It looks like eBay is becoming more of a place for new items than used items.  I have no idea what the ratio of new to used is, but there’s much more new stuff out there.  Not that this is a bad thing, as most of it is priced at or below retail, but it is a little bit of a challenge when looking for used items.  There is an advanced search that allows you to pull up only used items.

I found season 5 of Dexter, used.  I would have rented it but it’s nowhere to be found around here.  Now it will be on actsofsharing.com, after I watch is of course, and I’ll share it with all my friends.

what? it’s only $1,074 [day 310]

Deciding to get a pet of any kind is a big decision, not only for the responsibility associated with them, but for the expenses you will incur.  A couple of weeks ago we adopted Zuri, a 6 month-old kitten.  She’s precious and is the perfect fit for our family.  Although we adopted her from the Humane Shelter, we had to pick her up at PetSmart.

Now, adopting a pet means shopping for pet supplies.  Under the challenge rules, I can buy her food and litter, as those fall under the toiletries and groceries categories that are allowed.  I was going to need at bare minimum, a food bowl, a water bowl and a litter box with a scoop.  I was prepared to get creative.  I have bowls and lots of them.  I’m quite sure I could modify some plastic container in my garage for a litter box.  The scoop I had to ponder a little longer.  Old kitchen utensils?  Something in my garage?  After an intense thought process, I decided I would be able to make one from old coat hangers.  Yep, we were ready for a cat in every way possible.

When we went to pick up Zuri, we also picked up my friend E. because she adopted Zuri’s sister a week earlier.  As I was walking though the pet store, I had to stop and look at the senselessness of what I saw.  Gourmet canine cookies.  My kids don’t eat stuff this fancy or expensive.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to treats for pets, but this seems a bit excessive to me.  Does Fido really care if he gets the pretty little treats shaped like dog bones, dipped in colorful icing?

How about pet fashion?  Yes, Martha Stewart has come to the rescue, not only to help your pet in the fashion world, but to stylistically incorporate pets into your home.  Again, I have no problem with pet supplies, what I’m saying is this seems excessive.  Yes, a pet bed is good if they’re not sleeping in your bed.  Yes, they need bowls to eat from.  Yes, they need a toy or two.  But do they really need all this stuff?  Let’s say I bought one of everything for my new kitten.  I’ll choose middle of the line items.

My list includes such things as a UV light cat pee finder, and cat sitter DVD, a mid-sized cat scratch tower, cat repellents to tell them where they don’t belong, a bed and much more.  The total?  $1,074. And once you’ve spoiled your pet and there’s nothing new left to buy, there’s now kitty anti-depressants. Continue reading