I’ve been inspired by packaging [day 28 & 29]

I’ve been inspired to create an art series, or maybe this will be a new addition to my Excessable series.  The extreme disposable excess in packaging baffles me.  In some cases, I understand where they’re coming from, however that equates to about 10% of my understanding.

mens-shirt-blank-canvasMen’s shirts.  I wrote a blog post about the ridiculous amount of packaging in men’s shirts.  It takes a good 10 minutes to take a shirt out of the package.  I’m thinking Whodini wouldn’t even be able to do it much quicker.

My idea is to use the shirt as my canvas.  I’ll attach all of the packaging to it to make info graphics to educate people about the waste.  Why buy a shirt that’s packaged like Fort Knox, using 13 different types plastic, paper and metal when you can just buy one off a hanger?  Then you can give the hanger back to the store for reuse?  Continue reading

non-electronic toys: the new form child abuse

I sometimes say to my kids, “We’re having no electronics night.”  Inevitably, one of them will start down the ‘electricity’ path, saying, “Oh, so we can’t use lights?  How are you going to cook dinner without the stove?  Hmmm?”  This conversation usually carries on until bedtime as my kids try to twist this into something horrible.  According to them, this is the grandest injustice and abuse that you can impose on children.

Well guess what!  We’re going on vacation… WITHOUT ANY ELECTRONIC PACIFIERS!

Yes, I know we have a 7 hour drive.  Read a book.  Play I spy.  Do licence plate poker.  Count animals.  Look for abandoned houses, because we still have the camera and I’ll stop for those.  Fight with your brother.  Sing a song.  Yes, without your electric guitar.  Draw a picture.  Write in your journal.  Be creative!  Use your imagination!  (yes, that’s a Spongebob reference)

We’ll all come back well rested or really crabby and in need of therapy.  See you soon!

 

shhhh… huge box of toys [minimalist challenge item #353]

[item] Huge box of toys

[purchase info] Purchased new and used at all different times and places.

[time in my possession] Approximately, well, in my kids’ possession… too long.

[last used] A long, long time ago.

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Way easy.

[destination] Freecycle

[replacement item] None

[info] My kids didn’t even notice all this missing.  Actually, they selected much of it to get rid of.  I added a few items to it.

a toy story [minimalist challenge item #351]

[item] Jessie & Bullseye soft toys from Toy Story

[purchase info] Purchased new

[time in my possession] Approximately 10 years

[last used] 7-8 years ago?

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Freecycle

[replacement item] None

[info] C’mon, you saw Toy Story.  You can’t just put these guys in a box.  They get sad, then one escapes, then the rest go looking for the escapee, then they all come close to death…  I mean why put them through all of that stress?  Just give them away to a kid that will play with them.  Just not Sid.

my kids are helping too [minimalist challenge item #208]

[item] Big bin of miscellaneous toys

[purchase info] Purchased mostly at thrift stores, but some new.

[time in my possession] Anywhere from a year to several years

[last used] A long-dang time

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Freecycle

[replacement item] None

[info] These have been sitting in the garage for a long time.  My kids didn’t even care that they were getting rid of them.  Basically, we teach them early on to hang on to stuff.  No wonder we all have drawers and closets full of stuff we’ll never use again.

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

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 100 thing challenge [day 335]

I met Dave Bruno several weeks ago at SXSW.  He’s the author of The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life and Regained My Soul.  The basis of the book is simplicity, minimalism and living with less stuff.  I finished reading his book several weeks ago, a great book with many good lessons in it.

Many of the lessons he learned through his downsizing process, I have also learned through my no retail shopping challenge.  My one big take-away from this book was in chapter 6, “Purging Things and Things Past,” where he got rid of his train set.  Dave had planned to build this model train set with his dad’s vision of it, which never came to fruition in his childhood.  The reason this stood out to me is his realization of the stress associated with ownership.  We place expectations on our stuff, creating a distention of our dreams, inclusive of our material possessions.  Once he got rid of the trains, the expectations he placed on himself to create something with them were gone, releasing him from the pressure having another thing to do.   Continue reading

garage sale for good [day 316]

While in the process of ridding my house of many unused things, I received a Facebook message about a garage sale.  This is not just any garage sale, it’s a sale to help someone in need.  Here’s the info from Facebook.

We will be holding a HUGE Charity Garage Sale at Third Monday Trade Days on Highway 380 in McKinney on Friday April 15th and Saturday April 16th. ALL proceeds will go to the Bereavement Fund to assist Tami and her children with life after the loss of her husband and the children’s Father. Medical bills are mounting and Tami is about to have her 6th child this April.

Plesae consider donating your items, volunteering to help run the sale, pricing, boxing, transporting items to the sale venue and even just sending this to ALL of your friends so we can get the word out! The more the better!

The timing on this, for me personally, is a little ironic.  I sometimes gather donations to take to the thrift store or to bring to an orphanage I love, and the first thing most people say is, “I have some old clothes I can send.”   This is sale actually a great place to send those unwanted clothes, as opposed to donating them to people that need other things.  (click here to read about situational needs)   I brought them some clothing, not because I didn’t want it, but because I didn’t need it.  I purposely downsized my wardrobe by over 50%, so this clothing isn’t out-of-style stuff, it’s good stuff with life left in it.

I gave lots of other stuff that I had slotted for the thrift store and craigslist.  I can always use the money I would get from selling stuff, but I don’t need it.  This is a way to infuse good into your stuff while blessing others.  In this process, I’m helping someone in need, I’ve met some really cool people I didn’t know, I’m blessing others with some of my unused material possessions and my life is slowly becoming less stressful, as I’m getting out of the gridlock of my belongings.

These photos were taken over a week ago.  I’m sure much more has been donated by now and this isn’t even all of the stuff.  Take a look.

Continue reading

the affects of effects [day 306]

It starts when we’re born.  Accessories.  “My daddy is the best” and “My mom is better than your mom” on our shirts, iconic pacifiers, hair bows in more styles and colors than Baskin Robbins has flavors, complete ensembles of coordinated clothing, all in large quantities.  When did babies become fashion statements?  Aren’t they cute enough already?  I see a lot of people talking to parents with small babies and hearing more compliments about the clothing than the kid wearing them.

It continues through adolescence, expanding to toys and games.  I have boys (thank you God) that don’t care much about fashion and will probably need future therapy for their lack of stylish clothing options.  They do however have accessories.  They have Nintendo DS’s that have lots of games, a universal charger, a fancy light sabre stylus and headphones, all packed inside a custom case.  Society says, “You need more” and we respond by buying more.

Into adulthood now, and I’m not exempt from this.  I might not have a lot of fancy, trendy clothing but I do have some nice things in my house.  Most from eBay, craigslist and thrift stores, but nevertheless, lots of things.  Accessories.  I have decorative things that serve no purpose other than to sit there and look nice.  Now I’m an artist of sorts, so this is an important topic.  I love to create things, but with a purpose.  Much of my art is chaotic, but has meaning and purpose behind it.  The vase sitting on my shelf, not so much.  I’ve been sucked into the American vortex of more is better.  I created this photograph several years ago.  This has many meaning for many people, but I see it as how we become background fixtures in the sea of stuff we own.

Continue reading