Thursday, June 2, 2011

The bins, bins, bins

The goodwill bins. 'Nuff said.

Ok, maybe a little elaboration is in order. We try to make a trip to the Goodwill bins whenever we are down in Portland (or Vancouver, Wa). If you have not heard of, or never been to the bins, then you are seriously missing out on one of the greatest experiences in thriftiness. We filled an entire shopping cart full, to the point stuff was falling over the sides, to the tune of <$70. We got an REI Half Dome tent (complete w/footprint) and clothes for everyone in the house, our neighbors daughter and some other friends and family members as well. Once you collect enough goods to crest the twenty pound mark, it sells for $.89 lb.

The experience of going into the place is worth it even if you do not buy anything. Just to see the piles of items in row upon row of rolling tables with raised sides that give the place its name. It is funny to watch as the employees take away a row of tables and people start lining up in anticipation of the "new" row being brought in. Once the final table in the row is put in place, the frenzy begins. People throwing things out of their way and digging through the endless piles of "unwanted" goods. It is amazing to watch. The more seasoned professionals wear latex gloves (we've done that a few times, but opt now for a good washing of hands before we leave).

The kids get the brands that seem important to them right now, we get to pay cents on the dollar, and occasionally we strike a gold mine of stuff from someones closet. This last trip yielded some very nice outdoorsy clothing; REI, Columbia Sportswear and Land's End to name a few. I even found a pair of ridiculously expensive jeans, Reo Starr's that sell for >$175, and I will throw them on craigslist for $20 and recoup a few bucks.

Thrift can be fun, and the bins is the place to maximize your return.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Green America: Stand Up to Big Plastic

One of my pet peeves is the plastic bag. I find them everywhere, even in my home. I occasionally forget my shopping bags on a trip to the store, or run short of what is necessary to transport my groceries home. In those cases, I usually opt for the paper bag, but I have been known to grab some plastic bags, so I admit that I am part of the problem. I do reuse them often for lunch bags, litter bags and even as little can liners. The problem is, even in most cases where we reuse them, they still end up in the trash. I know there are a lot of crafty solutions including irons and sewing, but that is not something that has trickled into our household.


We have a ton of the canvas and reusable bags from a variety of sources and have picked up quite a few of the reusable produce bags. My wife has one of the ChicoBags clipped to her purse at all times so she rarely ends up with any of the plastic bags from stores. The ChicoBag is awesome it's about the size of an apricot when folded/compressed, but is a full sized shopping bag when opened. I love the thing.


ChicoBag is being sued.

ChicoBag is being sued for claiming their product is superior to disposable plastic bags. The claim is ChicoBag "deceptively communicates that ChicoBag's products are superior to plastic bags, such as those sold by Hilex, with regard to environmental impact." Oregon is apparently in agreement with ChicoBag, as they are considering a statewide ban of, what many of us that have been to the middle-east call, the national bird of Kuwait.

Check the article:

Green America: Stand Up to Big Plastic

Friday, May 6, 2011

Life getting in the way of living

I have seen a trend of life preventing me from getting anything done.

I am trying to sell my van to clear out the driveway, but I cannot find time to put in the new brake pads which would facilitate quicker sale. I even have a barter lined up with a very interested party, but school eats up most of my day...... followed by kids appointments or extracurricular activities..... that precede dinner preparation..... then homework if there isn't anything needing done around the house that carries higher priority.

I am fully aware of the irony inherent in the fact that doing things is preventing me from doing things.

The irony is painful at times.

I know it boils down to priorities, but I wish I had more time to make things, even taking things apart (read: breaking) has taken a seat on the sideline while I try to eek out every minute in the day to take care of necessities. I have this hour between classes to squeeze homework in, and here I am blogging about not having time. I have no homework due until Tuesday (today is Friday and my homework is mostly done) so this hour is basically fruitless other than this post.

I slept very little last night, so exhaustion is playing a part in the tone of this post, but the message is the same.

I know I am not alone........................... everyone could use an extra hour in their day.

Next time I get a spare hour I am going to do the brakes in the van, wish me luck.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I need to remember to post more often

I thought that Fall quarter was a busy one.........................

I don't really have anything interesting going on to write about. Too much homework, and family responsibilities.


Soon I will be done with school and can concentrate on working and playing (making and breaking stuff!!!!!!!!!)


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The elixer of life............

I am not sure the current state of affairs over at the FDA, and with their recommended daily allowances of fruits and veggies, but I can tell you that the risks of "not enough" far outweigh the risks of "too much".

I received a "Champion" juicer this holiday gift-giving season. I was not sure where to put it in the kitchen, and was worried that it would go the route of unused pantry-fodder.

Well, to my mother's credit (she was the gifter), we have been getting a LOT of fresh fruit and vegetable juice in our daily diet. I have been making juice 2-4 times a week and use it in our (almost) daily smoothie. Whatever doesn't make it into the smoothie gets consumed as just-juice.

I am waiting to see how this affects our grocery bill, but that may be a difficult distinction as grocery costs are on the rise as a whole here anyway. I saw a sharp jump in our grocery bill from ~$90 wk to ~$110 in October with no decline since then, and there is a definite lack of manufacturer coupons. My last trip had ~$20 in produce that was specifically destined for the juicer, but I bought a little less for the eating with the presumption the juice would fill the bill for requirements and desires of the family.

Today it is:
2 oranges
1 apple
1 pear
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery

I recommend fresh juice to everyone. I know it seems obvious, but many of the best things in life (especially the ones we seem to miss out on the most) are right in our faces.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New year, new classes, new apathy

This quarter puts me close to graduating, with only one class (5 credits) needed next quarter to graduate. I have been working towards this end for the purpose of running my current business in low-voltage electrical work. I know the work and know the customer service, but had now idea how to do the rest of managing a small business. As I get closer to the culmination of this stint in school I find myself loaded with the tools to, but still ill-prepared to run this business. I don't want to do the accounting. I hate inventories.

This quarter is "Starting and running a small business", "Business law 2", and "Marketing". Fifteen credits of classes I no longer want to take (except the first one). I love learning, but am having trouble getting motivated.

If anyone is paying attention and has some trick to stay motivated, please let me know. I'd rather be making stuff, or making stuff better.