Today I Am . . .

by Katy on January 30, 2015 · 15 comments

Today I am . . . 

  • Freezing my 25-lb bags of Bob’s Red Mill flour and oatmeal to kill any cooties before I decant them into various containers.
  • Annoyed that my younger son announced this morning that he doesn’t actually like oatmeal.
  • Enjoying that I transplanted some rosemary into a large pot, (garbage picked of course!) where it will get rained on instead of waiting for me to remember to water it.
  • Planning on walking over to my mechanic’s and asking them if they have a lead on any great used cars. It’s been nice to do the one car thing for awhile, but it’s starting to get in the way of our daily life. (For those who aren’t up to date, our car was totaled in November.)
  • Planning on watching a library DVD of Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight this evening.
  • Clicking around on Swagbucks to earn another Amazon gift card before the month is up.
  • Sitting still and letting the sunshine soak into my tired old bones. (It’s cold outside, but no one has told the interior of my house.)
  • Not giving even a single care in the world about the Super Bowl.
  • Pretty much, just taking it easy.

Now your turn. What are you doing today?

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 28, 2015 · 52 comments

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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It’s time for another Non-Consumer Mish-Mash, where I write a little bit about this and a little bit about that.

This (Very) Cold House

Remember Ken Ilgunas? The man who lived in his van while attending graduate school and wrote about it in Walden on Wheels? Well Ken is making news again with a recent NY Times op ed piece about living in a Nebraskan house which he keeps at a brisk 45º.

“The lowest the thermostat would go was 45 degrees, which I figured was good because I had to make sure the pipes wouldn’t freeze. At first it was fairly unpleasant. I wore two pairs of wool socks, thermal underwear, a thin pair of pants, sweatpants, a wool shirt, a sweatshirt, a light hoodie, a light jacket, a big poofy winter jacket, two winter hats and those fingerless gloves. Yet I was still having trouble typing because of my numb hands. That’s when I pulled out my down sleeping bag, and decided to wear it whenever I was sitting. With the sleeping bag, now that my core had been warmed, my extremities were warming up, too.”

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 23, 2015 · 41 comments

I’ve been sick, sick, sickity sick all week, so my normally frugal practices have taken a backseat to simply getting though my days. However, I am going to do my darnedest to to come up with five frugal things, so here you go! (Prepare to be underwhelmed.)

  1. My mother took pity on me and brought by a meal one evening of beef stew and homemade corn muffins. Wonderful, delicious, welcome and yes, free. There were even leftovers and today my son’s very hodgepodge school lunch includes two corn muffins. Thank you, mom!
  2. I stopped by The Grocery Outlet on my way home from dropping my son at school as I knew it would be the only time I’d be leaving the house that day. In my woozy state I bought a number of extremely odd, (but very cheap) items. Included were 20¢ packets of M&M’s, 65¢ boxes of granola bars, pasta, sliced black forest ham, Baby Bell cheeses, brie, crackers and other items that don’t come to memory. I used a Chinook Book e-coupon to save $3 from my bill and brought my own bags. Odd choices, but there were no complaints.
  3. Although we have cable TV, it’s a very basic package. I noticed yesterday that the Starz network was having a promotion where you could sample their content for free. This only caught my notice because I’d been wanting to watch the series Outlander since I’d read the first book and then seen the first excellent episode. So my last 24 hours has leaned heavily toward me sitting up in bed binge watching this addictive Scottish series. I’m not sure how long the promotion lasts, but I’ll be done with what’s available by the end of today.
  4. I went to see the doctor yesterday as he was refusing to renew my inhaler prescription unless I came in to be seen. (This truly annoyed me as I felt the last thing I should have been doing was to taking my infected self out into public, but that’s a tirade I’ll not burden you with.) Anyway . . . the doctor was able to provide me with a new inhaler from his stash of free samples, which saved me a few dollars. Mind you, it saved me less than I had just shelled out as my co-payment, but I still appreciated it.
  5. I started listening to a library audiobook of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please yesterday. So far I’m loving it, and it motivated me to get through both making dinner and cleaning up afterwards. I had put the book on hold through my library Overdrive account and it came available within a couple of weeks. Probably sooner than if I’d put the hardcopy on hold. Man on man, do I love my library!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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I am sick as a dog, and instead of letting the blog lie dormant yet another day, I thought I’d repeat an old blog post. One of my favorites, really. Let’s call it throwback Thursday.

Click HERE to read this article in The Huffington Post.

Demonic thrift shop sweater

If you’re a fan of bargain hunting in thrift shops then you already know that demonic spirits can inhabit that pennies-on-the-dollar pair of Lucky brand jeans or even that adorable sweater. Televangelist Pat Robertson recently even advised a caller to The 700 Club on how to deal with evil demons in thrift shop clothing:

“It ain’t going to hurt anything to rebuke any spirits that happened to have attached themselves to those clothes.”

That’s right, folks. You now need at add evil spirits in your thrifted clothing to your already long list of worries.

Don’t know the methods to remove those pesky spirits? Well then, you’re in luck, as the following five step tutorial is 100% guaranteed to banish any and all demonic presence from your thrift shop purchases.

  1. Identify the Evil Presence – Is your sweater saturated with the spirit of a pus oozing demon that makes you buy Oreo cookies “for the kids’ lunches” and then forces you to eat them all yourself? Or perhaps your evil spirit is more along the lines of Robert Pattinson as Twilight’s hunky Edward the vampire. This first step is vitally important, as you do not want to accidentally banish a dreamy vampire from your clothing. Instead you’ll want to run a hot iron over the garment to forever imbed his presence. Trust me on this. Pattinson can stay.
  2. Incantations — Although this step is hotly debated among most demon hunters, I swear by it. Lay the garment across a flat surface such as a bed or a table. Then click over to Macklemore’s Thrift Shop You Tube video and sing along. It’s imperative that you not skip over the swearing, as those words hold the greatest power against evil spirits. Repeat this step if necessary.
  3. Smudge Sticks — Although sage is the preferred medium for a proper smudge stick, other materials work well in a pinch. Alternate smudge sticks can be constructed from churros, string cheese and tightly rolled tabloid magazines. Wave your smoking smudge stick over the affected garment and tell the spirit that it has your permission to pass through to the afterlife. Coughing enhances your message.
  4. Ouiji Board – This step may seem old school, but sometimes the classics hold the greatest power. This step requires at least three participants, preferably avid thrifters. When everyone has their fingertips on the planchette, it is your role to spell out the sentence, “Get the hell out of my sweater!” three times in a row. Do not tell your fellow thrifters that you guided the words, as this will send the demon deeper into the fibers of the sweater.
  5. Embrace the Demon — Put on the sweater and stand in front of a full length mirror. Stand with your back to the mirror and wrap your arms tightly around yourself so that it appears from behind that you are being hugged. Wriggle your arms around and make loud smacking noises until your shoulders start to ache. You will notice a sudden lightness that means that the demonic spirit has vacated the sweater.

Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a demon-free thrift shop sweater! And all it took was five easy steps.

Good thing you had The Non-Consumer Advocate on your side.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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One Frugal Thing — Contentment

by Katy on January 19, 2015 · 37 comments

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of Five Frugal Things blog posts. Partially because they’re easy to write, but also to demonstrate how true frugality is a mix of the dramatic and the little stuff. And mostly, it is the little stuff.

Frugality is going to the grocery store and sticking to your list, it’s meeting up with a friend for a walk instead of lunch, it’s creating meals from what’s on hand instead of getting takeout and it’s choosing to be content with what you already own.

But if you want to know the one key frugal thing that trumps all others it’s this:

Find satisfaction and contentment in daily frugality.

Without comparison to others and without a sense of deprivation. Own it. Eat those bean based meals not because you’re broke, but because it gives you control over your life. Fill your home with fixed up free furniture not to brag on Pinterest, but to keep your expenses in check. Back away from social media if you find that seeing the sanitized versions of your friends’ lives makes you feel bad about your own.

Find your own contentment and frugality will follow.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 17, 2015 · 41 comments

Mother-in-law's tongue

  1. My friend Sasha brought a potted plant as a birthday gift. She knew I’d been wanting to add some mother-in-law’s tongue to my collection of house plants as they’re highly rated for cleansing indoor air. Of course, it came in an unattractive plastic pot, but it slotted perfectly into a recently garbage picked concrete planter. I don’t exactly groove on the Olive Garden faux-Italian aesthetic, so I’ll probably spray paint it later on. Make it do, baby. Make it do!
  2. My husband and I were coming home hungry and tired from a late afternoon appointment when he brought up the subject of takeout Chinese food for dinner. He’d seen on Facebook that a friend really liked a local restaurant. I started salivating like a Pavlovian dog, as who doesn’t love great Chinese takeout?! However, I already had a plan to bake up a pan of homemade restuffed potatoes from the freezer. We talked about how spending $50 on a not-so-special dinner would kill any recent frugality. It took me all of two minutes to throw the potatoes in the oven, and it was a perfectly acceptable, though non-salivary dinner. I like to save expensive restaurant meals for special occasions and enjoy the time anticipating them. Last minute takeout kills the pleasure I get from looking forward to a great meal.
  3. I drove my minivan through the carwash using a free coupon I got from the mechanic.
  4. I’ve been a bit of a homebody lately, and am saving a ton of money on gasoline, not to mention any impulse purchases that would have tagged along with running errands and shopping. Speaking of impulse purchases, I picked my son up from tutoring which is next door to Trader Joe’s. I went in and bought two packs of toilet paper and nothing else. An act of self-discipline that’s taken me years to hone. Years!
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

Dear Bagels,

I can’t believe I’m having to write this letter. Where once we were inseparable, we’ve grown distant, apart, without the love that once defined us.

I suppose I should start from the beginning. The very beginning.

When I was a little girl you were deceptively simple. A dusting of poppy or sesame seeds adorned your warm rounded top. Portland had no bagel shops, so my east coast Jewish father would bake you himself. It was an all day endeavor, but worth every minute.  Your yeasty scent would seep through the entire house, permeating our skin and relaxing our souls. Ahh . . . .

Fast forward 35 years, and your presence is now known throughout the nation. From convenience stores to upscale bakeries, you’ve snuck into our daily lives. No longer a rare treat, no longer a special event. But you were still special to me.

And sesame and poppy seeds were your only embellishment. Like Baskin-Robbins, your flavors are now endless.

I took all these changes in stride. I know that a relationship that cannot evolve is essentially doomed. But then you blind-sided me with changes that have ripped us apart and stomped my already fragile heart.

I all started last week when my dear sister brought over two bags of day-old bagels. This should not have been disastrous, yet it was. Disastrous, offensive and downright jarring to the soul.

Why so awful?

Two words — Pepper. Bagels.

Huge chunks of whole peppers dotted your innards, making each bite like a challenge on a reality TV show. And I knew then and there that our love affair was over. No longer could I have faith or trust in you. No longer could I offer you my unconditional love.

You know how I abhor food waste, which makes this situation that much more heartbreaking. You are garbage to me, not even good enough for bread crumbs or croutons.

Please do not attempt to contact me. I have said my piece and wish to spend some time reevaluating my tastes.

Forever yours, sincerely,

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

P.S. I saw you out with that shmear of a tart the other night, I hope you both burn in toaster!

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Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on January 14, 2015 · 28 comments

The Non-Consumer Advocate has a number of different variations. There’s the blog proper, but then there’s also the Facebook group and my Instagram feed. Sometimes it’s personal pictures, but mostly it’s stuff related to non-consumerism.

Like this succulent planter I assembled the other day using a vintage McCoy planter I usurped from my mother’s house. I filled it with hens and chicks from my garden, potting soil from my dead fuchsias and gravel from an unused aquarium in my basement.

Something pretty for my home without a spending a penny.

Hens and Chicks

Or dealing with my five open jars of jam to construct some jammy scones.

Too much jam!

They were absolutely delicious, especially the peach ones. This photo was taken right before I popped them in the oven, so you’ll just have to imagine them a bit browner as they were scarfed down before I could get them properly photographed.

Jammy scones

Or this arrangement of rosemary in vintage jars that sits on the table in my entryway. It was just a matter of grouping like items and then snipping a few stems from the neighbor’s overgrown rosemary bush. (With permission, of course!) I’m hoping it roots, so I can plant it in my garden!

Rosemary

Or when this frugal blogger was craving Japanese food and got out her supplies for a sushi rolling session.

Making sushi

They might have not passed muster with a true sushi master, but they sure tasted delicious and there were certainly no complaints from Casa Wolk-Stanley.

sushi

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 28 comments }

Today I Am . . .

by Katy on January 12, 2015 · 31 comments

Today I am . . . 

  • Stopping at both The Grocery Outlet and Fred Meyer on my way home from dropping my son at school. I bought two huge bags of groceries plus an enormous bag of oranges for only $28 at Grocery Outlet and then paid $5 apiece for 2-pound Tillamook cheese loaves using the in-store coupon and this coupon tip from Frugal Living NW. (My son is the grilled cheese master, and as a result we go through a lot of cheddar cheese!)
  • Opening up all the curtains to let in a rare bit of Oregon sunshine.
  • Planning a split pea and pancetta soup for tonight’s dinner using ingredients from The Grocery Outlet.
  • Dropping two bags of miscellaneous stuff at Goodwill that’s already been rejected from the consignment shops. Not going into Goodwill as I have enough stuff, thank you very much.
  • Thinking that I should stop into Goodwill later on. You know . . . to take pictures for the blog.
  • Loving that Downton Abbey is back up with a fresh new season for us Americans.
  • Happy that I finally got someone to take my bag of sealed Japanese food packets that I’d put up for free on craigslist. I’d received almost countless replies, but getting someone to actually show up to take them was a challenge. They were all gifts from host students and had all the directions in Japanese. I could have figured out what to do with them, but I figured it was better to just hand them over to someone who definitely would.
  • Trying to get as much dull stuff done today so that I get actual productive stuff accomplished later in the week.

Now your turn. What are you doing today?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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