nivo total station teodolit hiperaktivite The Non-Consumer Advocate Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without

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

I recently came in possession of an antique Goodwill mirror in dire need of a spruce up. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it, so I hung it on the wall to ponder for, oh . . six months or so. (It’s important not to rush these decisions.) It looked like it had been primed and then left as-is. As is often the case, my painting decision was influenced by what kind of paint I could get for free, and it turned out that my mother was the proud owner of an almost full can of Krylon metallic “Brass Mettalic” spray paint.

I chose to think of it as gold.

Here’s what I did:

 

I took a piece of sandpaper and lightly sanded the mirror. Don’t you love the detail at the top of the mirror?

 

I took newspaper and covered all the glass up. This took awhile, and I kept thinking that there must be a better and easier way to do this.

 

I layed a drop cloth down in the back yard to spray the wooden frame. I made sure to start and end the spray before hitting the wood. This, I learned watching HGTV’s “Design Star.” (See? All the cable TV I watched last summer finally came in handy!) Needless to say, I waited until the weather was warm and dry, which perhaps explains why this Oregonian waited so long to complete her project.

 

The final product. It’s awfully shiny, but I’ve decided that I like it this way. Perhaps a little more “Disney Princess” than my normal decor style, but I love it!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Black beans

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

Link-O-Rama Mama

This April 19th and 20th are days when all American national parks have free admission! Click HERE to find which parks are in your area.

Looking to print some of those digital photo that live in your computer? Snapfish has a deal right now where you get 100 free 4 X 6 prints per month simply by downloading their free app! 1,200 free prints, people! Click HERE for all the details.

A woman in the Netherlands is living her life as if she she’s time traveled to the 1930′s. She’s an historical consultant, so she’s really got the details down. Click HERE to read her story.

 

Filling My Freezer

Canning and preserving can seem an intimidating task for many, but it doesn’t have to be. I have a chest freezer in my basement, and I like to keep it filled with preprepared meals and homemade convenience foods.

Just yesterday I:

Boiled up a large amount of dried black beans in my pressure cooker, which I then put into pint canning jars and froze. Not only are home cooked beans cheaper than buying canned, but the freezer is now a bit fuller, and therefor slightly less expensive to run. Bonus – with home cooked beans, I don’t have to worry about BPA from the can liners! And since the jars were frozen instead of stored on a shelf, there’s no fussy boiling or worrying about botulism; plus this is a situation where lids can be reused.

Bought 25 $1.99 packages of nice pastrami at the Grocery Outlet, which are also filling my freezer. My husband brings cold cut sandwiches to work every day, so expensive meat is a annoying chunk of our grocery bill. I recognized this brand, which is sold at Trader Joe’s and New Season’s, so I bought a couple packs to try. They were delicious, so I went back and cleared the shelf. And since this pastrami was $5 per pound rather than the $10 per pound we usually pay, this will save us a lot of money in the long run!

 

 Ethics and Frugality

Skirt hack

Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook Group member Heather recently share her “Non-Consumer Victory:”

“After an exhaustive search for a below-the-knee comfortable skirt, I bought the skirt on the left for my daughter at the Eddie Bauer outlet for $30. (Retails for $70). When I saw it I thought I could easily make one, so I laid out the one I bought on some art paper and made a pattern. I bought a knit fabric that had similar content as the EB skirt. I put it together and am so pleased I’m going to return the EB one and make some more for my dd and me!”

Group members congratulated her on her ingenuity, but one reader unfortunately was uncomfortable with Heather’s skirt hack and wrote:

Great job, unfortunately what you did is illegal. You can’t just buy something, reverse engineer it, then return it. Ever heard of a copyright? I’m all for figuring out how to do things yourself, but don’t just steal someone else’s new design.”

Other members came to Heather’s defense, but it brought up an interesting debate about ethics and frugality. Is is ethical to copy a store bought sort design for personal use? There are certainly many frugal tricks that I abstain from as they border on unethical, (Mackelmore’s “popping tags” refers to switching tags in thrift shops) but I likely do stuff that others would be uncomfortable with.

Do you feel comfortable with the skirt knockoff? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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What Brings *You* To Non-Consumerism?

by Katy on April 16, 2014 · 75 comments


As someone who calls herself “The Non-Consumer Advocate,” you’d think that the reasoning for my lifestyle would be straightforward and all soundbite-y. Something like this:

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

Oh wait, I do have a soundbite . . . .

But life is never as simple as a snappy and cute sentence.

My goals (in no particular order) are to save money, choose used over new, spend less money, have less stuff in my life, minimize my role in the environmental effects of global over-manufacture of stuff, make over under-appreciated goods, value my own life and privilege, make healthy choices, repair and mend whenever possible, provide well for my family and spread the word that a non-consumer life is a desirable and fulfilling life. (And probably some other reasons as well.)

Sometimes the financial aspects of non-consumerism head the list, but other categories will often jump the line.

It’s like a huge and and ever moving venn diagram with a big circle of non-consumerism in the middle.

But today I want to know why you are drawn to a non-consumer lifestyle. Are you climbing out of debt, are the environmental benefits your motivation or maybe you just like the creative challenge? Please share your story in the comments section below.

I want to know your story.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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I’m not sure what your kids do after you go to sleep, but apparently this is what my son does in the wee hours of the night. Because when I was checking Facebook this morning, this is what showed up in my son’s feed:

I’m just happy that he took the time to compost the eggshell when he was all done with whatever it was he was doing!
Eggy

For those on Madison Avenue, who try and tell us that real meals are impossible to assemble on busy evenings, I present exhibit A, a salmon, rice and salad weekday/soccer evening supper. I pre-washed and chopped the lettuce which I then stored in my salad spinner, the rice was done in my electric rice cooker, and the salmon was flash frozen, baked from its frozen state and then topped with my homemade kale pesto mixed with melted butter.

It was sure a whole lot better than anything from Banquet, Lean Cuisine or Marie Callender!

Salmon

I finished the very last of last season’s applesauce, which freed up another beautiful vintage Ball canning jar. Perfect for spring flowers or simply catching the light on a windowsill.

Blue glass jar

One of my friends has an orchard and brought a big bucket of these kiwi vines to work yesterday. “Stick them in the ground in a sunny spot and water the hell out of them” was her only instruction. And since sunny space is at a premium in my yard I though I’d try them in this huge garbage picked flowerpot. And with two male and two female vines, I’m looking forward to lots of little babies.

Kiwi vines

No Non-Consumer Photo Essay would be complete without some strange Goodwill find, so I present to you “Attorney-N-Glass,” which I assume is a leftover from the days of trendy lawyer bashing. Not funny, simply creepy.

Pickled lawyer

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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  1. Yesterday was Fred Meyer’s annual Fuchsia Day, so my neighbor and I filled our hanging baskets with new plants and free potting soil. I spent $9 for fifteen fuchsia starts, which is pretty much my annual gardening budget. And yes, I placed paper coffee filters on the bottom of each planter to cover the holes. I love it when I can figure out ways to make my stuff last one more year!
  2. My husband and younger son went to last night’s Portland Timbers soccer game, which left my older son and I at loose ends. I briefly considered taking him out to dinner, but decided instead to eat at home. I prepared spaghetti with alfredo sauce and clams, which is his favorite. (Note that I wrote “prepared” instead of “cooked” as this meal is a matter of dumping the sauce and clams from containers.) We watched a movie called “Mr. Nobody” on Netflix and it was perfect.
  3. I took advantage of the recent sunny weather to wash the bedding and dry everything on the clothesline. This included our duvet cover which was somehow covered in cat fur. (I think the cats did nothing but sleep on our bed for the full ten days we were out of town.) I also got out my sewing kit to mend a couple of small rips in the fabric, which were also compliments of the cats. I know that many people would look to replace a ripped duvet cover, but since it’s fabric it should be almost endlessly mendable.
  4. I brought my iPhone to the library’s information desk the other day and had the librarian walk me through how to put digital audio books on hold, so I could start listing them on my hand-me-down phone rather than my CD Walkman. Luckily, there was no one in line since it took un-tech-unsavvy me at least fifteen minutes to figure it all out. I’m now looking forward to being able to instantly download audiobooks. Very excited!
  5. It appears that I’m actually going to be working enough in the month of May. (Two days per week is perfect for me.) Although this may seem to not fit under the category of frugal, I’m going to include it as my life requires both frugality and income! I’ve been working less since late last summer and it’s been a real struggle. Frugality helps, but it’s only part of the big picture.

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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{ 18 comments }

The Buyerarchy of Needs

by Katy on April 11, 2014 · 9 comments


From The Story of Stuff:

Buyerarchy of Needs

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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My House? Not So Book-Worthy

by Katy on April 10, 2014 · 13 comments


CPR baby

I love playing with my hundred year old house. Swapping out the furniture, fixing up thrifted finds and doing my  best to keep it organized in an attractive yet creative manner. Some rooms look great and other rooms . . . let’s just say they’d look cool if anyone took the time to declutter them and finish up the projects.

One of my favorite designers is HGTV’s Emily Henderson. Her aesthetic is the perfect mix of bright and funky, with enough vintage and curbside finds to please my trend-abhorent snobby self. So when she announced on her blog that she was seeking stylish houses in Portland to photograph for an upcoming book, my mind started to whirl. What would be more fun than the chance to have my house professionally styled by Emily and  then photographed?

And then I looked around the house.

The living room is crowded with soccer gear and CPR equipment, and not just a regular amount of soccer gear either as all men in my house play on teams. Plus, my husband coaches and runs a high school Futsal (indoor soccer) league. A league people, an entire freaking league! And if there’s anything creepier than boxes of limp resus-a-babies in one’s living room, I have yet to hear about it. (Horror film idea — CPR manikins come to life and exact revenge on any and all who once crunched them with chest compressions. . . but I suppose I should save that for another blog post.) I like the idea of being a decor trend setter, but I don’t think the design world is ready for CPR manikins as the new vintage globe.

Like my life, my house is cluttered and imperfect.

But I don’t really want a photo ready house that shows no signs of projects and evidence of the four people who live here. In a few short years we’ll have that empty nest and a house that stays clean and tidy. I’ll be able to stash the CPR gear in one of our empty bedrooms, and I’ll yearn for the days of mess and whirlwind activities. Days when our living room reflected the complete family who inhabited our home.

So I didn’t send any photos to Ms. Henderson. My house is what it is. Full of awesome thrifted finds, soccer gear and creepy CPR babies.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Curbside Chair

Five Things That Make Me Happy and One Thing That’s Pissing Me Off

Happy:

  1. My recently purchased $30 thrift store loveseat had developed a break in the rear support. This made the couch very uncomfortable, and was a huge bummer. So yesterday I removed the bottom upholstery fabric and identified the culprit which was a length of split wood along the back. My husband and I were able to screw a support piece across the board which completely fixed the problem. I stapled all the fabric back in place and the loveseat is now better than ever!
  2. My husband has a high school chum who works for Nike, and has been very generous with samples for our sons. (Especially our younger son who currently wears a size nine shoe, which yo, is the sample size!) My son now has new pairs of both indoor and outdoor soccer shoes and we didn’t have to spend a penny. And I learned that “LBJ” on a sweatshirt means LeBron James, not Lyndon Baines Johnson.
  3. I scored a lovely upholstered side chair for free while taking my son to school today. It had just been put out, and I’m pretty sure that none of my son’s classmates spied me scooping it up while still in my pajamas. Floral is not my style, so I’ll either sell it on Craigslist or put it in an upcoming garage sale. Either way, it’s free money for the ol’ college fund!
  4. The brand-new Portland sunshine-y weather means I can start using my outdoor clothesline again.
  5. I’ve been able to pick up two extra shifts from staff nurses who needed the days off. The 24 hours of pay will come in handy.

Pissed Off:

  1. My mother gave me $100 to share with my niece and nephew while we were in New York. I completely and utterly forgot that I had it and simply used it as part of my money. As stealing from kids is not one of my usual money saving tips, I put a hundred dollars into an envelope and sent it to my sister’s workplace as soon as I realized my mistake. (Along with a book my mother had also sent along with me to give to my sister. It had been put in my son’s suitcase, and also forgotten.) As of yesterday, the Media Mail envelope had yet to arrive, and I’m now questioning the intelligence of putting cash in the mail.       Update: The money and book arrived safe and sound. Whew . . . 

Now your turn. What’s making you happy and conversely what’s pissing you off? Please share your thoughts in the functional comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Remember how exciting it was when cordless phones first entered our lives? It was finally possible to be stuck on the phone with great-aunt Hilda while simultaneously switching a load of laundry! (Before that, I used an extra long curly cord which I stretched throughout my entire apartment!) Then came cell phones which quickly went from “for emergency situations” to “for checking our Facebook.”

Times change.

Cordless telephones are no longer the revelation they were in 1994, and although I resisted the temptation of a smart phone until a few months ago, it’s now an important tool in my daily life. And I no longer even have a landline.

Could I go back to a time when phone calls were made within a certain curly radius of our home phone? Of course I could. But will I?

Only if there’s a zombie apocolypse.

I was at Safeway yesterday, making sure to use my $10-0ff $50 coupon before it expired. (Please don’t envy my glamorous life, it’s very unbecoming of you.) I always ask my kids if there’s a treat they would like. My older son wanted a tin of smoked oysters and my younger son wanted a single-serve yogurt. I pointed my shopping cart towards to the yogurt aisle and was struck by how many Greek-style yogurts filled the shelves. Every major manufacturer had their own version, and there were lots of brands unheard of from even a year ago. I decided to go with Tillamook as A) it’s a local brand, and B) it was on sale.

The small Greek yogurt was $1 and the traditional version was 50¢.

When did Americans make the move to paying twice as much (or more) for their yogurt? Yes, it’s thicker and has more whey drained and is therefor pricier to produce, but c’mon people . . . weren’t we recently happy with regular yogurt?

Is Greek yogurt the new cell phone?

Lifestyle inflation, whether it’s a smart phone or a more expensive yogurt affects us. Not necessarily because the extra expense puts us in the poor house, but because once we’ve experienced a luxury product, it’s hard to go back to that which we once completely satisfied.

“Wow, this yogurt is super runny!”

I’m not suggesting that we resist all new technologies, but instead that we acknowledge that each newly purchased advance changes our perception. (Not to mention that disposing of all that extra whey has become an environmental nightmare for yogurt makers.)

Do you embrace each new technologic advance or do you hold out until it’s painful to not do so? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Practicing a life of extreme frugality is a lot like being on a diet. Like a diet, you spend your days carefully planning your purchases, (meals) patting yourself on the back for figuring out low cost alternatives to your old ways (low calories hacks) and working hard to stay within your budget, (diet.) And like any diet, there are going to be times when you say “F*ck it!” and dive head first into a multiple pints of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food/Cherry Garcia/Karamel Sutra. But instead of giving up and spending subsequent days in indulgence, you devote the next week to making healthy food choices and in the end it’s all progress.

Unfortunately, frugality is also like being an alcoholic.

There are places you can no longer go to, and people that bring out your worst. Your favorite stores are suddenly off limits, and your friend who always picks the most expensive restaurants is now put in the category of people who bring out your worst, and need to be handled carefully. New habits have to be established.

But new habits don’t have to be negative thing. Being in control of your life, whether it’s food, money or booze is within your grasp. And if you slip up with a day of indulgent eating or an adorable new pair of boots, that’s okay. Just take it one day at a time and start fresh the next day.

It’s all progress.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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