I generally don’t blog on Saturdays, as it’s kind of nice to have a day to relax and not slip into writing “a short blog post” that actually eats up an hour or two of my day. Mind you, I love writing the blog! It’s just important to have a day off to recharge my batteries. But I certainly walk my walk, even when I’m not writing.
In fact, yesterday was such a clichéd non-consumer day, I almost wished that I’d had a reality TV camera crew following me around to document my non-consumer-y adventures. (Almost wished, not actually wished.)
- I woke around 9 A.M., and put on the kettle for my morning tea. Although I like coffee, I know the cost of a Red Rose tea bag is 3.5¢, and how it’s important to not indulge expensive habits. Two cups of tea spread an hour or so apart gives me the perfectly calibrated caffeine jolt. Energetic, but with money in my bank account.
- I then sat down at the computer to answer e-mails, respond to threads on The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group, while also clicking around Swagbucks for a bit. I see that someone has replied to a Craigslist post about two thrifted mirrors that I’m selling, so I arrange to have her come by the house around 10 A.M. I scramble up a couple of eggs in my cast iron pan, content in the knowledge that I’ve made good use of the six cartons of $1.25 loss leader eggs from a few weeks earlier.
- I meet with the buyer on the porch, and accept her $50, and she leaves happily with her new purchase. It turns out she knows one of my husband’s co-workers, and neither of us are murdered. (I always have a couple of e-mails back and forth before I give out my home address to Craigslist buyers. I never allow anyone into my home, and have only had positive selling experiences. This is despite selling well over a hundred items through the years.)
cramgently place a load of laundry in the wash, knowing today is forecasted to be hot. Perfect Oregon day to hang towels on the clothesline. Yes, they’ll be crunchy, but I try to use my electric dryer as little as possible, especially in the summer.
- I then take a few minutes to photograph my vintage canning jars that I pulled from a free pile the day before. I’d already washed them in the dishwasher, so they’re all sparkly and perfect. I quickly write up a Craigslist ad, which I expect I’ll relist a few time before they sell. This doesn’t bother me, as it’s but the work of a moment to relist something on Craigslist. It’s free so I have no cause for complaint. I do choose to keep a few of the jars.
- I shower and putter around the house and hang towels on the clothesline and cloth napkins on my Ikea clothes rack. I also read a library book for an hour or so.
- I then take a pair of sturdy old folding chairs that I’d snatched from the same free pile over to my local consignment shop. Although it’s only three blocks from the house, I get lazy and throw them in the back of the Prius. (They’re pretty heavy.) It’ll take fifteen minutes or so to get them appraised, so I drive back home.
- My kids are now up and hungry, so I ask them if they’d like some pancakes. (My husband bought a gallon of milk not knowing that I’d bought some the day before, so I’m thinking about how pancakes use two cups of milk.) My older son requests cornmeal pancakes, and I tell him I’ll do my best. We only have a 1/4-cup of cornmeal, so I combine two recipes to create a cornmeal-whole wheat pancake hybrid. Of course, they are delicious. I set a jug of syrup upside down on the table to use up the last of one container before starting a new one. I also set out a jar of homemade strawberry jam that turned out super runny. I refer to it as “strawberry syrup.” My hollow-legged teenage sons eat every last pancake and are served milk to drink.
- I walk over to the consignment shop and notice that my folding chairs are already set out and priced at $10 apiece. I walk inside and am handed $6 in cash. I decline getting a larger amount in store credit. I need less stuff, not more! I’m 100% okay with the profit that the shop takes with the sale. They have expenses, and I want them to stay in business.
- I gather up any library books that are coming due, as well as a few I know I’ll never read and I walk out in the opposite direction. I’ve already preloaded a Clark Howard podcast on my iPhone4, so I’m good to go. I return the books and browse the DVD’s and blu-rays. I notice that they have a blu-ray of Birdman, which I think is funny. (New releases usually take a few months to hit the shelves, as they have long hold lists.) I guess I’m not the only one who thought this movie was awful. I choose one DVD and head out.
- I walk a few blocks over to Fred Meyer for groceries. I’m distracted by a garage sale, but since I have no cash in my wallet, that temptation is weak. I grab a basket at the grocery store and buy lettuce, tortillas, sour cream and a bottle of Kraft barbecue sauce. I’d loaded a coupon onto my loyalty card for the sauce, which made it free. It can sit in my pantry or be donated to the food bank at some point.
- I walk a different route home, which is my habit, as it increases my chances of coming across something interesting. This pays off when I come across another tasty free pile. I help myself to a bamboo rice server, a rubber spatula, a stainless steel one-cup measure, a plastic bag of small paper bags and a perfect looking lamp complete with lampshade and fussy finial. I’m excited about about each of these finds. The rice server will replace the plastic one we’ve been using. (I hate using plastic with food.) the rubber spatula will flesh out the one we already have, as it seems I always end up fishing it out of the dishwasher to wash by hand. (I guess I use the rubber spatula more often than I run the dishwasher.) The one-cup measure can live in my flour bin, and the paper bags can be used for making non-toxic microwave popcorn. And the lamp? I’ll take it to the consignment store. Neighbors walk past as I crouch in front of the free stuff, and we chat for a bit.
- I putter around the house some more and unclip the laundry from the line. The towels are perfectly crispy and smell like heaven. I chat with my neighbors who just installed their own clothesline. I comment about how cute their daughter’s tiny socks are.
- I heat up some leftover rice and beans and warm the tortillas in the cast iron skillet. I grate cheese, chop lettuce, snip cilantro and put out salsa and the sour cream. I take the lettuce-washing water and dump it on outside plants. “Dinner’s ready!” I call, and everyone comes to assemble their own burritos. My husband’s at work, so it’s just us chickens.
- My younger son decides that he’d rather hang out with his friends and play the last indoor soccer futsal game of the season than go to The Timbers game, so my husband sells his ticket. This nets us $22. My plan had been to drop him off and come home since he had two back-to-back games, but I start to chat with other parents and ended up staying the entire time. This turns out to be a good decision, as my son scores eleven goals!
- We don’t get home until 10 P.M., at which point showers are taken and relaxation begins. I pop a couple bowls of bulk purchased popcorn using the new paper bags. It’s such a hit that we end up eating probably eight bowls of popcorn between the three of us. I add a squirt of honey to the melted butter for a sweet treat. We then spread a greasy and sticky film all over the house.
- I take a nighttime stroll to the first free pile, as I’d noticed that it looked freshly stocked. There’s a gorgeous vintage twin bed frame, but it smells strongly of cigarettes. I know I could scrub it down, but I’m not feeling up for a project so I leave it for some other industrious Portlander. There’s a box of videos that includes Buns of Steel 2. I wonder about the cigarette-smoking-steel-bunned person who lived in this house.
- I come home and browse through the cable TV options to see if anything looks tempting, but end up choosing Netflix and my old standby, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I watch one episode and then fall asleep during the second one. My day is done.
This day was pretty typical for me, except that I did no writing. I made a few dollars, cooked from scratch, shuttled kids around and puttered around the house. I didn’t spend any money beyond the four dollars at the grocery store.
A perfect day.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
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