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 Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Page 2

I’m trying to decrease the frequency of my thrifting, as I have a hard time turning down the pennies-on-the-dollars merchandise, and I want to sell the stuff I bought for resale before I bring home any additional merchandise. (The days of everything I put on eBay easily selling are sadly long gone.) However . . . my older son needed a decent looking belt, so off to Goodwill we went!

Whee . . .

Of course, my main goal when thrifting is to find the weirdest, most bizarre and frankly disturbing items possible. (You know . . . for you, the readers.)  So yes, I had to photograph this handmade ceramic bust, whose head opens up as a handy way to store to store cookies or murder weapons:

Ceramic bust

Here’s a close up for all your skinned face pleasure:

Close-up of skinned face

 Then again, it might be useful as an aversion therapy technique for decreasing cookie intake.

Hey, pretty lady . . . want a cookie?

As always I was inundated by targeted savings banks:

Boat:

Boat fund

Shoes:

Shoe fund

Retirement funds and summer vacation:

Retirement fund

Seriously people, stop giving these as gifts! It’s pretty obvious that nobody wants them, otherwise they wouldn’t be at every freaking single Goodwill!

I was tempted to pick up this vintage Beverly Hills 90210 bed sheet:

Beverly Hills 90210

Because really, who doesn’t want to gaze into the dreamy eyes of Luke Perry or Tori Spelling while trying to slip into dreamland?

90210 detail

Because I had my son with me, I delegated the job to find “weird stuff for the blog.” Being the boy he is, (creative, but with a wicked sense of humor) he created his own weird stuff:

easter bunny

I just hope that female Easter bunny in the background isn’t the jealous type.

I get a lot of “Your Portland thrift shops are simply better than mine” from readers, and I can’t really argue against this as I’ve thrifted all across this great nation, and know to appreciate my hometown. (I’ve lived in Ohio, New York, London, Idaho and New Mexico.) However, there is one common denominator to each and every thrift store, which are the obligatory shelves of mugs.

Please, take a moment for this mug shot:

Mugs

There is no reason to buy  a brand new mug. Ever. Yes, some of these styles are dated, but making things go out of style is a fallacy and designed to keep us buying, buying, buying.

Look at this adorable 99¢ hand painted Polish Christmas mug:

Polish Christmas mug

Or this also 99¢ brand new Japanese Rilakkuma ceramic mug:

Rilakkuma mug

There are enough mugs in the world to cease production for a good decade before it would become a problem. Just check out the shelves at your local thrift shop for confirmation.

However, there are never enough skinned head cookie jars.

I may never reach for an Oreo again.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Computer Glitches, Be Gone!!!!

by Katy on April 4, 2014 · 27 comments


You may have noticed that The Non-Consumer Advocate has been running slowly, usually not showing the latest blog post and telling readers that their comments didn’t go through even when they did! It’s annoying for readers and unbearably frustrating for me, as every blog post I wrote refused to show up properly, and it meant that I started each day feeling like I was technologically in over my head.

Crap, crap, crappity-crap!

I tried to do what I could from behind the scenes, but let’s face it, I’m a doctor not a bricklayer I’m a writer not a computer programmer. And I certainly don’t budget the hundreds of dollars it takes to hire some fancy computer programmer to magically fix all the computer glitches. (See? I think it’s magic, not coding!)

But my friend Kirsten sent me a link to WPFixit.com, (not an affiliate link) whose website asks:

“Do you have a WordPress issue that is driving you mad? If so let us fix it for you. We will fix any single issue for only $39*. If we can’t fix it we will refund your money. You have nothing to lose!!!”

Hmm . . . “Any single issue?” My blog was having four issues that I could immediately think of:

  1. Whenever I published a blog post, it told me that it timed out and gave an error message, when in actuality the post was going through.
  2. The blog would often show an old blog post on the front page.
  3. Readers got an error message whenever they commented, and then told them “you’ve already said that” when they tried again. (I’d been noticing that blog posts were getting fewer and fewer comments, which meant readers were starting to give up.)
  4. It was taking forever to load photos.

So I explained one problem and wrote that it was most likely related to everything else. (One problem, many components, right?) For $39.99, I was willing to give it a try.

First they reinstalled WordPress and increased my server memory limit, then they removed my cache and lastly condensed the 2249 photos I’d uploaded over the past six years. All for the low, low price of $39.99! (The only negative I can think of is that the computer tech called me “pretty lady” which creeped me out a bit. Leftover I guess from a fair amount of unwanted male attention when I was younger.)

And whattayaknow? The blog is now functioning properly again!!! Comments are going through, posts are easily published and the whole blog is simply running faster!

I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, and I realize that wanting to scream into a pillow every time I wrote a blog post made me hate writing, which is not the right mindset to work on a book proposal. To quote George Costanza:

“Serenity now, serenity now.”

Please, enjoy the new and improved Non-Consumer Advocate. Courtesy of WPFixit.com and a certain pretty lady.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 27 comments }


Blistex

  1. I took three almost empty Blistex containers and three of my husband’s almost empty deodorant containers and gleaned every last drop/smear/bit-o-goo to create one functional container of each. Task specific tools included a chopstick, a butter knife and hemostats. Bizarrely satisfying, as they looked pretty much empty, yet still contained quite a bit of product.
  2. I have yet to do a big grocery shopping trip since our return, so our fridge is still pretty much empty. However, I was able to cobble together a decent stir-fry meal last night using rice, frozen peas, frozen shrimp and soy sauce. Yummy and quite satisfying.
  3. My son walked down the boulevard last night to look for jeans using a leftover-from-Christmas Buffalo Exchange gift card. This hipster consignment shop is close to the Ben and Jerry’s scoop shop which reminded me that my reader Kate had gifted me with two coupons for free pints of ice cream when she came to the Library of Congress meetup. (She also gave me two empty Starbucks bags which can be exchanged for free drip coffees, four hot cocoa packets and a teeny tub of Nutella. What can I say? She apparently gets me!) I handed the coupons over and we were all rewarded with a delicious treat. Thank you, Kate!
  4. My garden is starting to come to life, so I slogged through the mud walked around the yard with some scissors and a mission. I now have three lovely bud vases filled with spring flowers on my kitchen windowsill and they didn’t cost me a thing!
  5. I made sure to promptly return all the borrowed suitcases yesterday to friends and neighbors. Thank you, Sasha and Nancy for the roll-aboards, and thank you to Chris for the garment bag. I love that everyone in my circle is open to sharing their belongings, and in return they feel free asking to borrow pretty much anything that we own. Yay, community!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been doing?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 40 comments }


Bolt Bus

However much effort you put into frugal traveling, there are simply some areas where you overspend. (Okay, okay . . . I guess you could hitchhike to go camping, but that’s simply not my family’s style of vacation.) You can put a full effort into eating frugally and staying away from buying stuff, but some categories simply defy frugality.

Example?

Transportation.

Although the Portland to Washington D.C. tickets for my husband and myself were free, we did have to pay for our sons. And at $588 apiece, the tickets packed a real wallop. (Thanks, spring break!) I balanced this by booking $17 Bolt Bus tickets from Washington D.C. to New York City. Unfortunately, I accidentally booked them from NYC -> D.C., and it took a $12 rebooking fee to fix that mess. And then it turned out that my husband had an appointment to meet with Congressman Blumenauer late on Wednesday, so I had to change the tickets again.

Boom . . . another $12!

My husband was extremely suspicious of my cheap bus plan, but he ended up being completely satisfied with the experience. However, he later looked up reviews, got scared about the return trip to D.C., (Flying in and out of D.C. saved us around $400 per ticket vs. flying out of NYC.) and booked us a rental car. And suddenly our return to D.C. went from $68 to $200 by the time rental fees, tolls and gasoline were added. Not to mention the stress of finding a gas station in D.C. and the rental car return place which turned out not to be at the airport.

While in New York, we exclusively took the subway. However, the days of $1 tokens are a thing of the past, and $2.50 on a Metro Card is the new game. (Shows how long ago I lived in NYC!) My sister briefly burst my bubble by saying we should have bought 7-day unlimited Metro Cards, but since that would have set us back $120, such was not the case.

We took 32 subway rides all together, which set us back $80.

We kept our subway costs down by batching our days. For example, on the day we went to The Museum of Modern Art, we ate $1.50 slices of pizza a few blocks away and then split up to look at the American Girl Doll store, (me and my niece) store and the Nintendo Store, (my husband and son.) And when we met up with a friend in the financial district, we then had lunch with another old friend in SOHO. This way we only took two subway trips per day.

And of course we walked, walked and walked. Which is all we did in D.C., which helped to balance our transportation costs as well.

However, it’s easy to forget when tallying up expenses that transportation, food and entertainment would have happened at home as well. It’s not like we wouldn’t have driven had we stayed put in Portland.

There was no way around the $1176 for our son’s plane tickets, but we did do our best to reign in the rest of our transportation expenditures.

Do you have favorite ways to keep your travel expenses low? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 14 comments }


After a ten day trip, this will always be day eleven:

Dirty Laundry

I bought zero souvenirs, brought home no new stuff and only overspent on experiences. But dirty laundry is oppressively omnipotent and ever present. It cannot be denied.

I only wish it was an April’s Fools day joke.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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More Photos . . .

by Katy on March 28, 2014 · 5 comments


I am still in New York City, and am trying to organize the troops for a trip to The Museum of Modern Art, so today I offer up more photographic evidence of our travel.

An upcycled vintage VW bus from a delicious albeit pricey Mexican restaurant in SOHO. (Although the expensive lunch was balanced by a free dinner, as my sister’s in-laws brought by an enormous amount of home cooked food.)

VW Bus

Selfies from Washington D.C.:

selfies

My son at Washington Square Park:

Washington Square Park

George Gershwin’s typewriter and self portrait from The Library of Congress. I almost jumped the barrier to hug it:

Gershwin's typewriter

Today I will scoping out the $1 slices of pizza and trying to stay on budget. Except for dinner, which will be Chinese take out, as only New York City can do!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 5 comments }

Today I Am . . .

by Katy on March 27, 2014 · 13 comments


Dog

Today I am . . . 

  • Staying at my sister’s apartment in Manhattan.
  • Walking my sister’s dog.
  • Visiting with my sister’s in-laws who just filled her fridge with homemade chicken soup and various goodies. (Yum!)
  • Going on a Sweatshop Workers tour at the Tenement Museum, which also includes an extra discussion period.
  • Meeting up with an old college chum, as he gets free Museum of Modern Art Tickets, meeting up with old friends and arranging other various meet ups.
  • Completely happy with the Bolt Bus trip we took yesterday from Washington D.C. to New York City. My husband was extremely skeptical with this choice, but he ended up being pleasantly surprised with the experience.
  • Wishing it wasn’t so freaking cold.

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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{ 13 comments }


My family is still here in Washington D.C., as my husband receives his award, and does related conference activities. (Today he meets with our senator and congressman!) Me and the kids? We’re meeting up with our own version of area dignitaries.

Recognize anyone?

The Frugal Girl and The Non-Consumer Advocate

Yes. It was the earth shattering moment when The Non-Consumer Advocate and The Frugal Girl joined forces for good instead of evil!

Of course, I am a very important person and it’s not unusual for me to spend a large chunk of my daily life with various celebrity types. (Both living and otherwise.)

Katy and Julia
Being in Washington D.C. means walking down the National Mall and seeing the sights. (Yes, those tiny people are my husband and kids.)

Washington Monument

We really enjoyed the National Museum of The American Indian, especially the faceted domed ceiling:

Domed ceiling

And if we get homesick, the National Museum of American History has a full size 1948 diorama of Portland’s own Sandy Boulevard, including a Fred Meyer!

1948 Portland

Of course, none of this would have been possible if my husband were not such an awesome and award winning human being.

What a guy!

Thank you, honey!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Coin Girl

My family is in Washington D.C. right now, and it’s a very interesting mix of very expensive and extremely frugal.

Here, let me elaborate:

  • My husband is being presented with an award, so the airfare and very nice hotel for the two of us was free. However, the tickets for the kids were $580 apiece. Frugal/expensive.
  • My husband was given a stipend by his employer for incidentals, but yesterday’s hotel breakfast was $84 with tip. Frugal/expensive.
  • I packed sandwiches, chips, cookies and fruit for the airplane, but we still splurged on food court food as we were hungry for dinner by the time we were leaving the Chicago airport. Frugal/expensive.
  • Yesterday’s entertainment included walking down the National Mall and stopping into The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Dinner was included in a banquet presentation by my husband’s employer, and we were able to walk everywhere we needed to be. And when my husband started taking everyone to the museum cafe to get drinks, I found us a drinking fountain. Frugal/frugal/frugal.
  • Yesterday’s souvenirs included a penny found on the ground (Lincoln Memorial on the back!) and making one of those squished penny thingies at The Smithsonian. I was mock horrified to find that the hand-cranked-squished-penny-machine cost $1.01 instead of 51¢. Frugal/expensive.
  • Today’s breakfast is part of the festivities, so it will be free, but we are going to a restaurant to meet up with an old friend for dinner. Frugal/expensive.

Saving money where we can so that’s available for when frugality is not an option. It’s the Non-Consumer way.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 9 comments }

Today I Am . . .

by Katy on March 21, 2014 · 19 comments


 New sunglasses

Today I am . . . 

Getting ready for our east coast trip by running errands, writing to-do lists and trying to achieve a goal of leaving the house in a state of complete cleanliness and order. Nothing’s more depressing than coming home to a stale and messy house. So depressing!

Looking forward to the Non-Consumer Advocate D.C. Meetup on Tuesday, March 25th at the Library of Congress at 10:45 A.M. I’m hoping at least one person shows up. (It’s during the day, which I know is a barrier for those with jobs. Sorry.)

Enjoying my new $2 sunglasses. My last Goodwill pair finally bit the dust, so I spent a few minutes rifling through the haystack of thrifted eyewear until I found an acceptable pair. I did find a really nice pair of Ralph Lauren sunglasses, but they turned out to be prescription. (I’ll try to glue the old pair back together, but want a not-sure-to-break during-our-vacation pair.)

Really wanting to include a visit to the Tenement Museum in New York City’s Lower East Side. My husband and I lived in the neighborhood in 1989-1990-ish, and it was still completely ungentrified.  My step-mother grew up there, and was horrified that we would knowingly live in such an awful area. To her, it was a place to escape.

Planning a dinner meal that will use up as many perishables as possible from the fridge.

Taking my son to school and running errands on my way home. Gotta go, bye!

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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{ 19 comments }

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