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

Today I Am . . .

by Katy on August 22, 2014 · 33 comments

Today I am . . . 

  • Home from work, which feels wonderful. The go-go-go constant adrenaline of working at an extremely busy labor and delivery unit can be utterly exhausting.
  • Continuing to declutter my bedroom. Because I see reuse potential in everyday objects, I often have a hard time not holding onto excessive stuff. Examples? Socks that could be darned. The bottom parts of denim cutoffs that could be used in a project.
  • Going to hang laundry on the clothesline for the first time in a week. I’ve been spray painting baskets in the backyard a few at a time recently, and I didn’t want our laundry to get contaminated.
  • Excited for my sister, who finally closed on buying an adorable house in New York City. How adorable? Check out the photo of the kitchen! (The stuff is from the former owners)

vintage kitchen

  • Happy that the Canadian roommates who completed a Buy Nothing Year are getting great media attention.
  • Putting together some goals to complete by the end of the year.
  • Proud of my kids. They’re both amazing and creative young men and give me pleasure on a daily basis.
  • Excited to put together a more proactive plan to run my household. I often feel like I’m putting out fires instead of getting ahead of things.
  • Craving enchiladas, and thinking I should together a pan for tonight as well as a few pans for the freezer.

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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I’ve written before about Dutch Tulip Fever, which is defined as:

The tendency to buy a certain theme of useless crap that seems exciting at the time of purchase, but is instantly regrettable once taken home. 

Although this is specific to useless Dutch items, it can be expanded to fit most any situation. Dutch examples? Wooden clogs, windmill knick-knacks, kissing children figurines and any and all tulip-related items. Expanded examples? Shoddy I ♥ NY T-shirts, city-specific plastic knick-knacks and anything painted on a coconut.

Picture yourself on vacation in The Netherlands, surrounded by gift shops and suddenly it becomes a good idea, no a great idea, no the best idea to buy wooden clogs for all of your family and friends. You make international phone calls to figure out everyone’s shoe sizes and fill your luggage with aforementioned clogs.

Then you get home.

You unzip your luggage and find yourself staring down at a jumble of wooden clogs. Useless, and let’s face it, big and ugly. And all those fussy blue and white breakables, how did they did in there?

Crap.

You’ve fallen prey to the ailment that is Dutch Tulip Fever!

Please don’t lull yourself into thinking that your non-international travels provide immunity to D.T.F. $30 concert T-shirts, any mass produced Made in China souvenir and pretty much any useless souvenir tchotchke fall into this category.

Need proof that Dutch Tulip Fever is a true and diagnosable malady? I present to you the Goodwill evidence!

Do you fall prey to Dutch Tulip Fever when traveling, or are do you bring back memories and leave the gift shops untouched? 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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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on August 17, 2014 · 40 comments

Dancing Wolk-Stanleys

  1. My former coworker brought zucchini to work for me, and my family has since feasted on zucchini pizza, zucchini brownies and straightforward sautéed zucchini. (My 16-year-old son was extremely doubtful about the brownies, and even yelled out to his father to “watch out, it’s a trap!” when I tried to get my husband to unknowingly try a brownie.)
  2. I saw a dollar bill on the ground at the grocery store today and asked the women standing over it if she’d dropped the money. She answered that she knew it wasn’t hers and handed it to me to keep. Why yes, I think I will. (I also found a dime and a penny in the store!)
  3. I’ve spent probably at least four hours over the past few days leafing through old photos. (My husband studied photography in college, so we have a buttload of pre-children photos!) There’s nothing more frugal than reminiscence. Please enjoy the photo of my sister and I circa 1988. Join in the fun.
  4. Although we spent a fair amount of money hosting my NYC nephew, we’re now balancing it out. I’ve been putting an effort into frugal home cooked meals, and we’ve been watching library and free Redbox movies and pretty much just laying about doing not much at all. Sometimes, less is more.
  5. My 18-year-old son is taking a Cross Fit class, yet it’s costing us no money. How? My younger son took martial arts classes for a few years, for which we had to sign a 12-month contract. However, his classic soccer schedule ended up conflicting with the martial arts and we ended up paying $300 for three months of nothing at all. I talked to the management, and arranged for my other son to use the credit which should get him throughout to the point of whether he decides to continue with Cross-Fit.

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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Help A Reader — Baby Shower Ideas

by Katy on August 15, 2014 · 66 comments

My coworker Allison just announced that she’s 14 weeks pregnant with her first child. And as soon as the news spread, came the inevitable advice on what she “needed to buy.” She and I are pretty similar in our mindset about not filling our houses with excessive stuff, and we made eye contact over the nurses’s station as she listened politely to all the enthusiastic advice.

Later, she and I got a moment of private conversation and she shared that two different friends had already offered to throw baby showers for her, which was giving her distress. Allison explained that the baby’s room is quite small, plus she and her husband only plan on having the single child. Add to this that they thoughtfully downsized from a traditional house into a small condo a few years ago, and you can see why keeping it simple is a priority for Allison. She wants to accept her friends’ generous offers, but she also doesn’t want to be saddled with enormous piles of unwanted stuff. (My words, not hers.)

I gave her the suggestion of having of choosing a book theme for one of the showers, where guests could bring baby books to line a bookshelf. Allison loved this idea, and I could see the relief in her eyes. She and I also agreed that this subject would make an excellent blog post.

What non-consumer baby shower ideas do you have Allison? Have you attended or planned any baby showers with clever themes that fit with a less stuff ideology? Also, what baby ideas do you have for Allison in general? Did you buy must-have baby items only to realize their uselessness afterwards, and conversely were there any specific things that saved the day on a daily basis?

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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Non-Consumer Mish-Mash

by Katy on August 13, 2014 · 15 comments

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

Life Factory water bottleBPA-Free is Not Enough

I don’t like drinking from plastic, even when it’s BPA-Free, and a recent study profiled in Scientific American confirms that I am correct to be skeptical.

“In 2012 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of baby bottles that contain bisphenol A (BPA), a compound frequently found in plastics. The ban came after manufacturers’ responded to consumer concerns of BPA’s safety after several studies found the chemical mimics estrogen and could harm brain and reproductive development in fetuses, infants and children.* Since then store shelves have been lined with BPA-free bottles for babies and adults alike. Yet, recent research reveals that a common BPA replacement, bisphenol S (BPS), may be just as harmful.”

It makes me even happier that I recently scored a Life Factory water bottle from Goodwill. (And not just because it was $2.99 instead of $19.99.)

Dropping Balls Left and Right

I’m apparently unable to be on top of every category of my life. Work, family, housekeeper, if I’m excelling in one area I’ll let the balls drop in another. (You may have noticed how the blog has been a bit dormant lately.)

We just finished hosting my 14-year-old nephew for two weeks. Each and every day he got to be part of some fun activity and the whole family really enjoyed his company and the break from our normal humdrum activities. However, the house fell into impressive grubbiness and I screwed up my work schedule, which I won’t go into as it gives me an anxiety attack to think about.

I know there are people out there who excel at being able to keep their balls up in the air, and I marvel at their skills.

I do feel proud of all the great stuff we did while my nephew was in town:

  • Day trip to Mt. Hood.
  • Day trip to to the beach.
  • Attended three soccer games. The Portland Timbers, The Portland Thorns and the MLS All-Star Game.
  • Afternoon spent at Oaks Amusement Park.
  • Afternoon spent at Avalon arcade.
  • Downtown adventure day including tram ride, haircuts and food cart falafel.
  • Three get togethers with my nephew’s other Portland friend, which included Guardians of The Galaxy.
  • Multiple get togethers with grandparents.
  • An afternoon at the pool.

However, I want to take a fire hose to the house and I’m scared to write a to-do list as I know it will crush me.

Simple Living? Ha!

Decluttering 

It never ends. That is all. Seriously.

 

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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American families are in the thick of back-to-school season. With page long school supply lists and an expectation from retailers to buy an entirely new wardrobe for the kids.

Why?

Did every piece of clothing disappear into a puff of smoke on August 31st? Did last year’s scissors suddenly become non-functional on the last day of school?

I do have fond memories of being taken back-to-school shopping when I was a kid. We’d go to JCPenny to buy knockoffs of whatever shoes were popular that year. Famolares in 1977 and Nikes in 1981. And that was the pair of shoes for the year. One pair to replace the Newberry’s sandals we’d destroyed over the summer.

I choose to do things differently.

Although my kids are 16 and 18 and therefor take their own selves shopping now, it wasn’t that long ago that I was in charge of the task. But since I follow The Compact and only buy used, buying everything all at once just isn’t possible. Clothing needs to be bought when it’s found. A great pair of jeans here, the perfect jacket there.

Yes, we’re all being inundated with back-to-school clothing ads right now, but that shouldn’t matter. I don’t exactly buy a new mattress every Memorial Day and a big screen TV the week before Super Bowl. I’m a critical thinker and hope I’m able to cut through advertising pressure to make my own purchasing decisions.

Breathe, Katy. Breathe . . . .

If you are choosing to buy a new wardrobe for your kids’ back-to-school, I encourage you to think outside the mall and hit up area thrift shops, consignment shops and garage sales. Buying new mostly supports a garment industry that irresponsibly produces poor quality clothing in unsafe factories staffed by shamefully paid workers. Profits go to overpaid upper management and I would rather support a non-profit thrift shop any day of the week.

So please give the secondhand market a chance and bypass the mall.

It’s just so much better.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Summertime

by Katy on August 6, 2014 · 9 comments

Summertime . . .

Laundry on the clothesline, pool schedule memorized, up all hours and sleeping too late.

Midnight projects, last minute barbecues and window fans.

A pile of half-finished library books and endless jugs of refrigerator water.

Turning a blind eye to back-to-school sales.

Why does it have to end?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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I know you’re probably sick to death of reading about my $20 campaign dresser project, but that’s too bad because it continues to be part of my daily life. I’d already sanded and primed the dresser, (as well as removed the brass hardware and given myself carpal tunnel syndrome from all the polishing.)

But I didn’t have any paint yet.

My first choice for painting something is to dig through my basement stash, but I neither had anything bright and fun or austere and stately enough to pique my interest. So I looked up the location of the new Habitat for Humanity ReStore here in Portland and headed on over.

But not before snapping a selfie of myself in front of the store:

Habitat ReStore Selfie

Yes I get stared at when I do things like take selfies in front of businesses; and no, I do not care.

I walked into the spaciously clean and bright store and was immediately confronted by this $2500 behemoth:

Carved guy

It’s the sexy monk of the antique furniture world.

However, I was there for paint, so I headed over to the paint section. Sadly, there’s much much less inventory than at their old store. I was tempted by this $1 can of light chartreuse paint:

$1 Habitat paint

I could totally see how great the dresser would look in this bright color, unfortunately it would grossly clash with our terra cotta colored bedroom. A Barnum & Bailey’s look if there ever was one, and clown bedroom is not the aesthetic I’m striving for.

I ended up buying this $2 jug of charcoal grey paint that was 4/4 full. (All paint is labeled this way, as the paint cans have already been used.)

Charcoal paint

Paint decision having been made, I decided to browse the store. Of course, I had to go play in the lighting department and imagine the great DIY opportunities.

I need you to imagine how awesome these groovy vintage rattan shades would look spray painted turquoise or apple green:

Kitchen shades

And this vintage wood and brass chandelier? It took every ounce of my self discipline to not bring it home. Do you see the leaf detail? I can totally envision it painted either a lovely creme color or some wonderfully saturated hue. And instead of glass shades, use small round bulbs.

Please, some Portlander, go buy this chandelier right now!

Vintage chandelier

Speaking of stuff that I wanted to buy for my imaginary hipster apartment, I present to you this vintage sideboard:

Vintage sideboard

Drool . . .

Luckily there was enough godawful stuff to temper my neediness. Hello . . .  sloppily painted stool!

Stool sample

And this painting?

Strawberry lady

Too bad I already have a painting over my mantle of a women being born from a strawberry who is displaying her uneven man hands while looking off to the side.

Plus, it’s such a clichéd look.

Not everything at the Habitat ReStore is for those with funky taste though. Check out these gorgeous glass pendants, are they not what every stainless steel appliance and granite countertop kitchen is missing?

Glass pendants

I did just buy the $2 paint and have already completed two coats, and it’s looking rather perfect. Even my husband, who thought we should just leave the dresser as-is, complimented me saying it looked “very modern.”

Just imagine how much he would have loved that painting.

Do you get your home maintenance supplies from alternative sources before hitting up Home Depot? Whether it’s putting the word out on Facebook, cruising the Restore or simply rethinking a project, used supplies will save you money and help the environment.

And what’s not to love about that?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Today I Am . . .

by Katy on August 1, 2014 · 9 comments

Benson Bubbler

Today I Am . . . 

  • Sanding and priming my $20 thrifted campaign dresser. Then, I’ll go to the Habitat For Humanity ReStore to shop for paint. I was leaning towards painting the dresser a tasteful black since my bedroom is a terra cotta color, but I say f*¢& it, I want something bright and fun!
  • Continuing to be impressed by all the amazing free and almost-free projects that Megan from Upstyler comes up with. This week she took the wooden handle from a broke-ass umbrella and turned it into a very cool looking wall hook. (This is my favorite new blog, and I highly recommend it!)
  • Pleased with yesterday’s Downtown Adventure Day that I organized with my son and nephew. We took the bus downtown, walked around, took the streetcar to the tram, rode the tram to the top and back, ate delicious food cart falafel and then got cheap and fantastic haircuts from Quinn at Barber-Q. Haircuts needed to happen anyway, so we might as well plan an adventure day around them!
  • Planning tonight’s dinner of homemade sushi. The kids can assemble them, and it’s the perfect meal for a hot summer evening that doesn’t heat up the kitchen. (I make rice in the steamy hot rice cooker which only needs an electrical outlet, so I can set it up on the porch instead of the kitchen.)
  • Enjoying the nice paycheck that comes with working five shifts in a pay period. Damn, that’s a lot of money!
  • Pleased with the city of Portland with its outdoor Benson Bubbler drinking fountains all over downtown, which makes it unnecessary to carry a heavy water bottle, even in the height of summer.
  • Happy that even though my younger son has a haircut that requires frequent trims, the rest of us balance it out. I cut my husband’s hair, my older son wears his hair long and I forget to get haircuts and haven’t had one for at least a year and a half!

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

100 Dollar Bill

I had the privilege of taking my aunt Anne out for breakfast today. It was her birthday, (which I had actually forgotten about) which made it all the more special. Our original plan had been to go out for dim-sum, but we ended up finding a wonderful little café not far from my house which hit the spot.

This aunt is actually only 15 years older than I am and lived with us for a few years when I was growing up. She has always been a true inspiration to me — gleaning fabulous treasures from thrift shops and taking me and my sister to musty old used book stores when we were at our most impressionable ages. (The smell of old books still arouses an overwhelming feeling of contentment for me.)

She is smart, funny and generous beyond a fault despite never having excessive income.

Sadly, she now lives in Florida, which means that I hardly ever get to spend any time with her.

On our way back from breakfast, (plus a couple of garage sales) she started talking about what she would do if she won the lottery. I can’t actually remember what she said she would buy for herself, but she did say that she would give us each $11,000 per year. She said this is the amount one can receive annually without having to pay taxes on it.

I started to think about what I would do with an extra $44,000 annual income, (yes, she said she would give $11,000 to each of us!)

I would most definitely eradicate any and all consumer debt, but then what? Travel? Charitable giving? Cool clothes? Savings?

What would you do with an extra $100, $1000 or $10,000?

Here, I’ll start:

$100 – I would put it in savings. (There’s nothing for $100 or less that I don’t already have.)

$1,000 – I would pay off debt.

$10,000 – I would travel with my kids to somewhere like London, Japan or Greece. Perhaps somewhere sunny like Hawaii or Mexico, (which would be cheaper and allow for leftover funds.)

Okay now, your turn! Please put your answers in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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