Breezes and Brie — Recent Non-Consumer Activities

by Katy on August 31, 2012 · 36 comments

Living the non-consumer life is rarely impressive. The times that I’ve thrifted brand new hand-knotted oriental rugs for $40 are few and far between. And more often, it’s about what I didn’t buy. It can get frustrating for journalists when I give interviews, but such is my mostly unimpressive life. (When recently asked to name items that my family does without that everyone else has, I drew a blank.)

Want examples? Well then, you’re in luck! 😉

  • My sons have been busy preparing for an anime convention this weekend. My older son needed a thick grey belt and a pair of grey Uggs boots to complete his costume. We were able to find exactly what he needed at the very first thrift store that we visited.  Yay!
  • My mother, who is helping to sew my younger son’s costume has eaten dinner with us the last two nights. The first night I prepared chicken enchiladas which beautifully emptied my pantry of a large number of somewhat neglected canned goods, (tomato sauce, black beans, refried beans, kidney beans, jalapeños) as well as a half jar of chipotle peppers, the last of a brick of Tillamook cheese and a hodgepodge of frozen corn tortillas from the freezer. The second night I baked tilapia fillets from the freezer, which I marinated in olive oil, rice vinegar, lemon juice (which I had brought home from one of my mother’s rental cottages) and fresh oregano from the garden. Both meals were worthy of guests, yet both were prepared using the miscellaneous supplies in my freezer and cupboards. (My freezer is seriously chockablock with whoknowswhat, and needs some serious attention.)
  • My son got hungry while we were out and about yesterday. Instead of going to a restaurant, we stopped into Trader Joe’s, where he chose a wedge of brie and a box of crackers. Me? I bought a container of fresh figs, which I proceeded to eat all by myself. Yes, we both enjoy less than traditional meals.
  • My younger son decided that he wanted a different version of the video game Rock Band. We walked down to the CD Game Exchange store in our neighborhood, where he was able to find exactly what he wanted for $5. Yes it was used, but my son is no fool. He knows $5 trumps $60 any day of the week. And the best part? He paid for it himself!
  • The weather here in Oregon has been sunny, breezy and perfect for working that clothesline. So every day, you know my backyard is decorated with a double line of towels, sheets, underwear and pajamas. HGTV may not be featuring stylish laundry lines yet, but I sure am!
  • And of course I didn’t buy an SUV, a timeshare or any elaborate hobby gear. But I did take a nice long nap yesterday. And it didn’t cost me a thing.

Now your turn. What non-consumer activities have been filling your days? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda in Indiana August 31, 2012 at 10:18 am

Well, here goes:
Yesterday my best friend and I met up for our every six weeks get together at a local park. We used a coupon to get one free sub if you bought one,so we split the cost and brought our own drink from home. We took an hour and half what we call a walk-a-talk and then walked to the thrift store together. Tops were on clearance for fifty cents each and I bought six.
Today I packaged twenty-eight cups of persimmons that my husband had picked up at a friends and he even ran them through the sieve for Stopped at the library and picked up a book that I have been wanting to read but not buy.
Sent an ecard to a friend for her birthday for free…no buying cards or postage!
Made homemade yogurt in the crockpot for the second time and was happy with the results…used plain gelatin to thicken it this time and it is yummy thick.
Planning a stay at home holiday weekend as gas prices are soaring…that is unless something cheapo nearby catches our eye!


Katy August 31, 2012 at 10:28 am

I love the term “Walk-a-Talk.” I am totally stealing it!



Linda in Indiana August 31, 2012 at 1:48 pm

You are more than welcome to it as long as I can steal “chockablock
with whoknowswhat” to describe my freezer also:)!


Katy August 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm




Jeri August 31, 2012 at 10:31 am

We didn’t buy a water heater. No, we don’t shower or wash dishes in cold water, but when the 20+ year old water heater (it was here when we moved in and not new) began to leak, my husband’s co-worker by chance was installing a new electric Hybird Water Heater and offered us his old one. I was new compared to ours. Solved our problem and keeps one water heater out of the landfill.


Katy August 31, 2012 at 10:35 am

Love it! Sometimes the most frugal thing you can do is to be friend with people who continually upgrade. That’s how we got our bulky yet fantastic TV.



Lorraine August 31, 2012 at 10:47 am

My friend and I “borrow” home decor from each other – pictures, small furniture, lamps, holiday decor, etc. So when you’re tired of the same old stuff year after year, swap it with someone else for a while, then switch back. Beats buying something new (or used).

Another friend and I have been canning food together – then splitting the finished product. It goes much easier and quicker – not to mention more fun – with two people. Its definitely worth sharing the work and the food.


Tina August 31, 2012 at 11:05 am

Love this post and all the ideas

* used veggies from my garden to make a pasta salad
* stocking up on sale items for school lunches (eek!) to keep the kids happy and mom happy too 😉
* DD scored a pair of American Eagle jeans at the thrift for $5
* we are going to see a movie tomorrow with free movie passes 🙂


jeanine August 31, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Courtesy of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Issac, I haven’t spent a dime in the last four days. However, that will change once the water receeds because we will need a new roof on two buildings. I didn’t spend but thirty dollars prior to the storm because we had most everything we needed except fresh batteries and water. Thankfully we never lost power or internet. I am over caught up on my sleep, and have read all the Hunger Games books and all Fifty Shades of Gray. Both set were borrowed on my Kindle which is free. So very frugal with no signs of continuing past next Ttuesday.


Amy Dunn August 31, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Took my daughter back-to-school shopping at the thrift store. Scored 1 pair Abercrombie shorts, 1 pair Hollister shorts and 1 Old Navy top — all for $6. Not to name drop or anything.
But the best find was a required school shirt that would have cost me $27 at parents’ night the very next day. Paid $1. Oh happy day.
Went back to the same thrift a few days later for 50% off day and scored a long sleeve Old Navy top for $1 and a leather sling bag for $1.50. While there, we donated a trunkload as well.

On another night, hubby and I went to the movies with free passes.

Also sold three things on craigslist, making poor law school student son $70 and myself $125.

And finally, we batched errands, carpooled to a school activity and — mean mom that I am — required DD to ride the school bus to high school rather than be driven, as most kids around here are.

Totally lovin’ the frugal, nonconsumery, compacty life in N.C.


Katy August 31, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Sounds like my kind of fun!



Linda from Mass August 31, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I am getting ready for a big neighborhood yard sale in two weeks. I am clearing out and packaging up some great items to sell. My kids will sell my mother-in-laws books which she got free from friends.

My husband has a friend who grows the best Asian pears. We had two large bags of drops. I made one large pear crisp for us to eat this week and a smaller one that I put into the freezer. My in-laws are giving away tomatoes, so I have been making tomato sauce and freezing it. Not really enough to can, so I am freezing it.

The weather has been great, so I have been hanging out my laundry. Except for today…I was busy in the morning, so no laundry out but the weekend looks great, so I will get all the wash done.

This week I also hit a great clearence sale at the market. They were selling large 6-packs of specialty bagels for $.50 each. They were French Toast Maple Bagels. I got 6 bags of 6 for the $.50 each and threw them in the freezer. I have a daughter in college and she wants snacks and food for her room, so both she and her roommate are very happy with the bagels. Also, they had opened packs of individual pineapple juice for $.10 a can. I bought all 4 for my college daughter.

Of course, the usual, getting books from the library and getting ready for their big book sale. As a volunteer at the book sale, I get 1/2 off and first dibs on already great price for used books.


marie August 31, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Ohh, I wish I had a library.


Kathy M August 31, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I love my library.


Sheryl August 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm

“Shopped” for school supplies in the bin where we store extras. Between there, and my daughter’s mess-of-a-desk, we found everything she needed, except for a spiral notebook of graph paper. We picked up two of those at Staples, using a $5 gift card that’s been in my wallet for eons. Got our teeth cleaned (covered by insurance 100%) and both of us had no cavities (fillings are only covered 80%, so taking care of our teeth pays off.) Left the dentist’s with 4 name brand toothbrushes and dental floss. I brown-bagged my lunch every day. After doing “clean out the freezer/pantry” meals for 3 weeks, we went to my not-favorite supermarket that is oh-so-cheaper than other stores in my area, and stuck to the list we’d made before leaving home. After looking for a piece of furniture for my living room for months, and not finding anything at thrift stores or on Craigslist, found exactly what I wanted at a neighbor’s estate sale, in brand new condition, for $50. Rather than buying one, borrowed my neighbor’s chop saw. And this weekend, we’re painting a dresser (Craigslist!) for my daughter’s room, with some beautiful “oops” paint that I bought at Home Depot for $2.


marie August 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Canned 6 pints of blueberry jam,canned 6 1/2 pints of pickled garlic. All I had to pay for was new lids. I had a coupon, so less than $1.00
Hung all my laundry outside. I live in the sticks so no fussy neighbors can complain. I’ve picked enough bosenberrys for 2 pies. YUM!!
Since I don’t buy much, it’s hard to think of what else.


Donna Besst August 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm

This summer I taught myself to can. I made 27 1/2 pints of peach jam from my tree that my hubby bought me for mother’s day three years ago. I also made 15 1/2 pints of spaghetti sauce and 15 1/2 pints of Apple Tomato chutney from my tree and garden. I have had so much fun this summer and now I have many Christmas presents already to go. We are also going to a free movie this weekend. Enjoy the last weekend of summer.


Anne August 31, 2012 at 2:36 pm

A contractor we were hiring to help fix the bathroom seems to have changed his mind (something they apparently do often) and disappeared.

Husband has many handyman skills but felt overwhelmned by this project, but I slowly talked him into doing all the labor ourselves, especially as there is no time limit here. We can take as long as we want. Our friends loaned us their tile saw.

When we are through we will have saved around $1000 in labor costs.

Sometimes you just have to overcome your fears.


Katy August 31, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Good luck!



Tami -- Teacher Goes Back to School August 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Today I sorted through my daughter’s dresser trying to make room for yet another garbage bag full of name brand hand-me-downs while wearing swapped clothes myself. I am able to pass on what no longer fits her to new babies. Neither mom is that interested in brand new baby clothes and when asked if she minded some lightly stained items she replied, “Now there’s no pressure here.” My kind of mama.

We’ve eaten all our meals at home this week and I made a green smoothie this morning to be sure to use up all the soy milk and spinach in the fridge. We’ve been grocery shopping 3 times per month, instead of 4.

I’ve attended a couple of free yoga classes at the studio where I work, borrow a book from a friend, and read a bunch from the library.

People always wonder how we can afford to have taken 2 years off to be with our baby and looking at this list it’s not a big surprise.


Lilypad August 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I had to smile at your son buying brie—my son (11) is a brie fanatic and he’s always overjoyed if I bring him some home from Trader Joe’s. We also frequent the “bit basket” at our favorite grocery co-op and he picks out small pieces of interesting cheeses ; these are cheeses that we’d never be able to afford a big hunk of, but they only cost a dollar or so for a slice of something new. Slap down a plate of cheese with a nice baguette and boom, there’s your “European style” lunch. He and I have been home sick with colds for 4 days straight (beautiful days which I hated to miss! perfect for going on a walk, one of our favorite frugal activities) so we haven’t spent a dime. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it was frugal, lying around reading library books!


Michelle Wood August 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Finally! Picked up a copy of The Tightwad Gazette III from the library, my 16 year old daughter reserved for me. It’s been about 10 years since I read the original-repeatedly. Dinners the rest of this holiday weekend are going to be whatever we can throw together out of the pantry/freezer, with the crescendo being a cook-out hosted by the inlaws on Sunday. Hopefuly a FREE in every sense of the world weekend.


Michelle Wood August 31, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Then again…very tempted to garage sale in the morning. I love burning candles most evenings, especially in the fall and winter (since I don’t have a fireplace YET!) Last summers’ garage saling candles (25 cents – $1 for Yankee Candles!) ran out around March. Here in Michigan, our garage sales should run into October. I figure what I spend getting them all at garage sales would still cost less that ONE Yankee Candle at our local big box store retailing for $27.00 (as if.)


Linda from Mass September 1, 2012 at 6:40 am

I know this is not a compact type thing but we have a store in Mass (Christmas Tree Shop) that sells Yankee type candles. The difference is that the candles they sell are soy and also made in the US too. I bought them 2 weeks ago at $1.99 each. Not at the price of a yard sale but still good.


Mama Minou August 31, 2012 at 8:20 pm

The dryer broke and we will not fix it until those Oregon rains begin for real! Love the clothesline.


Jo H. August 31, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Your thrifty activities are inspiring!

I have been repairing clothing as well as learning to sew knit material so I can alter T-shirts, etc., and also learning to refashion clothing, as it’s hard to find things to fit me. For entertainment this weekend I bought supplies (less than $5) that I’ll use to finish some crafts to sell this fall. And if it’s not rainy, I’ll be weeding the flower garden and transplanting part of a spreading plant to two new locations. The original plant was somewhat pricey, but it has grown so much I have lots to fill in the other areas.


Hannah September 1, 2012 at 3:30 am

My pantry has been getting out of control lately so I decided to “shop my pantry” until I can tame the chaos. Other than milk, eggs, and some produce from the farmer’s market I haven’t had to do any grocery shopping in over two weeks! It’s amazing how creative I can get with recipes when I am forced to 🙂


Diane September 1, 2012 at 4:46 am

Worked standing on my feet for 3 days, so no time to spend a cent…and I have a punch card filled from Cabo Bob’s, so 3 free fish tacos will be dinner for me tonight!


Liz September 1, 2012 at 6:46 am

New SUV = $65,000
Afternoon nap = priceless


patti September 1, 2012 at 6:57 am

I love this post and all the comments! I also have been home all week after I convinced my elderly parents to postpone a trip thinking it would be raining from Issac, not realizing the soar in the gas prices. We’ll go next week so hoping for better results. I spent the week cleaning and organizing. One of the things I did was start a file of fabrics I have so I can quickly see if I have something for future projects and quit buying so much (even at yard sales). I did this for my knitting yarn and it has been quite helpful. I also ate from the freezer and pantry making up a new dish of cabbage, rice, black beans, and spaghetti sauce. Turned out to be soupy rather than a casserole so I served it with homemade French bread from the freezer. Yum! Am spray painting a lamp I received free and making a new lampshade out of upholstery fabric I already had. Am giving a Waterford crystal vase that I owned (it was a gift) for a wedding present this week. I had no attachment to the piece and the bride registered for Waterford crystal vases (over $150!!!!). Decided I was not a Waterford crystal kind of girl and she is – so hoping it will be a win-win for both of us. LOL I went to the library and ordered an interlibrary loan on a book about frugal cooking. While there, I found some other books on thrift and making items from scraps. Also found a great sale at a local thrift store and picked up some lamp shades and lamp bases for next to nothing. Love $1 days!!!Our friends decided last night to hold a Labor Day dinner- all of us contributing ingredients and getting together to make the holiday special. Super frugal fun!


karen September 1, 2012 at 7:29 am

I’ve been knitting scarves as gifts with all of the clearance sale yarn I bought last year. I have been seam ripping a pile of jumper style dresses from the thrift store dollar sale to be made into tank tops & tote bags, also for gifts — presents get put inside & recipient gets the tote & all 😉
Spending time in my studio using up the supplies I have instead of going shopping for the more at the weekly sales at the craft stores. This takes self discipline on my part, lol.


Shelagh September 1, 2012 at 10:53 am

Spent a lovely morning cleaning out and rearranging my 11-year old son’s room – we had lots of fun, found old stuff he’d been looking for for ages, moved some furniture between rooms and we’re both pretty happy with the stellar results of the free makeover.


Katy September 2, 2012 at 7:20 am

I love doing that. My younger son and I go though his room at least a couple times per year, but my older son is an entirely different story.



Jessica September 1, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Kumoricon? my eight year old is super excited for this! If you see a little girl Pikachu wearing a bright yellow dress, that’s her! Grandmas are the best when you need a costume ASAP! BTW, I think you might enjoy this canadian blog I just discovered esp. her most recent post about “eating your pantry” .
I recently had to clean and super- fast decorate our patio for a showing (we are trying to sell our house in milwaukie) and found everything I needed for the patio in the garage, linen closet and vase/candle cupboard; I love re-making spaces using chatchkis and pillows we already own:)


Katy September 2, 2012 at 7:18 am

They’ll both be in the same Pokemon group photo then!



Rowen September 2, 2012 at 9:08 am

Estate sale find of a Gorham silver-plate bud vase in perfect condition ($3) for a friend’s holiday present. Made and canned half-cup jars of preserves (seven of peach and eight of raspberry-blackberry) for more small holiday presents for a group; froze enough berries for a pie, too. Thrift-shop score of eleven 8-oz Swedish pewter beakers, hallmarked for 1970-71, which I can easily re-sell to local living-history groups. (The plain heavy style of these is good for early medieval, Viking-era, and U.S. Civil War; comparable beakers are usually $25 and up.)


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