Non-Consumer Mish-Mash

by Katy on February 1, 2010 · 30 comments

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

Simple Living Network Newsletter

I’ve had a number of columns reprinted in the Simple Living Network Newsletter, which has been great, because their readership is my target audience. The January-February online issue is currently running my column titled, “Green Purchasing — What is Best?” I highly recommend this newsletter which always has a number of interesting and thought provoking pieces. Be sure to check it out!

My Achilles Heel

I am normally quite immune to the advertising circulars that weigh down my Sunday newspaper.

Target? Pass. Kmart? Don’t even think about it!

But today’s paper included a glossy ad for Tuesday Morning, which is a store I had never given a thought towards in the past. But today’s ad caught my eye and pulled me in. The products that were making my heart go pitter-pat were coordinating fabric lined basket in pretty black and white toile patterns.

Like a fashionable girl who thinks that the right pair of boots will solve all of life’s problems, I think that the right organizing system will raise me to the level of those Stepford wives whose homes are always tidy, organized and whose children get along at all times and wolf down their broccoli. This line of thinking is called a “slippery slope” according to the Logic class I took in college, but that doesn’t mean I can’t subscribe to it now.

Of course, I did not go buy a cartload of organizing baskets today, but I did have a hard time recycling that one circular. It was so pretty, and I know there were no children in the ad, but if there had been, their baskets would have been full of broccoli.

Frugality Run Amuck

Inspired by the father of In Cheap We Trust’s Lauren Weber’s habit of reusing his tea bags 10 or 11 times, I decided that if he could be using his tea bags so many times, surely I could reuse mine at least once!

I tried this for a few days, and had a number of cups of tea where I momentarily forgot my experiment, and was baffled as to why my tea tasted like crap.

“What the #@** is wrong with my tea?!”

I came to the conclusion that I love my tea, was very particular about my tea, and tea was very important to me. Tea is a huge part of my daily routines and that while I make many frugal sacrifices, reusing tea bags was not going to be one of them.

Simple living and frugality are about saving money on the things that don’t matter so that it’s available for the things that do. And tea? It matters!

Compost Critter

I was innocently going about my chores this afternoon, and had taken a container of food scraps to the compost bin on the side of the house and got a startling surprise when a small mouse came to the surface of the bin. It’s not that I’m scared of mice, but it wasn’t what I was expecting to see and made a noise that was far from the “Eek!” of 1950’s cartoons. (Picture Linda Blair in The Exorcist.)

The mouse itself was brown with big black eyes and looked quite content. I quickly replaced the lid and skedaddled back into the house. A quick Google search brought up issues of pathogens in mouse dung, so I will have to deal with this. Hopefully by turning it more often (making it less inhospitable) and nothing much more extreme. I have been composting for 12 years, and this was a first.

Any ideas?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen@TheFrugalGirl February 1, 2010 at 5:09 am

Does your bin have a lid? My bins do, and I haven’t had any trouble with small creatures.

I’m hoping you’ll say yours has no lid, because then I don’t have to worry about mice in mine! lol


Katy February 1, 2010 at 11:18 am

My bin does have a lid, which is always kept on. I assume that the mouse (or mice) burrowed in from below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Meg February 4, 2010 at 8:25 am

Not entirely caffeine free, but definitely less. I like it that way, though. That way I get a good jolt in the morning and less later when I don’t need/want it.


Bellen February 1, 2010 at 5:16 am

Mouse – was it in the bin for the warmth? They are very opportunistic.

Tea – I’m with you – one bag, one time. In an effort to be more frugal I did try 2 used bags for one cup of tea – still not strong/brisk enough for me. So now I buy tea on sale, transfer bags from an open box to an airtight container and compost the bags.


Rebecca February 1, 2010 at 7:04 am

Ditto on the tea bags! I feel the same way about coffee. My husb can make a huge pot on sunday and reheat it all week. I need fresh every time.


Cate February 1, 2010 at 7:30 am

Hahaha–I thought I was being a snob whenever I saw people talking about reusing tea bags and thought “Never!” I haven’t tried it, so I feel kind of vindicated that you found the experiment to be a giant fail. I’m very particular about my tea!


Jessica February 1, 2010 at 7:32 am

Re: tea
From what I’ve read, each subsequent use of the tea bag after the first is caffeine-free. Not that I’m a caffeine junkie or anything (looks around furtively), but that was important information for me!


Katy February 1, 2010 at 11:19 am

Caffeine free?!

Well then, that seals the deal.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


karen February 1, 2010 at 8:20 am

I go for the happy medium. Full on for the first cup, reuse it on a half cup the second time around. 10-12 times? it’s not tea by that point, it’s just hot water…. bleh. I buy on sale with coupon to stock up & recycle the bags to compost & recycle the cartons as well.


chppie February 1, 2010 at 9:03 am

Bulk tea is the way to go to making it taste good and stretch. I can get more than one pot of tea off of a couple of spoons (depending on your pot) of bulk leaves, especially stronger ones like breakfast teas and earl grey. Also oolong tea gets better with multiple brews. Chinese people usually pour off the first brew as the flavor hasn’t bloomed yet. I don’t mind first brew but it’s usually the 3rd pot that oolong comes into it’s own.

We’re a tea household so having good tea and not going broke is important. We do splurg on Peet’s for the special ones we like and I make sure to get a couple of tins at a time so I can get my free beverage. The Asian markets can have really nice teas at a good price and I mix up my own blends for things like chai.

Of course the tea challenge is that it’s all imported and shipped long distances. It’s definitely a daily indulgence which reminds me to be more frugal elsewhere.


Meg February 1, 2010 at 9:09 am

I agree. Loose tea is the only way to go. I think bagged tea tastes like crap to begin with and I can’t imagine trying to reuse tea bags too much. It tastes like bag then 🙁 But loose tea can DEFINITELY be resteeped just fine.

I wish everyone would give loose tea a shot. It’s not only cheaper and better tasting, it’s a lot less wasteful then buying all that packaging.


Sam Jones February 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I’ve recently learned about tea that’s being grown in South Carolina; American Classic Tea, now owned by Bigelow. Haven’t tried it but I’ve seen a lot of 5 star ratings for it. Hubby is from England, so tea is the ONLY drink there is in his opinion. And true to his heritage, he likes it strong, so was using 2 tea bags per cup. But somehow, we began using one new and one used, and it has satisfied his craving for strong tea, at half the price. Then, just last week, we went to an Indian food market and bought a box of loose tea called “Lion and Goat”, supposedly the most popular brand of tea in all of India. Strong. Black. One level tsp is all it takes. Yum. Oh yeah, and less than $5 a lb. Try it, it’s different, and not for everyone, but we like it.

Compost critters: are they seeking warmth? Is your pile hot this time of year?


Meg February 4, 2010 at 8:24 am


I had some of that tea while in South Carolina on business. VERY good!


Amy H. February 1, 2010 at 9:25 am

I love tea, too, and the way that I feel frugal about drinking so much of it (and not re-using bags) is using one bag per HUGE mug — so that it is a whole lot of water, and a whole lot of (still very strong) tea, per each bag. And saving the coupons that come in the Celestial Seasonings boxes once in a while. 🙂


Nienke February 1, 2010 at 9:33 am

Ha! Your input about tea seems to sparkle some fires!
I don’t like tea bags (most of them have no taste whatsoever) and I will ‘recycle’ tea only once, and only for the frugal benefits. On the other hand, I don’t mind reusing peppermint infusions at all, because I find the taste to be quite heavy to begin with.


Pennie February 1, 2010 at 10:30 am

I agree! Loose tea has much to offer in subsequent brewings that bagged tea totally lacks–either way I compost the dredges.

On the subject of composting: I’ve composted all my kitchen waste for over 25 years by various methods (the black lidded Metro ones, green tub roller kind, an open pile in a circle of sheep fence or wood crating) and it all pretty much comes out about the same. I’ve had mice or voles pop up once in a while, and even had an ingenious mole dig up into one from underneath and churn things up real good, but overall I found that it helps to not get too excited about such things–the process of composting works itself out in the end! 🙂


Lisa February 1, 2010 at 11:12 am

Tea is important enough here to spend the extra money on. As for your migrant mouse, like Pennie says, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. However if you are looking for a way to rid yourself of the creature, my advice is to prop the lid open and begin calling the neighborhood cats!!!:-)


AlwaysLearning February 1, 2010 at 3:15 pm

I LOVE my tea too, but also reuse my tea bags. I only reuse them one more time, but use two used to make one more cup of tea. Since I drink tea on average a couple times daily, the used tea bags get (re)used up fairly quickly.


Mrs. B February 1, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I am not a tea drinker but a coffee drinker. I was trying to find a way to be frugal with the coffee beans. I now have an old fashioned drip coffee pot in which I can reuse the same grounds for the evening coffee. I use regular coffee in the morning and just add boiling water again in the evening. My husband and I don’t have any trouble sleeping so the caffeine must be pretty diluted by then.


Wendy February 1, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I make coffee by the cup in a drip cone with filter (no electricity). I find the second cup to be just as strong as the first when re-using the filter.


Jennifer February 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm


Check out my blog and see what has been coming to my compost pile!!


Katy February 1, 2010 at 9:19 pm

I checked it out, and I will no longer complain a single cute mouse.



Erin February 2, 2010 at 4:41 am

I would be happy to trade your mouse in the compost for the possum I had happily munching on mine recently! Don’t get me wrong – I’m perfectly happy to share my rotting food with a possum – it’s just that when it gets dark so early and I try to empty the bin after dinner that the two of us are infringing on each other’s territory. I’d rather not interact with the possum…


Darla February 2, 2010 at 9:36 am

Easy, but potentially physically demanding. I’m assuming you have a lid? The bottom needs to be wrapped in a small mesh chicken wire. Things will try to burrow underneath, but they won’t make it. Good luck.


Stephanie February 2, 2010 at 10:04 am

I had something in my compost that I think was a rat. I moved the compost away from the end of my yard where there was a small wooded area. I put it in the middle of the yard next to the clothesline pole. I read somewhere that mice and rats would prefer not to run out in the open where they are exposed to more danger.My husband laid that small square wire underneath. We did not wrap the wire, but so far, so good. It’s been more then 2 months since we moved it and it has not been disturbed. In the old location, there was activity in there every day.


AJ in AZ February 3, 2010 at 7:54 am

We had to set our compost bin on a sheet of plexiglass to keep the ground squirrels out of it.


BarbS February 3, 2010 at 12:10 pm

My solution to the tea question is to brew a whole pot of tea (it holds about 3 cups of tea) with one bag. I find that a little bit of patience goes a long way, as it does take a bit longer to brew. I can get 3 cups of tea from one bag that way.

And yes, the caffiene in the tea is nearly all dissipated in the first 30 seconds of brewing. So the second (or third, or ninth! really? nine!?) use of the teabag would be decaf.


Martha February 4, 2010 at 8:56 am

MICE-we often find baby mice in our compost in the spring when we turn it over–doesn’t bother me at all…they like the warmth and it is kitty TV–I often see my cat sitting on the pallet edge (we use wood pallets wired together to semi-contain the pile)…and I suppose kitty diner…
TEA-I save my tea bags and use 2 or 3 used ones on teh 2nd cup. Have switched from earl grey to green tea for the new year and it is OK!
DEPLETION AND ABUNDANCE by Sharon Astyk…I think you should read this book Katy, I’m not too far into it yet, but think you and your readers might find it very interesting.


Katy February 4, 2010 at 9:42 am


Thank you, I’ve put that book on hold at the library.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Maniacal Mommy February 9, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Can’t help you with the mouse problem. Our compost heap is open and we have managed to attract rabbits for the first time in ten years. I am tempted to make an economy joke and I don’t know why.


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