Non-Consumer Mish-Mash

by Katy on January 21, 2011 · 16 comments

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

When Tacky Meets Eco-Groovy

I was packing my son’s school lunch this morning, which consisted of leftover curry over rice, tangerines and a couple handfuls of tortilla chips. It all fit nicely into his tiffin, which was then completed with the addition of a bandana napkin and a tacky 1980’s stainless steel and plastic fork.

C’mon, You know the type. Your parents probably owned a set, and they certainly abound at garage sales and thrift shops. Me? I got my set at a Stuff Swap awhile back when my son’s elementary school was switching over from disposable to reusable lunchware. It turned out that the school didn’t need any more donations, so I kept them and they’ve been great for school and work lunches. Because with this silverware, I am at zero risk of heartbreak if a stray fork or two goes missing.

To buy eco-groovy reusable bamboo To Go Ware, will set you back $12.95 per place setting. Sure, it comes with an recycled plastic carrying case, but I for one would rather keep my thirteen bucks and roll it all up in a bandana or cloth napkin.

Because an already manufactured product will always trump the eco-groovy.

107 and Going Strong

My Friend Natalie McNeal, A.K.A. The Frugalista recently posted a link to an article about Leonard McCracken, a 107 year old Florida retiree whose frugal ways could teach us all an important lesson. Now 41 years into his retirement, McCracken is still shopping at garage sales and managing his own finances.

His motivation is influenced by working at a bank during the great depression and how “he watched people lose their shirts and learned from it.” He took low paying jobs rather than no work, avoided the stock market and built houses and later sold them at a profit.

“He remembers vividly the time that his wife was holding a garage sale and left him in charge. When she returned, he had sold the living room sofa for $100. “I had a very understanding, frugal wife (Dorothy, who died in 2002 at 95 after 75 years of marriage). We gave up a lot of things that other people were buying in order to break even.”

I love this guy. I think we should all gather at his feet and take notes from him. Of course, that’s where we’ll have to be as the savvy guy sold the furniture. 😉

Click HERE to read the article in its entirety.

Thrift Stores + Decluttering = A Bizarre Companionship

I am in the midst of a current obsession with decluttering my house, and as I know this motivation can be fleeting, I am dedicating full energy to the effort. Craigslist and Freecycle are helping with bulky items and the stack of garage sale merchandise in my basement is growing faster than a Texan restaurant serving size.

But somehow, my urge to purge meshes well with my thrift store obsession.

Make no sense? Well, I am always on the lookout for organizing products, and we are slowly but surely replacing all the lower quality Stuff in our lives with higher quality items. An perfect example of this would be my oriental rug or the Pier One patio chair that I picked up at Goodwill earlier this month. The chair perfectly matched one I already had, and the addition of this chair meant that a nasty plastic stacking chair that I had pulled from a free pile went back out into the world. I also recently bought a glass butter dish from a thrift store with a chipped bottom. This was no problem, as I already had an intact bottom, but was missing the top. I think you get the drift.

Indiscriminate stockpiling of thrift store crap would certainly be counterproductive to my goal of a clutter free home, but you know I’ll never be able to go cold turkey. I would sooner give up tea or wool socks. And that, my friends would be the day you can be certain that the pod people had taken over.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Megg January 21, 2011 at 9:07 am

I love the idea of using that type of flatware for lunches! Currently I use my everyday flatware, but I would really like to have stuff I’m not attached to leaving the house every day. I think I’ll look for some at my local thrift store! They always have flatware.
Where did you get the tiffin? It’s really cool too, but a quick online search shows that it’s kinda pricey for my taste. I currently use our reusable shopping bags as lunch bags myself.


Katy January 21, 2011 at 9:16 am

My sister had bought me a solar powered battery charger from a local store as a gift. I thought it was kind of gimmicky, and exchanged it for the tiffin, so the initial cost was a non-issue.



ListfulWistful January 21, 2011 at 9:33 am

You articulated that last point (bizarre companionship) really nicely!


Ann January 21, 2011 at 9:40 am

I love the concept: “Because an already manufactured product will always trump the eco-groovy.”


Maureen January 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I love Mish Mash days! Keep it going!!!


Donna Korzun January 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Great post today! Keep them coming.


Molly On Money January 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I take a packed lunch to work and I’ve just switched from eating out of my plastic gladware to bringing a second-hand (pretty) plate and silverware to eat off. My instigation was so I was not warming my food in the plastic but the payoff is my lunch is much more civilized!


Lorna January 22, 2011 at 12:55 am

I always love your posts! And I love Goodwill! I had a banner day today. I got one of those cushy stadium seats that snaps together with handles for my daughter who’s bum always hurts while watching her hubby race and it looks like new, a new pair of purple baby crocs for my little granddaughter which will fit her perfectly this summer, a book of stories by Yiddish women for my lovely Jewish writer girlfriend who’s coming to visit, 2 other books I’ve been wanting to read And a white picture frame , new no less for an 8×10 photo and a toy for each of my 3 grandaughters….All for under $10. Wow! Do I feel good!


Lucia January 22, 2011 at 7:17 am

Katy, I have also been fighting the decluttering fight at my house, but my sentimental side is getting in my way. I have filled a huge box with yard sale items but there are some things that I inherited from my grandmother that I can’t seem to make myself put in the box. Most of them I use because I love them and want to see them used, but there are a few that I just don’t have a use for but I can’t let them go. It almost breaks my heart to think about it. I know they have to go, and I may have to have someone else take them out. I actually think I’m going to make another sweep through the kitchen and get more stuff.

My second issue is that I would love to thrift store shop but I live in a very small town with no thrift stores. I know, its shameless. The nearest craigslist city is an hour away. So I’m going to try to list some things and then make a delivery that is a combined trip one day. But this decluttering is hard work, both physically and emotionally. And I totally understand about “trading up at the thrift store”. I think what you are doing is wonderful. I have been doing my best not to buy new. My family knows I love antiques so they buy me lots of those for holidays and it makes me feel better to get these items rather than new things I might not use. Good luck in your quest and sorry so rambly. I think I needed to vent!


Rebecca January 24, 2011 at 4:04 pm

What about creating a journal/scrapbook of your grandma and her legacy to you? Take photos of the items, nice ones, and add in stories about her and your memories together, photos of her and you. Then you have an album you can look at and remember her without all the stuff. It is your memories of her that tie you two together, not the things.


Lisa January 22, 2011 at 11:39 am

I wouldn’t mind sitting at Leonard’s feet! I’d listen for as long as he could talk. If my dad were still living, he would have been 102. People who lived during that era tended to have a lot of “frugal smarts”.


Dmarie January 22, 2011 at 12:50 pm

urge to purge meets shopping obsession…love that. And your purging will help charities while your shopping at thrift stores will help your wallet. nice combination!


Carla January 24, 2011 at 4:38 am

One of the things I noted about Mr. McCracken: no big medical bills — ever. He is one blessed man to have lived without that. Most people can’t say it.


Bonnie January 24, 2011 at 10:42 am

Thank you for today’s post. I have been feeling a little blue the last couple of weeks because I can’t seem to hang on to the money we had saved up to renovate 2 rooms in our 110 year old house. But seeing the article about the 107 year old and how he and his wife did without at times in order to break even gave me some peace. I’m assuming my time will come when I can get the living room I would like, but until then I will keep saving and thrifting. I feel better.


Eveline :) January 25, 2011 at 2:01 am

I love your blog just found it! I love also the compact idee

Greatings Dutch Mom whit also 2 boys 5 and 6 years old.


Kris January 25, 2011 at 9:21 am

I bought some Bamboo utensils from To Go Ware but only because I can’t take my thrift store metal utensils on the plane (security doesn’t care about metal spoons, forks are *usually* okay but the knives don’t make it through…and I’m air crew with security clearance!!)

I was tired of my plastic utensils (just the cheap kind take out places give you, I’d wash and reuse them) always breaking so the bamboo utensils were a useful option for me.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: