Non-Consumer Mish-Mash — Interviews, Free Food & Doing What I Like to Do

by Katy on October 29, 2014 · 36 comments

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

Minty Fresh With The Non-Consumer Advocate

I’ve given a lot of interviews through the years, although it’s been a few months since the last one. So when approached me for a Q&A this summer, and I was happy to oblige. It took me longer than I thought to be able to sit down and answer their questions, which led to much soul searching and tearing out of hair. (Seriously, it was one of those things that would occur to me in the middle of the night or when I was out and about.)

Anyway, here’s the link to the interview, which features such delightful quotes as:

“My husband thought I was insane to suggest such an extreme measure, but he’d already witnessed many years of my wacky frugal measures, so he just shrugged his shoulders and came along for the ride.”

Click HERE to read the entire interview.


Moochy-Queen or Hipster Freegan? You Make The Call!

I’ve written repeatedly about how I help my mother out by cleaning her guest cottages between tenants. Sometimes it only takes a few hours, other times it’s much, much more. So I always cringe to see what kind of shape the house has been left. (Tenants do pay a cleaning fee, which is halfway refunded if the house is left clean. This has helped people to leave the houses a whole lot better!)

However, I do look forward to the food and various goodies that people leave behind. Because the houses each have a full kitchen, there can be a fair amount left behind.

Just yesterday I cleaned one of the houses and brought home:

  • One quart of lovely organic whole milk, packaged in a glass jar that I will return for the deposit.
  • Two prepackaged ice cream cones.
  • One box of brown sugar.
  • One bag of Bob’s Red Mill instant oatmeal.
  • Two containers of New Seasons’ deli salads.
  • One large container of yogurt.
  • One small container of yogurt.
  • One jar of organic honey.

I gave the ice cream cones to my sons, incorporated the deli salads into some quinoa, used two cups of the milk to make a pan of cornbread and enjoyed the small yogurt myself. My son ate a bowl of oatmeal before going to school this morning and the remainder sits in the refrigerator.

I just love free food!


You Can’t Choose What You Like To Do

The Happiness Project’s Gretchen Rubin has a life rule about how “You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do,”  which I find to be wonderfully insightful! There are a lot of things I know I should be doing, but in my heart I know that I absolutely hate to do.

Examples include:

  • Volunteering in the schools. I do this occasionally, but I really hate it. I did a lot of volunteering when my sons were younger, but I never really enjoyed it. Luckily, there are other parents who thrive on it, so I just let it be their thing.
  • Gardening. I really don’t enjoy crouching and kneeling in the dirt, so I put perennials in the ground and call it a day. Or years, really. It’s been a long time since I’ve changed my garden up.
  • Dogs. Although I grew up with a dog who I loved dearly, it somehow didn’t follow me into adulthood. I can’t stand it when dogs jump up on me, and getting my crotch sniffed is low on my bucket list.
  • Social occasions with groups of women. My coworkers and fellow mothers go out for drinks pretty frequently, but the thought of it has never appealed to me. My perfect evening is spent cozied up at home in flannel jammies. I’m not a drinker and the thought of having to dress up and wear makeup is 100% unappealing to me. It’s great for women who find value with this kind of community building, but for me, it would be torture.

There are so many things that I enjoy spending my time on, but others that make me want to run screaming. And Rubin’s rule has helped me realize that it’s okay to not enjoy what others absolutely love.

Thanks, Gretchen! I’m looking forward to reading Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of our Everyday Lives!

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 }

Randi October 29, 2014 at 9:53 am

I have no problem taking food that hasn’t been opened, but if that milk was opened or the yogurts, that would skeeve me out. We were walking down the hall back to our room at a vegas hotel and the housekeepers asked us if we wanted 8 cans of beer, or it would be thrown out. We don’t drink at all, but the thought of it being thrown out was too much for me, so I took it. I’ll make some beer bread or throw some in chili and I’ll give the rest away. Does your mom keep any of the food?


Katy October 29, 2014 at 9:55 am

My mother never keeps the food, as I’m the one cleaning the houses.

People in the medical field are either complete germophobes or the opposite. I l know what things to fear, and opened milk is not one of them.


Randi November 1, 2014 at 10:32 am

What if they chugged it from the container?


Katy November 2, 2014 at 11:40 am

Don’t ask, don’t tell.


Joy January 2, 2015 at 1:37 am

This made me literally LOL!! LOVE!

Julia October 29, 2014 at 9:53 am

I’m so glad we dislike the same things. <3


Lesley October 29, 2014 at 10:11 am


I find it very comforting to read how much you dislike going out with a bunch of women. And I would totally take all the food from the rentals, too!


Lee October 29, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Yes! My eyes got wider and wider as I read Katy’s list and realized that we share the same brain. People I know talk about “Girls’ Night Out” and it just sounds awful to me — why would I want to go out, spend too much money on drinks, and be hungover the next day when I want to spend time with my kids? I’d rather have my friends come over and hang out at my house talking and drinking coffee for mere pennies.


Vickie October 30, 2014 at 7:23 am



Linda in Mass October 30, 2014 at 1:40 pm

I like my friends to come over. I cook for them and we drink wine. I know coffee is less expensive, but I go for the wine!


Elizabeth Vega October 29, 2014 at 10:25 am

I love the idea of that food going to your family! We try to get kitchens and prepare our own food when we travel, but can’t always bring it with us on the plane or wherever, so it’s nice to imagine it being used.


Katy October 29, 2014 at 10:32 am

What’s not to love about food?


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom October 29, 2014 at 10:51 am

Wow, what a score of leftover food!

I’m going to go read that last article now because I related so much to what you said about it. Some things just aren’t for me.


Sadye November 5, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Gretchen’s pretty fantastic. I would highly recommend reading her blog; I’ve only read one of her books to be honest, but I liked that, too!


Jennifer October 29, 2014 at 11:13 am

So jealous of the honey jar score – actually it looks like you did really well with your mom’s recent tenants!

I thought your list of stuff you don’t like to do was funny, because it’s full of stuff I really enjoy. Funny how folks with similar values can still enjoy very different “extracurricular” activities!


Betsey October 29, 2014 at 12:18 pm

I, too, hated to volunteer at school/church with anything involving kids. I taught school, enjoyed the kids a lot, and then I would come home to enjoy my own kids.
I only go to places where I have coupons or they have specials. I go with 2 other people who feel the same as I do. Then we go to our own homes, put on jammies, and nest.
One thing I really hate to do is empty the dishwasher! Who knows why!


Linda in Mass October 30, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I too hate to unload the dishwasher!


Elaine in Ark November 3, 2014 at 12:43 pm

My dishwasher has been broken since June 2013. I look forward to the mundane tasks of loading and unloading a dishwasher (if I get a tax refund, that is).

I hate cleaning the bathrooms, but I like to have clean bathrooms.


Katy November 3, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Look for a “new”dishwasher on Craigslist. Many people get rid of almost new white ones because they feel they need to have stainless steel. Ours was $50 through Craigslist and it’s never given us a minute of trouble!


Diane October 29, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Just thinking about social occasions with groups of women today! We must be on
the same wave length. As a retired person, I have all the time in the world to socialize with groups of women as many my age do. But, that’s not my thing. I love chatting with others at the pool, seeing my personal friends, and meeting folks on the walking trails….but card games, bingo, nights out for drinks, etc are not how I want to spend my time.

Different strokes for different folks!


Patricia October 29, 2014 at 2:17 pm

It would pain me to leave you are indeed lucky.


kris October 29, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Good Interview!

I hated volunteering at the school when my (now bigger) kids were in elementary, but I did it. I was a SAHM then and now that my youngest in there, I work so that’s my excuse, lol. I volunteer at church as a leader on Wed. night and oddly enough love it, but I took my name off the Sunday list (to sit with the 4-5 yr olds), as that was not my idea of fun.

When I worked at the hospital, I handled the lost & found. After the allotted time had past and stuff went unclaimed, much of it found its way to my house. IA that hospital workers are either germophobes or the opposite and I’m the opposite. Throw it in the wash, it’s fine! My kids ended up with several nice hoodies, sunglasses, backpacks and books. No shame in my game, lol.

Love this blog Katy – keep up the good work!


M. October 29, 2014 at 5:46 pm

You are one of my heros! Keep being true to yourself. I love hearing about your endeavours. You inspire me!


Barb October 29, 2014 at 6:06 pm

I love to be cozy in pj’s at home, too. But I love to join my knitting group on Wed. night at a local business. It’s very casual & fun. No expectations. This group has been a great source of support and fun.


Chrissy October 29, 2014 at 6:48 pm

I thought of you Katy over the summer and cringed. We rented a house for a week and there was a strict rule that if we left ANYTHING in the fridge (even a condiment) we would be charged a cleaning fee. I was doling out snacks like crazy the last two days so we wouldn’t have to throw anything out. We flew and weren’t able to bring anything home with us. I thought it was a silly rule but realized that if we left anything we would be charged and it would be chucked. although tonight I left my mother in laws with a bag of tomatoes. She knows I’m game for free food and when we meet once a week I usually come away with at least something.


Michelle October 29, 2014 at 8:13 pm

When we do our annual trip to the time share, there’s always food that gets tossed at the end of the week. If it’s non-perishable enough to survive the three day trip home, it comes with us. But even after feeding the kids ice cream bars for breakfast on the last day, there’s always something unopened and perishable that I wind up tossing because I’m afraid that I’ll get hit with the cleaning fee for not emptying the fridge.

The last time we stayed there, a couple was checking out from the upstairs unit and came to our door with orange juice and yogurt and beer and I can’t remember what else, all unopened and destined for the garbage, but they thought they’d see if we could use during out stay.

I really should work up the nerve to try that next time we’re checking out ourselves.


Katy October 29, 2014 at 9:49 pm

That’s a great idea! When we went down to Ashland this summer we had an extra Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, so I took it down to the desk clerk. He was more than happy to take it off my hands.


Ginger October 30, 2014 at 2:20 am

Girls night out would be torture (and expensive) but a girls Saturday out by hitting yard sales and second hand stores would be fantastic. Get up early, make some coffee to go, carpool and share laughter with friends.. now that’s paradise.


Kathleen October 30, 2014 at 3:08 am

This is great! I consider myself shy and have beat myself up for years, because I am not into girls’ nights or situations that involve small talk. No more will I give myself a hard time!


Jen November 3, 2014 at 2:51 pm

I agree, it’s so heartening to hear there are actually other women out there like me! I think Katy just made a whole bunch of us feel better.


Isabelle October 30, 2014 at 4:03 am

” I hate… Social occasions with groups of women”

Oh my gosh, thanks for writting this!!! I also dislike them. I feel ackward, don`t really know what to talk about, am uncomfortable…. And, at times, feel like such a loser for not being more ”sociable”. It`s so nice to see someone just stating it without justifying it. Makes me thing I might just be ”ok” for not loving it!


Tonya October 30, 2014 at 5:18 am

Great post! I really like the idea of “You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do”. Can’t wait to read Gretchen Rubin’s new book!

I too dislike volunteering at school. I always used the excuse “I work” but felt sorry for those poor stay-home moms who didn’t always feel comfortable just saying “no”. I also dislike signing my kids up for sports. I hate the manic routine of practices and games. The pediatrician always looks at us sideways when she asks us what sports the kids are in and we say “none”, but I just can’t see being out of the house 4-5 evenings/week.


Lori October 30, 2014 at 7:17 am

So very true! And, these things we don’t like to do does not mean that we are boring people. Just people with different interest.


Vickie October 30, 2014 at 7:19 am

LOL!! We have a lot in common.
I can definitely relate to not going out with the girls. The Team I work with is all guys. Occasionally – usually when someone gets another job, or there’s some reason to celebrate we will go out for a beer after work, but no one on the Team is a heavy drinker and most of them have kids. So, it’s never more than an hour or two. Most of these guys have kids and are very involved with their families, so everyone goes home by 6 pm at the latest – and we get off at 4:30 or 5:00. This happens, maybe, about every 3-4 months. No drama involved with guys and they could careless what I’m wearing or if I have make-up on. I’m old enough to be their mother anyway. hahaha!

If I raise anything, it’s usually tomatoes. I had quit putting flowers in when we had cows, because my dear husband would let the livestock into our fenced in yard – we have 32 acres – and they destroyed my flowers, plants and my small fruit trees. To say the least, I was PO’d. I gave up having a nice yard. Now that we no longer have cows. I’m waiting on my new porch to be built, so I can plan a flower & veggie garden around it.

I hear you on the school thing. I did that when my daughter was young, but now that I’m a grandma and I work full-time, I let her do the honors. I will go to the Grandparent’s Day open house and such, but I prefer just to help DD by buying goodies, if they have parties and such. I feel the same way about Church activities. I’ve done all that when I was younger, now I just enjoy going for Church and when they have Revivals I will go, but I do not want to spend all my time on boards and such. I got completely burned out on that years ago. And, as I said, NO DRAMA for me!


JD October 30, 2014 at 7:34 am

I have things I hate to do (and that were expensive) as well. At my former church, folks took turns providing light refreshments after church. It was a very small church so it wasn’t but about 30-40 people, but still, I hated the planning, preparation, lugging it all to church, hurrying to get it out on the table, and waiting for laggards to LEAVE so I could finish cleaning up and go home. I didn’t do it often, but I partook of others’ refreshments so I felt it my duty to contribute once in a while. I was so shocked to hear other women say they loved doing it!
I like some of Katy’s dislikes, but on some, we sure agree!
Dealing with other folks’ kids is included in my list. I love, love my kids, love my nephews and some of the kids’ closest friends, and that’s it. I don’t want to watch, teach, baby-sit or train anyone else’s. It’s just not my thing, and it shows if I get roped into it (which happened at Bible school one year, when the scheduled teacher failed to show and I was conscripted from helping to decorate to “just teaching for this one night”. Yeah, it ended up being the whole week.). I’ve learned the words “No, sorry,” since then, and don’t feel guilty about it.
Great interview, by the way!


Ali October 30, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Thank goodness there are other women like me out there. I hated helping out at school and church. I loved my kids, it was other people’s kids I wasn’t so keen on. Forget room mom – I couldn’t compete with all the Martha Stewart wanna bees when all I wanted to do was offer up a cupcake, juice box and play some games.

A fun night for me is going over to my friend’s house and just hanging out in her kitchen.

Good score on the food.


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