Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on December 21, 2023 · 25 comments

I accompanied a friend to Target and paused by an empty bank of self-checkout registers. Me being me, (unapologetically cheap) I glanced under the registers and was rewarded with a quarter, a dime and two pennies. The 2023 Found Change Challenge finish line is right around the corner, so I’m relieved to add an extra 37¢ to this year’s meager money haul.

I saw an Instagram reel about how it’s become a mid-winter tradition to read Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising during the winter solstice. (There’s even a BBC podcast!) I love this series, but hadn’t thought about it since I read it aloud to my daughter when she was a kid. Luckily our copy survived multiple rounds of decluttering and was easily located. Officially the group read starts on the solstice, but my day was completely open due to an ill behaved car battery. In other words, the perfect opportunity to lose myself in a book.

And on a frugal note . . . the replacement battery was covered under the warranty.

You may remember that I gave butternut squash soup to my neighbors in Bonne Maman jars last week. Well . . . they boomeranged back with Almond Roca in them. An honorable trade.

My father gave me an envelope of family photos and memorabilia to look over, which included a piece of my great grandfather’s letterhead. Nat Sanger was a successful businessman, with multiple menswear stores in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It took maybe two minutes to find this photo of his “O.P.O.” (one price only) store from 1915 on the internet. The “one price” was a reference to his no haggling policy, which was a modern concept at the time.

Note his name and logo in the tile vestibule.

I also found this postcard of his lake house, which I mostly know from stories of how it burned down without insurance. (Also how a panicked maid threw a phonograph out a second story window to “save it!”) Somewhere I have a photo of my teenage grandmother lounging on that wraparound porch, which has always been a special picture.

I never met the man as he died in 1929, but it’s still amazing to find these photos.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

{ 25 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 18, 2023 · 78 comments

  1. Now that Chanukah is over, it’s time to pull out my two bins of Christmas stuff, which means our enormous garbage picked artificial tree and the hodge podge of hand-me-downs and thrifted decor. Cheap and irresponsibly manufactured holiday products have somehow become a normalized component of the holiday season; and it’s downright depressing to witness the store to landfill waste stream.

    I just want you to know that it’s okay to decorate lightly with what you already have.

    Sometimes it’s best to just tape a red nose on your existing decor!

  2. I took the last of a gallon of slightly sour milk and made a bit of ricotta cheese by simmering the milk and adding a splash of white vinegar. I then strained it through a dish towel to separate the whey from the milk solids. The whey can be saved for bread baking and the “ricotta” paired  with pasta. Easy and without food waste.

  3. I made a big pot of chicken soup using just a single frozen leg quarter. Of course I also added onions, garlic, dried chives, carrots, potatoes, peas, herbs and spices. I love using my Instant Pot for soups and beans, as it’s as easy as pushing the buttons that says “soup” or “beans.” I know that Instant Pots are a trend that came and went at this point, but having a pressure cooker that doesn’t require babysitting is a game changer. Game changer!

  4. • I sold a thrifted University of Portland diploma cover to someone in Guam. Thanks, eBay!
    • I carpooled to Trader Joe’s and the hardware store with my friend Lise. I hadn’t planned on shopping on a weekend so close to Christmas, but I couldn’t turn down the offer to combine an unpleasant task with socializing. Plus, I needed a fresh gallon of milk.
    • I held off on buying a couple items from my grocery list at Trader Joe’s as they were significantly more expensive than Winco. Example? $3.29 for a bag of onions, versus $1.29 at Winco.
    • I listened to Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died through the free Libby app.
    • My across the street neighbors let me set our yard debris can out with their pickup, so I raked their front yard as a thank you. We share garbage service with other neighbors, which means we our yard debris turn is only every other week.
    • I made a double batch of ginger snaps to give as gifts and immediately put them in the freezer so we wouldn’t be tempted to snack on them.
    • My next door neighbor accidentally bought two bags of rosemary crostini bread, so he gave them to us. I stuck a bag in the freezer and grilled and served the rest with the chicken soup. I gifted him a jar of homemade butternut squash soup as a thank you.
    • I went to watch my husband play hockey and found a quarter, two dimes and a penny outside the rink. That is my idea of a spectator sport!

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

* Referral link

{ 78 comments }

Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on December 16, 2023 · 18 comments

Today’s photo essay is a bit hodge-podgey, but just how life is this time of year.

I thrifted this American Girl doll (with A.G. branded clothing and shoes)for just $2.99. I’ll try to sell her locally on Facebook Marketplace.

I also thrifted a brand new Schlage doorknob lever set for just $4.99, which was a perfect find as the previous basement doorknob is the literal worst. Too small, hard to grip and a special kind of ugly. Yes, the door is dirty, it’s not visible unless you’re standing directly in front of it, which apparently I don’t do all the often.

I’d been wanting to switch to a lever style handle, as I often have my hands awkwardly full of heavy laundry and struggle to open this door. The lever handle makes it 72.6% easier to open the door.

I even had it on my to-do list to stop by the Habitat ReStore to shop for a better knob.

Another example that there’s almost nothing that can’t be thrifted. By the way, I’m fine with the brass/brushed nickel combination. It doesn’t matter.

My husband and I stopped  by Costco for a few items and we bought six 2-1/2 pound bags of coffee as it had a $7 instant savings rebate. I don’t drink coffee at home, but my husband does, so this’ll keep him inexpensively caffeinated for a good long time.

Being able to spend $89.94 at one go without blinking an eye is a privileged place to be, and don’t think for a moment that don’t appreciate where we are in our financial journey.


Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

{ 18 comments }

Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on December 12, 2023 · 42 comments

  1. I thrifted a full box of menorah candles for 99¢, which beats the $18 ones I bought (and promptly returned) from Powell’s Books.

  2. I also picked up a Land’s End Christmas stocking for $2.99 and promptly took it home to pick out the stitched name and put it up on eBay for $50.

  3. I stepped outside of Goodwill to be immediately greeted by the shiniest 2023 penny! Why yes, I did recently come into some money!

  4. My son and I baked up and decorated a batch of Chanukah cookies, including some components from a “Chanukah Sweater” cookie kit that I bought on clearance last year. My son made a “Seinfeld” sweater, which inspired me to make a “Festivus” cookie, complete with a decorative Festivus pole.

    Festivus, for the rest of us.

  5. I didn’t thrift any tiny Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

{ 42 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 11, 2023 · 34 comments

  1. I walked to Powell’s Books to return the pricey menorah candles I didn’t end up needing, as well as a bag of books to sell. They’ve switched to only buying books Friday through Sunday, so I patted myself on the back for remembering this fact on a random Saturday. I then detoured to pick up a Buy Nothing item and meandered home. Lastly, I found a quarter on the ground.

    • Returned something.
    • Sold something.
    • Got something for free.
    • Found some money.
    • A bit of exercise.

    My kind of day.

  2. We’re starting to tighten up our gift giving plans, which includes an Instacart gift card for an elderly family member who uses the service for all his grocery shopping. (Don’t worry, he doesn’t read the blog!) I checked Costco.com and discovered that we’d save $40 buying the gift card through their website!

    Purchased. Printed. Done!

    Remember to check Costco for discounted gift cards!

  3. I was in the mood to rewatch the 1988 movie Crossing Delancey, but it wasn’t available through any of our current streaming services. However, I did find a “Free With Ads” version on Youtube, which was a perfectly acceptable compromise. Such a sweet movie and an acceptable number of invasive advertisements. I even convinced my son to watch it with me.

    My husband and I lived in the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York City around the same era as the movie and there were still open barrel Jewish pickle vendors, which made me feel like a time traveler from the turn of the century.

  4. • I mixed up another batch of latkes, this time making them all cute and tiny. I topped the above ones with sauerkraut and pickled red onion, furikake and everything but the bagel. Plus sour cream — always sour cream!

    • My husband worked EMS for a hockey game and came home with a coupon for free curly fries from Carl’s Jr as the team scored a certain number of goals. It doesn’t expire until next June, so I stuck it in my wallet for some later time.
    • I used a coupon for a free pint of Haagen Dazs and then scanned the receipt into Ibotta* for an extra $1.50 rebate.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

* Referral link

{ 34 comments }

Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on December 9, 2023 · 35 comments

  1. My family has started celebrating Chanukah and I started thinking about how the traditional dish of latkes is about as frugal as can be. Shredded potatoes, onion, a bit of flour, salt, pepper and maybe some baking powder and oil! Sour cream, but that’s something that’s always on hand at my house.

    Of course it’s not the entire meal, but I can still appreciate the crispy simplicity of this traditional Jewish dish.

  2. I made up a batch of pickled red onions, which couldn’t have been simpler. The recipe called for a mandoline slicer for perfectly thin slices, but that’s not something I own. I view most recipes as a starting point rather than an edict, so I sharpened my knife and carefully cut thin (mostly) even slices.

    Yet another example of “make it do!”

  3. Someone in my Buy Nothing Group who follows me on Instagram saw that I’d nabbed a used Bonne Maman jar from a neighbor’s recycling bin, so she messaged me to offer two more. I use these for bulk purchased spices, small amounts of leftovers and other tidbit-y items so I happy accepted her offer.

  4. I thought I’d run out of menorah candles, so went and bought an $18 set at Powell’s Books as 1) I was there anyway; and 2) I had a gift card. But then I came across a box that I’d thrifted for $1.99 back in January. I saved the Powell’s receipt, so I’ll be able to return the pricey ones.

  5. I didn’t thrift any tiny Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

{ 35 comments }

Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on December 5, 2023 · 28 comments

My son and I went to a grab pizza at a newly opened Italian market and they gave us a free extra slice as they were about to close. The employee then told us that we should come again at closing as they often have extra slices at the end of the day.

Portland has been experiencing another “atmospheric river,” with dramatic stormy nights. The whipping winds dropped more apples from my neighbor’s tree onto their sidewalk. Bruised and a bit nibbled, there was still enough good apple on each one to assemble a pie.

It helped that I had a freezer bag of leftover pie dough scraps, so I all that was required was to defrost and roll it out. As easy as pie!

I stopped by Goodwill to return a sweater my son didn’t want and perused the aisles for hidden treasure. I didn’t actually find any “treasure,” but I did pick up this half-gallon canning jar as it was priced at just 49¢.

Not a particularly brag-worthy find, but I use these specific jars for bulk food storage and 49¢ is easily justified.

This particular Goodwill is next door to my beloved “Dented Vegetable Store,” so I ran in to peruse the wares. You can see why it’s my favoite:

I do like me a food bargain!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

{ 28 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 4, 2023 · 60 comments

  1. My neighbor Nancy and I met up for tea at her house to catch up on each other’s lives. That’s it. No gift exchange, no baked goods, no obligation — just tea and conversation. Finding contentment with the simple option is a freeing mindset, as it means you don’t have to be financially flush or Martha-effing-Stewart to nourish your friendships.

  2. My friend Lise invited me to go to the Goodwill pay-by-the-pound Outlet with her. Here’s what I bought for $13.55:

    • A Variera IKEA bin. I thrifted the smaller one a couple months ago and had been keeping an eye out for another one. I use them for fridge organization.
    • A cute vintage 1960s/1970s hand towel.
    • Two tiny baskets that I might use as part of the kids’ stockings.
    • A zip-up hoodie for my son and a pullover hoodie for my nephew.
    • A cheap-o organizing bin that matches the ones I already use for drawer organization.
    • A Pyrex glass food storage container to pair up with a lid that came with a set of replacement lids I recently bought.
    • An Elvis Presley Christmas ornament.

  3. My son wanted to make a pasta recipe that specifically called for guanciale pork, so we drove over to Providore Fine Foods, which was a first for me. This “food lover’s playground” contains multiple high end culinary businesses selling impressively gorgeous gourmet items. The prices were outside of my comfort zone. Think $10 cans of tomatoes.

    Instead of bumming me out, the store actually made me feel really good about my own methods of shopping, cooking and food preservation. No, I’m not going to spend $9 on a small jar of jam, but I will forage my own blackberries for jam, dry my own chives, experiment with sauerkraut and bake bread to enjoy the same luxury items as the customers who crowded the store. For pennies on the dollar.

    Seriously though, it was so crowded!

  4. • My neighbor put an empty Bonne Maman jar in her glass recycling, which I brought home to use as food storage.
    • I picked off an embroidered corporate logo from the new looking hoodie that I picked up at the Goodwill Outlet. It’s my son’s size and an expensive brand.
    • I picked up my hold copy of Stephanie Land’s Class, which I’d put on hold as as soon as it was available. The book is crisp and I’m pretty sure I’m the first person to check it out. Every library patron’s dream! I’ll let my step mother borrow it when I’m done reading it.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

{ 60 comments }

Too Much Sauerkraut?

by Katy on November 30, 2023 · 18 comments

Remember my $1.69 bag of red/purple cabbage from the Dented Vegetable Store™?

You know, the bag that contained all this cabbage?!

I used it to to create two half-gallon jars of purple sauerkraut. I even added carrots and chives for variety, as I had them on hand.

I don’t own proper fermentation weights, so I put glass marbles into new Ziploc bags to weigh everything down, (which is a commonly suggested internet “hack.”) This ensures that the fermenting sauerkraut stays safely below the salt water solution.

I topped one of the canning jars with a lid that’s designed to be used with a straw; and then lay a bandana under a canning ring for the other one. This allows for the bubbling fermentation action without a buildup of pressure.

Then I decided that maybe I shouldn’t be so laissez-faire about food safety and went on Amazon to order a proper kit. There were almost endless choices, but they all boasted the same four-and-a-half star reviews, so I just bought a basic one without an excess of research. I did choose a “used” one, as I try to avoid buying new whenever possible. This way I can bypass my purchase prompting the manufacture of a brand new item. Also, it was cheaper.

I’ll switch out the lids and weights when this comes in the mail.

At this point you may be wondering “Why so much sauerkraut?” Well . . . I like to try out new things and the $1.69 cabbage was too big of a bargain to resist! It’ll last for ages and I can share with friends and family should they be so brave.

Have you made your own sauerkraut from scratch? Please share your tips, tricks and stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

{ 18 comments }

Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on November 28, 2023 · 43 comments

  1. I stopped into the “Dented Vegetable Store” and picked up a hodge-podge of bargain food items.

    • A canister of (not expired, I checked!) matzo meal for 50¢.
    • A honkin’ huge restaurant packaged bag of prepped chopped red cabbage for $1.69. I’ll use it to make sauerkraut.
    • A massive restaurant packaged bag of organic chives for $1. I’ll dry and chop it for future use.
    • Three gargantuan red peppers for 69¢ apiece.
    • A package of gluten-free mint Oreos for $2.

    This store is a bit of a schlep from the house, so I don’t get there that often. But when I do . . . .

  2. We’ve been eating nothing but Thanksgiving leftovers since last Thursday and are finally winnowing down the glut of food. Mind you, this is anything but a sacrifice as a plate of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas, carrots, gravy and cranberry sauce is pretty much my favorite meal. However, it’s nice to enjoy a bit of variety in life.

    I put a batch of bulk-purchased Winco pinto beans through the Instant Pot last night and am looking forward to tostadas for tonight’s dinner. Unsurprisingly, they’ll feature the red peppers from yesterday.

  3. My mother has been winnowing down a few of her collections and invited me over to pick through her McCoy pottery. I chose three small blue pieces, which I especially have space for as my son’s dervish of a kitten destroyed three pottery items in the past couple weeks.

    I’ll keep these ones behind glass.

  4. My son decided to try making homemade pasta with pesto at the house, which we were able to concoct using what we already had on hand. The pasta was easy enough as it’s just flour, eggs and water, but the pesto took a bit of creative thinking.

    My son initially wanted to follow a specific recipe, but I convinced him to replace the basil with spinach and simply omit the nuts. Not only did this save money, but it also saved him an unpleasant grocery run. The spinach, garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt made an absolutely delicious “pesto,” and I will absolutely be recreating this recipe in the future!

  5. I didn’t buy any tiny Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

{ 43 comments }