Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Maybe I like to shop after all...

A conversation with a coworker about my love of thrift shopping got me thinking.

When I was younger, I thought I didn't like shopping. My mom loves to shop, and used to take us out every weekend when we were kids to try on new clothes, jewelry, whatever. She often didn't buy things, especially if they were out of her price range. The fun was in the experience.

Well, I always hated that. So when I became an adult, I would only go shopping when I needed something in particular. I always had specific features in mind (but I didn't care about brand), and a maximum price I planned to spend. For example, "I need a pair of boots with a low heel that are warm and waterproof and stylish enough to wear to work, and I don't want to spend more than $60 on them." Then I'd go shopping for just that, and when I found it, I'd go home. None of this browsing around my mom used to do.

However, since I started thrift shopping in earnest (which really happened when I moved to Washington, since the thrift shops tend to be better here than the ones I left behind in Massachusetts), I have grown to love browsing, shopping for no other reason that "just because."

When I discussed this with my co-worker, I realized why. I always hated the feeling of seeing things I wanted to buy but couldn't afford. My mom doesn't care--for her, it's fun to see what's out there, whether or not she can actually buy it. But that frustration for me meant that shopping wasn't fun.

Thrift shopping is a very different experience. If I see something I like in a thrift store, I can almost always afford to buy it. I don't always indulge--either because I know the item is something I really wouldn't use, or because I've already spent enough (even second-hand shopping can add up after a while!). But I never feel that frustration of things being priced out of my budget, so browsing around is fun for me.

It's interesting to realize this about myself. I never thought about myself as much of a consumer, but maybe I am--just in a different way, or maybe even moreso than my mom.

What does this mean for being green? I'm not sure. Yes, thrift shopping is a green practice. But is being a big consumer while thrift shopping green or not? Something to ponder.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Update on deodorant

I now apply Alaffia Everyday Shea lotion to my underarms before applying my homemade deodorant. Itchy underarm problem solved!

Black Friday/Saturday, thrift store style

Ok, I admit it. I didn't join the "Buy Nothing" boycott, and instead I went after-Thanksgiving shopping on both Friday and Saturday.

A couple of my stops were to big box stores. I spent $43 at Walmart (yeah, I know) for two toys, one of which will be my daughter's Christmas present from Santa, and another for a toy drive for needy children I'm participating in. I also went to Casual Male Big & Tall to buy my 6'7" hubby much-needed socks, gloves and slippers.

But most of our shopping was done at Goodwill and Value Village, and the deals were awesome! I bought several things for the kitchen, including a dish drainer, a wooden snack tray, a pizza tray, a cookie sheet, a vegetable peeler, a gravy boat, and a mini loaf pan, all in "like new" condition. We bought seven picture frames to frame my daughter's school photos to give as presents to relatives. My daughter bought a butterfly blanket and a cute set of toy animals. And at Goodwill, where everything was 50% off, we bought at least a dozen learning and art activities for my daughter, including magnetic wooden letters, math, phonics and rhyming flash cards, gel markers, a "make your own journal" craft kit, a wooden tic-tac-toe board, and more. Total spent: $47 for 43 items. What other Black Friday deals could possibly be this good?

Monday, November 8, 2010

If birds can't find your feeder, does it exist?

A while ago, I wrote about getting a bird feeder so my daughter could watch the birds, and then about having to get rid of the bird feeder, after a raccoon tried to abscond with it.

A year and a half later, we are trying again. My daughter saw an episode of Curious George in which he made a bird feeder (and had to fight off a pesky squirrel), after which some real kids gave instructions about making your own homemade bird feeder. She really wanted to try, so we cleaned out an empty 64-oz Epsom salt carton, cut a hole for an opening, filled it with bird seed, taped the top shut, and stuck a pencil through it for a perch.

Hubby had wired one of those big stakes for hanging tomato plants to the deck, and I thought this was the solution to our raccoon problem--the advice I've seen is that if it hangs higher than eight feet, the raccoon can't get to it. None of our trees are that tall, but the deck certainly is. Second, the stake allowed us to point the feeder outward, which would prevent bird droppings on the deck (hubby's concern).

So I bound the feeder to the stake and waited. And waited. And waited. I even added the shelled sunflower seeds that were so popular with the birds in the last feeder--and nothing.

Is it the weather? We've had some crappy windy rainy days, but also some beautiful sunny days, and on the latter, I still see birds around. (And amazingly, the stake seems to be strong--the feeder is just as secure as when I first mounted it).

Or is it that the birds don't know it's there? In our effort to post the feeder somewhere the raccoons can't get to it, did we put it someplace where the birds can't even fathom there's food?