Sunday, December 26, 2004

Box it up! Ship it out!

Today is Boxing Day. This lovely holiday is celebrated in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

Time to start a modification of this tradition here in America!!

I like to use Boxing Day, after the excesses of xmas, to box up all of the things I no longer need, want, or use and ship them off to charity. What a fabulous idea!

Don’t just nod agreeably as you read. Get up off your arse and do it! *poke* C’mon, c’mon!

Did you get a lovely sweater from aunt Marge yesterday? Go upstairs this evening and sort through the dozens of sweaters you already own (do you even wear them anyway? When’s the last time you wore that greenish one? Come on now.). So go through the pile and box up every single one that you didn’t wear at all last year. Goodwill would love to have them. There’s plenty of ladies of lesser means who could use a nice sweater. It’s been bloody cold!

Did you get a new coffee maker? Bread maker? Mixer? Can opener? What will you do with the old ones? I have an idea … box ‘em! Give them to a church thrift store.

What about the obscene crush of toys? You know. The ones your kids got. To go with the ones they got last year, and the last. The ones they never look at, much less play with. Box those suckers. There are local kids who didn’t get a tiny fraction of what your children got. Take every one of those neglected toys to the Salvation Army.

What about those things you bought to make christmas cookies/cakes/meals? Still unopened? Still have bags of crisps? Tins of soup? Your local battered women’s shelter can use all of them.

And while we’re at it, what about those old towels, sheets, and blankets that you’re getting ready to replace at the after-xmas sales? You hate those burgundy ones anyway! But they’re way to raggedy to send to charity. What to do? What about an animal rescue league? They can usually use such things as bedding for the dogs and cats awaiting adoption.

So, there. *whew* Doesn’t that feel good? It isn’t the last of the spiced egg nog either, ducky! It’s Kindness and Generosity and it warms the soul like a big wood stove. Your house is cleaner and much less cluttered and the things you didn’t want or need are going to people (and animals!) who can use them. You have a receipt to use at tax time and the world is a better place. You did well, friends!

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 2:39 pm   2 comments

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Rudely raised?

How does that work? Do folks intend to raise rude children? Do they not know? Do they not care?

Darling hubby’s two older sisters invited us to the Riverbanks Zoo for the Lights Before Xmas

They open up the zoo after hours and you walk about and admire the stunning array of lights that they have everywhere. As a bonus, you get to see any of the zoo creatures who happen to still be up.

It’s understandably crowded, mostly with children of various ages, and everyone is moving thru the dark, craning their necks to see the lights, many pushing strollers. I myself was limping thru on my bad knee while being dragged by my overenthused 19month old.

Despite this it was pleasant … for a bit.

Then we got about halfway around and I started to notice something. Rude somethings. Gobs of them. We made it to the barnyard part (complete with pony rides) and I began to get jostled, stepped on, and stood in front of by other people’s children. Not one offered a “pardon me” or a “sorry”. These were older kids: 9-15 maybe. And they were just RUDE. Even my toddlers can say ‘excuse me’.

All of the parents (mostly moms) seemed oblivious. One met my gaze with a slight shrug/smile and a “well what can you do, he’s a teenager” look when her son almost knocked my knee-high daughter down for the second time. A father was looking right at his son when he plowed into me then walked off without a word. Then the dad did the same. Wow. What a man. I’m turned on.

It was clear what was happening. The older kids– typical of some of today’s television-and-videogame raised crowd - had gotten bored in the 8 minutes that had elapsed since they’d left their gameboys in the SUV. The bad part was that the parents did absolutely nothing. Worse, they apparently thought that no action was required.

Is this the results of our latest ‘parenting’? The ‘I’m not responsible for my own actions’ school of thought? Perhaps a 'my child almost knocked you down and didn’t excuse his sorry self but it’s somehow YOUR fault' attitude?

Are these the spawn of the no-turn-signal crowd? The lovely holiday shoppers who steal your parking place, cut in line, snatch the last item off the shelf in front of you?

Well, perhaps I’m the last of a dying breed. I would be mortified if my child behaved in any of the above manners. ‘Just being a kid’ and ‘she’s a teen, I can’t do anything with her’ are not excuses. They’re lame cop-outs and pathetic. If you’re my child you’ll behave like a respectable and responsible human being. It’s my JOB, as your Mum, to make sure you do.

It’s a shame that the animals were some of the better behaved creatures at the zoo that night.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 4:43 pm   3 comments

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Unplug those electronics!

Well, ya know they say you learn something new every day!

If you're a ThriftyChik like me you already scrupulously turn off all the tellys, VCRs, DVD players, etc, etc if they're not in use. But have you ever been bugged by the little light that stays on on your DVD player(or VCR or whatever)? Well your brain was trying to tell you something. Your brain was screaming "wasteful!" back in it's darkened corridors.

It's called 'stand-by power' and it's energy used by a machine while turned off.

Almost all TVs have standby losses ... The standby power maintains the remote control features, which nearly all TVs now have. A small amount of standby power may also be used to maintain memory for channel settings.

Holy cow! I never knew. How many kilowatts have I wasted - and paid for - over the years? Gah!

I found out that a 20 inch telly (and that's not very big. I'll wager most of yours are that size or larger) uses 68watts when on, and a bit more than 5 watts when off. I know, you're saying: "jeez, Blue ... 5 watts ..." But that's 5 watts 24/7, every day of the year!

Here's the ironic part: if you know me you know that we don't watch telly. Zero. None. The only time that the telly is on is when we view a film, approximately every 3 or 4 days.

For TVs that are used less than one hour per day, on average, the standby energy consumption can actually exceed the on-mode energy consumption. In other words, on an average day these TVs use more energy while they are off than they use while they are on.

Aaaagghh!

OK, Happy Yule to everyone today!! Be a Thrifty Chik and be safe. I'm just going to unplug everything in my house now ...

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 6:27 am   0 comments

Monday, December 13, 2004

Stretches are good for you!

One of my easiest frugal tricks is ‘stretching’. I use less or combine with lower priced items to get more use for my dollar. Now some ‘experts’ (*snort*) will tell you that doing little things is a waste of time and doesn’t add up enough to matter. I say: “horsesh*t”. I despise those arrogant so-called thriftyness experts who look down their noses at some forms of savings as being beneath them. Well, lah-dee-dah! You can kiss my tightwad backside! (But let’s save that for another post, shall we?)

Anyway my little stretches are easy once you get used to them and really do help. Take clothes detergent. Did you know that you don’t need a whole scoop? Just because there’s a cup-sized scoop in there doesn’t mean it must be brimming to get your clothes clean. Read the directions. It might even say this.

Here’s what I do: I automatically go with half as much as the manufacturer recommends. If I don’t like the result, I increase it slightly next wash, and so on. Using too much detergent just leaves detergent in your clothes. A waste … and do you want that next to your kid’s skin? Experts recommend that you wash your clothing occasionally with just plain water to get out the excess detergent. What the heck?? To me, that means that we’re using too much in the first place!

This tip applies to toothpaste and shampoo as well. Just because the commercials show the actor gobbing on a huge inch-long wad of paste does NOT mean that you should. It’s the act of brushing, not the toothpaste that gets your teeth clean, folks! Just squeeze a large pea sized dab on your brush and brush twice as long. I guarantee your teeth will feel great!

Do you ‘lather, rinse, repeat’? Don’t do it anymore. Not only is this a colossal waste, it’s damaging your hair. That advertised ‘squeaky clean’ feel means that you’ve just stripped your hair of it’s natural oils and made it dry, unmanageable, and weak. Then you’re forced to run out and buy yet another product to combat it: conditioner.

Did you know that you shouldn’t wash your hair every day? Now, before you jump up and scream: “But you don’t know my hair!”, let me assure you that my waist length mass has its own problems. I have oily hair and dandruff (ugh!). Washing daily, using too much shampoo, washing repeatedly, etc causes your hair to overproduce oils and makes it a nightmare of crispy dry right after washing to limp and greasy half a day later. Try going a day (over the week-end, say) without washing and stop washing twice and look at the improvement.

These little stretching tricks can be used with dozens of things. Dish liquid (use less), hand soap (try diluting it with water and only use 1 squirt!), coffee creamer (mix your favourite flavoured brand with a package of dried milk), milk (dilute whole into twice as much ‘skimmed’ or mix with dried milk), etc, etc.

Try these little trick and see. I hope they’ll help you. My savings on laundry detergent and coffee creamer alone were enough to make me sit up and take notice, lol!

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 4:16 pm   0 comments

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Re-gifting, scandal or frugal?

Ahhh ... it's the holiday season. One of my least favourite times of the year - as you'll come to find out if you read this regularly. But more on that subject later. Today I'd like to talk about the concept of re-gifting.

Re-gifting (in case you don't know) is the act of giving a gift that you have received to another person.

I am always stunned at the ire that is provoked by this practice. Why should there be any stigma attached to this?

I know, I know, some of you are already spluttering in outrage, but gimme a second here.

Here's the scenario: someone gives you a gift for your birthday. For whatever reason it's just not right; it doesn't fit, it's not your style, it doesn't match your decor, etc. But it does fit (is her style/matches her decor) your cousin Betty. Should you wrap it back up and send it on? Should you re-gift it? (can that term be verbed, lol?)

You splutterers are all saying; "But it was a GIFT!"

So?

You're telling me that the proper tribute to your friend/relative's time, effort, and expense is to move said gift around your house for a few months, cringing with guilt every time you do so, only to end up stuffing it up in the attic to collect dust?

People aren't mind readers. If the gift is not your style, why is that so terrible? It's nobody's fault. The (presumably) good intent is still there. Keeping a gift that is just not you is ridiculous ... and wasteful!

This is as crazy as allowing someone to take you to a restaurant and order your entire meal for you - based on their perception of your taste - and then you being obliged to eat every bite and smile!

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 4:47 pm   0 comments