Category Archives: Life of C

WHAT? WE DO WHAT?

I will tell you what K did.  Because she is going above and beyond librarian duty.  A law student came from Africa with no home, no checking account, nothing but her stuff and a will to get a law degree.  The law school messed up, this lovely woman has no housing, K is taking her in.  Hmmm, if that isn’t a big heart, I don’t know what is.

Me, I’m working two library jobs.  It is my attempt to make more money.  I love my night job (ahem…not stripping…that’s what it sounds like, I know), but 13 hours on desk makes you pretty freaking squirrly.

So, K and I are a tad busy saving the world and making extra money.  We have not forgotten the blog, but we are busting butt right now.  Regularly scheduled programming will be back in just a bit.  Promise.

Peace out…   C

Fashionably Green

In my recent attempts to increase my savings, I’ve inadvertently become a part of the reduce, reuse, recycle campaign. Of course, I think it’s becoming fashionable to be “green”, but when you’re doing it out of a need and not just a trend, well, then it’s truly a lifestyle…one that you can’t help but stick with.

So I’ve been signing up for different listservs and groups and well, I have a problem – I’m not a hippie.

I know! I know! How awful of me. How incredibly insensitive – I’m labeling, demonstrating pre-conceived notions. Blah blah blah. But let me explain…

I recently signed up for a well known online listserv that focuses on anti-consumerism and the three Rs. Soon, my email box was awash with irrelevant conversation about smoking pot and why the 60s were the very best. It was too difficult to sift through the dozens of emails from people trying to out-hippie each other to get to the really good, helpful emails, so I stopped my membership.

Where’s the middle ground?

For instance, I like the general concept behind EcoStiletto and what used to be the GreenGirlGuide and stores like Gaiam – but I am not that trendy or that wealthy. (I find if I really like their ideas, I can find a lower cost, but very similar product). On the other hand, I still like to shave my legs and appreciate a nice Ann Taylor suit (purchased from Salvation Army). So I feel like I’m teetering on an odd edge in the world of green. I have a feeling that amongst all these trends, those of us of modest income who want to be eco / budget conscience will get a voice that represents us. In the meantime, I guess K and I will keep leaning on one another in a quest for being ‘fashionably green’ in a way that is realistic and sustainable.

-C

Where finances and perspective meet…

I have just finished two books about cutting back and spending less: Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine and Give It Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less by Mary Carlomagno.

For one year, Judith Levine gives up things that aren’t necessities. She doesn’t buy q-tips, wine, or pre-made salad mix. She tries repairing her old stuff in lieu of buying brand new. She eats in, she rides her bike, she even joins a group for people interested in voluntary simplicity. When her niece graduated from college, Judith and her significant other put their heads together and came up with a priceless gift that cost them nothing at all. She is honest, funny, and analytical about the entire process. She even let’s you know that she slipped twice (a cute pair of pants and a resale shop outfit).

BUT HERE IS THE BEST PART – She totally boasts about what libraries have to offer! Because when she needed free entertainment or wanted to make hand-made gifts, guess where she found books, events, and information??? Ms. Levine is a total champion for libraries as an invaluable resource for the cost-free entertainment.

I liked her ingenuity and I liked that she provides insight into how she got more from purchasing less. (For instance, who knew going to the museum on “free night” could be so fun?). You can visit her website and blog at http://www.judithlevine.com/

Give It Up! did not impress me as much. For one month each year the author gave up the following: alcohol, shopping, elevators, newspapers, cell phones, dining out, television, taxis, coffee, cursing, chocolate, and multitasking. Now clearly she wasn’t just giving up financial things, she was also giving up some habits. I liked her sense of humor and approach to things at times, but something kept nagging at me as I was reading. Then I got it…her attempt at giving things up and living with less is how I have to live daily. I’m not holier-than-thou or anything, don’t get me wrong. I love to swear, I multitask like a fiend, and I have never met an elevator I didn’t like, but my financial situation forces me to live a certain way. I guess I was looking for a book on saving cash and what I got was a book written by a New Yorker who pared herself down to the standards by which most Mid-westerners (and especially Michiganians) are living. It just kind of makes you feel a bit dismayed and even resentful.

Now in poor Mary’s defense, she is funny and speaks with great candor. She asks herself (and her friends) some tough questions (like, why do you feel compelled to drink when you hang out?). She is founder of Order, a clutter control and organization company and I’m looking forward to a book about that from her because the website is interesting. But at the end of the day, our financial perspectives are too different for me to really like the book.

For my next literary adventure I’m waiting for a book about America’s Cheapest Family to come through inter-library loan. I bet the pendulum will be swinging to the other extreme and I’ll be sneering at them too! Well, I’ll let you all know.

– C

Hey, they do that with ransom too!

It’s always been a trend for gas stations to give you a less expensive price if you buy a bad car wash.  But more and more in the Metro Detroit area I am seeing signs that you can get the cheaper gas if you pay in cash.

Just a thought…but don’t they do that when someone is kidnapped?  “We only want cash…unmarked bills”.  I get to drive my car just a bit further if I pay the gas station in cold, hard cash.  They might as well post the price in letters cut out from magazines.  That’s ransom proper.

I am resigned to the high gas prices…there are far too many elements to the gas game than I can protest, letter-write, or lobby to (God love ya if you do).  But don’t toy with me.  I need to see one price when I am driving by the gas station at 40 miles/hour or else I get confused.

I don’t give you two different answers to reference questions depending on if you paid your taxes via check or cash to the city.  But if you are a gas station owner, maybe I will.  (Ah, spite, it is an evil, evil thing.)

– C

Ann Taylor, you slut

I am addicted to the local resale shoppe (it’s spelled shoppe – which apparently means it’s in a different league than the other consignment shop? i dunno). There are days that my car just magically turns into the parking lot. Must resist the pull of the wheel…but all red tags are 50% off…it is beyond my will power…and there is a parking spot RIGHT THERE!!!!

I live in a nouveau-riche community, the type with McMansions and an abnormally high number of those pet boutiques that sell diamond studded dog collars. (Somehow my 1970s Tudor style apartment complex and a shabby Amoco snuck into the mix)

Anyways, the resale stores in the area are teeming with beautiful clothing that I would never buy first-hand because they are so very far from my current buying power. And after reading “Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping” by Judith Levine (next post will be a review) I like to think that I am reducing my ecological footprint by buying something that might be “new” for me, but did not have to be made from scratch. (Green Cotton describes it a bit better than I can…)

I find myself making purchases and muttering, “Ann Taylor, J. Jill, Liz Claiborne…you are such sluts. And you’ve seduced me!!!!!” I am a resale pimp, and I have a lovely wardrobe to show for it. 🙂 Hence, the $4.99 Ann Taylor skirt with the tags still on it:

W Magazine Article on Consignment Shopping

Can’t wait to hear about other people’s best finds…do tell…it’s the thrill of the hunt, you know!

My Quick Soup Recipe

I made up a soup recipe yesterday with the contents of my fridge.  It turned out fairly well…soup can be a hit or miss adventure for me, so it was a pleasant surprise.  I have an overwhelming number of cans of black-eyed peas.  I keep meaning to purchase black beans and then grab black-eyed peas instead.  I wouldn’t recommend this soup as a main-course, but it is tasty with a sandwich.  🙂

2 cans of black-eyed peas – rinsed
4 stalks of celery (I used celery hearts, so they’re a little smaller)
Half a red pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 large onion, diced
4 cups of water
4 boullion cubes – chicken, beef, whatever you want
Curry Powder
Cilantro (optional)
Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese or Parmesan Cheese

Also, 1 cup of brown rice…

In two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, warm the garlic until fragrant.  Then add the onion, stirring until translucent.  Add the red pepper and celery.  Add curry powder to taste…I think I added about 1/8th of a teaspoon at first.  I just added pinches here and there.  Then add water and boullion cubes.  Bring to a boil for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, then cover and simmer.

While that is all boiling, boil the brown rice.

To serve, place brown rice in the bottom of a bowl, ladle soup mixture over the rice and top with as much cheese and cilantro as you see might like.

Disconnecting…

Yesterday I decided to get rid of cable. I called over to Big Cable Company, Inc. and told the person on the other end of the phone. There was an audible gasp. “But you have the lowest level of service for your area! It costs you a low, low price of less than $20 a month”! And then it began…that tango that is inevitable when trying to work with a big company.

You don’t watch any television at all?
No.
Not at all? Not even a teensy bit? You can get public television and local access! You have Fox Sports!
I can listen to the radio or use my computer. I don’t need to watch reruns of the high school symphony’s latest concert. And I can use the 20 bucks I save to buy a ticket to a game.
But what do you do with all your spare time?
I’m a librarian. Call me crazy, but I read stuff.
Well, perhaps you would like our phone service! It is the low, low price of less than 20 dollars a month?
Am I not speaking English? Is your connection broken? Please just disconnect my cable…

Okay, the last sentence didn’t go like that, but it may as well have. Anyways, it was taken care of. But then last night I had the strangest dream. In this dream I was watching TV show previews…a morbidly obese woman and her family (who only wear neon colors!) go through a divorce only to discover they want to remarry and start a Vaudville act! Watch this drama of fame, fortune, spandex, and bright clothing! and then there was Watch five ridiculously beautiful women cope with life in modern America. Meet Tish, the gal who makes witty party conversation! Brenda, the smart-aleck attorney… and so on and so on. Basically my brain was taking elements of every reality TV show, sitcom, and drama ever created and smashing them altogether. And the weird part of all this…

I woke up HAPPY about disconnecting it. Someday I’d like TV again, but for now, I’m not using it, and considering my TV options, I’m okay with that! – C