Shameless Shopping

Jared and I are extremely frugal. I would even go so far as to say we are "cheap". But the last few weeks our behavior has been taken to a whole other level. Examples of our frugality:
  • We have an extensive collection of DVDs. I mean its ridiculous how many we have. Two cabinets are full of everything from The Goonies and Labyrinth to Bride Wars and 7 Pounds. We are too cheap to go to the movie theatre, so we are always on the look out for sales on movies. Many date nights have been spent searching for a DVD and watching it while we bask in pride at how we only spent $5.99.
  • I cannot remember the last time I paid full price for anything. I always buy clothes on sale or go through a friend to get the employee discount. I never buy groceries that aren't on sale. If I can find green beans for a good price we'll eat that for the next 2 weeks. Saving money makes the beans taste better.
  • I am also Costco's #1 fan. Can you think of anything better that 3 bottles of toilet cleaner for $7.99? I didn't think so.
  • I am a farmer's market fiend. I drive to Ventura some Saturdays just to take advantage of the amazingly fresh food and low prices. I am usually the only white person there and I buy a lot, so in my broken Spanish I can barter them down a little.
  • I use the library like a crack whore uses crack. Free books? Count me in.
  • Every Saturday I make sure my garbage can for yard waste is full. Whether it's filled with palm fronds or weeds I make sure that I am getting my money's worth of trash collection.
As I mentioned before the last couple of weeks we have taken this to a whole new level.
  • At work, the computer freaked out and printed nonsense on about 300 pages of paper. When I was emptying the trash I saw it. I dug it out and lovingly saved it. Only one side was ruined right? I could totally make little notebooks out of it for my nasty drawings.
    I brought it home and Jared said he was proud of me.
  • Jared also did his fair share of dumpster diving. He came home with about 15 nice size cardboard boxes. Brand new! I don't know what we need them for but we'll figure something out.
  • While we are passionate yard sale shoppers, Jared bought a new bookshelf for ten dollars. It is really nice and originally $20. It was totally worth the $20, but was that good enough? No! We should have just stolen it.

  • We carpool when we can and plan our errands out to minimize gas usage. We have been looking for a more fuel-efficient vehicle and even considered a stripped down Nissan Versa. No air conditioning. No radio. The windows had to be rolled up and down manually and it didn't come with the floor mats. Yes. I actually considered this option.
I took a step back and finally realized that sometimes you have to get some things you want along with the things you need. Otherwise there is no reason to work so hard and save so much.
While I think it is good to not waste things, there is a fine balance that must be maintained. Maybe someday I'll be able to attain it, until then I will proudly comb through trash for little treasures.



Thou Shalt Not Judge

Walking along a busy street filled with shops and sidewalk cafes, I noticed someone across the street. This girl looked like the ultimate brat. She had a scowl on her face and I thought to myself, "what a bi*ch." Unfortunately, those were the exact works I thought in my head. As I gave the snobby girl a dirty look, she shot one right back at me. Disgusted, I started walking again and the girl did too. I was so annoyed. I stopped and threw my hands out and questioned, "What?" Only then did I realize I was talking to my reflection. I'm Awesome. I shook my head in shame and laughed nervously as my reflection giggled along with me.
I could only imagine what other people saw when they looked at me. Even I thought I sucked.

This embarrassing moment happened a few years ago. I am not a mean girl and I don't want to look like one either, so I continuously take measures to not let things like this happen again.

  • I'm not allowed to wear black shirt, black shoes, black pants and black sunglasses at the same time.
  • I do not call girls "bi*ches" in my head anymore.
  • I say a prayer every night that includes asking that I will "think good thoughts about people"
  • I also framed this picture of me and look at it almost everyday to keep myself humble. It's the most effective strategy.



Best Beauty Advice Ever

Every once in a while I feel the need to balance out my karma. I do a lot of dumb things and firmly believe that I should equalize my actions by doing good.
In 2008 while living in Ohio I was invited to be a group facilitator for NCCJ (National Conference for Community and Justice). It is basically a non profit organization that gets large groups of teenagers together and teaches them about understanding and respecting all races, cultures, and religions. They also inform them about conflict resolutions and how to promote peace in their schools and communities. It's a pretty amazing idea. This conference was in Dayton, which is an overall sketchy town. There are a lot of people on welfare and crime is everywhere.
I had to go through a 2 day training course in order to be a "certified facilitator." I met a lot a cool people and some that were not cool at all....

Adam ~ A 25 year grocery bagger and and caffeine addict. 6 cups of coffee before 10 am is not a
good way to start your day. His bouncing legs moved the table 1 inch per minute while his nervous sideways glaces had me convinced he was hallucinating.

Big J ~ A former drug dealer and now an artist. I was really interested in his work and wanted to see it so I could potentially purchase some. That is until he emailed me thumbnails of his art..... He was willing to sell me his Bob Ross-esque paintings for the low price of $400. Needless to say I passed on this opportunity.

This masterpiece can be yours for the low price of $400

Sharla ~ A blond marathon runner who weighed 87 pounds (note: weight may not be entirely accurate) and gave seductive glances to everyone, including me.

Rhonda ~ A red faced girl who tanned too much. She would only talk about her plans to summit Mt. Everest once she gets out of debt for buying too many purses.

Reggie ~ A good looking guy with almost black skin who was addicted to tattoos. He said he had over a 30 tats. It was a shame you could not see any against his dark skin.

My favorite girl was Shawnda. She was black and she was BEAUTIFUL. She had a striking face and a body that I would kill for. After hanging out with her for a few hours I noticed she had quite a few grey hairs. Then I found out she had a 22 year old son. I could have sworn this girl was 22 or 23! I respectfully asked her how old she was, and she said she was 42...... 42!!!

After the training I HAD to ask her what her secret was. (All good looking, put-together women have one.) I was expecting that she used Creme De La Mer or Botox or some other uber-expensive product. Her skin was flawless and she possessed a serenity that only potheads have.
And what she told me was the best beauty advice I have ever heard:

I don't let bad things get me down. When life gets tough I focus on the good things, I keep my cool and look towards the future. That is probably why I don't have wrinkles... I don't waste time worrying about things I cannot change.

Wow. Way cheaper than the stuff I've been using.



As I have mentioned before, I have done my fair share of babysitting and being a nanny. One family in particular made me think that being a mom isn't the worst thing that could happen. It didn't hurt that the little 2 year old girl Amanda, was cuter than an Anthropologie dress.
Steven, the 4 year old man, was one of my favorite little buddies. When watching them for a week while their parents went on a cruise, I had packed my Victoria's Secret Catalogue to look through. He checked it out with me at lunch (not the lingerie section) and told me I was prettier than any of the VS models. From then on I had a special place in my heart for the little liar.
8 year old Marianne is the "perfect child" personified. Not in the annoying way though. She LOVED to read... a girl after my own heart. After the younger two were in bed, she and I would stay up late reading. This caused a little problem. After having to drive her to school after missing the bus for the second time, I was really worried about what her parents would think after finding out about their daughters new tardy record. I explained this to her. She simply said "don't worry! My mom always drops me off late!". Good to know.
I had once made dinner for them, trying to follow their Mom's instructions. I am a bad cook. What was supposed to be Rainbow Macaroni ended looking like Beef a la Vomit. After poking around in the mess placed in front of them, Steven informed me that this didn't really look like what his Mom makes. After a brief pause he then said, "Thanks anyway for trying." Marianne chimed in reassuring me that "even though it looks a little gross, we'll still try to eat it", followed by another "Thanks for trying." Awesome. I know how picky kids can be about food. This is when I realized that being a mom wouldn't suck that bad.

Before moving from Ohio to California I decided to take them all to the Dayton Children's Museum. As we wandered past the mini grocery store and the tiny fire station, I realized that I would probably miss them, which did freak me out a little. Actually a lot. I usually only like kids for about 2-3 hours.

As we approached the American Eagle's enclosure, I was stoked to find that it was feeding time and we were the only people around to watch. I then remembered I was with kids. From my rigorous training as a kid wrangler I know that they sometimes freak out around blood and seeing animals rip each other apart.
Unsure of whether to stay or not, the eagle rushed down and grabbed a chubby white mouse. He landed on a branch right in front of our faces. With the 2 year old in my arms we silently waited for what the eagle would do next. Out of nowhere I hear 4 year old Steven mumbling something. I look over and see his head bowed and arms folded in prayer. Expecting him to be pleading to God for the white mouse's safety I lean closer to decipher his words. Then I hear, "Please Heavenly Father, make the eagle rip the head off the mouse so I can see it's guts.... and make it eat the head too. Amen". God acquiesced and the eagle did just that.

Happy Mothers Day to all of you who raise kids that don't suck.