Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years Eve Update 2014

I've been mostly absent from this blog all year.  It's been a year riddle with too much stress, family changes and a bit of health problems.  I recently sat down and made out my goals for 2015 and blogging is a big one on the list.  I enjoy putting down my thoughts here and want to get back into it.  

The biggest news of 2014 is the addition of two new grand-daughters, Aurora and Penelope.  If that isn't a big enough blessing, we also learned that there will be a grandson born in 2015.  I am always amazed how my small family unit is growing into such a great people.  

I will go more into details about some of the challenges of last year.  I'm excited to share and log some of my thoughts and research about a couple of health issues I faced and hoping I was able to conquer naturally.

This new year is promising to have some new stresses and changes.  My stepson will be graduating and joining the Navy.  Stormy will turn 5 and we will have to get more formal about her schooling.  We have a huge financial goal that we have been working on and some major plans to improve our house.

How did I do on the China Challenge?  Not too bad actually.  I cannot remember the last time I was in Walmart.  I'm always looking at product to see where they are made and try to buy Made in the USA whenever I can find them, even though it always means paying more. 

So here we go 2015.  In less than 5 hours you will be here and I will embrace all that you will bring.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekend Chores - Spring Update

This weekend something new went on my to do list that I am super excited about!  Spring is here and it is now a goal to get out and get our 30 minutes of fresh air each day.

Here is what was on  my list this weekend.

The always list:

Laundry - 2 loads and hang to dry
Bathroom - Scrub and sanitize
Kitchen - ditto the bathroom

This weekend or until done list

Kill the mouse - it's taunting us now and watching movies with us

Kitchen list

Make bread - will happen Monday because I forgot to get the sourdough out
Make the pot of beans - yep, create the magic
Dehydrate the excess veggies and fruit - hubby came home with extra mushrooms

eBay store list

reconcile the spreadsheet for February - not even close to happening yet
list 5 items -  on #4 currently

Stormy list

Hug, love and pinch on - and work on numbers
Extra Bubbles bath

Personal list

Keep reading Atlas Shrugged
Knit a pair of mittens
Get 30 minutes of fresh air and walk
Update blog 

Here is what I wish was on my list

Ha Ha - Cabin fever is setting in apparently.  I got to get going, I've only accomplished about 20% of my list and it is Sunday evening already!

Lovin' life 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The China Challenge - The Knifty Knitter Fail

I am feeling so disappointed in myself, I broke down and bought something Made in China.  Actually, I lacked the willpower to return something I bought recently, which somehow seems worse.

Recently I was cruising through a blog site and saw an easy pattern for some really warm mittens.  Everyone knows, when you live in Alaska, you really need warm mittens.  They were made on a Knifty Knitter loom that I didn't have,  but have been wanting for awhile.  Those mittens pushed me off the fence and I started shopping for the loom.  First, I looked for used ones on eBay, but with shipping it was expensive and they didn't include the loom hook or instructions.  I switched my search over to Amazon and found a pack of 4 different sizes for less of a cost than one used one.  Can you say temptation?

In fairness, I zoomed on to the pictures and tried my best to find the "Made In" area.  I even googled it, but to no avail, I could not positively figure out where the looms were made in.  With trepidation, I ordered them, saying to myself that, just maybe, they were made in the Philippines or Vietnam.  NOPE, I opened the box, and after a minute of hunting, in tiny print, mixed in with the french instructions there it was, Fabrique in China.  Uggghhh!

By now, you have figured out that I kept the looms.  Buying used ones just didn't make financial sense to me.  I'm trying to justify it and I can make some good arguments with myself but it is still a fail.

My first project - not the mitten pattern that caused me to buy the looms, an easier pattern for my first go at it.  I made the pair in about 2 hours and spent $3.99 on the yarn.  If one bought the yarn on sale, or used a coupon, the cost would by half.  In an Alaskan store, you could easily spend over $10 for a pair like this.

Looming isn't new to me.  I've been looming socks for about a year now and find it the easiest of crafts to do.  I think the new looms will be easy for Stormy to one day learn on.

Here is a pair of wool socks I'm making on the KB sock loom.  These are for Stormy to wear under her rubber boots, once spring breakup hits up here.  A pair of socks takes me about a month to make and the cost of the wool is expensive, around $6.99.  I could probably buy her cheaper socks but I love being able to custom make them.

I have already picked out my next project.  A hooded cowl that I think is just brilliant.  I have many jackets that do not have a hood and this is a perfect solution.  I can also see it as another layer while hiking and foraging this spring and fall.  I expect this project to take a couple of days and cost me roughly $7 in yarn.

As far as my challenge goes,  I'm going to keep with it and try to keep my China dollars under $20 for the year.  

Lovin' Life with warm mitts on my hands and disappointment in my heart.

The China Challenge

Total Days China Free - 0
Total spent - $15.84

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The China Challenge - Monthly Update

I am a month into my personal challenge of not buying anything Made in China.  So far, it has been very easy.

I'm keeping a closer eye on what I spend my money on and I bought very little lately. No doubt this is true because, I am pretty tight with my money and I was feeling a bit of burnout after all the holiday shopping.  In January, we did our monthly food shopping, which came in under $500 and I did check labels.  All the food we purchased came from the North America including Canada and Mexico.

I also needed to purchase some zippered hoodies to wear during exercising.  My current ones are disgraceful or too warm.  I did value shopping and checked a few websites.  My go to site is Old Navy because they offer cheap clothes and free shipping to Alaska but what I usually buy appears to be  made in Indonesia.  Pretty close to China and probably a sweat shop.  I decided to buy a few used sweaters off of eBay.  Not sure where they were made in but because they are used, and I will be happy to recycle them until they too, are a shredded mess.  I picked out quality labels (Columbia) that I hope will last longer.  For the three used hoodies, with shipping, I spent $31.00.  In fairness, three new sweaters from Old Navy I would have paid $35.91 but I had a 25% off code, so it would have been $26.95.

So much for the saying, "Buy used and save the difference".  I'm not complaining though, I like knowing that I'm willing and happy to use what someone else doesn't want and hopefully the person selling the products were happy to make a sell and the income can help them out.  I'd rather support my fellow citizen than a huge corporation.  To keep the energy equal, I did send a few boxes of donation goods to our local charity.

That's it for January and barring any surprises, February should be equally as boring.  This may be the longest lasting New Year's resolution that I have ever made.

Lovin' life and feeling a bit smug.

The China Challenge

Total Days China Free - 31
Total Saved/Lost -$4.05

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The China Challenge

Maybe it was all the Christmas shopping that caused a bit of disillusionment in me or maybe it was my upbringing haunting me, but I only made one resolution for 2014.  Every single soul that I have shared my resolution with has said the exact same phrase - "Good luck with that" followed by a chuckle no less.

My resolution is to go as long as I can without buying any product that has been made in China.

I am not much of a shopper and I don't think I will be very challenged until Stormy's birthday or when it comes to buying new scrubs for work.  I do know that I will have to avoid the Chinese factory outlet aka Walmart.  I usually only shop at Walmart about 6 times a year, and I usually buy yarn, some shop supplies like antifreeze and oil (hmmm, maybe that won't be made in China....) and personal items.  

For Stormy's birthday, I really want to to buy an outside play set and I'm hoping to find a good used one.  In fact, I will buy something used that is made in China, if needed.  I feel that there is more positive in recycling an item than not.

So far this resolution is saving me money.  For an evening, I was very tempted to buy a Fitbit.  I was already hesitant about it because I would lose privacy, but I justified that by saying I already log everything into MyFitnessPal.  Of course, Fitbit and all others similar items are made in China.  I could probably find one used but the impulse has passed and I am $129 the richer for it.

Lovin' life - NOT made in China

The China Challenge

Total days China-free - 11
Total amount saved - $129