Back to Aldi!

Since around 3rd or 4th grade, my Mom did all the grocery shopping for the family (of four) at Aldi. It’s part of why I love reusable bags and self-checkout lanes. She would actually get most of the groceries put in the crate and bags as they got rung up so we barely had to pack anything before heading out. But that was back when they rang everything up by hand. They’re too fast for that now.

The Aldi logo

Anyway. I had been trying to incorporate Aldi in our grocery routine, but things just kept not happening. They don’t have everything that we need – for one reason or another – so we would end up at other stores, and slowly Aldi would fall out of rotation. Or we would head out to go grocery shopping after they closed for the day and we couldn’t go.

Now, I’m working Aldi back into my grocery habit. Which is taking a little bit of work. We have a pretty nice Kroger across the way, which is really convenient. Well, convenient for time, not for my wallet. Also, now that my hubby is at work later and I’m actually home every day, I get to eat whatever I want for dinner four days a week! I get to have broccoli or green beans or almost any other green vegetable that you can cook! I can have chicken as much as I want! I can eat what I want when I’m hungry for it!

But I still have the same grocery budget and the same space in fridge, freezer, and pantry for my food. Just this week, I’ve made two trips to Aldi to pick up a few things to help me get through the week and I’ve spent less than $15 total. I’ve bought a whole chicken, a dozen eggs – in a paper carton, not Styrofoam!!!! – a carton of organic milk, a pack of three zucchini, pasta sauce, and a box of rotini. If I had gone anywhere else, I would have definitely spent over $15 for all of that. Even better, some of that will be carried over into next week, reducing my cost!

If you’re married to specific brands, you’re not going to be able to get everything at Aldi. But, it is a great place to get your staples taken care of, and possibly some other things, reducing your overall grocery cost. Also, Aldi has been working to have more and more organic and healthy options at their lower costs, making it even easier to stay on budget!

Successful Sunday Shopping!

Every year for Christmas, one of my presents from my father-in-law includes money to go spend on myself. Fun stuff, no paying bills. It’s a tradition that my mother-in-law’s father started with her. He would do the same thing. My father-in-law has kept this up. Sometimes it’s cash, sometimes it’s an Amazon gift card. Sometimes it’s both. This year it was both.

Yesterday, I decided to take a quick trip to Columbus to make use of my cash. First was a stop at the jaw-dropping newly remodeled Jo-Ann’s up at Polaris. If you are in the Columbus area and you haven’t been, go! It is amazing! Anyway, I picked up 5 frames that I have really needed. I have had three 11×17 pieces, an 8.5×11, and a 6×9 that needed frames. So I finally got them! Well, actually I got a 8×10 floating frame for my 6×9 piece since it’s kind of an off size. I also got some fabric and spray paint for a costume. Now I just need to put in the work and it’ll be done!

The better things happened next when I went to a few local businesses. I know I was late, but Small Business Sunday works too! I stopped by my comic book store to pick up my pull and ended up with a trade paperback recommended by one of the wonderful staff members. We were talking about X-Men and how we are so tired of all these crossovers. She suggested a one-off story about the worst X-Man ever. I’m looking forward to reading it.

After that I was going to go down to Lucky’s Market when I decided to stop at a local consignment store, Rag-O-Rama to look for jeans. It’s a great store. I started looking through my size in the men’s pants section and found myself not one, but two pair of jeans for less than $40! This doubled my amount of jeans in my wardrobe. Then I decided to check the women’s section for some tan/khaki pants for the costume I mentioned earlier. I found a pair that stretch, so they fit to my legs, which is what I was looking for, but they’re not tight (they’re actually a little big)! I couldn’t believe that I found all of this for less than $60!

Finally, to finish off my day of “I can’t believe I found that!” I went on to Lucky’s, mostly because I ran out of body wash. I also picked up a bottle of Rose from an Ohio winery that is so delicious. That reminded me to look in the beer section. When we were up at my father-in-law’s this weekend, we made our usual stop up at the local Malley’s Chocolates to have some dessert and so my father-in-law could restock his ice cream at home. I noticed a six-pack of beer sitting on the candy counter. Turns out that a Cleveland beer company, Platform, was inspired by one of the candies and made a stout. We didn’t have time to get some before we headed home, but they also have a brewery in Columbus, so Lucky’s probably would have them. They do! And, after looking around carefully, I found it! It was the perfect end to my shopping trip. I got to spend so much on myself and then found something for the both of us. It was a great way to go into the Christmas holiday!

More Ohayocon

In my excitement about the Kimono panel, I totally forgot about the other great panel I went to on Friday: the History of Japanese Food. The panelist was well prepared and knew what she was talking about. She had a great set of slides, unfortunately we couldn’t really read what was on them. But it was what she was saying anyway, so we were happy to look at the great pictures of the wonderful food. It made me want to go out and find a good Japanese restaurant for dinner.

I also did a little bit of shopping Friday. I broke down and finally bought a Geek Cane from Aradani Studios. It is awesome! It is brown with a green d20 and a set of assorted color mini-dice inside the handle. I love it.

After that I went up to Artist Alley and got to meet the Pirate. I bought a couple of things, was tempted by many others, and got to chat with him for a while. Which reminds me, I need to bug Jennie about where the next Con Artists is.

Saturday was…interesting. My plan Friday night was to get up early and get going so I’d get a spot in the garage. When the alarm went off, I decided it wasn’t worth getting there that early to end up hanging around for a few panels later in the day. So I slept in later, which would allow me to stay up later to see the late panels for once, or so I planned. That is also the day a ton of snow was dumped on Columbus. By the time I got to the convention, both the parking lot and the garage were full. I didn’t feel like trudging through snow to get to the convention center, so I just wrote off the day.

But that is not the end! I decided to go up High Street and stopped at The Laughing Ogre. I was still in the mood to be in a geeky environment, and that was the perfect place to go. I picked up a couple of manga, a couple of graphic novels, and a couple of comics. It felt good. After that I stopped by Half-Price Books and picked up some anime, among other things. It rounded things out nicely.

I’ll go ahead and leave Sunday for tomorrow. And before I leave things, I’ve made more progress on the scarf!

I’m planning to work on it a lot this weekend. Hopefully it’ll be done soon.

Need to regroup

I realized last night that I have completely lost sight of the challenge I set for myself at the beginning of the year. In case you don’t feel like rereading that post (I won’t hold it against you), I set a personal challenge to not buy anything that I don’t actually need. I was doing well for a while, and then at some point, I’m not even sure when, I totally forgot about it.

Lately I have been trying to eat better. At some point I just started going out to get fast food for lunch instead of eating what I packed. This is part of why I thought of it. I have absolutely no reason to go out and get my lunch from a fast food place when I had a perfectly good lunch sitting in the fridge.

But it’s not only my lunch, and my body, that will thank me for this. My wallet and our apartment will as well. I’ve gone back to buying things on a whim instead of seriously considering whether I need it or not. So hopefully I’m going to be back on track.

In the spirit of back on track, I’m also going to try to post here more regularly. For a while I was writing posts up when I thought of them while I was at work and saving them on my flash drive. Never to be seen for weeks. So since I’m trying to focus more on doing work while I’m at work and allow the ideas to simply mull back there in my mind until I get home and post them. So hopefully a lot of things will be doing much better.

Being a crafty Green Geek

When I started down the green/natural/crunchy path, I had a feeling that two of my hobbies, knitting and cosplay, wouldn’t be very conducive to it. But it turns out I’m wrong!

Cosplay, a portmanteau of ‘costume’ and ‘play’, is when you dress up as a character and act as that character. It’s more than just going out and buying a cheap costume. Many of us attempt to be as accurate as possible with our costumes. That does mean buying a lot of things new and not made from organic cotton or vegan-friendly materials. But, that’s not always the case. It really depends on who you’re cosplaying. Many of my cosplays involve going to thrift stores and finding the right piece of clothing and/or just using what I already have. For example: I’m working on a cosplay of a character from the webcomic Megatokyo called Miho. While she has purple hair, which means I had to buy a wig, the rest of her costume can be assembled from existing pieces of clothing. I’ve got two pieces that were given to me by friends; I bought a t-shirt for it but also use it in my day-to-day wardrobe; I’m going to buy a skirt from a thrift store; and I’m using arm warmers and some jewelry I already have. It’s great!

Knitting is the one that really surprised me. Until recently, I had only bought acrylic yarns because they were cheap and easy to buy. Then my cousin turned me on to Knit Picks. It’s a great online store that has a huge selection of yarns. They have a bunch of different wool yarns, cotton yarns, other fibers, combination of the above, and organic cotton yarn! I haven’t use the organic yet because I haven’t had a project I can use the colors in. But I’m loving their wool yarns. I never realized how plasticky the acrylic yarns felt until I started using bamboo and wool yarns. Unless I have to, I’m never buying acrylic yarn ever again! I’ve still got a bunch to use up, but hopefully that’ll be soon so I can be 100% Knit Picks!

It’s so nice that I realized two of my major crafting foci can be green/natural/crunchy and still be quality stuff!

New Year’s Challenge

I haven’t really set any resolutions for myself this year. I’ve written down goals I want to have accomplished by the end of the year. I’ve also set down a challenge to myself. After reading No Impact Man, I started thinking about how much new stuff I buy over the course of a year and how much of that isn’t needed or can be bought used. So I am going to refrain from spending any money on anything new unless there is no option. I originally set it at “buy only used”, but then I realized that there are so many exceptions that I’d have to make.
One thing is gift cards. Over the course of the year there’s my birthday and Christmas. At which time I tend to receive gift cards. So if I were to be given a gift card to, say, Borders, I wouldn’t have to hold on to it until next year to keep from breaking my rule.
The other thing I realized is my crafting. I love knitting and you can’t exactly buy used yarn. But I have completely converted to buying wool yarn. So it’s not like I’m buying plastic yarn anymore. Wool feels so much nicer, but is sadly scratchier. I also have four costumes that I’m trying to finish before Dragon*Con in September. While I am going to go to thrift stores and buy used whenever I can, it’s not always possible. And who wants a used wig? So when it comes to crafting, it’s simply as eco-friendly as possible.
Also, used underwear? Need I say more?
I must say I’m off to a roaring success so far. I have yet to spend any money on anything new that I didn’t need or couldn’t buy used. I’ve only gone to Half-Price Books so far. I’ve used some Christmas gift cards to do some fun shopping. But nothing spent on anything that didn’t need to be new! I think I can keep this up. It’ll also help me to simply reduce the amount of stuff I buy over the course of the year. I mean, if a book isn’t at Half-Price Books, I won’t be getting it. It really simplifies things. 🙂

Reason #246 for going to Whole Foods

Yesterday I had to go to Whole Foods for a couple of things. When I got to the cash register I made sure to get my bag on top so they’d be able to load everything into it. The cashier noticed that the stitching holding the handle on the one side was starting to come out. She asked if I wanted to replace it. I have three bags from Whole Foods, so I wasn’t too upset to loose one.
Noticing my hesitation she mentioned that they replace the bags free of charge when they wear out. At that news I eagerly replaced it with a new one. So I have a new Whole Foods bag at no cost! Isn’t that great?! They want people to use reusable bags so much that they replace them for free and take care of the old one. I love this store!!

“I am not a paper cup…” owner!!

I had seen the “I am not a paper cup…” at ReusableBags.com many times. Many times I have been really tempted to get one. So imagine my surprise to find it on sale at Whole Foods. I considered it for about 5 seconds before getting one. I am so excited to have one!! I don’t do coffee shops, but I do like to drink tea and have been looking for a way to bring a cup with me to work. Now I don’t have to wait!

I was so excited that I knitted up a little sleeve for it. It’s over here at my craft blog. Hopefully it will work well and allow me to have a nice cup of hot green tea every morning at work. I’m probably going to have fun making sleeves for this little beauty, so keep an eye on Big Damn Crafter (the aforementioned blog) for more. 😉

Whole Foods run!!

As I mentioned yesterday, I went to Whole Foods to get some stuff Saturday. I also went on Wednesday because of the need for supplies. I know I’ve said this before, but I love that store!! Wednesday I managed to stick to what I went in there for. I only got one or two things I wasn’t planning on getting and forgot one thing. Hence going back on Saturday.
Saturday, I relaxed a bit. I am so glad I did. I found things I’ve never seen for sale before here in Ohio. I picked up a package of cheese curds. Until now, the only place I knew where to get them was Wisconsin. That was a wonderful find. Another find was Stone Brewery’s Pale Ale in a six pack. I have seen their Ruination IPA in the large bottles at plenty of places, including our beer stash here at home, as well as an IPA of theirs in 6-pack form. I am more of a Pale Ale fan than an IPA (Imperial Pale Ale) fan. When I got home, I was told by my knowledgeable husband that it hasn’t been available in Ohio much but it isn’t new. Another find!
I did pick up what I forgot on Wednesday, toner. I had run out of my Avalon Organics toner and I wanted to try out Burt’s Bees Tomato toner. On Wednesday I picked up BB’s Honey and Grapeseed Oil hand creme. The cashier made a comment of how much it cost for so little and I said “Well, it’s hand creme. And it’s Burt’s Bees.” Which started a discussion about how awesome their products are. Guess who I got today? I also picked up some more face scrub since I’m getting low. She asked if I had grabbed the last toner and was surprised when I said no. Evidently everyone there loves the Tomato Toner and they rush to get it when it comes in. She said it’s the best she’s ever used. Where else could you have this discussion?! I love it!
One thing I bought, I was brave about. I got a 16 oz. bottle of GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha in the Citrus flavor. I’ve read about Kombucha before, but I hadn’t tried it yet. I must say, it’s different. I am going to do some research about it and get some opinions and advice on it before I get it again. But it is tempting to start making it myself when we get our own place. The health benefits that they talk about are definitely worth it, if they do happen for me.
I’ve got a lot on my hands to do and read, so I better get to it!

Thrifting again!

Back on Tuesday I decided to stop by the nearby Ohio Thrift Store to see what they had. To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed. They have a huge, well kept store and lots of inventory. But, they’re not that shopper friendly.
They organize the clothes by color and type, but that’s it. You have to go hunting though everything and check the size to find your size. Let me tell you, that makes finding 12 Talls in jeans even harder! They also don’t have dressing rooms, or at least any that I could find. So I had to hope that the jeans I picked up were long enough and bought them anyway. I lucked out with 3 of the 4 shirts I bought. The shirt I wasn’t lucky with was my own fault. I didn’t notice it was an extra small! I had to hope everything would look good and fit and bought it.
When I got home I tried everything on. Again, 3 of the 4 shirts fit great. I found out that the one was an extra small. And then I tried on the jeans. They weren’t even close to being long enough! So while I did have some disappointments, I’m not writing off the experience or the chain. I’m willing to try a different store of theirs to give them a second chance. But if it’s as disorganized and lacking in dressing rooms as the other one, I’m not sure if it’s worth going there.
It has definately not put me off of thrift stores, though. Unfortunately, I may not be able to rely on them for pants. Being tall can be really annoying sometimes.