Tag Archives: shopping

PPW – or, How I Learned to Justify my Expenditures

30 Apr

I loved college. (Go Ducks!) I loved my friends, my classes, my freedom. Not that I was repressed prior to that or anything, but I mean that enjoyed making (most of) my own decisions in college. I enjoyed being an adult.

No, I was not crazy or wild. I was, actually, quite calm and well-behaved. I think the wildest thing I did was sleep out on a sand dune on the Oregon coast in a tent with several other friends on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which, for those who don’t know, is the third week in January. And when I say, “sleep”, I exaggerate. We about froze to death. We had taken two cars and had two tents. When we “woke up” (read “gave up”) on the frigid dawn of the day after MLKjr Day, my tent-mates and I discovered that the other tent/car had given up and driven the 40 minutes back to the U of Oregon.


To be sure, I wouldn’t recommend sleeping on a sand dune in January to anyone except possibly college kids looking to be wild. That kind of wild I can approve of. There was no alcohol involved. Just silliness.

But I digress. I meant to talk about my college obsession with “PPW”. What is PPW, you ask? PPW is the Price Per Wearing of any article of clothing we, as college students, considered buying. There is also its lesser-known cousin, the PPU – Price Per Use. This was also an important consideration.

Take the free gym bag I mentioned in a previous post. Great PPU. Especially considering that it was A) free and B) is now 29 years old and still going strong.

But…again…I digress.

PPW – yes, that’s where I was going.

Exhibit A:

Within days prior to my graduation from Berlin American High School, I bought myself a letterman’s jacket. I had never had a letterman’s jacket. I hadn’t been in any high school long enough to earn one. But finally, my senior year, I earned my letter. What sport, you ask? Ha. Don’t make me laugh. I earned it for my involvement with Speech Club and Drama Club.

Yes, I was that kind of student. I even had a teal-colored corduroy pant suit. Jealous?


So…PPW…my letterman’s jacket, as I recall, cost about 200 dollars, back in 1988. I paid for it out of the $500 I’d won for the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars essay contest. (Who says writing doesn’t pay?) I wore that jacket approximately 1.5 times before graduating. If that.

I did wear it a few times in college because it was kinda cool and said Berlin on it. I got comments every time. But it was HOT, wool, heavy, and Eugene isn’t exactly cold so much as it is wet…so rain-proof gear was much more useful.

I still have the jacket. It’s been worn, oh, MAYBE half a dozen more times since then…on super-cold days…to take out the compost…

PPW of said jacket: about $25. NOT GOOD.


Exhibit B:

The other coat I bought out of that essay contest win: a German Loden trench coat. $300. Wool. Classic. Red and Black. It was warm, fashionable, and, while I only wore it on Sundays to church and occasional other outings, I wore it for about 20 years. I wore it until it was threadbare on the cuffs, missing buttons, pushing its “classic” definition. I LOVED that coat. Still do.

PPW of that coat: oh, definitely less than a penny.


One last exhibit: the silk dress I wore to my 10 year high school reunion.

As I recall, I paid $89 for it, 15 years ago.

I wore it once.

I still really like this dress.  But I by the time the next thing rolled around to which I could wear such a thing...I was pregnant.  And after that my body was switched with an alien's body and I never looked the same again.

I still really like this dress. But by the time the next event rolled around to which I could wear such a thing…I was pregnant. And after that my body was switched with an alien’s body and I never looked the same – or wore the same things – again.

This July will be my 25th high school reunion. If it wasn’t in July, I’d wear my letterman’s jacket. Then the PPW would be down to, oh, $20? But wool isn’t exactly summer fabric. I’ll probably just wear the hippy-ish skirt and top I bought for my friend’s wedding last year. It’s good for a mother of three. And the PPW is already down to about $3.

Yeah. That works for me.

Gift-Buying: the Scourge of the Holidays

9 Dec

It’s time for a bonus mid-week blog post. There’s just too much to write about this time of year!!!

I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop – Benlee’s – and basking in the Christmas glory of about a dozen Christmas trees of various sizes, carols playing, and Highlander Grogg in my coffee cup. A fire blazes – well, smolders – in the hearth and I am forced to admit something to myself. Something that I have secretly known for a long time but have never said out loud before. (What is this blog becoming anyway? A confessional?)

I am not good at choosing Christmas gifts.

Finding the perfect items for my immediate family is not too difficult, though it’s funny how some years are easier for certain people. I’m doing pretty well for my husband this year, for example, whereas in other years I’ve been pulling out my hair by this point in Santa-induced frustration. The kids, too, are usually not too hard to figure out…though my pocketbook may beg to differ.

My favorite antique ornaments - all bought for a song at various "antique"/junk stores or garage sales.

But consider this: THE BROTHERS-IN-LAW.

Oy, vey, how I have failed them!

I try. I try all year long. Come January, I’m on the lookout for The Perfect Gift – for my sisters and their husbands, my dad, my mom, my nieces and nephews and their kids. (Yes, I’m a great-aunt. Makes me sound like I wear horned-rimmed spectacles and scold the neighborhood children every time they roll a ball into my pristine yard. “You hoodlums!” she said, shaking her fist. “Leave my flowers alone! Now get over here and help me rescue my cat from the tree.”)

Part of the problem, of course, is that with adults, you’re dealing with people who can go out and buy whatever the heck they want at any time of the year so they’re not sitting around, writing hopeful wish-lists and posting them to the North Pole.

This means you are forced to be creative. Or very smart. Or to shop on Black Friday. (NO STINKIN’ WAY.) Or to spend vast amounts of money. Problem: my self-imposed Christmas budget-per-person is approximately the same as it was during the Bush Administration. The first George. About 24 years ago.

My door swag. I like making wreaths, but I got lazy this year. A wreath takes...oh, an hour or so. Time for this swag: 10 minutes, tops.

So I try being creative, because when it comes to gifts, I simply am not smart. Exhibit A: A few years back, I found myself, come this time of year, pondering my brother-in-law who lives on Orcas Island. “He’s an out-doors-ish kind of guy,” I thought. “He goes hunting and camps out when he hunts. Doesn’t he?” (Answer: not exactly. He’s in an RV…but it’s an ancient, only-slightly-above-a-tent sort of vehicle with no running water and even its delusions of grandeur were long-ago rusted off.)

So, taking my vast knowledge of him to the L.L.Bean website, I began to shop. “This thing? Too expensive. That thing? I think he has one. This? Hmmm…well…maybe!” And so Charley got a lantern for Christmas that year. Now, lest you applaud me, allow me to describe said lantern: it was eight inches tall, black, decorated with a moose, and held a tea light candle as its entire light-source.

Charley, bless his heart, has a sense of humor. I don’t THINK he said, “What am I supposed to do with this?” but he probably thought it. I responded to his unsaid thought like this: “Well, everyone needs a light when camping, right?” Charley [tentatively]: “Yes…” Me [always the optimist]: “Well, now you have a nice new one!” Charley [looking skeptical]: “But it’s too small to help much.” Me [looking on the bright side]: “Yes, but it’s so romantic!”

Charley burst into laughter. It lasted quite a long time.

This year I’m afraid that I’ve given him new reason to laugh. But at least his gift will be practical. That is, if he doesn’t mind holding open-mouthed fish cozies on his beer cans.

Charley's gift this year. He's a fisherman...so...he'll like these. Right?

Yes. I’m serious. That’s what I got him. What? It fit my budget. And my sister says he’ll use them. That and the Mini Mexican sombrero set with tiny-bottle-of-tequila that my husband bought in Mexico for all the bros-in-law and nephews (they’re all adults!) for their stocking gifts will fit the bill quite nicely.

Good thing they don’t read my blog.

Stocking gifts for the brothers-in-law and nephews. We have these giant stockings...and you've got to fill them somehow!!

Merry shopping, everyone!!

PS – my sister really liked the lantern.

PS #2 – I really do love my brothers-in-law. Good thing they know that.

%d bloggers like this: