Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Is anything "Real Simple"?

By that, I mean the magazine. I subscribe, as part of a fundraiser for the middle school. As a rule, I avoid all fundraisers for unnecessary items (wrapping paper, candy, popcorn etc.) but I do like to read so I usually sign up for two magazines during that event. Real Simple was one choice and Frommer's Budget Travel as my second. Now, finding ways to green your child's school fundraiser is a WHOLE different post. The paper, the plastic, the unnecessary junk! I will tackle this issue at the beginning of next school year, I need the summer off.

So, I finally got around to reading the June issue of Real Simple. Not that I usually find much to be very simple about the magazine. Most of the solutions require buying lots of "stuff", the clothing is outrageously priced and the meals a little complicated and surely not very local. So, why do I read it? There can be helpful hints, some recipes I might tackle, but mostly because I really do desire the zen of a well organized life. However, I am rethinking my magazine selections for next year. Budget Travel will stay, thank you very much. Real Simple... might just have to go.

This month's letter from the editor? The excitement over getting a dumpster for the editor to clean her garage and basement in a "scorched-earth" plan. Yep. Throwing whatever she could from her kitchen remodel, along with junk from the garage and basement, right into the dumpster. Not a single mention of Craigslist, Freecycle or a garage sale either. And her exact word to describe the feeling? "Thrilling." There was one short remark about trying to recycle what they could from the kitchen, but if you need a dumpster to clean a garage and basement... That doesn't seem very simple to me. Besides, I had always had this picture in my mind of the editors at Real Simple having a pretty darn organized and well kept basement with all the product freebies I am sure they receive and all.... Maybe the magazine could be renamed "Taking the Easy Way Out"?

Have I just outgrown the magazine? Isn't living lighter supposed to be Real Simple? Or, maybe appreciating the chaos, simplicity and zen of my own life is better than the magazine? Either way, I could use some suggestions for the new school year's fundraiser. Real Simple has become Real Recycled!


Heather @ SGF said...

I read a few Real Simple mags when I was visiting family in Pennsylvania last summer. It has some good tips here and there, but I wasn't in love with it. I'm just not a good little consumer and so much of magazines are ads.

I always want to help those kids that come to the door but we got rid of all our magazine subscriptions. I miss the days when I could just buy a couple bars of chocolate, send the kids away happy and then nibble to my heart's content :)

Robin said...

A "green" fundraising idea I tried to sell to our PTA last year... Getting a local doctor, nurse, or firefighter to volunteer to teach a basic CPR/ First Aid course at the school, not necessarily for certification, just the basics. Parents or people from the community could sign up, it would be excellent for new parents or teenage babysitters. I think most would be willing to pay $20 for the peace of mind this would give, the cost to the school would be negligible, and it performs a public service. An add-on could be first-aid kits, for those who prefer just to buy something and be done with it.

Oh, I get Real Simple, and I can't wait until the year runs out and I can cancel.

Joyce said...

I feel the same way about Real Simple. I wish it wasn't so visually appealing; that's what kind of sucks me in to reading it. I'm always amazed at how un-simple the lifestyle they promote really is.

Crunchy Chicken said...

I prefer, "Real Lazy".

It sounds like simplicity here really means putting forth no energy.

Anonymous said...

"There was one short remark about trying to recycle what they could from the kitchen, but if you need a dumpster to clean a garage and basement... That doesn't seem very simple to me."

Oh my gosh, I had almost the same response when I read that!

As joyce said, I always get sucked into buying one at the checkout stand (with a coupon, though :D) because it LOOKS so nice. Generally speaking, though, I should save my money because I don't really get much out of the magazine.

Fundraiser ideas? Hm, I've always liked the "buy a student" or "student auction" idea, with parents putting money towards having a kid help them with chores or something for a day. What about selling plants? [I was one of the "wrapping paper and chocolate bars" kids.]

One of my student organizations used to have teams of 4-5 kids create a themed basket (like, "movie night", filled with popcorn, Blockbuster certificates, and a fleece throw) and then hold a silent auction or raffle for them.

eco 'burban mom said...

SGF - I get hooked on buying school fundraisers. With 4 kids, I gotta buy something. I just try to stick with what I will actually use...

Robin - I like the idea of teaching a course, I just need to pitch it to the PTA. Some of those girls really love the wrapping paper apparently!!

Joyce - I think that's why I like it too! You see the picture and think! Yes! I want that nice, color-coded life and then you get home and realize nothing you have matches and just won't look like the picture anyway, and then I give up. :o)

Crunch - you win. I agree, the name Real Lazy is much better than "taking the easy way out". I was so offended that a dumpster was her solution to clutter. Scary that an editor of an organization mag, has that much junk!

Home - I am glad someone else read that and thought - WHAT?!? A freakin' dumpster! I was waiting for the punchline that never came!

Rjs said...

I'm not in love with it either. Honestly, I flip through it at the store, and leave it there.

As far as fundraisers go, thankfully we're not there yet. But it doesn't mean I'm not immune to the fundraiser of the week in the office. My rule for purchasing is buying a treat (ie cookie dough) that I can plop in the freezer for the holidays. Made for easy baking with an infant.

I love what one of the area ball teams does - charge you $30 more and you don't have to fundraise. Honestly, I'd rather do that.Do love the first aid course idea, though!

Sphere Trending said...

rjs - I agree, our baseball little league offers a $50 opt out. Too bad we have three that play, so $150 is not an option for us. Though, our league just sells raffle tix, and the prize is $1000, so I don't mind that fundraiser. All of our family buys in at $5 a ticket.

What I can't stand is the middle school and the elementary school with the wrapping paper, entertainment books, popcorn, candy, pizza kits. No one needs that stuff! I would rather just write a check at the beginning of the year for $50 and be done! All the money goes to the school and no one has to sell. I know that some can't afford the $50, so the PTA might need to adjust for that and let it go. Sigh... I think I have too many kids and get a little crabby during fundraiser time!

Lori said...

I have to say that I also have a subscription to Real Simple. At one point I mentioned to relatives (my mom to be more specific) that I liked the magazine, and somehow I received gift subscriptions from mom and an aunt as a christmas gift for two years running. Did you catch that - mom AND an aunt - which means four subscriptions of magazines. Luckily they both understood when I finally rememberd to ask them not to sign me up again this year. I think I have a year or two left, then I will not be renewing.

And so it comes to my door and I do read it, mostly because I'm a designer type and it's so darn attractive. Then I box it up along with any other stray magazines I have lying around and take them to a local clinic for their waiting room. A perfect solution? nope. But at least it can relieve a little doctor's office boredom for a few people...

Kathryn B. said...

Someone I know calls that magazine "Fake Simple", hee hee.

Strange but true: I was roommates with the wife of the founder of Real Simple while on a service trip in Africa.

I recently came across a link for green school fundraisers that may be worth checking out.