Why we Quit Amazon

Disclaimer- While I tend to post about decorating and home design, I wanted to share our thought process behind our recent decision to end our Prime subscription and for the most part, purchasing anything from Amazon unless it was not available anywhere else.

About a month ago, we received notification that our Prime membership was up for renewal. Andy asked me if we should renew. Now there’s a question I hadn’t thought about. After all, who doesn’t have Prime and how could I live my life without it?

In an April 2018 article, Bezos revealed that 100 million people pay for Prime globally. Further analysis in a Forbes article estimates that Prime subscriptions could add around $18 billion to Amazon’s top line by 2020. $18 billion folks. Bezos alone is worth $147 billion. There are an estimated 7.6 billion people on this planet. You get where I am going with this.

I started thinking more about Bezos and Amazon. About the reports of the conditions of his workers. About the fact that Amazon warehouse workers are paid around $12 an hour, making around $30K a year, while Bezos’s salary is $1.6M a year. The fact that, up until very recently, you heard nothing about Bezos’ philanthropic efforts. Seriously, in comparison to Bill and Melinda Gates, he’s done minimal.

Then I started thinking about all the countless business that make a business out of being an Amazon business. About the businesses that Amazon is killing. About the fact that people are just purchasing shit because it’s on Prime Day or can be there in two days causing an overuse in raw materials and an increase in the amount going to landfills. The fact the Bezos, the world’s richest man, purchased a newspaper.

Then I looked at a history of Amazon acquisitions and mergers. Zappos I knew about. But Ring, as in the video doorbell, I did not. That explains why there are no other options on Amazon.com. Which brings me to my next point and the main driving force behind our reason to end our relationship with Amazon: Amazon is attempting to take control of American commerce. If 100 million people pay for Prime and 1 million of those people are in the market for a video doorbell and they shop on Amazon, because after all, who doesn’t, what do you think they are going to buy? Why the only thing being sold to them- a Ring doorbell.

I know this is just one small example that exists right now. And sure, people could shop elsewhere. But I am convinced that many people think Prime is a deal. That somehow the two-day shipping makes it all justifiable. So, people flock to Amazon. And where the people go, the businesses go. And where does a percentage of each sale from a business go on Amazon? Why back to Amazon of course.

Then there is Alexa, another way Amazon is attempting to take control of commerce. Let’s face it, most people are lazy. If they had the option to say “Hey Alexa, order my grocery list,” and it would magically appear on their doorstep in two days, they would totally do it. Of course, it wouldn’t be all the groceries, only those available in Amazon. You know, like Whole Foods Whole360 brand which is now owned by Amazon.

Bottom line, I think Amazon, and Bezos for that matter, is starting to become too powerful. No single person (and I am not a socialist) should have enough money to give a billion to every person in the word while still remaining a billionaire. There should not be only one single, majority platform for all things. There should not be a voice-operated machine that could control what we purchase in our homes. Let alone one the that listens and could easily report back keyword data.

$120 a year for two-day shipping on crap I do not need or can get locally and for commercial-free music is not worth what could happen in the end. Seriously, how much longer is it until Amazon is selling a Brawndo equivalent and telling us it’s got what we need? Electrolytes. And a Ring doorbell. And this Whole360 pizza.

Easy Way to Hide TV Wires

Looking for a quick and easy way to hide TV wires for your wall mounted flat screen? Look no further than this amazing product offered at Home Depot: the Commercial Electric Flat Panel TV Cable Organizer Kit.

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It’s against electrical codes to run a TV power cord (or any electronic power cord) through the wall. The Commercial Electric product offers a solution that is quick and easy for people who want to mount their TV, but does not have the electrical components installed in the right area. i.e. where the TV would be mounted. All you need to clean up your TV cords are:
Commercial Electric Flat Panel TV Cable Organizer Kit
a drywall saw
stud finder
-pencil
-tape measure
-scissors
-painters tape

Prep work

-Mark the studs on your wall using your stud finder. Also, verify there is no plumbing running behind the drywall in the area as well. (We learned the hard way.)

-Double check and make sure your HDMI cords have enough length to attach to the TV, run through the wall, and to the corresponding device. You might need longer cords.

-The Commercial Electric kit comes with a template for the pass-through plates. Use your scissors and cut this template out.

-Use blue painters tape to make a loop to attach to the back of the template to place on the wall.

-For consistency, use a tape measure to determine the distance from the floor to the bottom of other electrical plates. You will also want to make sure the extension cord on the bottom pass-through plate will be able to plug into an electrical outlet.

Installation

Once you have determined studs, plumbing, and the correct placement for the two pass-through plates, it’s as simple as tracing the template with a pencil and cutting with the drywall saw. Just follow the instructions that come with the kit. They are easy to understand and will help you navigate plate placement as well as feeding your cords through the wall.

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I’d like to mention that the two plates are relatively large compared to regular wall plates. The top plate cut-out ended up being a 4″x6″ hole, the bottom plate 4″x4″.

After you have installed the plates according to the instructions, hang up your TV, plug in your devices, and enjoy a wireless viewing experience.

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So there you have it. A quick, easy, and UL approved way to hide TV wires in your home.

Thoughts & tips

The project is easier with two people for cording feeding purposes and hoisting the TV back on the wall. However, one person should be able to complete the installation of the Commercial Electric system.

Double measure and double check to make sure your top pass-through plate will be covered by the TV and that there is not a stud or plumbing in the way.

Have a vacuum nearby, cutting the drywall makes a ton of drywall dust.

Most HDMI cables that come with your equipment are 6′ long. We needed a 10′ cord to run from our TV, through the wall, to the Apple TV. So, measure for that.

 

Backyard Plans

Due to the tight constraints of our HOA, any time you want to do something to the exterior of your house, you must submit a form and documents to the design committee. So, last week I began working on rendering what I have planned for our backyard.

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Night time Render
Plans include:

-Adding a horizontal cedar privacy screen at the corner of the patio. Not only to give us some much-needed privacy (everyone has scalloped fences) but to also block out the evening sun.
-Moving 6 plants from my front garden to a new bed in front of the cedar screen. This will help deter the dogs from peeing on the screen.
-Using Blackstar gravel and rectangle pavers to make a pathway from the patio to the fence gate.
-Adding a bed of native plants between the pathway and the house.
-Landscape lighting along the path.
-A pathway using Blackstar gravel and rectangle pavers from another side of the patio to the other gate.
-Creating a bed of native grasses, salvia, and sages between the second path and house.
-And panting the backdoor the same color as the garage door. Eventually, we hope to paint the horizontal trim and gutters this color too. On thing at a time.

I hope to begin working on this project this month or next- pending approval from the design committee. The privacy screen will be first. The hardscaping, yard work, and lighting will have to wait until the Fall or maybe even spring- it just depends on the plants.

The Plants

I’ve chosen a couple of really great native plants to go in the new beds. They all love Texas clay soil and tolerate shade. I already purchased the seeds and now I just need to start my seedlings.

Native Grass- Inland Sea Oaks

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Perennials- Scarlet Sage and Lyreleaf Sage1571020768_f830551d58_bSalvia_lyrata_-_Lyreleaf_Sage_2

Ground Cover/ Border- Winecups (hopefully there is space.)
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IKEA Billy Makeover

Like many people living in the modern world, Andy and I have accumulated a lot of stuff over the last 12+ years. It’s a mixture of personal items, hand-me-downs, and just regular, boring items we’ve spent money on. Like so many, I needed a place to store some of the items that were less visually appealing and a way to display the fancy items.

The Solution

Enter the IKEA Billy Bookcase. Cheap, simple, easy to personalize, and readily available at my local IKEA. I took measurements and decided on which combination I would purchase. I also started pinning inspiration of how I would personalize the bookcases.

In the end, I realized I kept pinning white cabinets with dark interiors so I decided to purchase the white version of the bookcase and black contact paper available here for the interior back wall. Afterall, who has time to paint or wants to deal with worrying about brush strokes. I purchased 5 rolls and only ended up using 3. The knobs were purchased from Target. In total, the little facelift cost me about $60.

In the future, I might try to make it blend in with the wall and add trim, but for now, this totally works for us.

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My Thoughts on an Awesome Shelfie

Anyone who is anyone has published something about shelf styling and what makes a good shelfie. Instructions usually include the rule of 3’s or using odd numbers, mixing vertical and horizontal planes, and even lists items “acceptable” for shelf styling. While most of these are great guidelines to follow, also remember to:

1. Make it personal
2. Make it functional
3. Make it timeless

Make it personal by adding mementos, photos, and personal items. Here we have Andy’s hockey stuff collection, our Star Wars Mighty Mugs, and family photos.

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Make it functional by utilizing storage such as boxes and baskets. This is where I hide less attractive office stuff like a label maker and Andy’s old GIS books from school.

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Make it timeless by taking time to collect items for your shelf that are old and new. We have pottery from Indonesia, a selection of various rocks, accents from the 1960s, newer pieces from Target, and books that we read over and over again.

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There you have it. My Billy facelift and my thoughts on what makes a great shelfie. Now, for some serious cuteness.

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Thonet Counter Stool Review

The time had arrived to purchase new counter stools. I knew I wanted something backless and black. So, I started shopping on the internet and came up with a couple of solutions which included the Thonet counter stool. Of course, with me being a bargain hunter, I wanted the best deal for a piece of furniture I knew I would love for years to come. Ultimately, it came down to a black Thonet counter stool and the Restoration Hardware Madeline backless stool. Of course, Andy was like, just get the Thonet, not it’s cousin.

I ordered two of them from Design Within Reach (DWR). The stools came super-fast and preassembled. When I was tracking the stools, I was positive only one was coming because of the weight of the shipment. It was like 11 pounds or something like that. So, I thought, oh hey it’s only one stool. I was wrong, it was both. They are just very lightweight, but still very sturdy if that makes sense.

First impression: I ABSOLUTELY love these counter stools. The matte black paint looks great on the beech wood construction. The lines are simple and elegant. My butt feels fine when I am sitting on them and Andy fits comfortably on them too. He is 6’1 and around 215 pounds.

The nylon floor guides on the bottom of the legs allow the stools to glide easily across the tile floor in my kitchen. And, they fit perfectly fine underneath my counter-height bar. For reference, the stools are 24” tall and 18.75” wide and my counter is 34.5” tall and 69” wide. If I had purchased more than the two, it would have been too crowded.

Overall, I love the stools. They retail for $195, but if you wait for a DWR sale, there is a good chance you will get them for a better deal, which is what I did. DWR also sells the counter heigh Thonet stool with a back as well as the bar height versions. All of which can be found here.

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