Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pillow Envy

Okay, I know what I would buy if I could buy something new.  Pillows like the ones at my sister's house.  They made my stupid pillow feel like sleeping on a couple of sweatshirts that keep sliding apart.  Ugh.  I'm considering sneaking my pillow over and swapping it for her spare.  She'll never know.  Okay, she'll know, because she reads this, but her husband will never know.

On a more joyful note, she has just finished her first pair of mittens and she's going to share her skills with me.  Check them out.

xo Tara

Friday, January 29, 2010

Obeying the Letter of the Law, if Not the Spirit

So last night was freezing.  While I was waiting (and waiting) for the bus, a vacant taxi miraculously appeared.  I flagged it down and jumped in with relief. 

As we drove along I remembered that - according to my 'Ground Rules' - I now only take taxis when I have a heavy load to carry. 

Not to worry.  I made him stop by the Beer Store.

Have a fun weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nothing New to Report

Ha Ha.  That's a bad pun, see?  I haven't bought anything new, so...

In general, things are going pretty well.  I'm attending another crafty night with friends tomorrow, this one at my sister's.  So, presumably, I am going to keep getting more and more handy.

I am still dressing a bit too much like a mummer (see 'Value Village Second Thoughts' entry for more details) for my sub zero degree outings, so I will have to get back to Value Village and 'pretty' coat shopping at some point.

I've cleared out a bit more of the clutter in my closet, and I need to go back at 'er fearlessly to really get rid of some more stuff that I never use.  Clothing is the hardest for me to get rid of.   Maybe it's even harder right now, since I can't just go out and buy new things.  But if I can really clear things out, I'll have a much better sense of what I have and what I might need.

I've also done some in-house socializing in our condo building, which is seriously the way to go.  Partying in your slippers.  Thumbing your nose at winter.  All you friends who don't live in my building, I'm sorry, but I would strongly suggest you consider moving here. 

I am thinking of treating myself to the 'healing waters' at Body Blitz, which is a kind of water spa for ladies with all sorts of hot and cold dipping pools and steam rooms and saunas etc. in the next few days.

Actually, this weekend will be chock full of 'experiences' versus shopping for stuff.  I'm going to a skid bar for karaokee, checking out the Queer Salsa night with my not nearly as keen wife, stitch and bitching with the girls, hanging out with old friends and their newish baby boy,  having a brunch in Kensington, and enjoying British comedy in our movie room.

Oh!  And I'm going to try and squeeze in a sanctioned, and long overdue esthetic expenditure -- eyebrow threading.  To all of you who've had to tolerate the visual assault of my encroaching eyebrows the past 2 months, my humblest appologies.  I've been avoiding going to the mall.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


This location only. Pier One Imports at the corner of Shuter and Yonge. Wow! I saw the signs plastered all over the store on my way to job number two this evening. I got excited and went on autopilot to the door but there I paused.

Oh yeah. I got no business going into Pier One Imports. Or any other store for that matter, unless I'm going in to return something. It definitely stung a bit. Who doesn't love that kind of needless, cute-stuff-for-the-house type of shopping? And a closing sale? It felt a bit funny, to think I'd have no reason to go in to a store like that for a year.

I wonder if I'm eating more this year because food is something I am allowed to buy? I'd better reign that in so it doesn't turn out like the year I was a Don in residence at Queen's and got paid in food (and a free room and office). We all packed on the pounds eating more to 'get our money's worth'.

Maybe Pier One should cut me a cheque for all this free advertising they are getting. But I won't use it to buy food.

Talk to you soon,

xo Tara

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

True Confessions So, I blew it today on one of my Ground Rules.

Now, in the grand scheme 'o things, it's not soooo bad, since I didn't actually buy any new 'stuff'. I did, however, obliviously buy myself a fast food coffee that was not part of a 'social event'. If you remember, I was going to try and revamp my wasteful spending on convenience food and drinks out, by packing my own lunches and dinners and bringing my travel coffee, etc. UNLESS I was meeting up with someone for a social visit, because then the expenditure could be categorized under 'experience'.

So, oops. I bought myself a large Tim Horton's Coffee with milk tonight to help me survive the evening shift at my second job without falling asleep. My drowsiness I blame entirely on last night's annual Robbie Burn's celebration at my best buddies' home (I've attended 7 years running). It's always the worst when it falls on a Monday. Ugh.

The good news is that I haven't bought any new possessions. I'll just have to try and pay more attention to the mindless small stuff around food/drinks. I think some of my success has been due to being too busy to have time to think about the shopping I'm not doing. Also, I've been doing my virtuous January re-reading of my old faves, 'Clutter Busting' see and 'Smart Women Finish Rich' see

I just hope this smart woman gets to finish with less than 2 jobs :) And I am very actively working on just that! I feel really good with our progress on getting smarter with our spending. As good old David Bach says, 'If you're in a hole, stop digging!'

What's nice about my 'Buy-Nothing-New year', is that it feels less like a resolution, and more like a real plan of action. My annual resolutions around eating better and exercising are in heavy duty limbo right now, but this, this seems to be really happening!

Thanks to folks who have been reading and giving me feedback in person, by email, and on the blog. It is definitely making my challenge more interesting and fun.

xo Tara

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I'm Getting an iPod Touch!

This is sort of a silly story, but my wife is finally getting the iPhone she has desperately wanted since before they were invented, so I am getting a lovely, used iPod Touch this week.

It's actually MINE, but seeing as how I postponed getting her the iPhone for about a year of significant gift-giving occasions, she has been using my lesser model almost daily, and I didn't have the heart to ask her for it back. She generously gave it to me for my 40th birthday last year.

So, sometime this week, when her iPhone arrives, I'll be sporting my not-so-new (but feels like it since it's been so long) iPod Touch and feeling like the queen of the castle.

I'm looking forward to listening to nerdy books on tape, and relaxation CDs as well as the great playlists she's created on it.

cheers and here's to a grooving week,


Friday, January 22, 2010

Slippers Done - Getting Handier By the Minute!

Hey! I finished my first pair of slippers, as you may know, but I also discovered this cool knitting community and created a profile. Check it out at

P.S. the slippers were made with donated yarn!

First Negative Feedback

A dear old friend called me up tonight and when the subject of this challenge of not buying anything new, and my blog came up she told me she was 'curious' but that she couldn't check it out because she didn't agree and that when people stop buying things, then people end up out of work and the economy stops.

I was a little startled, having been used to kudos or neutrality. But, basically I told her, she can't judge it until she reads it and really understands me. Also, I haven't been hiding my money under a mattress. I am still 'buying experiences', as I've said. I'm traveling, dining out, entertaining -- I'm just not buying 'stuff'. And if our economy and world depend on us never ceasing to buy new stuff, then I think we might need to address that thorny issue.

I hardly think this action of mine will cause a blip, but I kind of like the thought that it actually matters enough to get someone ticked off about it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What would I buy?

I've been thinking about this as in:

'What would I buy if I could buy something new right now?'

I'm thinking one of those tiny 'netbook' laptops. My laptop is so heavy I never end up taking it anywhere, so I'd like one of those. (My twin sister just got a shiny candy apple red one - that I can admit to being very jealous of - to work on the 4th draft of her novel! I'm very proud of her.)
The netbooks are so new, I probably can't get one used. But I guess I could check out Craig's list etc.

Actually, I can't think of anything else off the top of my head.
All the things I want to buy are 'allowed' according to the rules of my plan (massages, eyebrow threading, cheese), OR I can get them second-hand (a winter coat).

That's a relief, but it is only January 21st. I bet I'll have a longer list that will pop very readily to mind if you ask me that question a few months from now.

In the meantime, it's going okay.

P.S.: Did I tell you about how my Mom was embarrassed to be seen with me and my 'granny cart' for grocery shopping? But how else is a non-driving city girl with a blown out neck supposed to avoid taking too many cabs? Mom would rather be shot from a cannon than get spotted walking around with mine. I guess I'm either way more urban, or else a much bigger loser than she is!

P.P.S. Check out the Happiness Project, which has themes linked to some of the stuff I've talked about. I really enjoyed reading a couple of the free chapters from her book online.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

standing room only at craft night!

So, my dream of 'upcycling' ** my unacceptable jeans into a cute skirt has been postponed due to a record turn out at my pal's crafty ladies night. It turned out that there were over 20 people and with such a crowd there was no room to spread out and do that kind of sewing. Also, as a newbie, there wasn't enough time for her to give me the undivided attention I'd need to succeed at it. Sooo, I got cracking on slipper number 2 (of my first ever pair) and am well on the way. Only about 4 rows from finishing in fact.

For the record, I only learned the term 'upcycle' 3 days ago from my crafty pal, and I googled it to feel less stunned. See below.

It's Jan. 19th and I am still holding with my No New Stuff goal. Stay tuned for more exciting details of this life of mine. For example, I have weekend plans to drag my wife to Value Village to search for the coat my mom hates and get a second opinion. :)

**"Upcycling basically means taking something disposable (trash) and turning it into something more useful and valuable than it was. It is sort of like recycling and reusing, but the "up" comes from making it into something better. Upcycling is great for people who are crafty because it is possible to turn lots of things that would otherwise be thrown away into something cool - if you have some crafting skills. There are a lot of cool upcycled things on Etsy*, which is where everything below came from."
taken from.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Flood Pants Strategy

My wife thinks I am doing the laundry just to turn all of her pants into 'floods' that fit my significantly shorter legs. She probably thinks this is a clever ploy on my part to expand my wardrobe without buying anything new.

If it is, it's still subconscious.

But, just to be on the safe side, if I show up at your home and offer to do your laundry, it's probably best if you just say no.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Still holding

Hey there,
just a quick update that it's Jan. 12th and I still haven't bought anything. That seems a bit silly to even say because at this point, I'm actually feeling really solid and strong and clear about doing this, so having 12 days out of 365 under my belt is not that big of a bragging right.

On second thought though, not being tempted (or should I say, not giving in to the temptation of) January sales is probably no mean feat. I get advertised to so excessively-non-stop that it probably involves some kind of deprogramming for me just to stay on the streetcar when it drives by the Eaton Centre. So I will pat myself on the back.

I'm a bit brain dead from jet lag, but my trip home to Newfoundland was great with good, cozy family times, a successful surgery for my grandmother, and yes, Dad did let me keep his hat! I hope that my quitting buying things doesn't make me into the kind of mooch my early, less committed attempts to quit smoking did. (i.e.: 'I just stopped buying them, but I'll smoke yours!'). We'll see...

Free stuff: in other news, a coworker has offered me some fabric for sewing, and is bringing me in some sample swatches from her stash. The universe keeps providing and for that I am grateful.

The Joneses: We are having over our friends/neighbours on Friday for a condo crawl with 4 couples who live in our building. I've already seen one set's amazing finishes and touches i.e.: custom blinds, deadly cool furniture, and nice magnetic bulletin boards etc. They left me slobbering with envy. So, it will be a personal challenge not to go shopping to spiff our place up to their standard. I am going to practice NOT needing to keep up, and just being satisfied with offering hospitality, food, drink, genuine interest and my full attention to my guests.

On a delighted note, the fellow who wrote Clutter Busting, Brooks Palmer - - responded to my post on his blog (a book I have read 3 times and plan to re-read) and commented kindly that he liked my Value Village coat story! Yippee.

Now to get some sleep. zzzzzzzzz

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Buying Experiences

Still in Newfoundland until tomorrow evening to visit family and keep my grandmother company as she goes in for surgery tomorrow morning. I have been having such a great time, cooking, eating, hiking, and chatting and playing cards with my relatives. I haven't had to buy much beyond a little snack and club soda, and $10 to gamble with my grandparents. I actually brought my own snack on the plane, soooo sensible!

But as far as 'stuff' goes:

  • I've almost got a new (used) hat off my Dad, (he's weakening and hopefully will cave in and give me his cap by the time I leave),

  • extra yarn for making slippers with grandmother off my stepmom, and

  • I read that article about Brittany Murphy while we shopped at the grocery store, instead of buying the magazine. Sly of me, eh?

  • And my aunt gave Dad and me pedicures with hot paraffin wax and face masks for free (not stuff, but on my list of things I can't buy this year)

So far so good :)

What do you think of the hat???

P.S.: I'm enjoying the mask more than it looks like, but my face was frozen till it came off. Dad was rolled over from his lazy boy recline, sitting on Pop's walker, which looks a bit like a stroller, so we could be photographed 'spa-ing' together!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

1 week in

It seems hard to believe it's only been a week of being a no-new-stuff kind of person. I've had some very positive friend feedback about the idea, and even some offers of free lunch from people who didn't read the 'ground rules' and think I'm not allowed to buy food! Perhaps I should just keep my mouth shut and let them treat?!

I will pass on the contact that started this whole idea. They are a couple in Alberta who decided to 'stop buying stuff' for one year, with a goal to 'downsize their lives and get off the consumption treadmill.' They also said they weren't judging others about their buying habits, it was more that they were examining their own and seeing if they could do it. 'We wanted to simplify our lives and break our buying habit and enjoy our family, and not be, "What else can we get?"' Their website is and having checked it out, I can see they seem to be very decent and relate-able people.

They accomplished their goal and I loved their take on having 'Been cured of keeping up with the Joneses.' I am definitely no saint, and not that political, but I can relate to feeling this growing unease with constantly being advertised to, and the chronic need to have the latest this or that. Not to mention the exhilarating rush of a dose of 'retail therapy'. But, where will it all end? There is no 'enough' and if the corporate way had it's way, we'd just keep spiraling up and up with more and more stuff and more and more debt. And I can hardly bear to think about the end game trash heap. And all the built-in obsolescence. My grandmother didn't have to replace her telephone every couple of years because it was so junkily made.

I sometimes think of those apocalyptic movies where earth is barren and out of water and then think about what happens when we run out of stuff-making-units to make new stuff? Maybe we should hang on to the stuff we have till it's well-used and re-use other people's stuff rather than always going with new, new, new.

So like some of the sensible people say, we all have enough, we've just forgotten what that means. We also should probably remember to spend less than we make, and realize that we actually have enough stuff, and having more will not make us happy (but will probably give us storage and clutter headaches).

Sorry, I got a little rant happy there! Hey, an exciting benefit to not buying anything new so far this year: I am able to jet off on an impromptu visit to Newfoundland to spend time with my grandparents, dad, stepmom, and various other family members for the weekend. I'm liking buying experiences.

!! Just found out about this website from someone who read my blog! It really applies to my state of mind. It's a cool little illustrative and animated video.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Value Village Second Thoughts

My mother and I went to Value Village today, so she could get a pillow for her bus trip back to Ottawa, and I was just going along to 'check it out' and for moral support. My wife asked me to look out for a corduroy blazer for her, I said I would, but didn't make any promises. We get there, and within 5 milliseconds, I spotted a coat I wanted.

Now, I may have been particularly vulnerable to desiring a new (used) coat, since as mom and I left bundled up for our - 14 degree outing, my wife said to me with concern, "Honey, you look like a Mummer." If you don't know what the mummers are, you can google them, but basically, they are a Newfoundland Christmas tradition (that she learned about from me) and involve people dressing up in tea towels, lampshades, Nanny's 42 bra, and Poppy's Skidoo pants, etc. with mittens on their feet and going drinking at their neighbors, who try to guess their identity. It's very festive, but not very styling.

I thought maybe my winterized look was effective, but not fashionable enough, and oh, oh, it's only Jan 4th! So, into my willing hands falls a gem of a winter coat, tweed, fitted, nice collar and lining, long enough to keep my thighs warm in the winter chill, and with a little tailored band at the back, etc. etc. Price check, $19.99, and cool vintage vibe; very flattering style. I immediately throw it in the cart and start looking for wife's fantasy cord blazer. Found it! Second hand, yet never worn, mint condition, chocolate brown, $14.99! Yippee. So, I meet back up with my mother, and guess what, she HATES the winter coat I chose for myself. She thinks it's a spring coat, not winter-too flimsy. She does not like the fabric, and thinks it's too wide in the shoulders and too tight in the stomach, and 'makes me look like a football player'!

I actually argued with Mom about the merits of my second hand coat and then called my wife, who unfortunately wasn't willing to making the trek to Value Village to give a second opinion.

I decided to leave the coat and check back with a voice of sober second thought soon. Maybe my need to be a consumer was so strong I almost bought home a horrible coat that made me look like a linebacker. Or maybe, Mom and I have seriously different tastes. What I took away from it was noticing that I initially was almost angry not to be getting the coat. I wanted Mom to be my shopping wing man and egg me on to buy, buy, buy! But, that I actually felt great (later on on the way home) for having only bought the blazer, and walking away to let the coat idea percolate for a bit.

Maybe I am learning a thing or two. We'll see. Also, Trina found the article that led to her deciding to not buy anything new in 2010 and I will read it tomorrow and pass on some highlights.

xo Tara

Sunday, January 3, 2010

3rd day of the new regime

So, it's been pretty busy since New Year's Eve, and I haven't had a chance to sit down and check in. A few little notes, on where I'm starting to 'feel it'...

My wife suggested I get rid of some old jeans she kind of hates on me. 'They're too baggy, they're frayed, they're done!" And I got all defensive, first because I love them. They are so comfy and I can't buy new ones. But I also don't want to be looking all slobberazzi in them. Then it came to me: I'll make them into a skirt! Good make-it-myself project. Excellent.

(Wife and I are watching Antiques Roadshow, and she just turned to me with delight, and said, "Hey! We can still buy antiques. We can go broke buying antiques." She sure does love that show. We will be getting most of our antiques at Value Village, for the record.)

So, a couple of other 'No New' notes: I did not manage to get myself any more leggings on the 31st. The Zeller's I skidded into 25 minutes before closing for my final shop (see my video blog dated the 31st) was all out of leggings. So, I may need to get creative, or else start stealing them from family and friends. I smell a clothing swap. Maybe I should also try cleaning my closet and doing an inventory. This seems to be a season for leggings with my tall boots and long sweaters. So, I'm already missing my lost opportunity to purchase them. And the other thing was, at the store yesterday, I was struck by the death of Brittany Murphy-thinking back to seeing her in Clueless so long ago. I began flipping through the magazine featuring 'her life in photos' and was at the cash with my cous cous and chickpeas before I knew it. I thought, 'Oh, I'll just get this magazine too.' Then, 'NO! Wow, I can't buy a magazine.' Simple, but it kind of hit home that impulse purchases are off the menu for now. I guess I'll have to hit Indigo and read it for free if I really need to see her life in photos.

Plan: book a book/magazine/clothing swap with some like-minded friends. Talk soon, xo Tara