Sunday, October 31, 2010

November is Art Every Day Month


Two post evening here for me.  I'm just posting as it's about the flip over into November and I've been doing some serious thought about creative pursuits this month.  For a number of reasons.  How to be Free talks about creating as a way to get out of the bind of being always the consumer; The Joy of Not Working talks about enjoying 'non-passive leisure' and November is the month of Nanowrimo, or 'National Novel Writing Month'.  (I did it in 2006-wrote 200 pages is 30 days).  It was pretty amazing.  Not my novel, per say, so much as the experience of doing it and getting into being creative on a daily basis.

I think I'm going to embrace Nano, slightly revised this November.  I just today came across this site, called November is Art Every Day Month.  And I am setting a goal of doing something artsy/craftsy daily in November.  For me, this can include knitting, sewing, writing, editing, film etc.  Basically any art modality out there.  There's a bit of artist in all of us, and when you work hard at a not so artsy profession, it really helps you achieve a kind of magical balance to haul out the artist and put her to work on a regular basis.

So here's to November - a creative antidote to consumerism,

xo Tara

Happy Halloween

Today was a relatively easy day not to buy anything new, since I have not gotten out of my pyjamas.  I ended up trying a second recipe on Budget Bytes blog - the jambalaya (both really good), watched some of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,  and then took an epic nap.  It means I also missed my dance class, but on the plus side I feel great!

We don't have any trick or treaters in our building, they do it in the lobby, so it's going to be a relaxing evening as well.  I've decided to roll with the not getting dressed theme and if I go down to the lobby for something, I can pretend I'm doing a p.j.'s costume.

I'm going to get going on that shopping list for Jan. 2011.  I just remembered I really want a full length mirror so I can make myself somewhat presentable before I leave the house.  Maybe I'll start a little list on the side of the blog this week of things I want/need.

Have a great evening,

xo Tara

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Food Blog for Budgeteers

I just found out about this blog, Budget Bytes, via someone who read mine.  Thanks Debra.  I'm going to go out to the grocery store and get some turkey sausage to make the lentil and sausage stew today.  I like her tag line, "On a mission to save money and eat well!"  Such a great goal.

I'm feeling very fine today, having slept in until almost 1pm!  Now I am cheerfully puttering in my pyjamas before I leave the house to do some errands. 

I've been thinking about my list of January shopping some more, and I think I'm going to add 'steamer' to it.  It is a great, non-toxic way to clean.  I never iron, so it's not that likely I'll be regularly steaming my clothing except as a carefulness measure after visiting possible bed bug hot spots.  Ugh. 

I'm also trying to puzzle out the instructions to something I want to make as a gift, so beside turkey sausage, I may be making a pit stop to visit some experts for advice.  Sound a bit cryptic?  I don't want anyone to know what I'm making...  But it sure feels nice to be making stuff.

Have a great Saturday, and hope all your Halloween party night wishes come true.

xo Tara

Friday, October 29, 2010

Nail Soup on Hold

I used my few meagre bucks to pick up some meat so I could come home and scare up some "Nail Soup" this weekend.  You know, where you pull something out of thin air from the cupboards that look sorta bare.  The new ingredient, in this case some meat, would help it all come together.  Well, I had just spend $5 at the grocery store then popped into my part time job (to pick up my November metropass before November 1st strikes and I'm cursing everything because I have to spend $3 per trip on the transit) when my twin calls.

It's cool news, our great also-a-twin friend Jill has called and wants us to go see the John Lennon movie with her in 40 minutes.  Impromptu friend action.  Yay.  And I've been trying to do more friend outreach.  It's so silly that as adults unless we bump into our friends literally, we sometimes get too busy to see them and weeks or months can go by.  So, I dropped my beef in the freezer at work and bee lined for the cinema and a reunion with an old friend.  The nail soup can wait, and in the mean time, I'm 'showing up' and engaging in some passive (movie watching) and non-passive leisure (catching up).  I highly recommend the film, and I have to go check out the gossip surrounding it now by doing an online search.  But, I can't pass it on to you guys, or I'd have to switch my bracelet (for complaints/criticisms/gossip).  Sorry about that.

I also lucked out frugal wise.  I had one handy voucher from Air Miles I've been carrying around in my wallet for months that bought two tickets, two fizzy waters, and one popcorn for ce soir. 

re: Nothing New:  I did some window shopping today to plot my January shoe shop.  I almost wanted to lick those shoes at Trove.  They are like candy.

Looking forward to a lazy Saturday with my wife tomorrow before gearing up for Halloween partying.  Again, I'll be showing up.  It's good for you.

xo Tara

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Something's Missing: My Twin

I just realized when looking at my big, writer's cramp-length entry from yesterday that something is missing from it.  While my twin appeared embedded in it, she actually deserves her own bullet point, and ticker tape parade for helping me with not buying anything new this year.  Let me elaborate:
  • She showed me how to get started with a blog when blog was just an idea in my head, but I'd never actually even looked at one.
  • She explained some realities of social media to me.
  • She likes to do fun, no new things with me, like writing.
  • She nudged me to post more and more regularly (and has done so consistently since January).
  • She is unfailingly enthusiastic.  Knowing that someone specific is reading it is helpful, and especially at first being able to count on an audience of at least one kept some momentum going.
  • I can always talk her into giving or lending me stuff I need but can't buy!  (i.e.: the kettle off her kitchen counter, 'Hey listen, Tena, you don't drink much coffee anyway, right?...')
  • Sometimes she has sold, given or lent me stuff with the tags still on it, giving me the pseudo-thrill of shopping.
  • She has generously bought me things this year (I did not ask her to - that would be against my ground rules) which helped me out.
  • She has hooked me up with cool sites, books, and people.
  • She learned how to knit mittens and is making me a pair, and is an integral part of Stitch & Bitch nights too.
So, thanks TwinTwo.

Now I've got to finalize my Halloween Costume for this evening's work party.  Using only things I already have (not buying anything), it looks like I may end up being something very scary this year - a Conservative.  I'm going to wear a 'Stephen Harper' t-shirt and my rainbow hat.  I hope I don't frighten too many people with my costume.

xo Tara

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

22 Things That Helped Me Not Buy Anything New All Year

Some of this list is about being inspired, some of it is about finding joy and pleasure in things other than shopping.  Some of it is about TCB (Taking Care of Business), taking care of myself, and some of it was simply funny and/or practical.  Here goes:

1. Being inspired by Trina.  My friend Trina, who lives back in Newfoundland, did this challenge last year.  Every few months when we visited, I found myself wanting to hear more and get an update.  I got a growing sense that this was something that I really wanted for myself this year.  For a lot of reasons.  That may warrant a post all its own, but in a nutshell: to jump off the consumption bandwagon, to be a little kinder to the earth, and to get a grip on my finances were some of my more compelling reasons.

2. Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer.  Both his book and his blog have helped me to cut the crap (or a lot of it anyway) so to speak out of my life.  And by crap, I mean the stuff I don't need or use anymore that is hanging around taking up valuable real estate in my home.  He is funny and real and I get a lot out of re-reading from time to time.  It makes me less likely to buy things to bring into my home and much more eager and willing to 'let things go'.  So liberating.  Our home is much more lovely and clear thanks to his tutelage.

3. Not Buying it by Judith Levine.  This book was lent to me by the lovely and talented Bougie who just released a new CD with a little help from her friends.  It started me on a trend of borrowing and sharing books from libraries and people that fit well with a No New Stuff year.  It also described Judith and her partner's VERY disciplined year of not buying anything new.  She is already a professional author, so she wrote and researched well on the topic.  They took it much farther than me.  For example, she and her partner both committed to it, and they made it so strict that in addition to not buying anything new, they bought nothing 'non-essential'.  This meant they only went to free entertainment, and only bought basic ingredients for meals (no prepared food or fancy stuff).  Her descriptions of coping with and overcoming boredom really struck a cord.  We often spend money because we are bored.  What a lack of imagination!  Shame on us.  We can do better than that.  For my year, I allowed myself 'experiences', so good food and going out to a show were not off the menu.

4. Consumption Rebellion This blog with a tag line 'consuming without exploiting' and 'joyful consumption' helped me to consider some of the broader issues around consumption in my own life and how I fit into these categories.  I like her way of expressing herself and not being holier than thou.  It is about making conscious choices about how to consume and then when we do consume, doing it with gusto and joy.  Joylessly eating fast food in a rush does NOT fit into this kind of life, nor does buying a lot of disposable crud we don't really like or need.  She also got me started on my initial 'No Spend Week' - more on that later...

5. No Spend Week Thanks again to Consumption Rebellion for this great idea.  A full 7 days of not spending any money (other than automatic bill payments that come out of your account) makes you plan ahead, organize yourself and helps to clarify needs versus wants.  I definitely saved money that week, forced myself to be creative, and also noticed where my bored cravings cropped up.  I hadn't been shopping for stuff, but am guilty as the next person of spending joylessly when a bit bored for a fizzy drink or treat etc.  This week I also cleverly got myself invited to people's houses for food and drinks that I hadn't had the foresight or cash to stock up on (i.e.: salmon and wine at my twin's).  I even got creative about how to do a wedding shower gift.  I got a card in the mail with a little cash prior to the week's start date, and showed up with a re-gift joke gift that got a good laugh.  I plan to do another No Spend Week in November to coincide with Buy Nothing Day (Nov.26), and am hoping some readers will join me!  Stay tuned for more details.

6. How to Be Free by Tom Hodgekinson.  This book was lent to me by the funny and gifted Stella.  She actually told me I could keep it.  That's a good thing because I've marked up a lot.  I love to mark up books.  It makes me feel like I'm absorbing the content better.  She warned me it was funny, but maybe not that practical.  I feel like it was more practical than she led me to believe, but seriously funny.  He is pretty adamant about his manifesto of not buying into the whole consumer culture/big business/government restrictions AND the god given right to enjoy good company, music, food, and drink with impunity.  He talks a lot about returning to basics and simplifying your life and how automation/specialization has made many jobs so uni-dimensional there is no joy in them (versus the natural variety life once held i.e.: taking care of home and growing, and cooking etc. held much satisfaction and pleasure).  He is hilarious and spot on, and reminded me of simple things like to get out of the mindset of being a consumer, I need to make more things, whether it is art, practical, growing stuff, etc.  I need to be more connected to things with my hands.  Crafts and writing have been how this has played out for me.  Also, sitting on the cover on a upside down shopping cart playing a ukulele, he cut a much different figure of an anarchist than I was used to (my only reference being the Sex Pistols song).  Finally, there is a long list of interesting resources in the book.

7. Accountability - Everyone Knows.  It has been helpful to have people know I'm doing this since I would feel a bit funny if I gave up on it now.  Also, this is kind of funny, but in some settings I actually have FORGOTTEN that I'm not buying anything new.  Honestly.  It's happened twice on vacation when I've gone to buy a souvenir for my wife or something and been stopped by my Aunt saying, 'Tara, aren't you not buying anything new?'  And it's not even as if I was cheating, it is just something about being transported out of my everyday environment, I suppose.

8. Avoiding the Malls.  It really helps to stop seeing all the things you can't have.  It stops with cravings, jealousy, feeling deprived, etc.  Going to a mall, much like watching TV, or reading a magazine, or driving by any kind of urban area has basically become a nonstop sensory onslaught of being advertised to.  If you don't see it, you are less likely to want it.  I also found that by avoiding the malls I was less snobby and more appreciative about the wares on offer at Value Village and other used options.

9. The Joy of Not Working.  I've mentioned this book a few times lately.  My mother has a copy and I plan to finish reading it when I visit her at Christmas.  It reminded me of some important values of mine, like a balance of work and play and self-care being vital to my well being.  It also reminded me how lopsided and unbalanced I was getting.  Since reading it a few weeks ago I have made inroads and ongoing efforts and outreach attempts in my non-passive leisure.  It cautions us not to wait to do meaningful leisure until we are retired or have time for it.  We need to do it now.  It will rejuvenate us, and if we wait till we have time, we won't remember how to do it.  This will be particularly important to me as I head into 'semi-retirement' next year (aka going down to only one full time job!).

10. Beg, Borrow, but Don't Steal.  Stealing is wrong.  But begging and borrowing are great fun once you get used to them.  I've been the grateful recipient of the kindness of both strangers and friends this year, and they might not have gotten the pleasure of helping me out if I'd just gone shopping for my own new thing.  My twin has been particularly useful in this.  To date (an incomplete list of takes from her include pillows, clothing, books, a kettle...)

11. Clothing Swaps.  I only went to one clothing swap before this year of nothing new.  Now I have my eyes peeled for them.  I really like that it means perfectly good things are not wasted and that something I no longer use gets a new life as just the ticket for someone else.  It's a great community building event and keeps stuff out of the junk heap and in circulation longer.

12.  Gifts - Receiving them, and Making them.  Having kept open the possibility of receiving gifts has meant a couple of treats this year I could not have had otherwise.  Thanks to my sister, momma, stepmomma, and momma-in-law in particular.  Also, I've gotten more thoughtful and creative about making gifts.  But, I could get even better at it. 

13. Having Specific Financial Goals.  Let's face it, this isn't all altruistic and environmental.  There is a pecuniary upside to not buying anything new for a year.  I've saved a lot of money and channelled it directly into goals of ours.  We've paid down student loan debt, consumer debt, and our mortgage.  We've maximized our RRSPs (retirement savings) and started a cottage fund, and a rainy day fund.  We are working very hard to live a life within our means.  We have just cut Rogers GIANT cable bill out of our lives and are awaiting the axe of our 2 billion channels any day now.  I like to think of us as a work in progress. We are getting there.  I also find that re-reading a couple of financial books from time to time helps keep me focused (i.e.: Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach).

14. Shrinking things in the Dryer So they Fit My Short Legs.  This is a sore spot joke.  I shrunk a couple of my much taller wife's pants early on in my year of not buying anything new.  She started to think it might be a ploy to shop from her tall girl pants.  We made up since it was an accident, but nonetheless, more pants for me!

15. Squalkfox Blog.  Her blog is great.  'Where frugal living is sexy, delicious, and fun'.  Case in point, the sexy batch of frugal baked beans I made from her recipes section.  But she also does some great straight talking about money related stuff, and I mentioned before her article (see link) on 'The real reason you're broke'.  She paid off her big student loan in 6 months by, get this, continuing to live like a student.  So simple and yet, so amazing.

16. Stitch & Bitch Nights.  Obviously, since I'm trying so hard not to complain, these are all about the stitch for me.  Ha. My friend Sarah I. invited me to my first one a few years ago and I was so delighted to see so many cool, tattooed girls knitting and sewing.  It has helped me get more creative, socialize, and also to mend and fix things that might have gone on the dung heap a while back.  Keeps things in circulation longer, saves me money, and brings a serious heaping of joy and fun into my life.  It also ended up being a cool way to bond with my grandmothers, getting back into knitting. Thanks Sarah.  Also, thanks to all the sisters (Sarah's and my twin, and Giselle, for being the heart, soul, and funnybone of S & B).

17. The Happiness Project Book and BlogGretchen Rubin has a great, fun, useful blog (and book) with lots of helpful hints, tools and reminders about ways to increase our happiness.  The theme this months is friends and the latest tip was 'show up'.  I was delighted with myself for doing that a couple of weeks ago with a reunion to London that had been long postponed.  It was great.  And, interestingly, she says there is evidence that we are more drawn and attracted to people we see frequently.  So keep showing up and you'll be more liked.  When you're not shopping, you have more time to devote to things like happiness.

18. Upcycling My Favourite Jeans.  Turning my favourite jeans into my favourite skirt was a great motivator.  I have to thank my wife for insisting I stop wearing the jeans, and our friend, Julie for patiently doing most of the work on them at a quiet stitch and bitch night.  They are perfect with everything and I lover them dearly.  They also taught me to use my sewing machine again and to remake things into other things when they are no longer serving me as they are.

19. Value Village 50% Off Sales.  I've been giving a lot of credit to the village lately.  But they are kind of the department store of thrift and I do find it ++ helpful to be able to go straight to a rack with my size and start sifting.  I've also blogged about various trips to the village with my mom, here, here, and here.  It has helped me with updating wardrobe, dressy enough clothes for work, and with keeping things in the cycle of use and out of the dung heap.

20. Writing My Own Blog Regularly. This has given structure to a year long goal that is about NOT doing something.  It has also been a lot of fun to learn a completely new skill and to check out a whole world of information and like minded, or thought provoking other people's blogs.  I have found myself happiest when I am regularly blogging, and it's funny but it's easier to blog daily once you get into the swing of it.  It is also easy to get out of the swing of it, so thanks for people who have been encouraging.  A shout out to Tena, who prods me with friendly reminders if I slack off.  It helps a lot to know someone is reading it.

21.  This is the website of the couple that did this a couple of years ago and inspired my friend Trina, who in turn inspired me.  So, I must tip my hat to them.  They also did the challenge with kids, so harder than for me.

22.  If you haven't seen this amazing 20 or so minute video, take the time to do it.  It really, truly speaks to why it is a good idea to stop buying so much new stuff.  It looks in a realistic, accessible, and even optimistic way at the current cycle of production and how much room for improvement there is.  It literally showed me that I needed to get off the treadmill of work (feel tired), watch tv (see commercial/feel dissatisfied)go to mall/shop/work (feel tired)....repeat. 

So there you have it, my list so far.  I've got 65 days to go to make it to a year.  I'm also working on feeling generally more satisfied by doing things that give me pleasure as opposed to buying things that give me pleasure.  One I can't remember if I mentioned is I hauled out my old novel from Na No Wri Mo (2006) and it is making me laugh out loud.  Such a pleasure to be cracking myself up!

xo Tara

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Health Purchase Alert

So, I am giving you all fair warning, I'll be needing to buy something for the good of my health.  Mental and physical.  I need to get some supportive, white runners to wear to my part time job because BED BUGS abound in subsidized housing (and lots of other places) and the new wisdom is that it is easiest to spot bed bugs on white shoes.  Of course I also have to carry them around triple-bagged on my person between buildings and, ugh, keep them somewhere at home safe from my stuff.  The shoes I've been using aren't cutting it (they are more like cute slippers) for 4 hours of standing.  The old back and feet start grumbling. 

So, to keep my home safe from bed bugs, my peace of mind somewhat intact, and to keep my level of freak out as low as possible, that purchase will be happening asap.

Just to keep you all in the loop.

xo Tara

Monday, October 25, 2010

Beat to a Snot

Not sure if I have a post thusly entitled or not, but I am a bit pooped tonight.  I feel okay though, which is saying something since we found out our local angry conservative has won the mayoral election tonight.  I am trying to feel good about just having had the right and opportunity to vote for the person who I feel reflects my values, even though they didn't get in.

I've also been given a slight financial thrashing today in the form of:
  • a reassessment by revenue Canada (not for a lot, but the bottom line is I owe more income tax than I thought I did, adding insult to injury as I'm still eking out portions of the payment due for last year).
  • a final Roger's bill to the tune of $762 bucks.  I am so grateful that we canceled, but the next couple of months as we transition will still be painful and expensive.  Sadly, I'll have to cash in some hard won Canada Savings Bonds to pay that one off, but being rid of Roger's will be well worth any agony.
I think that Roger's will actually click off as of tomorrow, so perhaps I should jump on and watch a couple of last minute HBO offerings before the cutoff.  But, to be honest, I'm very engrossed in a novel I just got yesterday.  A shout out to Emma Donoghue who wrote 'Slammerkin' and 'Life Mask', and most recently, 'ROOM', which I cannot put down. A good sign that I will be able to weather our new cable-free status.

Talk soon,
xo Tara

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Stats from the Trenches

Hey there,

My twin pointed out it's been 8 long days since my last post.  Not very disciplined of me.  I must admit to getting a bit off routine.  Yesterday though, I got re-energized about blogging by my little brother, whose funny money blog I mentioned not long ago.  He showed me on his iPhone at the cottage, how I can look up 'stats' on my blog and see all kinds of things.  Things like what post of mine was the most popular.  (Since July anyway, when stats function began).  I never would have known otherwise.

It showed all the countries people are looking at my blog from.  Top 10 includes:

  • Canada
  • US
  • Brazil
  • Russia
  • Netherlands
  • Mexico
  • South Korea
  • Peru
  • India 
  • Malta
Pretty cool, eh?

It also showed things like the graph of how views were distributed across time.  Not surprisingly, this month since I've not posted much, my views have dipped from September, when my views reached an all time high.  

Another quirky stat is Search Words that your blog comes up for, and on the top of my list?  'Beat to a snot'.  A favourite expression of mine (denoting fatigue) that is a regular back home in Newfoundland.

I find all this really interesting because before yesterday I really had no way of gauging how many people check out my blog and when, since very few of the people who come by to visit make comments.  I suppose I might look into ways to get more commentary and discussion going.  I know that one of my goals before the end of the year is to get some more organized and permanent content up front on my blog to make it easier to see some of the things I've learned and used this year to help me with not buying anything new.

I'll just catch you up briefly on what's been going on in the Nothing New world since we last met.  I had my girl's reunion in London and it was great!  Cindy, who is also trying to decrease her consumption and reads my blog surprised me with a gift (if you recall, I am allowed to accept gifts!) of an adorable purse from Weezi.  She likes to use vintage patterns and fabrics.  Also, on a thriftiness note, we went out for drinks to an old spot we all had worked in university, and for brunch the next day, but otherwise had a great meal and drinks at Sarah's house and it was so fun and relaxing and just reminded me I need to do more friend outreach and visiting in homes (both at my place and away).

I've definitely been working hard on my resolutions from The Joy of Not Working (aka more non-passive leisure).  I've been doing more crafty stuff, more writing, and working on a video project.

I also have been trying out some recipes on the blog of Squalkfox, whose blog I mentioned not long ago.  A lot of her stuff is on money and if her tag line is correct will apparently help me make frugal living 'sexy, delicious, and fun'.  All that with a crock pot of her baked beans.  We'll see...

Okay, so what else is going on?  I've gotten semi used to my new job where I am still running to keep up.  But enjoying it.  I will be taking a Mindfulness Meditation course through my work starting November 8th, and I am really looking forward to forcing myself to take a breather and stop time traveling to ruminate about the past or worry about the future, and get good at just 'being'.  I think that ties in with the Nothing New theme too.  Shopping is often about boredom and dissatisfaction.  

On the topic of boredom, our go-to-girl on happiness gave this fabulous advice that I've been smiling out loud to this week:  If something bores you, try putting the word 'Meditation' after it.  As in, 'I'm doing my Bus Waiting Meditation'.  Puts a new spin on it.  Kind of like someone else I once read who said when trying something new to ward off people's opinions and nay saying, you can say 'I'm experimenting with...'  I think he meant something like a healthy change or something difficult that people are likely to pass judgement on.  'Experimenting with' makes it more playful and takes some of the heat off of having to succeed or be perfect.  As in 'I'm experimenting with a No Spend Week.'  I wish I could remember who wrote it.

Plan:  I want to see if I can get another 'No Spend Week' challenge going.  I think I will check in with the champ at Consumption Rebellion who rounded up the troops for the last one.  Maybe we can get it to coincide with the 'Buy Nothing Day' in November.

So, I'm off to work on that sexy crock pot of beans.  I'll let you know how she goes.

xo Tara

Saturday, October 16, 2010

S & B a Success

My Stitch and Bitch night last night was great fun.  We've booked the next two.  There were 6 of us including me, my twin, my co-founder of monthly S & B, Sarah, Sarah's two sisters and her friend Giselle.  Whenever I hang out with Sarah et. al, I always laugh a lot and am in a good mood the next day.  We should do it even more often.

I ended up giving away some stuff I don't use anymore and I ended up hauling out the sewing machine and with a lot of spotting turned a t-shirt into cute gift bags, as well as a big chunk of green jersey I was going to give away (it's been taking up real estate in my closet for 3 years now), into cute Christmas gift bags, and getting experimental-I also threw in a halter top and when I grew tired of sewing, used the last 5 feet to make myself a fetching green cape for the night. 

Some other highlights included listening to all 4 hours of my 40th b-day play list.  Some people enjoyed this more than others.  Basically the 40 year olds really liked it, the youngsters were on the fence.  We also looked up Sissy Bounce, and some old fashioned words for girl stuff.

Gotta go to London for a girls reunion with old friends from 15 years ago!

xo Tara

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cool Blog About Tough Love re: $$$

I just came across this article thanks to my brother in law on a blog called Squalkfox.  It speaks to some of the reasons I started this challenge of not buying anything new for a year.  Some of the reasons are loftier environmental ones, but some of the big reasons are that I had to do something drastic to cut my spending to the bone to get on track financially.  You can only live beyond your means for so long before it really starts to suck, and this world makes it easy to keep doing.  It becomes like shovelling money into an ever more giant pit.  Her entry on 'The Real Reason You're Broke' likens being broke to needing to go on a diet.  She says something roughly along the lines of: 'like you've got to cut calories, you've got to cut the costs and go a bit hungry.'

Besides feeling irritable with wanting to shop and occasional frustration, this year has yielded lots of good dividends.  I've increased my sense of self determination by doing something tough for me and sticking with it.  I've begun to seriously appreciate things like used clothing stores and clothing swaps etc.  I've enjoyed the experience of less clutter.  And I've saved $11,000 in RRSPs, $4000 in other savings, and paid off $17,100 in consumer and student loan debt so far this year!  I'm still not done by a long shot, but that is pretty frigging cool, isn't it?

So check out her blog.  I like it.

xo Tara

Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm going to steal a quote from a favourite blog of mine, The Happiness Project, whose latest post quotes William Morris saying,
The secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.
I've been working hard on that one this weekend.  Friday, as I mentioned I did a big grocery shop (thinking up specific meals).

Saturday I plodded steadily through my bedroom.  I cleaned my closet, my desk, my dresser tops, and vacuumed and changed the bed, dusted etc.  I have a bag of borrowed clothing to return to my sister and a bag to donate of things I'm willing to get rid of.  She can have dibs since I've been such a borrower of her stuff lately.  In any case, you can feel the chi flowing in my bedroom again.

Sunday was a trip to spend time with my wife at my in-laws, including my two nephews and niece, out in the country.  I love them all, but a highlight was my youngest nephew, Sammy, calling me by name for the first time.  Of course since he's only 16 months old, his pronunciation is a little off, but I actually enjoy Tara being pronounced 'Ra-Ra'.  I think it's very much like being cheered on every time it's said.

Monday, today, I picked up with my Clutter Busting and tackled the living room and kitchen.  I had a lovely old fashioned school desk smothered in piles of papers to sort/file/shred, bags to be unpacked, stacks of books etc.  I did the routine tasks like vacuum, dust, dishes, counter, stove top etc.  I cooked up a meal and packed tomorrow's lunches (!), and I also sorted through and rid myself of two big recycle bags of paper.  I also took down suitcases and my wife's bike to storage so our condo looks very pretty and clutter free compared to yesterday.

I haven't really stopped today, but it feels very, very good to have done all this.  So I think the quote about taking a genuine interest in the details of daily life helped me to actually enjoy the process.  And that's happiness, right?  I've been wanting to do more creatively, and I feel like I need to 'clear my workspace' to be able to do that.  It's happening.

So, Happy Thanksgiving.  I'm thankful for my family, the one I was born with and the one I created by marrying my wife.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Blow Out at the Grocery Store

Hi there,

I ended up shopping my brains out at the grocery store today.  I spent $169.  Let me explain.  I've decided that something has to give from time to time and my goals of: being a cheapskate, eating relatively healthy, not spending tons of time cooking, and not coming to blows with my beloved re: her never cooking were getting in each other's way.

I also have been thinking about my mother's book, "The Joy of Not Working" and it's advice not to spend too much time on chores such as cooking and cleaning.  In other words, simplifying things.  So, I got a lot of frozen foods that are 'healthy' i.e.: Blue Menu, and very straightforward to prepare, as well as salad and delux/delish sandwich stuff.  I loves a good sandwich.  So, between my wife and I, we should be able to keep our wits about us, pack lunches, and make suppers with vegetables and protein in short order.  Wish me luck.  I'll report back.

I still haven't bought anything new, but I am thinking about my list of needed & wanted items for January 2011.  I have decided that I am going to work on creating that list and have a 'shopping amnesty' week or two in January to get necessary items, then go back to nothing new for the rest of the year.  I may throw in another rule or disclaimer or two.  To be determined - I am still mulling over my personal fine print.

Did I mention we cancelled cable?  Roger's has been showing us it's ice cold back of hand, and we are trying to squeeze in all the HBO and on-demand possible until the cutoff date of Oct. 26th.  We will save a lot of dough, but will need to figure out how to get our Dexter and Glee fixes. Apparently you can watch on the website a day later for Glee.

I've got my Stitch & Bitch coming up on Friday next, (but I will endeavour to leave out bitching, since I'm trying hard not to complain. Still had to switch that 'complaint free' bracelet a few times today, but at least I've been catching myself solidly in the act).

Also, as recommended by 'Joy of Not Working', I have had more active leisure: today I did Terry Fox Run with my sister's school, had a lunch date with a friend, and tonight am going to see an indie film with my wife.  Also, I booked a trip to London, Ontario to see two semi-long-lost friends that I can't wait to catch up with.  Cindy is not so long lost, but it's been ages.  Sarah T is someone I haven't seen since I was in my mid-to-late 20's.  I've  switched demographics at least thrice since then.

xo Tara

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wining not Whining

I didn't mention this earlier, because I am trying very hard (and with mild to modest success) to complain less.  Well actually, I trying to not complain at all.  Very tough.  But for the purposes of this story, I will share the fact that I hurt my knee last night.  And as the day wore on today, as gravity, walking etc. took it's toll, it felt worse and worse.  Enter sweetness.

I bump into my hairdresser on the train two subway stops from home.  We say hey and chat a bit.  I end up telling her that I blew out my knee, am feeling it and pretty eager to get home.  We get off at the same stop and my limp is a fairly obvious thing.  She suggests an Epsom salt bath.  I happily relay that I have Epsom salts at home but say (not in a complaining tone, mind you) 'I wish I had some whiskey to go with them.'  She says, 'Well do you have any wine?' Sadly, I had to report that I did not.  Then, she proceeds to open her bag and hand me a bottle of red wine.  'I just picked up two bottles.  Go home, take that bath, then get your leg up in the air and enjoy some of this yummy wine.'  Random acts of kindness.  Just what the world needs more of! 

I'm off to get supine.

Thanks Ruth.

xo Tara

Stage Time


It's the day before payday and I've been feeling the pinch.  Yes, we still live in a way that payday is noticeable and the days leading up to it, lean.

But, not everything is wrong with the world.  I've been switching my 'Complaint Free World' bracelet a little less often - meaning I'm complaining less.  However, I've yet to go a day without switching, so my 21 days complaint free goal is a ways off.  Hopefully the bracelet and I will both make it intact.  We are coming up to a long weekend and I am looking forward to wreaking a bit of domestic felicity around the home, including a family grocery shopping trip to a sensibly priced store (read-not the corner store).  My wife is less than delighted with such outings, so I will likely need to use my firm, no nonsense tone of voice.

I've booked a couple of days off late next week, and two more days in November, so I'll soon be getting a bit of vegging out time.  I could really use it.

My new job is working out nicely.  They seem  to like me and I definitely like them.  I've been dressing up to a higher standard on a daily basis and this actually feels good.  I've also been putting an effort into being a more social and leisure-doing creature, which also feels good.

Last night my wife had a small comedy show with friends and students of hers.  She opened up the mic at the end and encouraged people to come up (by name) and tell a story.  I ended up getting up and telling about 5 jokes I wrote almost 2 years ago as a surprise for her just before our wedding.  It was very fun, and much more relaxing than the wedding show where I was SO nervous.  I'll share one small one with you, since you may have missed it:

"The only men who don't like the thought of two girls kissing, are the fathers of lesbians.  Actually one of our father's famously said, 'You know I love Dawn and Tara, I just wish they had boyfriends.'  I have to say, though, my Dad has come a long way.  Dad recently told me that since he's let the cat out of the bag and finally started telling all his buddies about Dawn and I, it turns out every one's got a lesbian daughter up in Toronto.  I guess these days back in Newfoundland, lesbian daughters are the new black.  That's how cool my dad is."

How's that for non-passive leisure?

Still nothing new purchased - 9 months and 5 days into 2010.

xo Tara

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dance Class

I'm feeling good about how I've been actively pursuing less passive types of leisure.  Apparently an important prequel to retirement :)

This week I've/we've:

  • cancelled cable
  • gone to book club
  • visited Great Aunt Joan with my knitting
  • had dinner with friends
  • walked to work
And this afternoon I'm heading off for a Salsa dance class, which I haven't done in almost 6 years; and helping out with my wife's funnyfunny comedy show tonight.  

None of these things are costly, so they work well with the philosophy of No New Is Good News.  In fact, I've made a list of people I like and miss because I haven't been very social lately, and am working my way through it doing some old-friend outreach.  

No longer all work and no play...

xo Tara