Thursday, January 31, 2019

January: Check!

Hi there,

I've got January in the bag as a shoppingless month. Thank goodness, as I'm noticing my biweekly budget is not quite cutting it. The bill stuff that comes out around the first of the month is about $400 more than my paycheque. Not much of a Payday! thrill with that scenario. I guess I'll have to go back to the drawing board. I may need to tinker with my allowance and savings. Blah blah blah.

But, regardless of this sobering situation, I have managed my first month without buying anything new, and that feels very nice. So I'll just focus on enjoying what's going well for a breath.

Nighty night,


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

100 Days to 100

Hi there,

My twin pointed out it is 100 days until we turn 100. Wowie. She also talked about making them count rather than counting down. I like that idea, but I also want to embrace whatever is coming after. I'm trying to get more ease and pleasure and control and surrender and mastery and simplicity and personal growth and whatnot as I creep into my dotage. You know, the usual. What about you guys? Samesies? Right on.

It's a little surreal to realize my 40's are really in the home stretch and I have this whole new gig coming up. But I'm kind of digging it. Like others, I've got a bit of a job to fathom myself turning 50. I feel like I've cheated the aging system a little with a neat, unconventional wife and life that has let me keep playing. Perhaps this is how everyone at this juncture feels. Perhaps I'm just mid-century modern. :)


P.S. I'm definitely planning to pack in some fun experiences, celebrations, and trips to mark this year, since I'm not buying any new stuff. Working on the details.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


Hi there,

I'm just checking in to confirm no shopping has happened, and that I'm still working on my various goals of minimizing, decluttering, and making extra mortgage payments.

I brought up this topic at work with a coworker gal, who said, 'Oh cool, I can give you my hand-me-downs.' I love it! I love getting free used clothing from others.

When we were kids my single mom would periodically come home with a garbage bag of clothing for my twin and I from a friend's kid who was a couple of years older than us. Or so we thought. We found out later it was second hand clothing from a thrift shop but less stigmatizing to admit it than to say it came from a pal who's kid outgrew it and wanted it to get some use. Or maybe it was that mom thought we'd be more enthusiastic about it if we thought it came from a cool, slightly older girl. I must remember to re-ask for the details.

I have for many years liked second hand clothing just fine. But I think in small town Newfoundland in particular, where people might even recognize the donated clothing you were wearing, it was not cool when we were young. But buddy, when we moved up to the mainland, the sky was the limit. Used clothing is good for so many reasons including the environment and getting off the fashion treadmill. It also seems like the world is catching on to being more thrifty of necessity perhaps. It's easier to get separate checks, to find used items, to barter and trade items, and autoshare etc. These changes combined with me caring less what others think about my spending etc. are helpful. I had ingrained in me to be a big spender by my years of bartending I think, where the culture is to buy rounds and spend a lot when you go out etc.

Anyway, it's way past my bedtime,


Monday, January 28, 2019

Snow Day Sort of

Hi there,

Toronto got hit by a ton of snow this afternoon and evening. While I had to work, I had the experience of things getting cancelled around me in a domino pattern, freeing up little moments of time so I could savour my lunch, could have a hot chocolate at my leisure, could visit with people, etc. Travel was slow and slogging, but strangely few people were on public transit, and a kind of snow-covered, becalmed state reigned over the world and the people in my path. I think this is the feeling before plows and traffic make it all mucky come morning.

My wife's comedy show ended up having a nice crowd, despite the weather and it was a feel good night of laughs and seeing some people we rarely see. I had it much better than my twin, who spent 3 hours on a fraction of her evening commute. Typically it might take her half hour to get home on the Dufferin bus. Tonight it took 3 hours then she had to get off and walk from Eglinton and Dufferin to St. Clair and Ossington in the snow - that's far! Her bus turned out to be backed up in a big line behind a sideways, skidded bus blocking all future buses in both directions.

I'm noticing I'm not spending on much besides food and cabs lately. I mean besides my long list of bills and preplanned expenses. Today I did not buy in either category while out, as I felt safer on transit with all the snow on the roads. And I was gifted with pizza at work, pop and hot chocolates by love, and I brought the rest of what I needed with me from my home food prep. Hopefully this will help me keep at my trend towards getting more money-wise.

Anyway, I'm hitting the wall, so I'll say nighty night,


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Credit Score Increase

Hi there,

My credit score went up by 7 points this month. Must be the not buying new stuff! It is definitely easier to catch up without shopping for stuff. Or maybe it is the two teeny prepayments I've made on my mortgage totally about $268. Either way, I'm taking as a sign that I'm moving in the right direction.

I've spent some time tonight continuing to clear my clutter. I went through about 6 separate containers of pens and markers, and other stationary and miscellaneous things, plus some stuff from Christmas. I ended up coming up with a pile of pens I can take into work, some things to donate, and finding a perfectly-timed Toblerone for a midnight snack, which was very reinforcing. I'm eager to declutter more now.

Tomorrow I'm meeting up with one of my good pals who I have a longstanding history of talking about goals with. It's reliably inspiring and validating. I'll let you know more about it next time. :)

Nighty night,


Friday, January 25, 2019

Waste Not

Hi there,

Just a quick hello, as I'm heading out. But I wanted to brag that I used up the last mystery batch of frozen leftover 'gruel' today for my lunch. (I use that word for single-pot dishes as a bit of a joke). Felt very thrifty and good for using what I've got.

Oh, and I made another prepayment on my mortgage today of $148.39 :)

Nothing much else to report on. I'm still working towards purging more excess stuff by donating, and getting more organized.

Have a lovely Friday night.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Guster Concert Sparks Shopping Dilemma

Hi there,

I need to figure out how to blog from my phone, because the last two nights I stayed at my sister's and could not remember my password, and so missed out on blogging. I find it easier to do if I do it 'daily', than just 'occasionally'.

So on Tuesday night, I went to see Guster, a band I've loved for 20 years, and who I have not seen in over a decade. They played a very fun and heartwarming show to a crowd of adoring fans. Many of us were singing along to songs we knew by heart from their various albums, as well as enjoying their new songs.

How much I dug seeing and hearing live music reminded me: I need more music in my life! It also brought me face to face with a fresh dilemma. I wanted Guster merch! The last time I saw them live was about 14 years ago. Apparently they were here 4 years ago, but I missed it. I was seriously bummed.

I was with my twin, who suggested she buy it for me as a gift. (My ground rules allow me to receive gifts). It turns out she did not have any cash on her! I ended up giving her cash for the evening so she could buy drinks and she used some of it to get herself a couple of their CDs and bought me a cup that says 'Guster'. I really wanted it. But, since I gave her the money, I said that I cannot take it. I need her to repay me the money I lent her and she will need to literally give it to me as a gift, or I will not accept it. This is a strange loophole, but the closest I could come to obeying the ground rules. It feels a bit like cheating. But in any case, I do not have the cup and will not accept the cup until she makes a proper gift of it. She may decide to keep it for that matter.

It is perhaps, the only thing that has been a real longing for me so far, in the shopping department.

Anyway, I'm going to sign off and chase the eternal dream of a good sleep.


Monday, January 21, 2019

A Step

Hi there,

I"m keeping this super brief because I need to go to bed!

Tonight's comedy show was a smashing success with standing room only on the second coldest night of the year.

And guess what? I made my first 'prepayment' on my mortgage today. $110 found dollars. Not big but getting the ball rolling by doing it. Now I just need to scrounge up $490 more this month and repeat monthly for the next 16 years. Easy peasy. Yeah right. The thought of shaving 9 years off my mortgage if I pull this off is a very appetitive stimulus though, so fingers crossed.

Also, I forgot my headphones at work, so I had about 90 minutes of evening commuting between various locations without their protective bubble, and again I did not buy myself dollar store replacements for the night. I am telling myself I'm working on getting better at remembering the ones I do have, through repeated exposure to the discomfort of not having them. :)

Oh! I paid off my expensive eye glasses (I now need progressives and have astigmatism. Ugh.). So the only remaining debts on my plate are to the bank. Big ones, but at least they are all in one place. Holding steady at 21 days of buying nothing new. I'll leave it on that for now.

Nighty night and sweetest dreams,


Sunday, January 20, 2019

9 Years Faster

Hi there,

I have a couple of thoughts relevant to my nothing new year on this frigid Sunday in Toronto. It's -21 degrees C but feels like -34 degrees with the windchill! I picked the wrong day to be thrifty and not order an Uber. I waited outside dying for 26 minutes until my 'frequent service' bus finally came. By that time my feet and hands were screaming in pain, and I was about one minute away from joining them. But all is well now. I'm cozy at home - until tomorrow.

First thing: I'm being very good this week about trying to use up the food that I have, rather than buying a bunch more. I still bought milk and bread so as not to cause a riot at home, haha. :) But I intentionally used up things from the freezer and cupboard that have I suspect had given up hope of ever catching my eye again.

Two evenings I made myself dinner from frozen leftovers that I had forgotten about, which were perfectly yummy and involved just a quick heating up. Tonight I resurrected frozen vegan sausages (the good kind, not with soy), edamame, and a chicken and pasta dish - making our freezer feel so nice and spacious! I also used up vegetables in the fridge before they went bad (this feels like a nerdy victory), along with canned chilli beans and corn, and a package of brown basmati rice and ended up making three separate dishes. So I had supper, and prepped many lunches and dinners for the next 2 or 3 days. I want to try and use up what we've already got for a few days, both to avoid food waste (there were recent articles about this in NOW magazine), and to save money.  It is fitting in with my paring down and purging what I don't want or need. If we don't use the things stockpiled, then we should let them go, including food. And if we have a bunch of food, we should be using it up, rather than spending money on more.

The second thing: Last night I was shown some math, and found out that if I could put an extra $600 on my mortgage each month, I could pay it off 9 years faster. Or should I say NINE YEARS FASTER. That is so shocking, and a little upsetting that I did not look at this clearly sooner. I feel pretty determined to figure out a way to make this happen, and it will be no mean feat, because currently one of my two typical monthly paycheques is slightly less than the bills/savings/allowance that are meant to come out of it. Ahem. But imagine how nice it would be to not be paying my mortgage for those last 9 years if I pulled it off? That would mean that I could spend my money on something other than my mortgage in my retirement. It's exciting to think about and a little boring. I was actually looking at the math to see how I might manage to buy something that would be an investment. It looks like it would be very hard to get funded at this point, and that the safest and most guaranteed return on investment would be to pay off my own mortgage. See? Boring. But 9 years faster!

This makes my current not shopping/frugality focus perfectly timed as I need all the help I can get scrounging up the extra $600.

Anyway, it's been 20 days of not buying anything new. I have spent the time focusing on decluttering, friend outreach, buckling down to learn new protocols at work, and cooking more for my meals. It's all feeling pretty good so far. This coming week besides being colder than Whitehorse, apparently, I've got lots of social plans to warm the cockles of my heart. Book club, a concert for a favourite band from way back, Guster, (who apparently were just on Seth Meyers, so I'll have to go check it out), my wife's weekly comedy show resuming, and some fun hangs with pals. No January blahs allowed. I will have to figure out when and how to resume my Marie Kondo discarding of stuff, as I want to finish what I've started. Perhaps the weekend will be good timing for this.

Anyway, good night and I hope you have a cozy, warm sleep.


Saturday, January 19, 2019


Hi there,

Having a fun date night crunching numbers to see how I might possibly pay down my mortgage sooner (i.e.: so we aren't 75 when it's paid off). The fact that this is interesting to me is a sign I may be finally approaching 'grownup' land.

I'm going to keep this short because in addition to looking at how to pull off making extra payments I have music, friends, dancing, and my OG (original girlfriend's) birthday party to get to. I'll be giving the gift of a gift card :)

Hope everyone is rocking it as hard as me this Saturday night.


Small Miracle Alert


Guess what happened today? 26 days after I couldn't find my fanny pack - containing among other things my costly work phone - an Uber driver showed and up and gave it to me!

I had kissed it goodbye and assumed it was long lost and I was ready to suck it up and repay my work as the price of admission for just getting on with it. I blogged about it only yesterday!

The weird story is that it took me a while to figure out I had lost it at all, assuming I left it at my twin's house. When I did realize it was likely lost, me and my friend both contacted Uber (I took two rides that night, one on my account and one on hers). We never heard back.

But now, I got a call almost a month later, from a man who said he was the friend of the driver, and the driver did not really speak English. He said the driver had gotten the message re: lost bag, but it was deleted and he did not have a pen. He said his friend called Uber about 10 times but they were very unhelpful and refused to give my number to him. He said they finally had to open my fanny pack to search for my number and that is how they found me.

I was so excited! I texted my work address, and met the guy outside. I had grabbed a blank card and envelope and written 'thank for you for returning my bag!' and put a twenty dollar bill in it. The driver would not take it at first. He kept apologizing for how long it took, for his bad English and asking me to check that everything was in it.

It seemed perfectly intact. It had:
- my work cell (now I won't have to buy them a new iphone!)
- $120 in gift certificates (for Christmas gifts I had to replace! Now I have gifts for next time!)
- my work swipe card and keys
- all the B-list contents of my wallet (my primary wallet contents had been extracted and put in a cute evening purse the night before, probably one of the reasons I had paid less attention to my fanny pack, as I was carrying two bags instead of the usual one).

It even had my extra strength Robaxacet which I was really in the mood for with an achy, overworked neck.

If anyone is working on strengthening the core belief that there is good in the world, I am happy to provide this humble evidence.

I'm feeling richer already and I didn't have to do a thing :)

I'm slightly buzzing from this small miracle, and a fun night out at a reunion show at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, but it's about time to call it a night. Sweet dreams, y'all.


Thursday, January 17, 2019


Hi there,

When my twin lived in Japan, over 20 years ago, she wrote about payday with an exclamation mark. It was the 90's so we used snail mail, and filled up notebooks worth of epistolary prose, before sending them to each other. (We often used the type we had used in school 'Exercise Books' or 'Scribblers', as we called them in Newfoundland). Our notebook-letters my sister described as somewhat like keeping a diary, but with an audience. We filled each other in on the minutiae of our daily lives, and our trials and tribulations. Back to my twin - she had arrived in Japan very broke and had to wait about 6 weeks to get the first cheque from her new ESL teaching gig. She wrote me frequently, and fervently of the desperate countdown to Payday! ('19 days to Payday!' Lists of things she'd buy on Payday! etc.)

Today is my Payday! and I typically have mixed feelings about it. It bothers me on some levels that at my age and stage I still live kind of like a student. Paycheque to paycheque. And some paydays really don't seem to merit the excitement of the capital P and the superlative punctuation when the whole lot goes towards boring bills.

But right now, in the context of not buying anything new, I'm feeling a growing enthusiasm for getting caught up, and cultivating a sense of ease around paydays. I have been TCB - taking care of business - and catching up on my loose ends debt wise. Right now the outstanding items (besides mortgage and visas) include paying for my new glasses, and replacing my work phone which got left behind with my black fanny pack in an Uber. I'm trying to embrace accepting these expenses as a way to just get on with getting caught up financially, and focusing on my own savings and fun goals for the year. I can't buy new stuff, but I am hoping to rack up a few awesome experiences both small and big.

Also, what lesson can I take from these unwanted expenses? A good one is stop buying black bags. They blend into the scenery and my ubiquitous black clothing and are therefore too easy to lose!

And today's Payday! actually feels kind of good. It is one of those charmed three-pay-months, where I get an 'extra' pay and some wiggle room where the cash is not fully devoured by the usual suspects in terms of bills. So I put extra on my visa and will be going this weekend to pay off my glasses, leaving just the phone before I'm back in full command of my money flow.

Another thing that I did late last year was work out an 'allowance' for myself. It has been hard to stick to it due to the holiday and things coming up like paying for a phone screen, and various expenses etc. But I actually feel like this might be the Payday! two week period where I stick to my biweekly allowance and things fall into place. I may be way off about that, but it feels like I've been inching towards it.

My allowance (per 2 week pay period), in case you are curious is $200 for me and $200 for household. I have not been super strict about the division yet. Ideally the $200 for me is for whatever I want and need (without buying any new stuff) such as pedicure, chiropractor, lunch at work, etc. The $200 household is for groceries, stuff from the drugstore, if we need something repaired, if we get some workman or person in for something etc. I watched a few online videos to determine what would be a reasonable allowance, and this is where I landed for now. I even took the step of having the allowance transferred into an account which has a separate bank card, to make it really feel like a separate amount of money.

I've also been tracking my spending, which I have previously mentioned, for many months in little notebooks from Credit Canada (a nonprofit with some helpful tools) and I plan to do some analysis at some point. Like create more intentionality in certain categories of spending. For now, not buying new things puts a helpful limit that slows down my spending without me having to think a lot about it. Sticking to my chosen allowance would do the same.

A final thing I'm trying to stick with is savings. This has been hard too, but I feel like this is the 2-week period it will gel. Call me an optimist. I set aside $150 to save for my self care, and $150 to save for household and rainy day expenses per pay period. My goal is to allow this to build up rather than spending it after 'saving' it for only weeks or months. I do have some savings right now, but it is all earmarked for preplanned renos, and I want to build up our just-in-case fund, and my personal fun/self-care/growth savings too.

Anyway, day 17 of nothing new for me, and things are mostly fine. :)


Monday, January 14, 2019

Cupboards Now Sparking Joy

Hi there,

I'm keeping this brief as I'm midway through some serious kitchen tidying and purging. I've gone through several cupboards and am enjoying some discovery and uncovering - and some 'thank you and good bye!' I'm trying to keep in mind the 'Does it Spark Joy?!' question by Marie Kondo as I decide what to keep and what to release.

I've lined up my spices in a way that totally sparks joy, and gotten rid of a bunch of them.

The photo is too dark, but use your imagination and see how they are lined up like little soldiers.

But most delightful, is how I used her method of folding and 'filing' in the kitchen. I created a box of napkins, placemats, and table clothes where I can see all the items and the box fits 3x as much as it did before. Getting this organized step-by-step is a very nerdy thrill.

It's a good fit for a year of not shopping because I am finding things I forgot I had - or had no idea where to locate. With things tidier and sparser, I'm exponentially increasing the odds of my ability to find them again, thereby decreasing my temptation to just lazily shop to replace something I already have but can't lay my mitts on.

I'm also doing that thing where I am questioning why I'm hanging on to things. To be fair, I'm still hanging on to lots of things, but less of things than before. :)

Today marks two weeks of not shopping for anything new (or anything used for that matter.)

Have a great evening!


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Shoe Laces and Memories

Hi there,

Just a quick update today. I had a very productive day: cooking, food prep for the week, going into work to get ahead of the game, visiting family and friend, and some steps towards ongoing domestic felicity projects. I even trucked some food-prepped meals into work with me today, so I will be nourished for jam-packed tomorrow. (Insert imaginary emoji with halo here.)

Of relevance to my No New for Tara:

An old pal dropped by for a sauna today, and out of the blue brought up my prior year of not buying anything new for 2010. I let her know I was doing it again, because I am trying to bring it up when it makes sense - to make it more tangible and hold me accountable. Also, she mentioned she thought of my year, because she noticed she buys tee shirts to excess. She has also been watching the Marie Kondo decluttering show on Netflix and had an epiphany about her behaviour. Said she once had all her tee shirts thrown out and had never gotten over it. Now, with this new self awareness into why she hoards tees, she is planning to stop buying them.

Also, inspired by watching some more Marie Kondo episodes myself last night with my wife, this evening I tackled our hall closet. I took all the contents of coats and footwear from it and laid them in the living room. Between us we purged for donation a full garbage bag of shoes, coats and vests. And I walked it down to the donation bin. It feels good! We smiled at each other as we inquired if various items 'sparked joy', which is the criterion to which Marie Kondo recommends we measure our possessions. I let go of some things that I loved but don't really work anymore and some things that were functional, but simply didn't spark joy. AND when I went through the bin of leather protector sprays and such, I found two packages of unused shoelaces, which may be a solution to my problem I mentioned a few days ago of needing new shoe laces in order to be able to wear a pair of shoes that otherwise seem quite good. Problem solved without shopping. :) I've previously mentioned that footwear is a sore spot for me, as I had to get rid of a lot of beautiful and sexy shoes that now cause me grief. I've put a ton of life blood into finding cute and very high quality, non-pain-inducing shoes and boots this year.

Okay, I'm going to leave it at that for tonight as I have some vegging out to do.


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Hanging In

Hey there,

That is a way of saying both that I'm chilling at home yet again, and that I have continued to be true to my 2019 mission of not shopping for the new. Today I had a pleasing lunch date with my twin, where we brainstormed some ideas for our 50th birthday (or as she likes to call it, our 100th birthday). After this, I did the aforementioned ransacking of her house for veil like scarfy things and turtlenecks. Then I did a really big grocery shop. When I got home, we watched a friend's Netflix special, (DeAnne Smith, she's great), and I cooked up one of the new recipes I've been meaning to try, "Creamy Tarragon Chicken" and it got rated "Yummy" by my wife.

I'm a bit beat from running around and doing lots of kitchen stuff and other chores, so I think I'll probably not do too much more productive this evening. I may cock up me legs, as dad would say, and watch another episode of Marie Kondo for a little boost of purging energy for later this weekend.

Tomorrow I will need to hit the ground running, between home stuff and needing to go into work for a bit to make Monday's demands even feasible to pull off. I will practice radically accepting that my indentured servitude tomorrow will make Monday a breezier experience for me at work.

I still have not heard back from the store I ordered (and paid for) my phone screen from on Tuesday, and now my phone is definitely working worse and worse with the multiple cracks meaning sometimes my taps are not doing what they ought. Hope they figure it out soon, so I can resume sexting day and night. Just kidding. Gotta sleep sometimes too, right? :)

Have a good night,


Friday, January 11, 2019

All Quiet on The Westender Front

Hi there,

Not much to report tonight. I had a mellow evening in with my wife in our cozy west end condo. We watched the Sisters Brothers movie and I made dinner. I enjoyed it, especially after reading the book a few years ago. I'm going to be having a kind of low key weekend of domestic felicity and doing some work prep. I have a couple of new groups starting next week and need to do some homework of my own just to feel properly on top of things.

I'm also going to try an easy, new recipe from a stack of healthy, fast ones I've been letting pile up without acting on. Hopefully, I'll do food planning and prep for the week ahead and do a bit more purging and whatnot.

I have stayed true to not buying anything new for 11 whole days now. Hey, I haven't even bought anything used yet, so I'm basically just sitting here on my high horse, polishing my halo.

I do have a couple of birthdays next weekend, so I need to think a little about how I'll be gifting without getting anything new. I will need to either give consumables, money, or make something.

I've also got to ransack my closet and perhaps my sister's, since I cannot shop. I will be seeking turtlenecks, scarfs, and kerchiefs as I seem to be a tad shy on these items. My cosmetic vanity has me needing to cover up until my skin has healed from some skin treatments today. Serves me right, as it is basically the collateral damage from all that sun kissed, dumb assed tanning-drenched-in-baby-oil I did in the 80's and 90's. Anything to magnify the sun's rays to the max. Oh man, I used to love the smell of my tanned skin and baby oil, at the end of a long day of sunbathing. Hilarious that it felt so healthy. Now I'm like a vampire sitting in the shadiest spot on any patio.

Oh well, dealing with a few dark spots at 49 is a small price to pay for rocking that hot, oiled, bronzed look through my teens and 20's, amirite? :)

Time to hit the sack, it's been a longish day.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Positive Reinforcement & a Wee Bra Quandary

Hi there,

I didn't post yesterday as I stayed over at my sister's and did not end up having easy access to a computer.

I thought I'd relate a couple of things relevant to my nothing new year:

One is that I got some positive reinforcement in the form of my chiropractor asking after how it was going with not buying anything new at my appointment today. She and I had discussed my New Year's Resolution/Goal last week and she had said she was going to do something similar and not buy any new clothing.

She relayed that she had ended up shopping. And she told me that she had talked to a couple of people about my 'no new for Tara' plan, and was impressed that I have not yet shopped. (It's only been 10 days!) It is nice and motivating when people remember things and ask after them and seem impressed. Makes such projects feel worthwhile and a little more interesting. There are other people who perceive such endeavours as stingy :)

The other thing is a minor quandary I face, as I have gotten slightly too small for my favourite bra. This falls under the good kinda problems to have category. The opposite of outgrowing something. It is no longer comfortable to wear and I'm doing it up on it's snuggest clasp (or hasp as we'd say in Newfoundland). It's chaffing me under the arms as it is now loose. I'm seriously bummed because it became my favourite the minute I got it, and I wore it as my everyday bra for the last few months. If you are curious, it is the Knix evolution bra. Seamless, an engineering triumph, and perfect under everything. Not to be confused with fine lingerie, but a very useful workhorse garment.

Needless to say, I cannot buy a new one, and sadly, I cannot wear it anymore.  It is now literally rubbing me the wrong way. Bras will do that to you if they are too big. They really need to fit just so. So, the plot I'm cooking up is to finagle a barter of sorts. I need to find someone who fits my current bra, and is willing to buy themselves one a size smaller, and then trade with me. Sounds clever, no? The bra is in perfectly good shape and may last forever, so this would ensure it gets reused, and I could continue to benefit from the evolution bra technology, without shopping or owning more than I already did. Wish me luck.

I think I will retire shortly to enjoy more of my book club novel, Washington Black, and get an early night. It is a really good book and I'm drawing towards the close.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Trouble with Electronics

Hi there,

I wanted to share this little moment that happened today. I was heading out on a work break to order my blasted replacement phone screen. I had postponed due to finding out how expensive it is, but my phone is going wonky and cutting out and the 'user experience' is decidedly less than ideal. (I'm walking around with it in a sexy ziplock bag because it is both shedding glass crumbles and no longer waterproof in this spring-like rainy season we are experiencing on January 9th).

I realized at the elevator that I did not have my headphones with me, and I was bummed because I wanted to listen to my audiobook while I walked over, waited, and walked back etc. Then I thought, 'Oh, I'll just grab another pair at the store.' And was totally fine with that for a beat, until I realized, 'No! You don't get to do that.' The very purpose of this year is to once again stop shopping for convenience. I don't need more headphones. I need to keep track of the ones I have and make do if I forget them.

So, I did not buy a new pair of headphones. I went without for the duration of my outing, and once I got back to my cubicle I realized they were in my inside pocket. Another reason to keep purging is to make it easier to know where all my befrigged stuff is so that I don't buy replacements for things I already have.

I'm actually doing pretty good with the purging and decluttering. Today I did more, by tackling the bag of bags (oh the horror!), and the groaning cupboard under the guest bathroom sink. I was able to liberate many items for donation and get rid of expired items etc. The chi must be feeling so wild and free, it just keeps getting more and more opportunities to flow around here. I hope to take some of this vibe to my work, where I am a little desperate to nail down more serene orderliness in my cubbie as workload mounts exponentially by the day with the new year.

I will bid you nighty night and aim high for a good night's sleep. It's been three nights in a row burning the candle at both ends. Something's gotta give and I believe it's my wakeful FOMO. :)

Sweet dreams,


Vintage Fur

Another night of rain. I've barely had a chance to wear my winter outwear this season.

I was recently gifted a vintage fur coat. My mother in law brought it over - a posthumous gift from my wife's grandfather's girlfriend, Denise. Denise did not know me, but her gorgeous taste in coats has been my lucky fortune twice. A few years ago I was gifted her vintage cashmere cape. Such a great cape, very warm, but not always ideal for using one's arms. I purchased elbow length gloves for it, and love to wear it for dressy occasions where I'm not lugging a bag.

This new coat is a dream. My wife and her sisters are not into it. It's either too girlie, too second hand, or too animal for them. For me, I feel like a damn Russian princess in it. It is a gorgeous, regal, like a female Jonathon Rhys Meyers in the Tudors... It is monogrammed with Denise's initials: D.E.R. It is made of 'The Finest Beaver' and had a tag sewn into it that reads the same. I stitch ripped it out for future upcycling fun. It's Alfred Sung - my mother in law says likely from the 70's. And because it is vintage, I don't feel guilty. It was already out there. I don't think it should be tossed in the garbage; it should be used and worn to shreds. I've worn it every chance I've had since I got it. But between global warming and the rain, it's not been nearly enough.

I'm bragging about my vintage fur coat because it seems like a good luxury to get as a gift as I've entered my year of nothing new. It's old, but new to me, and brings a bit of a glamorous, yesteryear thrill to an everyday outing. And because I'm focusing on feeling a bit of abundance rather than on the annoying things that I'm struggling with or need to pay for.

So very time for bed,

Nighty night,


Monday, January 7, 2019

Talking About It

Hey there,

So today I made it to the last possible showing of Anthropocene at the AGO. It was very good. I'm going to look into seeing the film tomorrow night.

And after the exhibition I ended up telling my good friend and my other partner about my fresh go at a year of not buying anything new - in a sort of round about fashion. I had been avoiding actually declaring it aloud to others. I did make sure I squeaked in under the wire letting my wife know the day before new years so it would not come as a big surprise to her. I guess I have been keeping my cards a bit close to my chest, not really mentioning it a lot, and I'm wondering what that is about.

Part of it is about the fact that some people like it and some people not so much. Also, there is the piece of me that worries that it's sort of 'old news', as I did this nine years ago and people might find it boring or repetitive. That is the pathological part of me that over cares what people think! Also, part of me feels like it might be premature to shout it from the roof tops when I have so little time under my belt yet this year, and I kind of rushed into deciding to do it without a lot of time to mull it over, and chat with people about it beforehand etc. These factors combine to make me feel oddly a little shy about the subject. I also think about how much mindless shopping I've done since that year. Ugh. But, perhaps I can comfort myself that it is much less than it would have been had I not had the one year moratorium on shopping.

The other thing is that I faded out of focusing on it in the months after my big year of nothing new in 2010. I don't want that to happen this time. So maybe I should keep talking about it and making it more and more real.

It feeds into good things in my life. Feeling a general sense of control and a handle on things. Beyond financial, it creates momentum, time, and space for me to do that with my stuff too. I've started pruning and purging and feeling more lightness. Today I organized the long suffering freezer contents. Awaiting canonization...  I also plowed through six drawers and a shelf in the spare room and walked out two more bags of donations. I watched another episode of Marie Kondo Netflix show last night and today have been listening to my minimalism book on audio as I purge. It's so peaceful! The show last night was kind of interesting where this guy who had soooo much stuff yet was having a hard time getting rid of things had an epiphany. We saw his mindset shift to now second guessing every item, 'Why do I need to hang on to this? Is this really necessary?' Pretty much opposite to before where he had an emotional rationale for keeping every single thing.

Well, it's time for me to wind down and get a good night's sleep so I can face the rigours of my first day back at work tomorrow. It's a doozy with me needing to hit the ground running with multiple orientations and assessments. It has been really amazing having a sweet chunk of low key time off at and around home, to just be and have some personal time. Not to mention all that amazing social connection I got to enjoy :)

Nighty night,


Saturday, January 5, 2019

To-Do List & Money Stuff & Anthropocene

Hi there,

I didn't post yesterday. Sorry, but it was date night. :)

I've been getting a lot done during my holiday, in both the to-do list and fun list realms. I've had a lot of in house fun, at my place and at other peoples, which reminds me that it is a good fit with not buying anything new and generally simplifying, (and also saving money) to entertain at home. My wife and I had people over a few times this week and enjoyed the simple pleasures of saunas and chats at our place. I also got the pleasure of meals in homes, like my twin making delicious homemade ramen.

Saving money is tricky for me because: I live in a big city, it is not my most natural inclination, and I have a bit of an urge to shop sometimes as a mood enhancing activity. There are good reasons for me to get on top of this! I don't want to work forever, and I might like to do something proactive towards our dotage. By this I mean I should likely do something like pay down our mortgage, or get an investment property or something wise and adult like this. Despite the relentless forward march of time, these feel like far off pipe dreams. Yet they also seem like reasonable things to consider, which won't happen if I don't put thought into how they might work. I have much more to do to get a handle on money stuff, but one thing I have been doing is tracking all my spending since July of last year. I feel like I should do something like actually add it up into categories and see what's gone where, then have some magical ah-ha moments with all this data I've been amassing. That part is yet to happen. But the tracking is there! So this is an area I may delve into more later. (I've been peeking at some of the saving money tips etc. on the Squawkfox blog, and it's gotten me galvanized to cook more).

Today, two days before going back to work after my two week holiday, I have an afternoon to myself, which is exciting. I'm going to do a few things that relate to this blog. One is try and get my phone fixed. I feel like I'm really polishing my halo as I say this because my knee jerk reaction is to level up to the latest version. That's my Apple cult programming talking. Second, I'm going to try to squeeze into the second last day of Anthropocene at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario), which is an exhibition on humans' impact on the earth. This may serve as a sobering reminder of the messy fallout of shopping. It will hopefully help gird my loins for the long year of not buying anything new ahead. It seems timely and apt and I've been wanting to see it.

I'm also going to be reading my book for book club, by the wonderful Esi Edugyan - 'Washington Black'. And by read, I mean listen on my Audible app. I've found it so hard to read paper books on the transit anymore because it is soooo crowded you need one or two hands to hold on for dear life. Holding a book on top of that is not feasible most of the time, so listening helps me still get my read on, but hands free. Kind of like my fanny pack helps me 'party hands free'. I got a new fanny pack as a Christmas present from my wife. I've been rocking a fanny pack for about 10 unapologetic years, and believe me, it is no small task to find 'cool' ones, but my wife manages this very well.

I'd better get a move on so I can hurry up and relax.


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Writing Before Midnight & What Every Happened to Ethiopia Bloggery?

Wow, I'm actually getting at this before midnight so it is still January 3rd :)

It's been a fine day, but I'm a bit pooped from running around and staying up late a few nights in a row. I'm also noticing I'm a little achy after an adjustment by my chiropractor, so I'll probably take it easy tonight. Interestingly, she conversationally asked me about my New Year's Resolutions, and I told her about my not buying anything new goal for this year. She was really into it and said she wants to do something similar focused on clothing, and recommended some minimalism show on Netflix she could not remember the name of. She said it is especially focused on paring down one's clothing. I suspect I may do some inspirational episode watching, rather than actual decluttering/purging after I write this. Maybe that's my problem - the motivational magic of the first episode of the 'Tidying Up' show by Marie Kondo is running low and I need a top up with episode two.

I've decided I'll try fixing my busted cell first before I go searching for a used one, or a gift one. Fixing things instead of just automatically replacing them is a great way to practice being less of a consumer. This reminds me I need to get new shoelaces for one pair of shoes. Is that like a fix? Or like buying a new thing? I guess I could go looking for them at Value Village. If the shoes don't work without the laces, I think it could fall under a 'fix'.

A couple of things I did not get sorted prior to my December 31st new shopping cutoff - but are big wish list items for me to find used (or make/barter/somehow Macgyver etc.) - include a small, but tall desk or drawer thing that I could use as a standing desk for my laptop, and a game of Scrabble (we only have the tiny travel version and want the big wooden version). I'm also interested in a big, light, box-shaped foam pillow thingy for reading while sitting or lying, so that I don't have to lift my arms up. Haha. This makes me sound VERY lazy. But I've got some neck and shoulder issues, that make the idea of a book just laying peacefully near my face without any heavy lifting/holding required on my part rather attractive. I had one that my mom made that was just two pieces of foam in a pillow case, but my wife found it very ugly. I'm really missing it since we got rid of it. I will have to figure out how to make one and make it look nicer. Like a box-shaped couch cushion? Oh boy, the things that you get excited about as you are pushing 50.

More Catch Ups:

So, just before I stopped talking to y'all for 6 years, I let you know that I was heading off to Ethiopia and hoped to blog from there during my trip. Well, I did go for a month in September/October 2012 and had quite an incredible time (teaching and helping develop a rehab program in a psychiatric hospital). However, as I left I found out it was illegal to be gay in Ethiopia (I'm not sure if this is the case anymore) and I was not comfortable with taking a chance that I might put myself or my hosts in some kind of jeopardy if they found out via my blog that I have a wife. (It's seriously the gayest thing about me! I have to give her credit for that joke, as she wrote it.) I also learned how relatively conservative the culture is compared to here, and worried about inadvertently offending in any other way. I ended up just doing a daily diary 'blog' and emailing it to a couple of key people who forwarded it via email to others that had asked for it. I was very faithful to daily writing, and also tracked my spending and my experiences being somewhere so different, complicated, and also wonderful. My fellow travellers actually sent my daily 'bloggery' as I called it home to their friends and relatives, rather than write their own, which pleased my ego to no end. If you are an old reader who has been hanging on by the seat of your pants waiting for updates on that Ethiopia trip since I posted and ghosted in 2012, message me and I can have my sister send you the lot! :)

Now it is time for me to peace out and get some rest,


Dilemma at Day 2 and Update re: Quitting Second Job


I've been having so much fun on my Christmas break, that all my posts are super late and show up as the next day. In my world, it's still Jan. 2nd, but since it's almost 2am, it's gonna show up as Jan. 3rd.

So, on a positive note, my single episode viewing of the Marie Kondo show was so inspiring I clutter busted and purged most of today (to the tune of 6 large bags walking out the door!). I have a lot more to do to finalize my room, but it already feels so much more bearable in terms of breathing space and I can almost smell the chi flowing :)

I also had the chance to do some cooking at home and chill out with my wife a bit and have a fun visit with a dear old pal who now lives in California at my twin's house. Funny enough we have a history of poetry readings in our 20's together, and I was able to delight them with a call back to haiku's I had written on Nov. 17th, 2010, thanks to my recent reread of my blog! What a boon to memory.

So this happened today... While chucking some garbage down the shoot, my cell fell and did a major screen-shattering face plant. It is still usable (for now) but shards are coming out, and it may not last long. In fact it went a bit berserk when I put it on airplane settings. It had to be rebooted to find a signal after it stayed stuck in searching endlessly.

I did not anticipate this one, though my phone is over two years old and had a couple of minor cracks in it leading up to today. I guess my choices, since I cannot buy anything new are: 1. get a used phone, 2. repair the phone I have (IF they will do this. I have also dropped this phone in a 'clean' but very wet toilet bowl and it survived, so they may somehow know about water damage and refuse to open it), 3. I could get a gifted phone, 4. I could get a free phone (which would not be buying anything), but would be new.

So my question is, if it is free, is it like a gift, so I can have it (see my ground rules)? Or is it cheating? In a way the 'free phone' option that often comes offered with a cell plan when renewed is a bit like stepping out of being such a consumer for me, because I know in the past I've been guilty of wanting the latest and greatest version of the iphone for example, and feeling a bit held hostage about the price. Anyway, I'll have to get ponderous about it before I decide how to proceed.

I've also wanted to update on some dangling questions left over from bloggery of days gone by. I noticed how often and longingly I mentioned the goal of quitting my second job, and 'semi-retiring' by going down to just my full time job, when I was blogging in 2010-2012. I had even set a 'quit by date'. I can happily tell you that I finally did quit that job (in the summer of 2013 - a tad later than planned) and enjoyed my semi retirement for a few months, before heading back to school to begin a Masters of Science program in 2014 which I did on the side while working full time. That ended in 2017 and was about as gruelling as you would expect. I put in as many hours as I had at my part time job (and in the end about triple that), and of course it cost me money, rather than making me money. But I learned a thing or two and came out of it with something for myself rather than just working away at two jobs in order to be broke at the end of the month, as the joke goes.

In late 2017, I did one year in a leadership position- starting just after the masters finished. I was making more money, but working more hours and I was significantly LESS happy. I decided at year's end not to apply permanently for that leadership position and ended up switching roles a couple of months ago into a new initiative which is making me VERY happy! I'm learning a lot of new things, leading groups, getting lots of professional development and consultation, to help me be better at what I do. All in the company of keen, dynamic, interesting professionals. It is very energizing right now, and for that I am grateful!

Anyway, that's it for me tonight. I'll catch you up on what's up on a few other things as we go along. I'm trying to blog regularly to rebuild the habit. Also, as I think Gretchen Rubin says, it's easier to do something every day than once in a while. (But I cannot find the quotation and it's so late!).

Nighty night,


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Year's Day 2019 - Ground Rules

Hello 2019,

I've had a very fun first day of the year, which began with domestic felicity type activities, including some thematically appropriate content, for my No New Stuff resolution. It's a sign! The universe is providing me with new inspiration. I did some organizing and a tiny bit of decluttering and tidying, while listening to my audio book of The More of Less by Joshua Becker (a book on minimalism).

Then, I discovered that Netflix has the Marie Kondo TV series now, and my wife and I watched one episode, and then I rushed to my room to attack my clothing and sort through piece by piece to clarify and keep only the items which 'spark joy'. (She wrote the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying.). I want to pace myself and go back to watch the next episode only after I have sucked the marrow out of the first episode, by doing what it suggests. I have too much unneeded clothing, and too much of it is black - making it extremely hard to find what I want or see what I have. I want to really release a bunch of things I don't need anymore so that I feel more space around me, and only hang on to favourites.

I still have a ways to go, as I did have a bunch of fun holiday social things to do today and tonight too. My room is in limbo with much 'joy sparking' as yet undetermined!

I'm off this whole week, so I can take some time to really go through our two bedroom condo and try to really take stock, declutter, purge, and clean up etc. Doing this will help me know what I have and what I need with much more clarity. I find both The More of Less and Marie Kondo inspiring in this regard. And they both underscore the belief that we don't need as much as we think we do.

Anyway, again it is late and I am writing after a third fun night out with friends, so I will keep this fairly brief. Tonight's fun was playing a game called 'One Night Ultimate Werewolf Game' which was soooo fun. I want more games, and partying in friend's living rooms in my life in 2019.

I still owe you updates re: the past, (stay tuned for those.)

But let's get my GROUND RULES (See 2010's Ground Rules here) out of the way:

Generally speaking, this is about no new stuff. So I will not be buying new stuff - with a few exceptions. I CAN buy used things. This does not bring more new stuff into the world, and encourages reusing of things. I can buy supplies for crafts and mending. I can buy supplies for fixing something that should be fixed in my house, i.e.: if I needed a plunger or something that I could not find used. I can accept gifts, and I can barter, beg, trade etc. Another main exception last time around was for health. This time, because I have had a couple of issues with my feet (achilles issue, and arthritis in a toe) footwear is included in 'health expenses' - I cannot wear shoes unless they are firm, with a slight heel, and wide toe base, and I don't want to have my feet get worse! The other categories under health include if I needed some kind of thing for exercise or physio (maybe a new running shoe etc.). My wife is recovering from some serious medical issues this year, and if she needs anything related to her health, I consider it totally exempt from the No New rules.

Another exception this year is that we already decided to do some renovations to our condo, and the money is set aside for a specific list of renos and replacing our busted up couch etc. I consider this similar to 'already spent' and would not have it fall under the 'new stuff' category.

Gifts to others will need to be homemade or it is acceptable to give money.

Experiences are very okay. For example: travel, meals with friends, going to shows etc. are all fine. I will be trying, generally speaking, to minimize wasteful spending on convenience items like buying coffee out, unless it is linked to socializing or a personal date with myself i.e.: taking myself to a restaurant or coffee shop to work on my homework for work, (I'm learning new therapy protocols) or working on my goals or writing fun things etc.

I think the world is actually more thrifty and into sharing than it was when I did this challenge nine years ago (car sharing, BUNZ, etc.).

Another exception is that I am the absurdly lucky recipient of a lingerie allowance. I will allow myself to continue to make use of this generous gift by purchasing myself occasional new lingerie with my store credit. This seems reasonable because it is a gift, was pre-existing, and is something that requires proper fitting, and somethings I would not buy second hand, such as underwear.

Preparatory shopping for this year of nothing new was less pressured than in 2009. In fact, all I got on New Year's Eve, was a pair of good black tights and 3 bins to make storage in our freezer more organized! On Dec. 31st 2009 I was rushing around like a chicken with my head cutoff with last minute shopping (see here: video of my last sanctioned shopping spree for a year). I did shop for myself a lot in the last month, especially getting footwear mostly sorted - that priority announced itself after my achilles blow out. We'll soon enough see what I missed that I'll be longing for.

This year I don't want to be shopping because I'm trying to sooth myself or anesthetize boredom. I was noticing that a bit this year, an old bad habit to rebreak.

I'm really digging this time off work to start the new year in an intentional way, and take care of business, and have fun and say yes to parties, and and and.

It's late and I have delighted you long enough. More tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!!

Well hello strangers,

Happy 2019. I've spent some time over the holiday break dusting off and rereading my blog from the beginning (I began it in 2009), as it was recently brought up to me by someone who just began reading it. As you can see, it's been an literally an age since I've connected! I mean it - it's been so long it actually predates millennials starting to use 'literally' as a synonym for 'metaphorically' :)

So, what I wanted to say is that it's gotten me thinking about where I'm at right now, what I want out of 2019, and also that I should fill in some of the loose threads since I last wrote.

It is VERY late, and I'm lucky enough to have a socially packed holiday calendar and some days off work, so I will keep tonight brief. But I will say that in the next couple of days I'll be checking in about all the juicy details of my 2019 New Year's Resolution to repeat a year of not buying anything new (nine years later!). What can I say? I love to capitalize on a project that starts on January 1st.

I will also weigh in on my new ground rules for this year; and fill you in on cliffhangers like: Did Tara ever 'semi-retire' as she dreamed about by quitting her befrigged second job? What happened in Ethiopia? Why on earth is she doing this again? What's going on with money saving/debt reduction, and other assorted goals in her life etc. etc. (Maybe as a bonus, I can comment on anachronistic things I noticed rereading the blog that make it seem quaint or dated or time stamped... borrowing a boxset of DVDs anyone? Not having a smart phone?)

Also, I'll be needing new resources to connect with related to not buying new things/ being thrifty/ being less consumeristic. Many of the links I used in the past for inspiration are not active anymore. For that matter, I'll also need to remember/refresh on how to use the functions of this to add images, links and whatnot!

Stay tuned and looking forward to chatting soon.